Posts Tagged “research”

The countdown for the semester has begun and it cant come soon enough. Projects in all classes are keeping my busy but a few have me out in the field which is nice. A project for Hydrogeology involves doing some tests to the west of the sand dunes near by and the Geomorphology project involves looking at a the upstream section of Terrace Reservoir that has a very active (geomophologically) stream cutting through the sediment at the bottom. Here are some pictures of the areas. Check my flickr stream if you want to see a few more.

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Amy and Dan doing some surveying for the Hydrogeology project

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Point bars, cut banks, chutes, meanders, aeolian process, oh my!

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An ant’s view of some features from shrink/swell

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post.  The day before Halloween, we hosted a climbing competition here at Adams as part of the Collegiate Climbing Series.  It was a lot of work to get it all set up but it paid off and the comp went great.  Also, its nice to have some fresh new routes on the wall.  Then, on Halloween, we went up to the Geological Society of America conference being held in Denver.  This is basically an enormous hardcore nerdfest (in my personal top 3 of “fests”) jam packed with awesome and interesting talks on a wide variety of subjects focused strictly or loosely around geology.  There were also poster sessions and tons of vendors handing out freebies.  This was the first GSA I have been too but it was similar to the Association of American Geographers conferences which I have been too.  Both are great organizations and I would highly recommend joining them and going to the conferences if you are in a related major.  Not only because you get to nerd out for a few days, but you see new studies and angles of geology and geography that you may not have even knew existed.  Or, maybe you will be inspired to make up discover a discipline like  ”4-D paleohydrobiogeomorphology modeling of exoplanets with binary stars”.

The next few weeks are going to be jam packed with so much super awesome amazing rad fun!! sitting in the library working on final projects.  Maybe I can take some artsy fartsy pictures of my bloodshot eyes after 15 cups of coffee and hours of staring at a computer screen doing research.  Graduation….so….close….

But enough doom and gloom.  The weather is getting cold, there is snow on the mountains, and snowboarding season is creeping up.  And of course, the south facing rocks in the valley are always good for some climbing even when its cold out.  Winter training with ASAP is going to be sweet and oh yeah, the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education conference is coming up!

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I just presented at the lunchtime talks here at school.  This was part of a chemistry project we had to do and I am very glad to be done with it.  The past two weeks have been non-stop between this chem project, a mountain geography project, and tests.  Now, only two more projects left for the semester.  Then Zion!

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The bioplastic we made was all dried and hardened today.  While this specific plastic’s uses are somewhat limited due to its brittleness and low melting point, it’s still cool to see biodegradable plastic.  Here are some pictures of the sheets we ended up with.
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One of my classes this semester is Chemistry of Sustainability.  The class takes a look at sustainability related issues including green chemistry, materials, production of energy, and climate change from a chemistry perspective.  This class is taught by the wonderful Marty Jones, a recent recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award.  One of the perks of receiving this award is that the selected teacher has the opportunity to create a course of his or her choice… and this class is Dr. Jones’s fresh, never been taught before, creation.   As a final project for the course we, the six of us in the class, must do a presentation on a subject pertaining to the chemistry of sustainability.  My group selected to research biodiesel and the other group will be investigating photovoltaics.  Both groups will be presenting at a lunchtime talk on April 21st.  I’m pretty excited about learning more about biodiesel from a chemistry perspective because, like so many other “green” products, there is much to learn beyond what you hear in everyday media.

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Today at approximately 9:55am (ok, so exactly) an enormous academic weight was lifted off of my shoulders.  This stroke of the clock, or oscillation of  the quartz crystal in my case, marked the end of a series of two final projects I mentioned in an earlier post: “Mosquito Control in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley” and “Terrace Soils on the Alamosa River.”  Each included a PowerPoint presentation and paper.  I learned a lot from both and hopefully some of that information got transferred to the rest of the class during the presentation.  Upon completion of such projects it’s best to reflect on what just happened (debrief if you will):  yeah the hours upon hours sitting in room 121 waiting for soil tests kind of sucked.  But, I learned a lot in both projects.  The soils project also allowed me and my partner to go spend some time in a pretty cool part of the valley.  I think there might be some good unexplored climbing back there as well…thanks soils class!  When we went out to do some final measurements and such, we were denied passage across the creek due to thin ice cover which just hid the rocks we previously used to hop across.  However, it was a beautiful, crisp day in the valley and the views were serene.
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I found this via Facebook and thought I’d share with whomever may be looking at this here blog thang.  Basically it’s an idea to help increase the health of people and planet by making things fun.  I’ll let the video do the rest of the explaining:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw[/youtube]

The rest of the videos can be reached at The Fun Theory website.

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I can feel it.  Project due dates are nearing, tests are around every corner, and work to do outside of class is like a steady stream, always flowing, always there.  This is, of course, a pretty standard college semester.  However, I can feel the apex of the semester approaching at top speed.  It’s that point where all the big projects seem to be due at once, it’s your last chance to bump your grade to the next letter up, and where all classes converge into a black hole of brain melt.  As always, time management is key and distractions are in abundance.

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The view while leaving our research area.

The Soils project is going along smoothly.  Our second trek to the field is this Saturday and it should be our last.  We didn’t get some needed info last time we were out and we also lacked a needed tool:  the bucket auger.  So, this time we will be digging lots of holes to help identify soil horizons (layers) we weren’t able to last week.  From there, its to the lab to test for pH, water content, organic content, bulk density, particle density, porosity, composition and I’m sure there is some other test/measurement I’m forgetting.  From there its to the computer to map our location and compile the information into a paper and PowerPoint presentation.  Lesson learned from this class: Dirt is no joke, and quite complex.  Seriously, it can cripple and destroy civilizations.  If you are interested in how soil has impacted societies throughout history here’s a book we had to read for the class.  Not the most amazing read, but he throws some good perspectives out there.  So, next time you see your local soil scientist, give him or her a hug because they just may be responsible for keeping your food growing and buildings from collapsing.

There is also a project in my Natural Resource Management class that I am working on as well.  I’ve decided to do some research on the mosquito control here in the valley and Alamosa specifically (this is also another paper and PowerPoint).  It should be interesting.  And of course, there is a project that will be soon assigned in Mineralogy class.  We will be assigned (or get to choose?) a certain area of the world and talk about the minerals and such that can be found there.  This will also surely be the ever popular PowerPoint-and-paper one-two punch.

It should be a busy next month or so with many hours logged in the library.  These projects are always a bear, but you learn so damn much about your topic that it’s kinda great.  It’s like some crazy hard hike that kind of sucks when you are doing it, but when you look back it’s all warm and fuzzy thoughts because in all reality it was awesome.  Ok, so maybe having to do the projects isn’t that “awesome” but it is good experience wether you like it or not.  Maybe I need to go on a hike?  Regardless, I am looking forward to December 17th, the last day of exams and the 18th, the tentative departure date for a south-bound climbing trip!

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