Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Winter 1998

Expanding Frontiers is a publication of Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. To join our mailing list, please send us an e-mail with your request.

Table of Contents:


Undergraduate Research Featured At Space Grant Poster Session

student poster

Before a gathering of more than 200 faculty, peers, and family members, 49 researchers exhibited their work from the 1997 Summer Undergraduate Research Program last autumn.

In its seven years at the University of Washington, the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium's summer program has paired capable students with top-notch researchers in a variety of fields: from genetics to forestry, seismology to astronomy.

Hans-Peter Marshall, who joined the research program the summer after his freshman year at UW, has worked with Glacial Geophysics Professors Ed Waddington and Howard Conway. The poster he presented for the 1997 session was based on his work on avalanches at Snoqualmie Pass.

"I learned so much, and felt I had finally found a way to combine my math and physics background doing something I loved," Marshall said. He is continuing his work in glacial geophysics, and has just completed two months of work at McMurdo Station, a U.S. research base in Antarctica.

"Ever since that first summer three years ago, I have been getting paid to do something I enjoy, and have learned more than I could imagine," he said. "School has a totally new meaning, and I am able to immediately apply concepts from my physics and math classes to solve problems I am working on. It has given me tremendous motivation to learn, and has changed my life forever."

For many undergraduates, the WaSGC program gives them their first glimpse into the world of research. Amy Enloe, a UW sophomore, took part in the program for the first time last summer. Looking back over those first few months, which culminated in the poster session, Enloe said, "I was surprised at how much I learned."

As part of her work for Dr. Robert Brown of the Atmospheric Sciences Department, Enloe analyzed data from NASA's Scatterometer aboard an advanced earth observing satellite. In the process, she learned how to use data-analysis software, investigate storms, and read weather maps. "It was good," Enloe said. "I learned a lot making my poster...standing by it, answering questions."

Senior Scott Ecker, who worked with Dr. Michael Gregg in Ocean Physics, said that the research he has done as an undergraduate "is a good extension of things I had learned in chemistry."

For him, the highlight was that he was "free to solve problems in my own way, and they gave me great resources to do that. Also, the opportunity to solve real problems using stuff I learned in college."

For Joy Ashizawa, a Space Grant Scholar and three-year veteran of the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, the most valuable part of her experience has been the hands-on work that she has done as part of her research under the guidance of Dr. Paul Hodge in the Astronomy Department, and sampling the life of a professional astronomer.

"You get a feel for the atmosphere of that field, what people do," Ashizawa said.

The program is funded by NASA, the UW Office of the Provost, the Mary Gates Endowment and grants to individual participating scientists.


Janice DeCosmo Takes Reins as New WaSGC Director

Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium recently gained a new director, Dr. Janice DeCosmo.

Dr. DeCosmo joined the Space Grant program in 1992 as Science Education Coordinator and later as Associate Director. She has initiated several WaSGC college-level programs including: OUR Earth--Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Earth System Science, the Space Grant undergraduate summer research program, the community college transfer scholarship program, and a junior faculty award program.

She also has developed and teaches science courses and workshops for undergraduates and pre- and in-service K-12 educators, including this summer's Global Climate Change course for teachers.

After completing three years with the Peace Corps working as a physics instructor and teacher trainer in Togo, West Africa, DeCosmo returned to the University of Washington and received her doctoral degree in Atmospheric Sciences.

Her publications from 1988 through 1997 focus in air-sea interaction and innovations in K-12, college, and informal education. She currently holds a research faculty position in the Geophysics Program and teaches meteorology and Earth science courses.

DeCosmo succeeds George Parks as WaSGC director, who originated the Space Grant Program at the University of Washington in 1989. Dr. Parks is continuing his affiliation with WaSGC as Associate Director in addition to his teaching duties and ongoing research in auroral and space plasma physics.


OUR Earth To Open Up New World for Undergraduate Researchers

This summer, the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium (WaSGC) will launch OUR Earth, Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Earth System Science. This eight-week interdisciplinary summer program will bring talented students from around the country to the University of Washington to engage in cutting-edge research dedicated to understanding Earth processes.

OUR Earth will pair undergraduates with faculty from the departments of Atmospheric Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Geological Sciences, Geophysics, Polar Sciences, and Oceanography.

