Thursday, June 19, 2008

GIS Crew -- what are they up to?

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts focusing on members of the Geographic Information Crew (past and present) at Warren Wilson College. GIS courses are taught within the interdisciplinary Global Studies program, and the GIS lab is managed by a crew of students. While working on the crew the students spend time making maps for student and faculty publications and presentations, conducting spatial analyses for research, and generally maintaining the lab. During the summer and after graduation, these students go on to do amazing things -- like Nora Purcell, who spent 10 days in the Panamanian rainforest working on a mapping and wireless sensor project (see photo), and is now working on a toxicology project in Texas. In her words:

"This summer I am conducting a toxicology study through NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. I am being hosted by the kind folks at West Texas A&M University. As a Vermonter, I never knew how much I would love this dry landscape, but the university is perched between beautiful short grass prairie and rolling, red canyons full of juniper and deer. There is nothing I like more than hiking through the canyons and watching the sun set in big sky country. As farming and ranching pressures continue to increase, however, the health of this unique ecosystem is in danger. Cotton, with all its attendant herbicides and pesticides, is becoming a popular cash crop even in this arid climate. In order to understand the more subtle consequences of this shift, I have designed my study to assess the endocrinological effects of the herbicide atrazine on local fish species."

We look forward to reading about Nora's research, and to having her back on the crew this fall!