PULLMAN, WA—METER Group, Inc. makers of precision scientific instrumentation and software solutions for environmental science, and geotechnical applications is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Grant A. Harris Fellowship.
Gregory Verkaik: McMaster University (School of Earth, Environment & Society)—awarded TEROS 21 soil water potential sensors, TEROS 11 soil water content sensors, ZL6 data loggers, and subscriptions to ZENTRA Cloud. Gregory’s project focuses on fire weather controls and thresholds to peat smoldering vulnerability in natural and managed boreal peatlands. In his proposal, Gregory writes:
Wildfire is the largest natural disturbance to peatlands in the boreal plains, with burn severity ranging from 5-10 cm in low severity cases and >1 m in high severity cases. Peatland drainage and drought conditions are increasing the likelihood of high-severity fires, while novel fuel treatments are being tested as a strategy for reducing burn severity and the concomitant carbon loss. The objective of this research is to utilize easily deployed ATMOS41 weather stations to compare the fire weather controls on peat moisture and tension within natural and managed peatlands. This proposed research will improve our understanding of fire weather and peat smouldering vulnerability within natural and managed peatlands and aid in the integration of peatlands into the next generation of fire danger rating systems in Canada.
Learn more about Gregory and his previous work on:
Chihiro Dixon: Utah State University (Department of Plants, Soils & Climate)
Space exploration continues to be one of humankind’s greatest advancements in science. Long-term space travel involving astronauts will include growing plants for both consumption and mental health benefits. NASA initiated the Ohalo III Crop Production System in 2019 to test the prototype plant production system for long-term space missions. However, past plant growth experiments under microgravity (μg) showed challenges delivering water, nutrients, and oxygen to root zones, challenges likely due to the limited understanding of hydrodynamics under μg and to the limitations and cost of experiments on orbit. We have proposed a layered compound plant growth media including a nursery block, microfiber encasing, hydrophobic foam, and base block…The primary goal of the nursery block hydrophobic foam proposed research is to design and optimize water delivery for long-term crop production in plant growth.
Learn more about Chihiro and her previous work on:
Robin Kim: University of Virginia (School of Engineering & Applied Sciences)—awarded TEROS 11 soil water content sensors, ATMOS 41 weather stations, ZL6 data loggers, and subscriptions to ZENTRA Cloud. Robin is modeling permafrost and seasonally frozen ground temperature profiles in the Himalayas. In his proposal, he writes:
High Mountain Asia (HMA) spans an elevation range of 1500 – 8000 m and supports 10 major river basins for more than one billion people through seasonal precipitation and meltwater from the largest permanent ice cover after the North and South Poles. However, its subsurface thermal regime is warming, increasing the risk of permafrost thaw at high altitudes… Unfortunately, HMA suffers from data scarcity due to the costly nature of installing and maintaining sensors in remote, rugged terrain… Although elevation-dependent warming is accelerating the effects of climate change in mountainous regions8, a lack of research capacity in HMA hampers both policy and infrastructure development for vulnerable communities. The goal of this research project is two-fold: A) monitor permafrost and SFG environments at high elevation, and B) support an international research partnership to build a more robust network of open-access science.
Aria H. Duncan: Stanford University (Earth System Science Department)—awarded TEROS 21 soil water potential sensors, TEROS 11 soil water content sensors, ZL6 data loggers, and subscriptions to ZENTRA Cloud. Aria is attempting to protect rice from coupled climate and soil contamination threats. In her proposal, she writes:
Rice is a crucial staple food. More than 50% of the global population consumes rice daily, and the demand for rice is increasing with population growth. Unfortunately, arsenic (As) contamination is widespread in rice producing regions, and climate change coupled with soil As contamination will have multiplicative negative effects on rice—decreasing yields and threatening food safety. Exposure to As causes skin lesions, heart disease, cognitive impairment, and cancer… Rice is particularly vulnerable to As because it is often grown in flooded, oxygen-limited conditions… However, no previous studies have explored how rising temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will alter the effects of [Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD)] on paddy soils and plants, and continued positive outcomes are not a guarantee as rice plants are subjected to increasing heat stress and As concentrations. Thus, it is not known if AWD will have the same benefits in the future, or how it could be adjusted to protect future rice production. The goal of my research is to combat this looming global food security crisis with strategic irrigation management.
Learn more about Aria and her previous work on:
Emmanuel Adeyanju: The University of North Carolina, Charlotte (Civil and Environmental Engineering)—awarded HYDROS water depth sensors, TEROS soil moisture sensors, ATMOS 41 weather stations, ZL6 data loggers, and subscriptions to ZENTRA Cloud. Emmanuel is investigating frostaction mitigation in granular roads through engineered water repellency at MnROAD. In his proposal he writes:
Seasonal frost heaving and freeze-thaw weakening significantly affect construction and transportation infrastructure. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), current methods to mitigate such damages result in estimated yearly costs of over 2 billion dollars. Engineered water repellency utilizing organosilanes (OS, e.g., Zydrex) can mitigate frost heave in geotechnical systems such as roads and foundations… This study evaluates the applicability of OS in reducing the freeze-thaw impacts on subgrade soils at the Minnesota Road Research Facility (MnROAD).
Learn more about Emmanuel and his previous work on:
Jacob Stid: Michigan State University (Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences)—awarded HYPROP laboratory hydrology instrumentation. Jacob is working towards understanding the impacts of ground-mounted solar installations on local hydrology and soil conditions. In his proposal he writes:
To reach our 2050 net-zero goals, the United States will have to expand solar energy production by more than a factor of ten. This expansion will require the conversion of at least 0.5% of United States land cover. Particularly for solar in agricultural settings, previous work has shown potential for altering local water balance. However, current literature lacks a hydrological understanding of pre- and post-installation conditions under a variety of management practices. We propose using METER’s HYPROP-2 to characterize the soil moisture conditions and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity across several developing solar study sites. These data will be employed in validation of hydrological modeling that will expand across the United States
Learn more about Jacob and his previous work on:
The Grant A. Harris Fellowship promotes innovation, thought leadership, and cutting-edge scientific research by recognizing graduate students who are making extraordinary contributions to any aspect of agricultural, environmental, or geotechnical science. Each fellowship winner will receive $10,000 of METER scientific instrumentation for use in their research.
Visit here for more information about the Grant A. Harris Fellowship.
About METER Group, Inc.
METER Group, Inc., a Decagon and UMS combined company, delivers real-time, high-resolution data that fuels food production, environmental, and geotechnical research in both the urban and agriculture sectors. Through the power of its employees, METER combines science, engineering, and design expertise to turn physical measurements into useful information