ECSU stu­dent par­tic­i­pates in field­work

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - NEWS - BY PRESS STAFF

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.

Con­trib­uted photo

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.

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