Shifting Sands and Turning Tides: Using 3D Visualization Technology to Shape the Environment for Redlands Undergraduates

Professional Bio:

Dr. Jenkins joined the faculty at the University of Redlands in the fall of 2014 and has since grown to love California’s warm winters and never-ending sunshine. After earning her B.A. in Geology from Wellesley College, Dr. Jenkins spent the next few years in the Amazon Basin learning to wield a 6-foot chainsaw, speak Spanish to native Peruvians, and turn trees into recorders of ancient climate history. In 2009, Dr. Jenkins received her Ph.D. in Earth & Ocean Sciences from Duke University. Her areas of expertise include geology, paleoclimatology, dendroclimatology, isotope geochemistry, and hydrology.

Here at Redlands, Dr. Jenkins teaches field and laboratory courses across the spectrum of the Earth Sciences from Natural Disasters to Geology to Oceanography. When she isn’t teaching, Dr. Jenkins can be found traipsing through the heat of the Amazon rainforest, the cool mists of the Andes Mountains, and the rugged terrain of California’s transverse ranges. Her current research interests include tree rings and extreme drought in Amazonia, spatio-temporal patterns of water distribution, quality, and scarcity in southern California, deforestation and carbon budget estimates over the Amazon rainforest, earthquakes and forest ecosystem growth and carbon loss, and the tectonics of the Altyn Tagh Fault on the North Tibetan Plateau.

Prior to coming to Redlands, Dr. Jenkins served on the teaching faculty in the Earth & Planetary Sciences department at Harvard University.

Project Summary:

Teaching natural science in a technologically advancing world requires that our methods reach beyond the traditional computer-mouse interface. This project incorporates cutting edge 3D visualization technology and real-time augmented user interfaces to capture student wonder and enhance understanding of earth science processes.

In 2014, I built and installed an Augmented Reality Sandbox here at the University of Redlands to teach flooding hazard, erosion, watershed development, and spatial reasoning in my courses. This project will enhance the capabilities of the current Sandbox by creating new experimental code parameters (e.g. variable fluid viscosity and sandbox lithology) for the software and adding real-time video capture to the hardware. These upgrades will culminate in a new videography assignment in my earth science courses that allows students to simulate natural processes, real-time capture their experiments, and then edit this imagery to explain, quantify, and present their findings to the class through a short film. The AR Sandbox can be used to demonstrate a wide range of natural phenomena – from erosive processes and land formation (e.g. mountain building, faulting, alluvial fans) to fluid dynamics (e.g. standing waves, river capture, magma viscosity). Requiring students to design and videotape their own experiments enables them to take ownership of their learning – promoting a culture of advanced and self-motivated study.