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UMBC's Earth Day Symposium includes GESTAR II scientists

In April 2024, UMBC celebrated Earth Month, a change from last year's Earth Day event. On Monday, April 29th, the student-led Organizing Committee held the 8th Earth Day Symposium in the University Center Ballroom. GESTAR II Director Charles Ichoku delivered opening remarks, and Zhibo Zhang (GESTAR II/Physics/UMBC) discussed the history of the symposium (the first EDS was held in 2017). This year's symposium theme was "Monitoring Planetary Health," and the first speaker was Vanderlei Martins (Director, Earth and Space Institute). 

Dr. Martins' presentation, "The PACE Satellite," detailed the evolution of the concept of the mission; originally, the satellite would have had only the Ocean Color Instrument. The PACE satellite is now in space with three instruments (OCI, HARP2, and SpexOne) that are complementary. He emphasized that this satellite "presents capabilities we've never had before." 

The second speaker, Dr. Vanessa Vargas-Nguyen, delivered a presentation titled "The Chesapeake Bay Watershed." The third, fourth, and fifth speakers gave talks in the afternoon: Dr. Jin Wei, "Monitoring Air Pollution from Space"; Dr. Robert Foster, "Remote Sensing of Marine Plastic"; and Dr. Kandis Boyd, "The Power of Partnerships." The day also included a nature hike and a poster session. Following the speakers and poster awards, UMBC President Dr. Sheares Ashby delivered the closing remarks. 

After the second speaker of the morning, scientists took the stage for the panel talk, "Planetary Health and PACE." The panelists were from GESTAR II/Morgan State, GESTAR II/UMBC, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: Ivona Cetinic' (616/MSU); Susanne Craig (616/UMBC); Pengwang Zhai (GESTAR II/UMBC/Physics); Jeremy Werdell and Kirk Knobelspiesse (both 616/GSFC). 

When the panel members were asked what was most exciting about PACE, several mentioned the time and determination it took for PACE to come to existence, and embraced the growth of the PACE community and getting to know each other, as PACE and its data crosses many disciplines. Additional questions about PACE addressed the societal, economic, atmospheric, and oceanic benefits that data from PACE can provide (i.e., air quality, clean water information, health impacts on animals and humans), and the fact that all of this data may inform decision-makers of policies.

Panelists were asked what advice they had for students who may want to work at NASA, and they provided varied and valuable insight: remain tenacious and curious; be adaptable; learn to code and learn to communicate, take advantage of public speaking opportunities; learn open source, Python, data science, and computer skills; and, remember you are part of a team. 

Posters were presented in the afternoon in the UC Ballroom, where students discussed their research with attendees. (See the related GESTAR II and ESI items from this portion of the day's events.) Congratulations and thanks to the Organizing Committee, speakers, attendees, and everyone who contributed to this final event of Earth Month at UMBC. Make every day Earth Day!
(Be sure to check out the UMBC News feature on the 8th Earth Day Symposium.)

Dr. Charles Ichoku presents opening remarks.

Dr. Zhibo Zhang discusses the history of the Earth Day Symposium.

Earth Day Symposium panelists discuss "Planetary Health and PACE."

(Photo credits: A. Houghton and K. Aryal)

Posted: May 7, 2024, 1:19 PM