Faculty Fellowship Recipients
Tim Price, Flathead Valley Community College
Title: Development of Drone Control for MakerLab Course
Support: one week
My goal is to design a small drone (quad copper) that can be used as a student project in a semester long MakerLab course that is currently being developed at FVCC and will run for the first time during the fall of 2018. My proposal is to spend one week specifically focusing on writing/finding control code to enable basic stable flight and then “package” it into simple pieces that students can use in their own project.
Luke Ward, Rocky Mountain College
Title: Developing capacity to engage undergraduates at Rocky Mountain College in Unmanned Aerial System-based Remote Sensing projects in the classroom and in the field
Support: one week
The goal of the proposed project is to develop capacity to use Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)-based Remote Sensing (RS) systems in order to engage undergraduates in the Environmental an Aviation programs at Rocky Mountain College (RMC) in evidence-based, problem-oriented research projects throughout the Yellowstone River Watershed.
I am a geographer by training (University of Colorado, Boulder 2010, PhD) and teach both human and physical geography courses including GIS and RS courses at RMC. I have received previous specialized RS training and developed RS curricular materials through an Integrated Geospatial Education Technology and Training (iGETT) Fellowship (Summer 2013; Summer 2014; Summer 2015). Through the iGETTprogram and my teaching experience, I have become comfortable using multispectral imagery gathered from Landsat satellites and the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Inventory Program (NAIP) data to develop and address research questions on my own and with undergraduates in class and (outside of the classroom) research settings.
I have noticed that my students tend to engage more deeply with RS workflows and data when the focus is a local (regional) landscape (e.g. Yellowstone National Park, or Yellowstone County) and a locally relevant research questions, I have also become aware -- as have my students -- of the limitations of publically available remote sensing data for answering certain types of questions (e.g. questions about the extent and condition of native versus non-native vegetation distribution in riparian areas).
Theselimitations are related to spatial resolution and temporal resolution. For example, the 30m x 30m pixel size of Landsat data limits the detail of analysis. Similarly, while NAIP imagery has higher (1m x 1m) spatial resolution it is typically gathered only once a year and, depending on the time of day of the flight and location of the study area relative to the nadir of the flight path of the aircraft used to gather NAIP data, it is sometimes not useful for answering specific research questions. At the same time, the fact that Landsat and NAIP data are acquired via download versus via direct student interaction with the platform and sensor means that the actual process of remote sensing – the interaction b/w the platform & sensor, the atmosphere, and the target -- can remain fairly abstract to students.
Recently, through my contacts in the iGETT network and my ongoing work supervising undergraduate problem-oriented research projects that integrate GIS and remote sensing, I have become interested in learning to use UAS systems to acquire high resolution aerial imagery on-demand in support of class and field (research)-based education. Doing so would allow my students and I to gather high-resolution data at any time of year to address research questions related to the local and regional landscapes while also providing opportunities for students to interact directly with the entire RS system and workflow from the platform to the sensor to the data itself.
I propose to leverage NASA Faculty Fellowship-supported training in UAS-based RS best practices as a means to develop course materials and research projects that will further engage students with the science and technology of remote sensing. In what follows, I explain the specific island monitoring project to which this new UAS-based RS knowledge will be applied.
Arthur Woods, University of Montana
Title: Assessing thermal variability in forest canopies using infrared information collected from drones
Support: four weeks
Insects live in microhabitats, not in the macro-climates that we humans experience or that weather stations measure. In ecological studies generally, there is a significant gap between the spatial scales at which organisms live and the scales at which climatic data are typically collected, analyzed, and modeled. At small scales, biotic and abiotic features of the environment create mosaics of microclimatic diversity, which insects can exploit.
The biophysical conditions that ectotherms experience have long been known to affect organismal performance and fitness. Increasingly, biologists are modeling climate-organism interactions, and the results from these models are playing important roles in analyses of global ecological and evolutionary patterns. There remains, however, a key unresolved problem in essentially all such analyses: the mismatch between the spatial scales at which organisms live and at which climate data are typically collected, analyzed, and modeled. We urgently needbetter data and models that connect global and regional climates (framed at scales of one to many kilometers) to the microclimates where organisms carry out their activities (millimeters tometers for most small ectotherms). At such small scales, biotic and abiotic features of the environment can create high levels of microclimatic diversity, which affects organisms directly and also creates mosaics of microclimatic diversity that they can exploit. To put this diversity in perspective, consider that the local range of available microclimates often varies by 20 °C or more, which is greater than the range of mean annual temperatures occurring across several thousand km of latitudinal change in many parts of the world. A 20 °C local range also exceeds the entire range of predicted levels of global warming, over the next 80 years, from the complete set of RCP scenarios.
Kayhan Ostovar, Rocky Mountain College
Support: 5 weeks
Having completed a multi-year pilot study, this proposal is carefully designed to further answer questions raised and establish a long-term project on habitat use, abundance, population structure and heavy metal contaminant loads for both snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and spiny softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera). Turtles are a neglected faunal component of freshwater ecosystems and can serve as suitable ecological indicators of anthropogenic changes. Across seasons and life stages, these two species integrate the aquatic environment by nesting in riparian zones and beaches and they have been found to be effective ecological indicators (33, 37). To assess their current and future threats, we have four primary objectives:
- Determine the degree of population connectivity across basins, and barriers to dispersal. Little is known about population connectivity for long-lived turtles species, but home ranges can exceed 30km2 (12, 31).
- Understand how anthropogenic changes, including climate change, affect water temperature, flow rates and timing of high water events, which can alter conditions for nesting (6) and hibernacula sites (23, 28).
- Analysis of habitat used for hibernacula sites in creeks by both species, which can remain under water and ice for up to four months in anoxic conditions.
- Assess whether these turtles are exposed to heavy metal contamination at high enough levels to have population level impacts and/or human consumption concerns (37, 33).
We hypothesize that aquatic systems with different degrees and types of anthropogenic disturbances will exhibit measurable differences in the demographic population structure and success of turtle populations.