University professor to be honored at National Groundwater Expo

Scott Tyler will receive the John Hem Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering in December

11/7/2013 - By: Patrick Harris
Scott Tyler with fiber-optics Scott Tyler, assistant professor for the University, adjusts his fiber-optic instrumentation in the field. Tyler will receive the John Hem Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering from the National Groundwater Association in December for his research. Photo courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno.

Scott Tyler, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, will receive the John Hem Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering at the 2013 NGWA Groundwater Expo in Nashville, Tenn., in December.

"The National Groundwater Association is an organization that I have benefited from tremendously over a long period of time," Tyler said. "To have them recognize my work and the work of the University is a real honor. My colleague, John Selker, from Oregon State and I are being recognized for our development and applications of fiber-optic temperature sensing for hydrology and our development of the first community user facility in hydrology for instrumentation."

A foundation professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, Tyler pioneered the fiber-optic DTS systems for academic research six years ago. He and his colleagues have since used innovative fiber-optic/laser technology to take temperatures around the world in a variety of hydrological, climatological and geological settings such as glaciers, caves, creeks, mines, avalanche areas, volcanoes and farmlands. Tyler has even studied the water temperature at Devils Hole in Death Valley to help protect the endangered pupfish and drilled through 200 meters of Antarctic ice to take the temperature of the McMurdo Ice Shelf and the 800 meters of ocean underneath it.

"After the cables are placed in the environment, a laser pulse is fired down the optical fiber and it bounces back, much like a radar signal," Tyler said. "The intensity of light returning in the optical fiber indicates the various temperatures of soil, water, air or other medium at various intervals from as close as every millimeter to every meter."

After developing the instrumentation, Tyler and Selker were awarded a series of National Science Foundation grants to create and operate Center for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs, or CTEMPS, based at the University. CTEMPS is a community user facility, operated much like a telescope facility in which researchers from around the country and the world can come to train and use the fiber optic sensing instrumentation.

"As a result of this support from NSF, the University has had visitors from around the world working in our laboratories and with our instruments," Tyler said. "Our instruments have been on every continent in the world in the last four years."

Tyler is also an adjunct professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He teaches the fundamental course in groundwater and hydrology for undergraduates and graduates.

"I have known Scott since 1986 when I joined the faculty of UNR," James Carr, department chair for the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, said. "His mentorship of graduate students is exemplary. Not only is Scott a noteworthy researcher, his teaching is excellent, and he actively serves the department, College of Science, UNR, and the community at large.  I am honored to serve on the same faculty with him."

Tyler was nominated by fellow professors and selected by experts at the National Groundwater Association to receive the John Hem award. The award recognizes individuals who make significant contributions of service, research and innovation to the industry. The National Groundwater Association is a nonprofit organization of professionals working together to inform the public about groundwater resources. First awarded in 1991, the John Hem Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering is part of the association's scientist and engineering division, recognizing recent, significant scientific contribution to the understanding of groundwater.


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