A group of students in Lecturer Jessica Hutchison’s botany class last semester were able to help NASA with a project that was truly out of this world.
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) program involves an orbiting observatory (satellite) that measures the amount of water in the top 2 inches of soil everywhere on Earth’s surface while traveling in a polar orbit around the globe.
By taking frequent and reliable soil measurements, SMAP will help improve the predictive capability of weather and climate models, according to NASA’s description of the mission. SMAP, NASA states, will assist with monitoring drought; predicting floods; assisting crop productivity; improving weather forecasting; and detailing water, energy, and carbon cycles.
In order to verify the satellite’s findings, Alfred State students and others at various points around the globe collect data and enter it into the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program’s website at www.globe.gov, where it is viewed by NASA scientists.
Brian Campbell, senior NASA earth science education specialist, said the SMAP satellite uses an onboard radiometer sensor to measure how much water is in the soil. The combination of satellite measurements and ground-based ones provides the science community at NASA and beyond with a much more robust soil moisture dataset.
“We can take the GLOBE student measurements of volumetric soil moisture, obtained through the SMAP Block Pattern Soil Moisture Protocol, and compare them to the SMAP satellite data,” Campbell said. “GLOBE students can also compare their data to that of the SMAP satellite data. This is a vital technique that will help validate the SMAP satellite data for users all across the planet and help us better understand how our planet works.”
Alfred State is one of 30 schools around the world taking part in the project, and the only one in New York State. Countries of other participating schools include the United States, Croatia, Puerto Rico, Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, Oman, and Italy.
To collect the ground-based data, nearly every day beginning in October, a student collects a small sample of soil outside the college’s greenhouse, takes it inside the Agriculture Science Building, and weighs it. The student then places the soil inside a drying oven set at 100 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. The sample is removed from the oven, weighed again to determine how much water it originally held, and that data is entered online.
Kayana Fonseca, an agricultural technology major from Nashville, TN, one of four Alfred State students who worked on the project, said she and the others used a chart in order to determine when the satellite is flying overhead. The students then had to take a ground sample within three hours.
“We are the ones from this area who are taking the samples and entering in the data,” she said. “It’s no one else’s job, so I think it’s pretty cool. Looking online and seeing the locations where this is being done all over the country and all over the world, it’s just nice to know you’re part of something bigger.”
Peter Meyer, an agricultural business major from Long Island, said he never thought he would be working on a project for NASA, and jokes that when he tells people about it, they don’t believe him.
“I can’t believe it myself,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
The two other students who worked on the project during the fall 2015 semester were Trevor Hoffmier, agricultural business, Newark Valley; and Noelle Pomfrey, agricultural technology, Alfred.
Going forward, Hutchison said she plans to continue the project with her spring 2016 semester soils class students, though acknowledges they won’t be able to take any soil samples when the ground is covered in snow.
“I think it’s been really great,” Hutchison said of the experience her students have been having with the project. “Ever since I came to this college, I’ve been looking for ways for students to get involved outside of the classroom because applied learning is really emphasized here. I think the students make good contacts, they have something really cool to put on their resume, and they develop some real-world skills through this project.”
In photo above: Peter Meyer, an agricultural business major from Long Island, and Kayana Fonseca, an agricultural technology major from Nashville, TN, take a sample of soil to analyze as part of their involvement in NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) program.
Faculty and staff from public and private institutions alike gathered at Alfred State Jan. 13 for an Accessibility Conference on the Alfred campus.
Emphasizing the importance of accessibility in education, the conference drew 71 total attendees, with participants representing Alfred State, Alfred University, the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Buffalo, SUNY Brockport, Monroe Community College, the University of Rochester Medical Center, SUNY Geneseo, Open SUNY, Temple University, St. John Fisher College, and Northeastern Illinois University.
The agenda consisted of keynotes and sessions that addressed accessibility issues facing institutions today. Topics included making course content accessible through Microsoft Word (or PowerPoint), audio, and video; an overview of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and its application to the college setting; and improving the accessibility of online courses through the Open SUNY Course Quality Review Rubric.
Keynote speakers were Andrew Lessman, associate director for State Authorization: Office of Digital Education at Temple University; and Dr. Whitney Rapp, associate professor of Inclusive Education in the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College.
Other speakers included Meghan Pereira from Buffalo State, Danyelle Moore from Alfred State, Dan Feinberg from Open SUNY, Angela Atwell from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, Ginger Bidell from Buffalo State, and Thomas Tobin from Northeastern Illinois University.
“Overall, I think the conference went very well,” said Ellen Sidey, interim director of Online Learning at Alfred State. “The keynote speakers and session instructors were engaging, and I was pleased with the number of attendees.”
In photo above: Dr. Whitney Rapp, associate professor of Inclusive Education in the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College, delivers a keynote presentation at the Accessibility Conference.
The Hinkle Memorial Library will display a series of photographs by Matthew Burroughs, of Painted Post, from Feb. 1-29.
Altogether, the exhibit will feature seven photographs - two of Alaska, and one each of Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, fall foliage in the Painted Post area, a Bengal tiger, and a floral photo.
Burroughs said his pictures are mostly of nature, wildlife, and travel destinations around the world. He noted he likes to showcase bright colors in his work.