These research efforts are some of the most exciting Earth science work in the nation employing remote sensing data. They include studying extreme waves and marine storms; predicting the effects of forest clearcutting; analyzing the interaction of oceans, ice and atmosphere; and mapping geophysical variables on the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Also participating in OUR Earth will be the SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic) project, which operates a research station drifting in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean.

These diverse research areas share a common goal: gaining a better understanding of Earth systems, and, in particular, in assessing global environmental change.

Students will work one-on-one with faculty and in groups to understand current earth science issues with an emphasis on the connections between traditional science disciplines. They will have opportunities to make an oral presentation on their summer project to the entire group of students and faculty. In the fall, local and UW participants will present their results in a formal poster session for faculty, peers, families and staff.

WaSGC director Janice DeCosmo explains that Earth system science represents the integration of ideas from many different traditional disciplines and provides a powerful way of understanding the Earth's interwoven natural processes.

"OUR Earth allows students to explore an interdisciplinary approach, which may be a different experience from their classes,"

Dr. DeCosmo said. "Students can concentrate on a problem important to people and take back skills to apply to their own field."

Students will also take part in a weekly seminar series that will examine current issues in Earth science with an emphasis on an integrated approach to understanding global change.

The program is sponsored by NASA's Office of Earth Sciences Education Program, Washington Space Grant Consortium, the University of Washington, and The Boeing Company.


Space Grant Scholar Gains New Perspective At Gathering for Native Americans in Science

When Washington NASA Space Grant Scholar Tony Korolis began his college career at the University of Washington in September, one of his first priorities was to become involved in promoting minority participation in science and engineering.

Just a few weeks after joining the UW chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), he found himself on a plane bound for Texas to take part in a national gathering of some of the nation's leading Native American scientists, researchers and students.

With the help of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, Korolis flew to Houston in November to take part in the AISES annual national conference. The event brought together thousands of Native American high school and college students, teachers, and professional members to promote diversity in science and engineering fields.

Events included a career fair, resume distribution, displays of students' science projects, educational workshops and speakers. The event culminated with a memorable powwow, which lasted into the early morning hours.

The gathering of thousands at AISES was the first time he had been together with so many other Native Americans.

Tony grew up in Chicago, and came to Washington state in 1989 when his family moved to Sequim. His mother is Lac Courte Oreilles Indian, and his father is Greek.

"A highlight of the conference for me was seeing all people coming together, all Native, all in technical fields, "Tony said. "It's really powerful."

The conference presented many opportunities for students like Tony to interact directly with recruiting officers from companies seeking to hire Native Americans in science and engineering. As a result of the conference, Tony will work as an intern with IBM's Semiconductor Research Facility in New York this summer.

Tony said the conference was an energizing experience.

"Even though you don't see a lot of Native Americans around campus, it sends you back with the energy to do more and get involved ...to increase representation of Natives in universities in science and engineering fields."

Tony received a full tuition scholarship from the Space Grant program last year and is studying computer engineering.


Astronomy Broadens Horizons For Washington State Students

Project ASTRO

Amateur and professional astronomers share the stars with upper elementary and middle school children through Project ASTRO, an innovative program now in its second year in the Puget Sound area.

Through Project ASTRO, local astronomers are partnered with educators and leaders of youth groups such as Scouts or Boys and Girls Clubs. Together, they attend a summer workshop. During the following academic year, the astronomers make at least four school visits and work closely with teachers on class projects that will excite students about astronomy and help them learn more through hands-on science activities.

Project ASTRO is currently recruiting teachers, astronomers and youth leaders for the 1998-99 academic year. Participating teachers should have an interest in science and astronomy but are not required to have experience in those subjects.

In addition to the partnering program, Project ASTRO is also engaged in a wide range of follow-up activities, including lectures, special events at the Pacific Science Center and Museum of Flight, and workshops. Project ASTRO, developed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, is supported by the National Science Foundation, Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, the University of Washington Department of Astronomy, and private groups, including Microsoft. Nationwide, the program now has more than 250 participants in 150 schools and community organizations.

Group leaders, teachers, and astronomers can apply for the 1998-99 program by contacting Karen Peterson, program coordinator. Applications are due April 30, 1998. The summer training workshop will be held July 17-18, 1998.

Astronomy Workshops

The 19 elementary and middle school teachers who registered to attend an astronomy workshop in Omak, Wa. were given an unusual homework assignment. Bring a few pieces of junk from home.

