News briefs 4th Quarter 2014

This page includes brief looks at activities of Explorers Club Washington Group members during the fourth quarter of 2014  or reported during this quarter. ECWG members want to know what you’re up to, including awards, honors, publications, or news stories about you, email the information to joewittewx@yahoo.com

Jocelyn Kelly, FN 12,  returned from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic in February 2014 where she looked at human rights issues in conflict-affected areas. Her recent work has involved studying mineral extraction in unstable political environments. She has recently published two articles in the peer-reviewed literature:

  • Kelly, J., King-Close,A. & Perks, R. (2014). Resources and Resourcefulness: Roles, opportunities and risks for women working at artisanal mines in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Futures. Vol 62 (Part A), pages 95-105.
  • Kelly, J. T. (2014). “This mine has become our farmland”: Critical perspectives on the co-evolution of artisanal mining and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Resources Policy. Vol 40, pages 100-108

In January and February, 2014, Lee Talbot, MED 57, worked in Laos following up his earlier explorations and environmental work there.  Among the tasks accomplished were finding illegal logging and fishing.  As usual, prior to leaving, he presented conservation recommendations directly to the Deputy Prime Minister of Laos.

In July and August Lee and his wife, Marty Talbot, Med 04, spent almost a month climbing and hiking in the High Sierras of California. Lee also races in vintage sports car events. In spite of car problems during the 2014 season, out of 8 races he finished his  final score was six first places, one second and one third .

In January 2014  Lee Talbot was presented with a certificate on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for his outstanding contributions in establishing the World Heritage Convention. Full story .

Background: Lee Talbot’s long association with Laos

Thomas F. “Tom” Kirsch, MN 06 was among the health care workers invited to the

Dr. Kent Brantly delivers remarks during an event with American health care workers fighting Ebola. Kirsch is in back row 2nd from right with the grey goatee. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy.

White House on Oct. 29, 2014 to meet President Obama and leading figures from the Administration in a ceremony and discussion to honor the ‘Heroes in Healthcare Fighting Ebola.” Kirsch had just returned from working on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. More: White House report on the meeting.

ECWG members: Tom Kirsch

Tom King, FN 02, is finalizing plans to take a group of 65 visitors to Nikumarono Atoll in Kiribati  in June 2015 to explore where The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) hypothesizes Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed and died after their 1937 disappearance.

The group will visit the Seven Site, where archaeological and historical evidence suggests that Earhart may have died, and will carry out archaeological work along the eroding shoreline where aircraft parts have been found in the past.  The visit will be coordinated with a TIGHAR expedition performing more detailed archaeological survey and robotic submarine survey along the atoll’s northwestern reef.

Dr. Michael Manyak, MED 92 presented his experiences with expedition medicine in a special plenary session presentation for the Brazilian Society of Urology in Rio de Janeiro in November.

Robert Hyman, LF 93, was one of the researchers who for the first time ever affixed Argos (Doppler) transmitters to one of Central America’s most endangered bird species,

Researchers hold a three-wattled-bellbird

the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus). This enigmatic bird is characterized by unique vocalizations, including squeaks, bonks, and thunderous bell-like sounds that register among the loudest bird calls on the planet. In late September, a field research team led by Dr. Robin Bjork traveled deep into the cloud forests of the Sierra de Agalta National Park in eastern Honduras, captured four of the rare bellbirds, and affixed state-of the-art, solar powered Argos units to the birds before releasing them back into the wild.

The transmitters have already enabled the researchers to begin studying the complex migratory movements of the bellbirds. The ultimate goal of the project is to better understand the behavioral ecology of the bellbirds in an effort to promote conservation of the species and the preservation of its tropical cloud forest habitat.

The Fall 2014 issue of the  Journal of Space Philosophy published an article by  Carolyn J., “Lonnie,“ Schorer,  MN 98, entitled “Education for Tomorrow’s Space Travelers and Developers.” In it she argues that while “risk and exploration have been symbolic ofthe American Way…

Lonnie Schorer employs kite aerial photography on Nikumaroro Island, photo by Mark Smit

“Standardization in the U.S. education system and collective homogenization of effort are leading students to be risk averse.” She urges reevaluating “our no-child-left-behind, lowest-common-denominator approach” and “support those who are intellectually predisposed to risk.”

She says, “a step in this direction would be to synthesize liberal arts and technical preparation in a single liberal arts-tech degree – a synthesis that would allow our pioneers to understand the mechanics as well as the context of their commitment.” The full text of her article.

To learn more about Schorer’s life and explorations, click on her Alumna Profile in the   Fall 2013 issue of The Virginia Tech Magazine.

The governing Council of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) elected Jack Williams, FN 03, as one of 28 new AMS Fellows at its fall 2014 meeting. The Society says members elected as fellows “shall have made outstanding contributions to the atmospheric

Jack Williams at U.S. Antarctic Program “Happy Campers” survival school on the Ross Ice Shelf in January 1999.

or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their aplications substantial period of years.” The Council selects no more than two-tenths of one percent of all AMS Members as fellows each year. The Society has approximately 14,000 members.

Williams was the founding editor of the USA TODAY Weather Page when the paper began publication in 1982 and assumed added duties of USATODAY.com weather editor in 1995 when the paper launched its Web site.

Williams reported on weather and climate research from Antarctica, Greenland (four times), a research icebreaker sailing on the Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska, airplanes flying into four hurricanes and one tropical storm, and with researchers chasing Great Plains tornadoes (three times). He’s the author or co-author of seven books with all but two focused on meteorology.

Curt J. Westergaard, MN 09, reports that his the National Capitol Planning Commission  has selected his firm, Digital Design & Imaging Service, Inc., in Falls Church, Va., to conduct an aerial survey of Washington, D.C. with special focus on the original layout of avenues. This supports the Planning Commission’s look at the evolution of the 1791 L’enfant Plan and the 1903 Macmillian Plan.

The project is based on the aerostat-based imaging project the firm conducted for the DC Office of Planning’s Height Study in 2012.

This aerostat based imaging project  grew from their work for DC Office of Planning’s  Height Study in 2012.

The company’s Web site has links to these stories about it’s activities:

The company notes that the tethered aerostat balloons, like the ones it deploys, are the only FAA authorized, safe, legal, aerial platform currently allowed in highly restricted U.S. flight zones.

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