Undergrad research to be presented in South Africa
Preliminary results from an undergraduate research project that began in Panama during the summer of 2010 will be presented this fall at an international scientific conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
Zach Langford, '11 ESS, is scheduled to present two papers on the project, which involved he and two other students merging satellite images and aerial photos spanning more than 80 years to create a tool for studying erosion, deforestation and the spread of invasive plant species in Panama. (Please see story below.)
This fall Langford starts in the civil engineering master's degree program at Penn State. As part of a research team studying soil moisture dynamics in the Antarctic, he will use remote sensing skills he learned at UAHuntsville.
"They didn't have someone with a remote sensing background," Langford said. "Dr. (Michael) Gooseff at Penn State told me I could go to Antarctica with them this December and I thought that would be cool."
At the International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town in October, Langford will present two papers, one on applications and economic benefits of improved Earth observation through data sharing, and a second on how UAHuntsville, the Smithsonian Institution, NASA and organizations in Panama benefited through their international collaboration on this project.
The international travel will continue next summer. During the summer of 2012 Langford and research partner Casey Calamaio, a junior majoring in ESS and German, will continue their research as fellows at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.
"It gives us a chance to go back down and finish the research," Langford said. "We have geo-referenced about 500 of the 952 photos. We picked out study areas where we can start collecting statistics about the amount of forested and deforested areas, and how that is changing over time. Next summer Casey is going to be looking at the spread of canal grass (an invasive weed) and I will probably use LIDAR data to look at scarring, erosion and landslide risks from severe flooding there in Panama in December."