ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE DEPARTMENT CELBRATES STUDENT’S SUMMER RESEARCH EXPERIENCE IN PANAMA
On Friday, November 16th, the Department of Atmospheric Science held a Highlights Review of the 3rd Panama Research and Study Abroad Program at the Shelby Center for Science and Technology from 1-3PM. The program gave the UAHuntsville student researchers who spent their summers in Panama studying climate change and sustainable development, a chance to talk about the research they did during the 8-week program.
UAHuntsville and The Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) have successfully organized this study abroad since 2010 through an agreement to collaborate in scientific research and educational outreach and exchange. Participants in this year’s program majored in engineering, business and earth system science. The group also had two Panamanian students, a visiting student from the University of Florida and the other from UAHuntsville.
The participating students were divided into research teams and encouraged by CATHALAC's research mentors to delve into complex topics and address challenging questions relevant to national and regional climate change problems. This year, the students focused on three main projects: Drinking Water Availability in the Central Provinces of Panama (Savanna Guelde, Alicia Mata, Troy Atchison); Assessment of the Correlation Between Yield and Biomass Using Satellite-Based Temperature Analysis and Vegetation Indices at Ingenio Santa Rosa (Travis Rael and Victor Tapia); and The Effects of Land Cover Change on the Water Quality of the Bay of Parita (Elinor Crook and Nikki Wright).
The Program also had the opportunity to welcome again a former participant from last year’s program, Samuel Ayers, who returned to do a 6-week internship with CATHALAC's Research & Development Division and focused on Change Analysis of Extreme Weather Events in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The student researchers received support from various institutions in Panama while conducting their research such as the Institute of Water and Sewage of Panama (IDAAN) in Coclé, The Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), the Technological University of Panama (UTP) in Coclé, and the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) in Coclé, Santa Rosa Sugar Refinery, among others.
This year a Teacher's Program was also initiated in which a local middle school STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) teacher attended the first two weeks of the program to learn more about what the student researchers do in Panama. By learning about the region and related issues, Jerry Witt from the Giles County School System, was able to gather information and formulate lessons based on the experience to share with his students and colleagues. This is another way in which UAHuntsville strives to educate the public and stimulate young people's interest in earth sciences so that they better understand climate change and how issues in the region affect the entire world.
While in Panama, the participants also studied Spanish with a UAHuntsville Instructor and Teaching Assistant.Besides his TA duties, Lee Radke also worked closely with CATHALAC staff and carried out linguistic research on Panamanian dialects. In addition to their research projects, all the participants received a unique and rewarding cultural experience by being immersed into Panamanian society. Students lived in Panama City with homestay families during the program, and had regular cultural and research excursions into the countryside and rainforests, far from the city.
The objective of the Panama Research and Study Abroad Program is to form a community of professionals from multidisciplinary backgrounds who are capable of responding to both the challenges and opportunities related to Climate Change, Integrated Watershed Management, Environmental Modeling and Analysis and Risk Management. The student researchers who participate in this program now form part of this community of future professionals.
Photos from the reception: