Scientists and Applications

Below is the list of scientists and their potential applications.

Alex Mayer – Hydrologist

Contact Information

Email: asmayer at
Skype ID: alex.mayer2
Civil Engineering/Geology Departments
Michigan Technological University
On sabbatical in Mexico

App Idea: Watershed Health Monitoring

IMCAS-X is a non-governmental organization that promotes public involvement in the sustainable and efficient management of water resources in the region around Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. As part of its mission, IMCAS-X organizes citizens to collect information on the quality of streams and rivers in the area. The proposed app would allow citizens to record observations of river health at locations of interest to IMCAS-X. The observations would focus on visual observations of the physical state of a river that are relevant to river water quality and stream-side habitat. The users would be able to download the smartphone app from a companion website, currently under development, which can be used to record observations in the field and upload to the website. These observations are critical to the IMCAS-X community, because they will indicate where problems are occurring in local watersheds and help to prioritize the resolution of these problems.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 5:00 PM EDT (4:00 PM CDT)
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 5:00 PM EDT (4:00 PM CDT)
By skype

Bill Hirt – Geologist emphasis in igneous petrology

Contact Information

Email: hirt at
Office Phone: 530-938-5255
Sykpe: william_hirt
Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
College of the Siskiyous
800 College Avenue
Weed, CA 96094

App Idea: Megacryst Size Calculator

During slow crystallization underground the magmas that form granites are often “recharged” by batches of hotter material. These recharge events warm the magma and cause some of the crystals that have already grown in it to dissolve. Small crystals dissolve more rapidly than large ones, however, so when a magma experiences repeated recharge events the average sizes of its crystals tend to increase over time. The development of large crystals is particularly pronounced for alkali-feldspar, and outsized crystals of this mineral are known as megacrysts. Because the sizes of these megacrysts reflect the recharge history of the magma that formed a particular part of a larger granite body, mapping their size differences can tell us about how that body was assembled. This app calculates the areas of a set of 30-40 megacrysts whose dimensions and shapes are measured on an outcrop and input by the user. It then sorts the calculated areas from largest to smallest and returns the average area of the ten largest megacrysts found on that outcrop. Typically a geologist will measure megacryst areas on several adjacent outcrops and compare the averages to be sure that he or she is getting a consistent value. This app will make it possible to check for consistency in the field so that additional outcrops can be counted during the initial visit, if necessary, rather than returning to the site later.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 5:30 PM EDT (2:30 PM PDT)
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 5:30 PM EDT (2:30 PM PDT)
By skype.

Chris Lowry – Hydrogeologist

Contact Information

Email: cslowry at
Office Phone: 717-697-5817
Department of Geology
University at Buffalo

App Idea: Water Level Monitoring

Water is arguably one of the most important resources on the face of the earth.  However, the majority of rural and remote watersheds in the country lack basic stream data.  As a result, it is difficult to assess the impact of current management practices as well as forecast future changes on water resources.  In order to address some of these issue a new internet based interface called CrowdHydrology was developed to harness the power of citizen acting as scientist to collect water level data.  The CrowdHydrology site is based on a simple design where a larger “ruler” is placed in a stream with a sign on top of it that says “What is the water height? Please text us” (Lowry and Fienen, 2013).  There are currently over 40 of these stations across the Great Lakes region, which have collected over 2,000 measurements (  While SMS messaging is working, we would like to develop a user-friendlier interface using a smartphone app.  The basic need within the app would be to allow the user to input the station identification number, water level, and time of measurement.   In addition to these basic features it would be very helpful to have the latitude/longitude and a picture of the stream to be added to the app.  A CrowdHydrology database currently exists (Fienen and Lowry, 2012) and the app would simply need to be able to send an e-mail with the relevant information to the existing system.  It is our preference that this app be developed using HTML5 in order to be cross platform compatible, however designs and methods developed using the Android platform could be transferred to HTML5 at a later date.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 7:00 PM EDT
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 7:00 PM EDT
By skype

Erik Lilleskov – Forrest Ecologist

Contact Information

Email: elilleskov at,
Phone: 482-6303 ext. 22
US Forest Service
Northern Research Station
410 MacInnes Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1199

