Precision and Accuracy

One of the foundational tenets of science is the ability to level the power of empirical observations to expose the inter-workings of the universe. As a computer engineer, in my earlier academic career, measurement and the ability to understand the state of the world was nearly real time. Stated in another way, I was able to test and measure variables and signals that were important to my work right away.

When I started to work with biofuels (and transitioned over to Environmental Engineering), this was no longer the case. In fact many of the biological tests that were important to my work required multiple days to complete. The fact that quantification and measurement consumed so much time was one of the greatest frustrations with my new chosen field.

Currently, I am focused on the opportunities of applying emerging measurement techniques for environmentally significant gases (specifically methane) to clarifying key assumptions of global and regional climatic models. At a very high level, there are many components to interact that lead to weather and climate. Some of these critical components are well measured and well understood. Other times they are derived or available over a large area. I’m interested in using new tools and approaches to help add to measurements of actual dynamics (how much is being emitted and consumed) in important elements that are the major sources for the global production of methane.

These goals are well aligned with the goals of the research group that I am working with at Olathe East. They are working to isolate and understand methanotrophic (organisms that are able to metabolize methane) bacteria in their own environment. Eventually it is their hope to apply this understanding to engineered systems. These students are excited about being able to participate in the broader research conversation happening around menthanotrophs.


I will blog more about the group that I am working with as well as the role that I play in upcoming posts.

About itabakh

I have many interests that find new and interesting ways of filling my days. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and pontificating about education are only a sampling of topics that are able to keep my attention :)
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4 Responses to Precision and Accuracy

  1. Pingback: OMIIR at Olathe East | University of Kansas GK-12 Program

  2. aeastlund says:

    Are you planning on allowing the students to determine their own methods of quantification and analysis? As in, part of the design of the overall experiment would be their own analysis from their understanding of the system? Or will you offer a more guided approach to the measurement and analysis of the system? it seems like a very foreign subject matter to a high school-level class and I can see definite benefits from either direction.

    • itabakh says:

      Currently the formulation of the experiment is more guided. From their examination of the literature under the guidance of their classroom teacher, the students are working toward culturing bacteria in a methane rich environment. Then working with genetic quantification at KU. As we pursue this guided exercise, I am asking the students to reflect on their accomplishments and clarify their goals. Also there is an overall subject map that lays out the major components of the lab. We are using these facilities to clarify thinking and encourage synthesis of the motivation behind the course that is being pursued. There was a period of about 3 weeks where the students selected the components of the projects that they wanted to work on and explored their area. This exercise was quite helpful in thinking about why some of the things that were being undertaken were necessary.

  3. I like the integration of the polls!

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