8/31/2004

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Contact: Michelle Ward, ITTC, (785) 864-4776, mward@ittc.ku.edu.

KU graduate student researching climate change wins $24,000 NASA fellowship

LAWRENCE -- A University of Kansas graduate student in electrical engineering who is researching climate change has received a distinguished NASA fellowship.

Brandon A. Heavey, Overland Park, won one of 52 Earth System Science Graduate Student Fellowships offered by NASA. It provides an annual $24,000 stipend and may be renewed for up to three years.

A 2003 KU graduate in computer engineering, Heavey is working on a master's degree in computer engineering and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in electrical engineering.

Heavey is the 17th graduate student in KU's Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Laboratory at the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center to receive a NASA fellowship since they were established in 1990.

Heavey and other researchers at KUs ITTC are developing radar that will measure sea-ice thickness. Thinning of the fragile layer is an early indicator of climate change.

"Brandon is a well-qualified and dedicated young man," said Sivaprasad Gogineni, Heavey's adviser and Deane E. Ackers distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "He has been involved in two major experiments in the Arctic and Antarctic over the last two years. I have no doubt that he will be successful with his proposed research."

Heavey said, "It is a great honor to receive a NASA Fellowship. I would not have been able to win this award without the support of faculty and staff."

Submarine observations suggest that the Arctic ice has thinned by almost one-third in the past three decades, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The amount of sea ice surrounding Antarctica is dependent on the season, but it ranges from approximately 4 million square miles in the summer to 19 million in the winter. The vast amounts of water pulled from the ocean during the creation of sea ice or released back when the ice melts alter the global climate and marine ecosystem, according to the National Science Foundation.

KU's radar, installed on an aircraft, transmits a signal that penetrates the sea ice and reflects from the ocean water. The sea-ice thickness is determined by processing the returned signal captured by computer. Heavey is working on the radar's transmitter and receiver design.

Heavey is the son Richard and Carol Heavey of Overland Park and is a Blue Valley High School graduate.

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