App Idea: Tree Migration Monitoring

Tree ranges are predicted to shift in response to climate change. Recent scientific studies using forest inventory data have suggested that climate change impacts can be seen by comparing the northern edge of species ranges for mature trees and younger trees. Younger trees were found farther north than the mature trees, as would be expected if climate is permitting northward range expansion. In this app we will provide a tool for collecting and uploading information about the distribution of mature and young individuals of different tree species. This information will be fed into a central website where they will be collated into a database and map of the range distribution of these two age classes of trees, permitting citizen scientists to contribute to monitoring and research on the effects of climate on tree ranges.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 1:00 PM EDT (can be changed)
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 1:00 PM EDT(can be changed)
By face to face in Dr. Lilleskov’s office

David Kossak – Forester

Contact Information

Email: djkossak at
Phone: 810-656-8069
Skype Id: djkossak

App Idea: Maple Syrup Production Monitoring

Maple syrup production is a growing industry. Demand exceeds supply, year after year. Maple syrup is produced in the early spring by drilling a hole into a maple tree, inserting a hollow tube called a tap, and then collecting the clear liquid called sap that flows out. Sap is usually between 1% and 4% sugar (sucrose) by volume. By heating the liquid, or using reverse osmosis technology, water is extracted from the sap, concentrating the sugar and rendering the sap a thick, golden brown. Once the sugar content reaches 66%, the maple sap is officially maple syrup. Large operations invest millions into producing syrup for consumers. On the other end of the production scale, many maple syrup enthusiasts produce small amounts of syrup that they use themselves or give as gifts. The US Department of Agriculture monitors maple syrup production on a state and national level. The statistics reported reflect the commercial production of maple syrup. What is not well known is how much is produced non-commercially by maple syrup enthusiasts. The average retail price for maple syrup in Michigan for 2012 was $46 dollars per gallon, which could be produced by as little as 5 taps in someone’s backyard. There is potentially a lot of economic value generated that goes unrecorded each year. One way we could calculate the economic value generated by maple syrup enthusiasts is by recording key production numbers and using those to determine basic production statistics. For example, knowing the number of non-commercial producers, the total number of trees tapped, and the total syrup production level in a geographic area would be enough to determine how much volume is produced on average by each enthusiast and how much is produced per tap. A mobile app where people could self-report their production levels, days with good sap-flow, total number of trees tapped, etc. would facilitate this data collection. Collecting this information  would allow us to quantify the local, non-commercial production, but will also engage maple syrup enthusiasts in citizen science. This knowledge will also inform the maple syrup industry what the actual local production levels are in an area. Local stores can use geographic information to determine if there would be a demand for maple syrup production equipment in their area. If we know where syrup is being produced non-commercially, information can be targeted to those areas where there is interest in maple syrup production, to help people learn about the value of their local woodlands and connect people with their environment.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 7:00 PM EDT
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 7:00 PM EDT
By phone.

Tane Casserley – Underwater Archaeologist

Contact Information

Email: tane.casserley at
Phone: 989-356-8805 x17
Cell Phone: 989-657-9951
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
500 W. Fletcher Street
Alpena, Michigan, 49707

App Idea: Thunder Bay Shipwreck Maps

NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects a nationally significant collection of historic shipwrecks and related maritime cultural resources in northern Lake Huron. Through research, resource protection and education, the sanctuary works to ensure that these important historic, archaeological and recreational sites are preserved for current and future generations. The variety of shipwreck types, genres, depths and locations combined with their excellent states of preservation make the area in and around the sanctuary a haven for divers, kayakers and snorkelers, as well as historians, archaeologists and students of all ages. Currently, these public stakeholders can interface with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary by visiting our Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan, or remotely by visiting the sanctuary’s website at While the Thunder Bay NMS website is working as an outreach tool, we would like to develop a user-friendlier interface using a smartphone app. The proposed app would allow the user to learn more about Thunder Bay’s shipwrecks graphically with a map and shipwreck icons, and textually through searchable fields via a database. Once a shipwreck is selected by either clicking on it on the map or via the database, the proposed app would then highlight that particular shipwreck’s details including the wreck’s name, vessel type, latitude/longitude, depth, its length and beam, cargo, tonnage, launch and wreck dates, and basic wreck description. The intent of the app is that it can be accessed while exploring Thunder Bay, and more importantly, at the shipwreck site itself. It is our preference that this app be developed using HTML5 in order to be cross platform compatible, however designs and methods developed using the Android platform could be transferred to HTML5 at a later date. It is also our preference that an associated website be created to compliment the app in order to highlight further shipwreck details, imagery, and be cross platform compatible.

Initial Meetings

Friday, 1/24/2014 at 4:00 PM EDT
Monday, 1/27/2014 at 4:00 PM EDT
By phone.