Success Stories

Appalachian B.O.L.D.

In June 2015, participants from Big Sandy Community & Technical College led the first annual Appalachian B.O.L.D. (Bioeconomy, Outreach, Leadership, and Development) Summer Camp.  The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR-funded outreach program aims to increase the diversity of people entering the STEM workforce by targeting the state’s economically challenged coal regions and engaging students in STEM disciplines.

The Appalachian B.O.L.D. Summer Camp project is led by Doctors Thomas and Chenzhao Vierheller, professors of biology at Big Sandy Community & Technical College, in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.  The Vierhellers designed the Appalachian B.O.L.D. Summer Camps to incorporate undergraduate participation.  

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Innovative tools for water management save millions of dollars

Water is a scarce resource in many areas of the U.S.  

Pictured above, farms along Idaho's Snake River plain receive as low as ten inches of rain annually.  Idaho is the second largest diverter of water for agriculture in the United States, second only to California. 

It must be managed efficiently in a transparent and balanced way.  Consumers need to be informed early in times of drought or excess to minimize economic damages.  A way to help accomplish this is to assess water use by measuring evapotranspiration (ET)—the evaporation of water from the land surface plus transpiration of water from plants—using satellite imagery.

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in Idaho provides the scientific research necessary to keep its natural resources, like water, healthy and productive.  National Science Foundation (NSF) stimulated-research initiatives merge the management of natural resources with emerging technologies.   

In fact, one of these emerging technologies has been in development at the University of Idaho since 2000:  a technologically advanced tool to measure ET.  Mapping EvapoTranspiration at High Resolution and Internalized Calibration (METRIC) is used to estimate ET rates across entire river basins using satellite imagery and has been applied in more than a dozen states, as well as abroad. 

Developed by Dr.  Rick Allen, METRIC filled a critical gap in knowledge by calculating how much water is used on a monthly basis at the 100-foot pixel scale.  The use of METRIC enables computation of ET at a field scale.  While larger scale computations of ET can be useful for certain climatic research, this smaller scale is important for use in water rights, water transfers and water management.

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Hilo researchers respond to monitor effects of Tropical Storm Iselle on Hawai’i Island

On the night of August 7, 2014 Tropical Storm Iselle hit eastern Hawaiʻi Island, wreaking havoc on coastal communities in Puna.  Debris from the invasive Albizia (Falcataria moluccana), a fast growing tree with a very shallow and weak root system, hampered first response assistance to these communities.  At Kapoho Vacationland, flooding caused pesticides, paints, and other household hazardous wastes to spill into sensitive anchialine ponds and, at Wai`ōpae, tide pools were subjected to sewage contamination from damaged cesspools and septic systems (pictured above). 

The acute and lingering damages of the storm physically fragmented many nearshore coral colonies and added another set of stressors to east Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystem already under siege by climate change and localized perturbations.

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