“I enjoy photography because it is a wonderful creative outlet and forces me to take the time to look at the world from different points of view,” he said.
A graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Burroughs has been published in the Disney Institute’s magazine, local calendars and postcards, and the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce’s annual travel guide. He has won prizes from the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, the Community Arts of Elmira Inc., and Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum, and was the 2013 winner of the annual B & C Photo, Inc. Creative Photography Contest.
In 2014, Burroughs was selected to exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning for the 40-year celebration of the city’s architecture. His photos can be found at numerous local venues, such as the Corning Chamber of Commerce, the Painted Post Village Hall, and the Corning Visitor Center, which is selling his photo books of area scenery.
To view a collection of Burroughs’ photos, visit http://mattburroughs.fototime.com/.
The exhibit will be open for viewing during normal library hours. To inquire about exhibiting your work in the Hinkle Gallery, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-587-4313.
Alfred State is pleased to announce that Ana McClanahan, of Newport, NC, is the new dean of the School of Applied Technology.
She takes over for Dr. Craig Clark, who held the position since 1996 before becoming Alfred State vice president of Economic Development on Jan. 1.
McClanahan served as dean of the NC BioNetwork Capstone Center in Raleigh, NC, from 2011 to 2015; as lead instructor at Beaufort County Community College in Washington, NC, from 2007 to 2011; and as biology and biotechnology adjunct instructor at Pitt Community College in Greenville, NC, from 2006 to 2007. At East Carolina University in Greenville, she worked as challenge course facilitator from 2001 to 2009, research assistant from 2003 to 2005, and anatomy and physiology lab instructor from 2002 to 2006.
She earned a BA in mass media in 1998 from the University of North Carolina, and a BS in biology in 2002 from East Carolina University, where she also received an MS in biology, with an emphasis on applied science in 2006. McClanahan is currently working toward her PhD from North Carolina State University (NCSU).
Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, said, “Ana has an extensive and impressive background in higher education and we are excited that she is now a part of the Alfred State family.”
Dr. Kristin Poppo, provost, said, “Ana brings significant experience in workforce development, strong leadership skills, and a belief in the transformative power of education to our Wellsville campus. We are pleased that she has chosen to join Alfred State as dean.”
Throughout her career, McClanahan has received numerous awards and fellowships, including NCSU Equal Opportunity Institute Graduate with Honors and Scholar, BioNetwork Scholarship, and North Carolina Community College Faculty of the Year state finalist. She is also a member of several professional organizations, including the Adult and Community College Educators Association, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers, the North Carolina Academy of Science, and Graduate Women in Science.
McClanahan is married to JD Schaefer. The couple has three children, Ariana Brown, Dave Schaefer, and Aaron Nelson; and one grandchild, Leland Brown.
Welcoming all employees to the start of the spring 2016 semester, Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan in his Opening Remarks speech Monday encouraged all faculty and staff to “get around to” completing tasks on their “to-do” lists.
Speaking about “bucket” lists, Sullivan urged employees to accomplish all of the things they would like to do before they pass away, whether it’s starting a business, picking up a hobby, or traveling. He also mentioned making a list of professional goals that would benefit not only themselves, but students, programs, and the college as a whole.
Each faculty and staff member was also given a “round TUIT,” a small, circular wooden disk with the word “TUIT” stamped on one side and the Alfred State logo on the other.
“Carry this gift with you to remind you to get around to it,” the president said. “Get around to something that has to do with change.”
Sullivan finished his remarks by reminding everyone that they are Pioneers, not settlers.
“I’m blessed to be your president,” he said. “I pray that even today, you’ll get around to it. Make a difference. Go Pioneers.”
The president also gave an update of Alfred State, mentioning new programs and those in progress; facilities being upgraded or under construction, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Center on the Wellsville campus; updating the college’s Strategic Plan; accomplishments; goals, or “scary stuff”; and equipment requests that have been approved.
Alfred State is pleased to announce that Patricia Haggerty, of Wellsville, has been appointed as the college’s new director of Annual Giving.
Haggerty had been the director of Marketing and Admissions at Wellsville Manor Care Center since September 2010. Prior to that, she was vice president of Team Sales at Simpson Race Products, and NASCAR sales account manager at Team Simpson Racing.
As director of Annual Giving, Haggerty will report to the executive director of Institutional Advancement and will work closely with the director of Alumni Relations in leading the advancement initiative for the college. The functions of the director of Annual Giving include the Annual Fund drive solicitations such as phonathon, athletic sponsorships, President’s Society, stewardship, and special events.
Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, said, “We are delighted to welcome Patricia Haggerty to our college staff and we are thrilled that she will be working to further the advancement initiative of Alfred State.”
Haggerty will oversee an advancement program that cultivates and engages alumni, business and industry, and friends that want to invest in the future of the college. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and organizational communications, with a minor in business marketing and management from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Her husband, Sean Haggerty, is an assistant professor in the Automotive Trades Department, and they have two children, Gavin and Brielle.
Danielle White, executive director of Institutional Advancement, said, “I am excited to have Trish join us in Institutional Advancement. I believe that her outgoing personality and experience will be a true asset to the college.”