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West Hub Works with Navajo Tech to Co-Host Environmental Science and Data Showcase

The West Big Data Innovation Hub worked with Navajo Technical University, INTERA, and New Mexico Tech to co-host an Environmental Science and Data Virtual Showcase on December 20 that featured an array of student presentations. With an opening prayer led by Darlene Wilson of Navajo Technical University (NTU), West Hub Director Ashley Atkins then welcomed participants to the showcase. Dr. Abhishek RoyChowdhury next gave an introduction for the three student presenters and then they shared their research.

"Our students grew up witnessing a number of environmental problems in their communities along with the socioeconomic barriers - they want to become changemakers for their people and that's why they are highly motivated towards their studies," said Dr. Abhishek RoyChowdhury, assistant professor of environmental science and natural resources at NTU. "At NTU our job is to guide them to achieve their academic and professional goals. What you all have witnessed today is the result of their hard work and dedication. I am really proud of all our students at NTU."

Dr. Abhishek RoyChowdhury (far right) is an assistant professor of environmental science and natural resources at Navajo Technical University

Photo Credit: Navajo Technical University

Three Navajo Tech Environmental Science students gave the following talks:

Kirby Morris: Drought tolerant and drought intolerant pinyons converge in fungal communities during drought but differ in leaf spectra

Malynndra Tome: Using iron oxide co precipitation to treat arsenic and uranium contamination in drinking water in Native American communities

Chase Bebo: How are geogenic contaminants affecting groundwater on the Colorado Plateau

Following the student presentations, Steve Grey, Laila Sturgis, and Emily Woolsey presented about the NTU-NMT Navajo Nation Water Purification Project (N4WPP) and how their work relates to the students’ efforts. Woolsey specifically discussed the Student Research Assistantship Program at NTU and NMT in environmental data management and encouraged students to apply for this opportunity.

Dr. Joseph Robertson received his doctorate degree in computational science and statistics from South Dakota State University in 2018.

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Robertson

The showcase concluded with a dynamic career panel featuring Dr. Joseph Robertson, who is chief data scientist at Mato Ohitika Analytics LLC (MOA). Robertson discussed his work and its implications in addressing conversations about MOA’s professional data science work among Native American communities.

“I think it is extremely important as Mato Ohitika Analytics LLC continues to grow and evolve, the company continues to focus on investing in the Native next generation,” Dr. Robertson said. “These incredible young minds will eventually take it from here and beyond if we continue to invest in them now and into the future.”


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