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DEVELOP Poster Content Winners Announced
NASA's DEVELOP (Digital Earth Virtual Environment Learning and Outreach Program) student research program closed out its summer session this year with its second virtual student poster session, and the results are in for the best poster.

JPL's DEVELOP team won the Summer 2011 Earthzine Poster Contest -- (L to R): Caitlin Kontgis, Asya Hollins, and Katrina Laygo

JPL's DEVELOP team won the Summer 2011 Earthzine Poster Contest -- (L to R): Caitlin Kontgis, Asya Hollins, and Katrina Laygo. Credit: NASA/DEVELOP

The winner, a poster presented by the DEVELOP team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., was announced last week on Earthzine, an online publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that provides articles and educational materials about Earth science and Earth observations. Earthzine hosted the virtual poster session, which included 22 student research projects.

Under the direction of their science advisors, David Diner and Ben Holt, the winning DEVELOP team, Katrina Laygo, Asya Hollins and Caitlin Kontgis, spent the summer using Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument data to track small air pollution particles in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

According to their research, these particles are of special concern to human health because of their small size, enabling them to penetrate deep into the lungs, potentially causing respiratory damage. The JPL team concluded that downtown and South Central Los Angeles are exposed to high levels of these particles and are home to populations that are more at risk for suffering from detrimental health impacts.

"The JPL team made a professional, quality presentation," said Gary Gibson, one of the judges for the poster contest and the deputy director of the Science Directorate at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "They captured the viewers' attention with well chosen soundtracks and dramatic video clips, and they built on that by telling an engaging, well narrated story. You could sense the dedication and excitement of the team."

The Earthzine event launched Aug. 10 with a competition between DEVELOP teams for the best overall project engagement. The teams' work was evaluated by a panel of four judges, including Gibson, Lawrence Friedl, the director of NASA's Applied Sciences Program in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters, Nancy Palm, the assistant chief of the Computational and Information Sciences & Technology Office (CISTO) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Dave Mullins, Earthzine's associate editor for education.

Judges based their final decisions on the use of NASA Earth-observing satellites, meeting partner needs, the success of the projects in fulfilling the objectives they set out to accomplish, dialogue in the commenting section of the Earthzine pages, the scientific and societal merit of the projects and the effectiveness of the presentations.

The poster session highlighted student research projects that apply satellite data to address local community concerns and enhance decision-making -- a key objective of the DEVELOP program, which is sponsored by the Applied Sciences Program. This term, topics ranged from studying the ecological impacts of the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan to developing new ways of tracking hazardous events such as fires and earthquakes and applying satellite data of surface circulation in the Gulf of Mexico to aid in tracking marine debris dispersal.

"Each term at DEVELOP, a fresh group of students arrives, bringing their talents, skills, and personalities to the program," said Matt Batina, the DEVELOP organizer for this event. "Every team project is unique and it's great to see the results of the students' hard work showcased in an important venue such as Earthzine."

Using Earthzine's virtual poster session tool, students were able to share their research with the broader science community using a mixture of media. For example, each of the students created highlight videos to give the audience an inside look at their projects, how these projects will benefit end users and their experience with the DEVELOP program.

"The virtual poster session is a great, cost-effective way for students to share their research work. Earthzine is pleased to offer this opportunity to NASA's DEVELOP students who have really done an excellent job of showcasing their projects," said Paul Racette, the editor-in-chief of Earthzine.

Earthzine is also presenting the winning team with a prize and hopes to host more DEVELOP posters sessions in the future.

Related Links:
Earthzine: http://www.earthzine.org
Poster Session: http://www.earthzine.org/summer-2011-develop-poster-session
DEVELOP: http://develop.larc.nasa.gov

DEVELOP Earthzine Summer 2011 Poster Session Runner Up Teams

First Runner Up: South San Francisco Bay Ecological Forecasting
Center: NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Project Title: Hyperspectral Mapping of Invasive Species in the San Francisco South Bay Salt Ponds

Team Members:
Andrew Nguyen, San Jose State University
Alexander Gole, University of Redlands
Jarom Randall, Brigham Young University
Glade Dlott, California Polytechnic State University
Sylvia Zhang, Yale University

Science Advisors:
Dr. Jay Skiles, NASA Ames
Cyndi Schmidt, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Sonoma, Calif.
Brian Alfaro, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fremont, Calif.

Second Runner Up: Bangladesh Health and Water
Center: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Project Title: Connecting Environmental Observations with Cholera Outbreaks in Bangladesh

Team Members
David Stack, Chapman University
Paul Widmeyer, University of Maryland-College Park
Avery Sandborn, University of Maryland-College Park

Science Advisors:
Vanessa Escobar, NASA Goddard
Dr. Molly Brown, NASA Goddard
Ronald Albright, SSAI, NASA Goddard

Third Runner Up: Padre Island Ecological Forecasting
Center: NASA Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Team Members:
Ross Reahard, University of New Orleans
Brandie Mitchell, University of New Orleans
Aaron Albin, Southeastern Louisiana University
Candis Mallett, University of Southern Mississippi
Shelby Barrett, William Carey University
Lucas Lee, University of Southern Mississippi
Blaise Pezold, University of New Orleans
Chris Brooks, Pearl River Community College

Science Advisors:
Joe Spruce, Computer Science Corporation, NASA Stennis
Dr. Kenton Ross, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Dr. Robert Leben, Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
Neal Parry, NOAA Marine Debris Program
William Botts Padre Island National, Seashore, Texas

Jennifer LaPan
NASA Langley Research Center