Flying High

Jeanette Harlow and Carl Lipo
Jeanette Harlow and Carl Lipo examine a UAV.

Even being surrounded by the Hawaiian grandeur of Oahu’s Ka’a’awa Valley couldn’t fully soothe Cal State Long Beach student Jeanette Harlow as she stared at her computer one day last summer.

Harlow, a geology major and archaeology minor, hoped that thermal imagery photos could help cut through dense foliage and reveal details of hillside caves in the area that might have been used by ancient Hawaiians, but the grayscale images were rather murky.

Welcome to the real world of the geosciences, an area whose better-than-average job prospects also demand technological expertise to collect and analyze data in the field.

That’s why the National Science Foundation gave the university’s Geospatial Research and Mapping Field Program (GRAM) a three-year $344,000 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant to help train students from across the nation.