Materials of fictional superheroes, medical mapping, and the Telica Volcano: all are among the variety of topics covered in the posters presented on December 5, 2012. Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) held its first undergraduate poster exhibition to showcase the variety of research and creative endeavors of their students. Twenty-six entries from all five departments were unveiled before an enthusiastic audience in the hallway of the Deike Building. Nine EMS faculty judges critiqued the posters based on display, content, and oral presentation.
Andrew Dzambo, (meteorology) won first place for his poster, “Boundary Layer Heights in a Heterogeneous Landscape” The Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) is an important parameter in air quality forecasting. He collected data for his poster during his summer internship at the Beltsville Center for Climate System Observation (BCCS) in Beltsville, Maryland.
“Many modeling studies of the PBL have been done in the past for heterogeneous landscapes, but this research was one of the first true observational studies of the PBL in a heterogeneous landscape” said Dzambo. He entered the contest because he wanted to get some practice; he is presenting at the American Meteorology Society’s (AMS) conference in Austin, Texas this January.
Emily Ann Fucinato, (materials science and engineering) is starting her EMS career with a bang. She is only a freshman, yet she won second place for her poster, “SWCNTs and BaTiO3 Crystals as an Anit-Reflective Coating Composite for PV Cells.” In the poster, Fucinato describes the process of developing anti-reflective coatings for the surfaces of solar photovoltaic cells.
“One of the main problems we see with today’s solar cells is a large loss of light due to reflection. When the light strikes the surface of the solar cell, some of the light reflects back off the surface and is not available to be converted by the cell into usable energy.” She pursued the topic independently because of her own curiosity. Although she was “completely shocked” when she found out she had placed, she is already making plans to tweak her poster and enter it in the 2013 Undergraduate Exhibition for the University.
Mosquitos and West Nile Virus (WNV) were the focus of Dan Tauriello’s (geography) poster. He won third place for “A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania,” a project he began during an internship with GeoVista. In generating the data for his poster, he admits to being challenged.
“A lot of time was spent simply trying to get tools and data to cooperate with each other. Formats had to be changed, data had to be manually scrubbed to remove strange values, and tests of model parameters had to be run to determine ideal outputs. But I wanted to learn more about geographic analysis and sharpen my graphic design skills, and I think I accomplished both of these goals by participating in this exhibition.”
Seven freshman teams also participated. The Freshman Award, sponsored by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, was awarded to Jared Fisher, Mohammed AlSaud, Mohammed Alnahas, and Sven Alagic. They completed a poster titled “Davis-Besse Nuclear Reactor Vessel Head Degradation” for Dr. Douglas Wolfe’s First Year Seminar class (EM SC100S). Monetary prizes were awarded to the top entries in each of these categories.
EMS students also had an opportunity to vote and select the Student Choice Award. A team of meteorology students, Michael Page, Sydney Daniel, Jacqueline Layer, and Brandon Orr won for their poster, “Weather or Not.” The poster explained the 15-minute student-run weekly weather program that airs on C-Net Channel 7 across Centre County. “We loved the chance to let people know about our show,” said Jacqueline Layer. “We’ve gone to AMS conferences, and because we’re on the broadcasting side of things, we don’t get to do posters. This was fun!”