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Field Notes

Storm Chasing Team

November 21, 2019

  • Students Chase Storms Over Seven States

    For the second summer in a row, students travelled across the Midwest in search of storms capable of producing tornadoes. The class was led by Associate Professors of Meteorology David Lerach, Ph.D., and Wendi Flynn, Ph.D.

    Students used smartphone apps, GPS satellite feeds and handheld weather instruments to collect data, as well as filed daily weather briefs and visited the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla.

    “We didn’t get to see any tornadoes, but I still learned a lot and enjoyed being able to apply some of the things I have learned in class, which was probably my favorite part,” said UNC Meteorology junior Sydney Giesen.

    Retrace the journey

  • New Portable Hearing Device Offers Easy, Low-cost Testing 

    Studies show that a new portable device can detect hearing loss without the need of a sound booth. Deanna Meinke, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences, was the principle investigator for the project.

    An audiometer is built into a headset and automatically controlled by a tablet computer, which can be operated by untrained individuals. The test typically takes 10 to 15 minutes. The headset was designed to reduce background noise levels in order to allow for testing outside of a clinical sound booth. This technology was developed with grant funding from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research program and in partnership with Creare Inc., an engineering research and development firm.

    This opens the door to more affordable and portable hearing testing as well as innovative research and experience with cutting-edge technology for students. Recent graduates and audiologists Ashley Stumpf, Au.D., and Jen Ruths, Au.D., used this device as part of their doctoral capstone research projects.

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  • Students Launch 3D-Printed Vessel into the Atmosphere 

    Recent Physics and Astronomy graduates Brian Smith and Rydell Stottlemyer released a balloon payload into the atmosphere this past spring. The payload measured pressure, temperature, movement and time data as it traveled 14 miles into the atmosphere.

    UNC is one of 21 institutions in the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s DemoSat Program and receives $25,000 a year to fund these types of projects and compensate the students who work on them.

    “Participation in DemoSat allows students to become their own scientists, to build confidence and to work as a team. Most of all, having this experience better prepares them for life beyond UNC,” said Assistant Professor Matthew Semak of UNC’s Physics and Astronomy department.

    Watch the Launch

  • Biology Professor Helps Close Case

    Steve Mackessy, Ph.D., a professor of Biology at UNC, helped the Royal Canadian Mounted Police close a murder case from 2014 that involved analyzing snake venom, shed snake skins, bodily fluid samples and more.

    “We used a variety of different types of molecular and protein-chemistry techniques to ask the questions: What are these species of snakes that are involved here, and are any of them potential sources for the venoms that seem to have been involved in a crime?” Mackessy said.

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