My new position as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Case Western Reserve University has just begun! This fall semester I am teaching an undergraduate and graduate Hydrogeology course while I work on getting out some more of my publications. In the spring, I will be teaching Global Environmental Problems and another course I am still designing. This new course will likely integrate aspects of geomorphology, hydrology, sustainability, and GIS. I am very excited about the opportunity to gain more teaching experience, this time at a private institution. These class sizes of 6 to 15 students are likely to be quite different than the course I taught in Vietnam, which had >90 students.
Our recently accepted manuscript in the Journal of Vegetation Science shows significantly different riparian vegetation community composition among ephemeral channel types previously distinguished by channel geometry and hydraulic drivers of sediment transport.
I am excited and proud to be part of the Northern New Mexico Expanding Your Horizons for the 2nd year in a row. This year I am organizing the presenters for students workshops at our upcoming event February 15th, 2018! This event is scheduled to connect over 250 middle school girls with female professionals in STEM fields through 16 interactive workshops. Each student will attend two workshops, a career fair, and a keynote speech by Dr. Jennifer Hollingsworth!
As a researcher inspired by female scientists and advisers and one who seeks to remain informed about inequalities among peers in science, I am an advocate for women, diversity, and equality within our scientific community and encourage everyone else to be one as well. Check out the Expanding Your Horizons Network and see how you can be involved with a chapter near you!
Last night I finished my third Teen Science Cafe in Taos, NM through the first and original northern New Mexico chapter, Cafe Scientifique. Check out this great summary of my science cafe by one of the Los Alamos Teen Leaders, Elijah Pelofske. I am so greatful to be a part of this effort to share science with and get high school students excited about water resources, rivers, and sediment! I think some of the students were inspired by the fact that they can become a scientist although they didn’t seriously consider it before, much like I did after starting community college as an art student!
I just finished my second Cafe Scientifique at the Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, New Mexico. Along with research assistant, Meghan King, I have been talking to and working with high school students in northern New Mexico about Balancing Rivers for Society and the Environment. The natural balance of water and sediment is altered by human activity, especially dams, which can impact ecosystems and fish. The students conducted lab experiments with small flumes, in which they created small rivers to examine the balance of water and sediment in rivers!
After comparing the amount and size of particle movement with low water flow compared to high flow conditions, the students constructed a dam across the river to see how it influenced the water and sediment balance. Above, Meghan asks the students about their observations when they increased water flow and constructed a dam. Below, students smile at the joy they find in Earth science, rivers, water, sediment, and flume experiments!
Thank you Twila and the Espanola Cafe Scientifique for a great evening of science! Cafe Scientifique is an amazing outreach program lead by Michelle Hall from Science Education Solutions that brings scientists to engage with teens from local highschools! Michelle started the program in Los Alamos in 2007 and now there are Cafe Scientifique programs in several states around the country involving over 100 high schools! If you are a scientist, see if you can get involved in a local program, and if you are or know any teens, see if you can attend these great cafes!!
Our recent publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface finds that mountainous floodplains in the Colorado Rocky Mountains may be a significant carbon reservoir compared to floodplains in lower regions and examines the spatial relationship of organic carbon content relative to the river channel. Floodplain soil closer to the surface, higher in elevation, and laterally closer to the channel have higher soil organic carbon content. This has implications for land use and climate change as we develop mountainous valleys and streams by altering the floodplain or through flow regulation. Grading floodplains to be flat for development decreases floodplain topographic heterogeneity and potential for elevated soils to store carbon. Additionally, more frequent floods could provide an increase in the wetting and drying to high floodplain areas, facilitating the decomposition of organic carbon that would otherwise be stored. Alternatively, alteration of river flows and channelization of rivers may reduce or completely eradicate overbank flows and no longer provide the mechanism for the accumulation of carbon along the floodplain.
Our Google dome photos of the East River near Crested Butte are finally pieced together into a virtual tour! Check it out and take a walk along the river and our research sites with me, Carli Arendt, and Joel Rowland!