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Students present research findings in CAMEE showcase competition

Students present research findings in CAMEE showcase competition

MARCH 9, 2021 — Through the Center for Advanced Measurements in Extreme Environments, UTSA students have fascinating research that will impact life on earth and beyond. They recently had the opportunity to share their findings through the center’s first ever Spring Research Showcase organized and hosted by CAMEE’s postdoctoral fellows Chang-Hsin Chen and Grant Macdonald.

Five undergraduate and 13 graduate students participated in the event that took place via Zoom on Friday, March 5, with several faculty members and students watching the online presentations. Several outside members including the NASA MIRO management, NASA TAC (Technical Review Committee), CAMEE EAC (External Advisory Committee), and CAMEE external evaluator also appeared to support this event.


“This will especially help them think about how they communicate their work outside of their discipline and to the wider public.”



Students who participated in the competition study in one of CAMEE’s five focus areas, which include: aerodynamics; atmospheric science and extreme events; Gulf of Mexico and polar oceans; modeling, simulation and big data; and polar sea ice and sea level rise.

“Overall, our center has a clear focus on measurements in extreme environments with diverse research professionals working to solve the challenges in natural and engineering problems,” said Hongjie Xie, director of CAMEE.

This event is also a showcase of the many unique experiential learning opportunities available through the NASA MIRO CAMEE program. CAMEE students work side by side with professors on impactful projects that help us better understand Earth and planetary system.

Among those opportunities, Xie said that students get to help build a Mach 7 wind tunnel, which exceeds the speed limits in facilities at many universities, and that some students study the ice formation and instability in Arctic and Antarctica using remote sensing satellite images. Their discoveries will further improve estimate on the temporal development of sea ice, ice sheets and ice shelves under global warming conditions.

Besides experiments, there are students who use turbulence models to simulate turbulent plumes such as wildfire plumes. Their studies will inform us about the turbulent mechanisms that dominate the energy transfer in the plume structure and further our understanding of volcano eruptions, wildland fires and similar extreme environmental events.

“UTSA is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and teaching and with the same purpose CAMEE particularly focuses on STEM disciplines,” Chen said. “This showcase gives students an opportunity to present their work while improving their theoretical basis, sharpen presentation skills and broaden research perspectives.”

CAMEE faculty believe effective communication is a valuable skill to develop as students move into their professional careers. Part of the criteria for the showcase competition is limiting presentations to a handful of minutes and one visual slide. The goal is to present their findings in a compelling manner without having to rely on visuals or text.

“A five-minute limit challenges them to really focus on what are the main points of their research. This will especially help them think about how they communicate their work outside of their discipline and to the wider public,” McDonald said. “Evaluating their work in this way may also help them think about how it fits into the ‘big picture’ and how they take the work forward.”

Research education is largely dependent upon interaction and collaboration which has been a challenge during the pandemic. The Spring Showcase is a successful example of how this still can be accomplished with excellent results. It served as a model to identify additional opportunities to give students a rich learning experience while social distancing.

“CAMEE is such a diverse group, and although it is a challenge to interact and collaborate as we were accustomed to, we’ve identified other effective activities such as our monthly center-wide seminar series, center-wide research conference and student journal club,” Xie said.


EXPLORE FURTHER

WATCH

View the visual presentations provided by the Spring Research Showcase participants.


The student winners listed below were decided and announced by event judges Daniel Pineda, assistant professor in UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Harshad Kulkarni, postdoctoral fellow in UTSA Department of Geological Sciences. Each student winner will received a prize and certificate of excellence for their achievement.

“CAMEE is a true example of what we are trying to do to encourage our students to pursue research and training opportunities,” said Jose L. Lopez Ribot, College of Sciences associate dean for research in his opening remark. “We are proud of our hard-working students, and we believe they deserve a stage to promote their works. With this experience, they will be more prepared for future challenges.”

CAMEE undergraduate category winners

First place
Joshua Le, UTSA
• Major: Computer science
• Area of research: UTSA Mars Rover Team

Second place
Zach Riddle, UTSA
• Major: Mechanical engineering
• Area of research: UTSA Mars Rover Team

Third place
Elizabeth Hebel, University of Colorado Boulder
• Major: Geography
• Area of research: Polar sea ice and sea level rise

CAMEE graduate category winners

First place
Young-Hyun Koo, UTSA
• Major: Environmental science and engineering (doctoral)
• Area of research: Polar sea ice and sea level rise

Second place
Matt Garcia, UTSA
• Major: Mechanical engineering (master’s)
• Area of research: Aerodynamics

Third place
Mansi Joshi, UTSA
• Major: Environmental science and engineering (doctoral)
• Area of research: Polar sea ice and sea level rise

Bruce Forey



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