Catawba College students attend meeting in Washington

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 24, 2019

During finals week of the fall semester, a Catawba College professor and two students left just ahead of bad weather to attend the American Geophysical Union fall meeting held in Washington.

Tyler W. Davis, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, and students Michael Pierce of Kannapolis and Kory Ly of Salisbury attended.

On their way, they visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to take in a number of prestigious aircrafts. Highlights from the thousands of items on display include a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft; a Concorde, a supersonic luxury passenger airliner no longer in operation; and the Space Shuttle Discovery, famous for carrying the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

Students joined more than 20,000 at the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.

The union, established in 1919, is a nonprofit organization grounded in values such as integrity, equality, diversity and cooperation among the global community of academics, governments, industries and other venues that share an interest in understanding the earth, planets and their space environment or those who seek to apply this knowledge to solving problems that face society.

Both student submitted abstracts that were accepted for Pop-Up Talks — a session for students and early-career scientists to share how their research affects society, what their vision is for the future of geophysics, or their experience as a student.

Ly submitted an abstract titled “The Role of a Scientist in the 21st Century: Big Ideas for the Next 100 Years and How to Get There.” The piece addressed how we might harness the energy from the Aurora Borealis.

Pierce submitted an abstract titled “Frontiers in Hydrology: Paths Toward the Next Century in Water Research,” based on his independent study on water and carbon cycle modeling with Davis.

Ly and Pierce also explored the union’s exhibit hall, where people can network and have the chance to see established names and companies like NASA, USGS, Google and ESRI along with the latest technology, sensors and science equipment.

They interacted with several geoscience graduate programs such as Arizona State University to learn about opportunities and begin a dialogue about their lives after Catawba.

Even with a full schedule attending session talks and other programs, the group had time to visit places around the nation’s capital, including the Natural History Museum and National Christmas Tree at the White House. They also toured the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in North America. The basilica has 78,545 square feet of mosaics and houses the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art in the world.

When asked if they would consider returning to the American Geophysical Union in the future, Ly said, “I would definitely attend … again to not only present future research, but also network with fellow peers that’ve come from all around the world. The experience I’ve gained is vast and has served to reinforce my hard-working mentality and drive to succeed.”