SO503 Spring 2009

Lecture Syllabus


We will use EOS as the source for many of the readings for the course, and this syllabus will be updated as the semester progresses.

Wed 01/07/09 Course introduction
Mon 01/12/09 Visit these web sites, and come to class ready to discuss the functions of a scientific society:
  • Discuss the role of scientific professional societies in holding meetings, publishing papers, and publishing newsletters.
  • Describe the funding of scientific research with grants, and the difference between "hard" and "soft" money.
  • Understand the role of "big science" versus individual research projects.
  • Know the major funding agencies for earth sciences: NSF and ONR, and the difference between NRL and ONR.
  • Wed 01/14/09   Scientific writing and presentations  
  • Discuss the importance of priority in scientific research, and the role of refereed and peer reviewed journals.
  • Understand the importance of abstracts, and the need for clear, concise, and informative abstracts.
  • Describe the importance of oral and poster presentations for scientific research. 
  • Tues 01/20/09 Anatomy of a Scientific Paper
    • Discuss the parts of a scientific paper
    • Discuss the citation style used in science, and the preponderance of journal articles in the references cited
    • Discuss the weaving of geology, biology, climatology, and GIS in this paper's tracing of past climates and snakehead distribution.
    • Paper analysis checklists

    We need pairs of students to discuss: Abstract, Introduction/Background, Methodology, Results, Summary and conclusions

    A single student will discuss: Graphics, References

    Wed 01/21/09 Research topics 1
    Mon 01/26/09 EOS anatomy
    Wed 01/28/09 Research topics 2 (during 1st period; you will have SO513 during 2d period)
    Mon 02/02/09 Time Series
    • Understand the definition of a time series.
    • Know the use of filtering, detrending, and anomaly computation
    • Understand the use of cross correlation.
    • Interpret a correlogram, in terms of time series periodicity and what the lags mean.
    Wed 02/04/09 Time series part two
    Mon 02/09/09 Exam 1 (30 minutes)

    Then Tarrant and S. Neuer, Monitoring Algal Blooms in a Southwestern U.S. Reservoir System, EOS

    1. Discuss the value of MODIS imagery, with its near daily imagery at 250 m resolution.
    2. Discuss how we can monitor algal blooms from space.
    Wed 02/11/09 Time series and climate
    Wed 02/18/09 Studying Stream Morphology With Airborne Laser Elevation Data, EOS
    1. Discuss the characteristics and uses of LIDAR topography.
    2. Discuss why we want a variety of digital elevation models (DEMs) at different scales or resolutions.
    Mon 02/23/09 Google Earth Mapping (finding Bin Laden)
    1. Discuss the use of Google Earth imagery, and models for what he would be looking for, to suggest possible location for Bin Laden.
    2. Discuss the use of nighttime lights for an indication of the situation in Baghdad.
    Wed 02/25/09 GIS introduction
    1. Discuss what makes a GIS (data and map coordinates), and why it is so important for the earth sciences.
    2. Discuss the importance of registration for imagery, and how it is done using world files or by KML with Google Earth.
    Mon 03/02/09 Remote sensing
    • Discuss the types of resolution with satellite imagery, and the tradeoffs required to get an acceptable S/N ratio with the sensors.
    • Differentiate multispectral and hyperspectral imagery.
    • Discuss why we use contrast enhancement when displaying imagery.
    • Discuss the use of filtering and principal components in imagery analysis.
    • Discuss how we can classify satellite imagery
    Wed 03/04/09 Remote sensing
    Mon 03/09/09 References
    1. Discuss the use of citation databases, especially the ability to find newer sources that cite a classical old paper.
    2. Understand that spaces in file names can cause issues for some ancient legacy software.
    3. Discuss the relative speed of data access from different computer media, and how that should influence where you store data files.
    4. Understand the importance of seniority in paper authorship, and the need for accurate reference lists in papers.
    Wed 03/11/09 Paper topic due  
    Mon 03/23/09 Ref list corrections, Drought in Mexico (EOS)
    • Discuss the use of tree rings to get long term climate records for PDSI
    Wed 03/25/09 PLOS--connections of science

    Nature--flu and Google searches

    • Understand the difference between static and dynamic IP addresses
    • Discuss how internet search queries can be used, and how we can locate a web address
    Mon 03/30/09 Review of recent labs
    Wed 04/01/09 Exam 2
    Mon 04/06/09 Oral presentations in science
    • Discuss the importance of substance over gimmicks in scientific Power Point presentations.
    • Discuss the importance of the slide contents to the presenter and the audience.
    • Consider the amount of text that should be on a slide, and the relative balance between text, graphics, and blank space.
    Wed 04/08/09 Oral versus written presentations; writing tips
    • Discuss the importance of the abstract for scientific writing and presentations
    • Discuss the importance of the active voice, and direct sentences in technical writing.
    • Understand how references are done in scientific writing.
    Mon 04/13/09 Scientific graphics
    • Understand the challenge for earth scientists to place multiple dimensions of data on a 2D display.
    • Resist the urge to use "chart junk" to make a graph more complex than needed 
    • Discuss the case study on the shuttle Challenger's O-rings, and how a lack of focus on the graphics presented contributed to the decision to launch
    Wed 04/15/09 EOS--hpoxia in the Gulf of Mexico
    • Describe the chain of events from excess fertilizer to hypoxia, in the Gulf as well as the Chesapeake Bay, and how it relates to vertical stratification and mixing
    Mon 04/20/09 Review of recent labs
    Wed 04/22/09 Library research
    Mon 04/27/09 Course Review