Geoscientist Receives NSF Grant to Develop GPS and LiDAR Education at UH

Project Will Add Upper-Level Applications Course and Augment Field Methods Course

University of Houston (UH) professor Guoquan (Bob) Wang received a three-year, $168,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) award that will integrate Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) into the UH undergraduate geosciences curriculum.

Project plans for the technology integration include creating a new upper-level applications course at UH; augmenting an existing field-methods course at the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) field camp with GPS and LiDAR applications; and conducting professional development workshops for college faculty to incorporate GPS and LiDAR into their own courses.

Plans include installing a real-time, high-rate GPS station at the YBRA field camp, located south of Red Lodge, Montana. The UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers two sessions of Geology Field Camp and one session of Geophysics Field Camp there each summer. The YBRA GPS will be co-located with a U.S. Geological Survey Advanced National Seismic System Backbone seismic station.

“The high-rate GPS and seismic instruments will be a perfect field lab for teaching principles of earthquake monitoring, plate motions observing and field instrumentation,” said Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Montana is the state with the sparsest permanent GPS coverage. The GPS station will significantly contribute to the local education and land survey communities.”

Several other organizations and universities, including Pennsylvania State University, Southern Illinois University, Cincinnati Museum Center and New Jersey State Museum, offer geology, geophysics and environmental field courses at YBRA, as well. Each summer, more than 200 undergraduates attend field courses there.

The YBRA GPS station will extend the Eastern Basin Range and Yellowstone Hotspot GPS Network (EBRY), operated by the University of Utah, and will contribute to the study of geodynamics and evolution of the Yellowstone Hotspot.

Wang’s project also will install one real-time, high-rate GPS station at the UH Coastal Center (UHCC), located in central Galveston County. The UHCC GPS station will be co-located with two deep seismic wells installed by UH’s Allied Geophysical Laboratories. The GPS station and seismic wells will become a field geophysics education facility for UH students.

Additionally, the UHCC GPS will be integrated into HoustonNet, an NSF-funded large project to conduct subsidence monitoring in the Houston metropolitan area. Wang is also the principal investigator of the NSF HoustonNet project.


Editor’s note: Story courtesy of Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

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