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.