In the Spotlight: Aug. 28, 2020

Kudos to these faculty, staff and programs

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  • Tom Kolb and Andrea Thode, professors of forestry, and George Koch, professor of biological sciences, are part of a research team that received a $300,000 grant from NASA to investigate the use of satellite-based remote sensing to measure plant water stress and evapotranspiration in wildfire-burned forests. With collaboration from Wesleyan University and the University of Maine, the team strives to develop a better understanding of wildfire impacts on forests.
  • Kiona Ogle, professor in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS), served as the program chair for the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America conference focused on the theme, “Harnessing the Ecological Data Revolution.” After scheduling was complete for an in-person event, Ogle headed the transformation of the meeting into a successful virtual format featuring more than 3,000 presentations with Q&A sessions, synchronous networking opportunities and professional development sessions.
  • Several faculty members of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society recently published articles.
    • Yiqi Luo, professor of biological sciences, co-authored the article, “Resolving the Dust Bowl paradox of grassland responses to extreme drought” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The four-year experiment replicated conditions during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and resolves the mystery of why C3 grasses can outcompete C4 grasses during long-term drought. Luo also was quoted for the work in the article, “Dust Bowl Mystery” published with Colorado State University.
    • Assistant research professor of biological sciences Christina Schädel was the lead author of “Decomposability of soil organic matter over time: the Soil Incubation Database (SIDb, version 1.0)” published in Earth System Science Data. One aim of this open-access databaseis to generate tools that can better characterize soil carbon processes in Earth system models and help to reduce uncertainty in predicting how decomposition of this carbon will respond to a changing climate.
    • Professor of biological sciences Michelle Mack and senior research associate Xanthe Walker co-authored the study, “Fire characteristics and environmental conditions shape plant communities via regeneration strategy” published in Ecography. The authors investigated how factors like fire severity and depth of the soil organic layer shape plant communities that regrow in the understory after wildfire.
    • Professor of biological sciences Ted Schuur, Regents professor of SICCS Andrew Richardson, assistant research professor of SICCS Logan Berner and professor of SICCS Scott Goetz were contributors to the Arctic and Global Climate chapters of the “State of the Climate in 2019.” The international, peer-reviewed report is released each summer by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
  • Damon Vaughan, research associate with the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) and recent doctoral graduate, led a study, “Modeling variation in wood stiffness of Pinus ponderosa using static bending and acoustic measurements,” published in Forestry. The study, co-authored by David Auty, associate professor of forestry, and Andrew Sánchez Meador, executive director of the ERI, tested samples of ponderosa pine from northern Arizona destructively in bending and non-destructively using acoustic velocity to measure wood stiffness.
  • Robin Tuchscherer, associate professor of the Department of Civil Engineering Construction Management and Environmental Engineering (CECMEE), and former graduate student Megan Stevens co-authored the article, “Quantifying a Bridge’s Structural Resilience” published in ASCE Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction. The article proposes a method for rating and quantifying a bridge’s structural resilience focusing on the relationship between a bridge’s resilience and structural inputs.
  • Chun-Hsing Ho, associate professor of CECMEE, co-authored the article, “Inclination effect of coal mine strata on the stability of loess land slope under the condition of underground mining” published in Natural Hazards. The article is a result of his sabbatical and international collaborations with Xian University of Science and Technology. The study tested two mining models with two different rock orientations and slopes to investigate the stability and driving conditions of the loess land slope under the guides of the V-shaped law.
  • Truong Nghiem, assistant professor of SICCS, and doctoral student Viet-Anh Le presented their research paper, “Gaussian Process Based Distributed Model Predictive Control for Multi-Agent Systems Using Sequential Convex Programming and ADMM” at the IEEE Conference on Control Technology and Applications. Their work develops a distributed algorithm for data-driven Distributed Model Predictive Control for multi-agent control systems, where the agents’ dynamics are modeled by Gaussian Processes.
  • Assistant professor of forestry Amanda De La Torre co-edited a new Springer book titled “The Spruce Genome.” The book is a comprehensive compilation that focuses on the genomics of spruces, conifer tree species that hold tremendous ecological and economic importance in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Principal lecturer of sociology James I. Bowie authored the article, “The Surprising Reason Why All Bank Logos Look the Same” published in Marker. The article discusses the history of logo design and explains how many modern bank logos ended up looking similar to one another.
  • Assistant professor of communication Zhan Xu published the article, “I don’t understand you but I trust you: using computer-aided text analysis to examine medical terminology use and engagement of vaccine online articles” in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare. The study compared the medical terminology used in pro- and anti-vaccine articles, as well as linked medical terminology to readability levels and engagement.
  • Matthew Wangeman, disability studies instructor and member of the Commission on Disability Access and Design (CDAD), was interviewed by Ability Magazine for a project celebrating its 30-year anniversary. Wangeman was selected as one of 50 thought leaders throughout the country to discuss ADA and the future of the disability rights in America.
  • First author and alumnus Tommy Rock and professor of chemistry and biochemistry Jani Ingram published the article, “Traditional Ecological Knowledge Policy Considerations for Abandoned Uranium Mines on Navajo Nation” in Indigenous Science and Ecology, a special issue of Human Biology. The article discusses how traditional ecological knowledge can play a role in environmental policy development for the Navajo Nation surrounding abandoned uranium mines.
  • Lecturer of sociology Stefanie Kunze published the article, “A Three-Dimensional Model for Perpetrators of Genocide” in the International Journal of Sociology. The article argues that understanding perpetrator motives must consider organizational, political and social contexts. People must take a closer look at the applicability of existing perpetrator typologies to international crimes and examine where specific types of perpetrators have been overlooked.
  • Assistant research professor of anthropology Alder Keleman Saxena co-authored the article, “Chains of Meaning: Crops, commodities, and the ‘in-between’ spaces of trade” published in World Development. The study examines how basmati rice in India and red rice in Madagascar are both made exportable partly through the negotiation of non-economic meanings and how some global supply chains are mediated by broader cultural and social relationships.
  • Associate professor Fatemeh Afghah of NAU’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to develop advanced signal processing, resource management and artificial intelligence techniques. These developments will enable both active and passive users of remote sensing services to coexist in the same radio frequency bands, thereby making more spectrum available to active systems while protecting the passive systems from interference. Learn more about research being conducted in Afghah’s Wireless Networking & Information Processing Lab.