When they gathered together, the reason behind this request became clear. From these scraps of trash, several teams of teachers created their own space aliens and explained to the rest of the class how they ate, breathed and moved.

In addition to inventing aliens, teachers learned how to build and use sundials, create a solar system scale model, and how to utilize lenses and microscopes.

These hands-on workshops have been taught by Dr. Julie Lutz and Jack Horne around Washington state for many years. Dr. Lutz is currently a visiting professor at the University of Washington on leave from Washington State University. Jack Horne is a science specialist at the North Central Educational Service District.

"These workshops help teachers bring to their classrooms new ideas for activities that will get kids directly involved in astronomy," Dr. Lutz said.

Lutz and Horne will continue to offer these workshops in the future. Please check the Space Grant Web site or call us for more information on future sessions in your area.


SPACE GRANT NEWS

Moonlink Brings Lunar Mission To Classroom

High school students can take part in space exploration through the Moonlink Internet Mission, the first program to bring live, interactive lunar exploration to the classroom.

The WaSGC is offering three grants to Washington state high schools for the program, which links students with the Lunar Prospector mission and NASA through the World Wide Web.

The Lunar Prospector mission, managed and controlled by the NASA Ames Research Center, was launched in January and is currently engaged in a one-year mapping mission from its orbit around the Moon. Scientists hope to use these data to answer many questions that lingered after the Apollo lunar missions 25 years ago.

Students will have opportunities to communicate with the science team and collaborate with other student teams around the world. Students will investigate ice at the lunar South Pole, active gas release events, composition of the lunar surface, and magnetic and gravitational fields.

Through Moonlink, students can select their own 150 km x 150 km location on the Moon to study, and will be able to access the data for that quadrant throughout Lunar Prospector's entire mission.

To apply for one of the WaSGC Moonlink grants, contact the Space Grant office at (206) 543-1943 or (800) 659-1943. For more information, visit the Moonlink Web site at http://www.moonlink.com

New Public Information Specialist Joins Space Grant

Heidi Belden has joined the WaSGC office this winter as the new public information specialist. A native of Seattle, Heidi recently returned to the Puget Sound area after working in Washington, D.C. as deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico.

Heidi graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., where she studied political science and served as an editor of the college weekly newspaper.

When she is not working, you can often find Heidi skiing or hiking in the Cascades, racing sailboats on Lake Union, or roller blading on the Burke Gilman Trail.

Popular Lecture Series To Return to UW This Spring

Back by popular demand, Geophysics 425 will return to the UW for the 1998 spring quarter.

The WaSGC-sponsored Undergraduate Seminar, Rocks and Stars, will feature planetary geology and stellar evolution, including recent research developments from Mars Pathfinder, Lunar Prospector, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

This one-credit course is offered by Prof. Janice DeCosmo, director of WaSGC. It meets Thursday afternoons from 2:30-3:20 p.m., March 30-June 5 in Room A118 in the Physics Astronomy Building at the UW Seattle Campus. The public is invited to attend.

Moon, Mars and Asteroids

In March, UW Professor Tony Irving will host the lecture series: Moon, Mars and Asteroids to engage the public in the excitement of current topics in space exploration.

Three lectures will be held at The Observatory at the University of Washington. A half-day open lab session at the Burke Museum will also invite the public to explore moon rocks and meteorites on loan from NASA.

The Observatory and Burke Museum are located near the north entrance of the Seattle campus, at the corner of N.E. 45th St. and 17th Ave. N.E. To request an application for one or more of these events, please contact the WaSGC office at (206) 543-1943 or toll-free outside the Seattle area at (800) 659-1943. You may also reach us by e-mail at nasa@u.washington.edu

Moon--March 19, 6:30 p.m.
Explore the moon with results from the Lunar Prospector and Apollo missions. The Observatory

Mars --March 26, 6:30 p.m.
Discover the red planet as you explore Mars and learn about the missions of Pathfinder, Global Surveyor, Surveyor 98, and Surveyor 2001. The Observatory

Open Lab Session--March 28, 12:00-3:00 p.m.
Get an up-close look at moon rocks and meteorites, including samples from Mars at this open microscope laboratory session. Burke Museum

Asteroids--April 2, 6:30 p.m.
Learn about meteorites, NEAR asteroid mission, and the Stardust comet mission. The Observatory