ECSU student participates in fieldwork
WILLIMANTIC — Eastern Connecticut State University student Alyson Augenstein, of East Hampton, is one of a group of Environmental Earth Science students who recently participated in fieldwork related to an ongoing research project at Napatree Point Conservation Area in Watch Hill, R. I.
Augenstein has been working on her undergraduate research project under guidance of EES Professor Bryan Oakley, according to a press release.
“The NPCA is a natural preserve, an important bird nesting and migratory resting area, and one of the region’s finest beaches. The conservancy is part owner and, in partnership with the Watch Hill Fire District, educates the public about the ecology of the barrier beach,” Augenstein said in the release.
The research is related to the evolution of shoreline change and barrier spit migration. The barrier spit formed as part of the infamous 1938 hurricane and encloses the lagoon at Napatree, the release said.
“The fieldwork entails collecting elevation profiles using a combination of field- and computer-based work that includes the use of RealTime Kinematic, a satellite navigation technique used to enhance the precision of position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems, and mapping the location of the spit with GPS,” Oakley said.
Augenstein’s focus is assessing lagoon changes that have taken place since 2014 to determine whether the lagoon is shoaling or becoming more shallow over time, and if so, how much and why.
“My project involved collecting bathymetric data, which is the study of the underwater depth of the lagoon that is located at the end of the Napatree spit,” Augenstein said. “The research is going to be continued over winter break when I will analyze the raw data I collected.”
Augenstein’s research initially began with a focus on comparing data she collected to previous data gathered in 2014. After a few months, she expanded her research to track short-term lagoon depth changes as well, according to ECSU.
“What surprised me about my data is how quickly the elevation of the lagoon’s floor can change; not only over a long-term time frame (years), but from one month to the next. This research has exposed me to a variety of measurement devices, technologies and field processes, which has improved my critical-thinking skills,” Augenstein added in the release.
“The involvement of undergraduate students in research is significant in several ways: It allows us, as faculty members, to continue to pursue our research interests and maintain a connection with cutting-edge techniques,” Oakley said.
Augenstein plans to present her research at the Celebrating Research, Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern conference in the spring.
Eastern Connecticut State University Environmental Earth Science undergraduate research students stand with Professor Bryan Oakley, second from right, and Alyson Augenstein of East Hampton, far right.