Graduate STEM Fellow Profile

Cheryl McLaurin

Project Title: Initiating New Science Partnerships in Rural Education (INSPIRE)
Thesis: Predicting Soil Moisture Indices From Nearby Stream Gauge Levels
College/University: Mississippi State University
Research Advisor: Bill Cooke
Degree Sought: M.S., Geosciences Information Systems
Department: Geosciences
Research Focus: Remote sensing, landscape modeling, soil‑water interaction, environmental hazard prediction
Teaching Partner(s): Kelli Dawkins

Description of Research

The focus of my research is to determine if there is a direct correlation between soil moisture and nearby stream gauge data. The variable of soil moisture is very important in environmental prediction modeling, yet very hard to quantify with accuracy–particularly in the Southeast. Being able to better define soil moisture, especially with such a widely available data set as stream gauge reading, would allow for more precise predictions of events like wildfires, floods, and temporary wetlands.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience

In today’s technology‑enhanced world, GIS is very easy to bring into the classroom. Explaining geospatial relationships to students is simple when you are able to mention the GPS systems most of them use on their phones or computers every day. Additionally, many soil science fundamentals require basic chemistry knowledge, and these demonstrations are simple to create in a classroom setting.