Measuring Light Pollution in the Hoosier National Forest

Original article by Bethany Nolan from News at IU.

Students in Himebaugh’s digital systems class build light monitors that will be installed throughout the Hoosier National Forest. [Photos by Tracy Theriault]
When the Hoosier National Forest wanted to know whether any part of its more than 200,000 acres could be eligible for an international designation intended to recognize those who minimize light pollution, it turned to Indiana University students for help.

The project is part of the university’s Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative, which partners with a local community to explore, understand, and resolve challenges identified by the community. The initiative is one of the six areas of focus for the IU Center for Rural Engagement, which works within 11 neighboring counties in southwest central Indiana to address challenges and opportunities in the area.

Clinical assistant professor Bryce Himebaugh, who teaches in IU Bloomington’s new Department of Intelligent Systems Engineering in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, said the 28 undergraduate students in his spring digital systems class are constructing a set of monitors that can be installed in the Hoosier National Forest to measure light pollution. The project launched in August, when the fall cohort wrote a piece of software to collect data while several independent study students constructed a prototype monitor.

“Now I’m teaching the principles of how that hardware and software was designed to this spring’s class, and they’re learning how to build those systems,” Himebaugh said. “We hope they’ll be deployed in the field by April 2018.” He said the project is perfect for his class, which is a mix of students studying intelligent systems engineering and computer science.

“They work with a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm, and when you see them figure out things, it’s almost like you’re seeing it all over again for the first time too,” Himebaugh said. “One of the most rewarding things for me is to see these students understand how this system works, and how they can apply it to other situations.

“I don’t expect students in this class will all have a career in developing outdoor monitoring equipment, but rather that they’ll see its applicability to other areas – some sort of medical wearable device or something that could track items in a shipping management system. All kinds of things are possible once you understand how to collect systems data and communicate it.”

That’s exactly what IU sophomore Jackie Youngs enjoys most about the class, she said. “Following a project from idea to physical completion through the entire design process reinforces understanding of each of the individual components and how everything – the programming language, the physics of the components, the devices themselves – connects,” the intelligent systems engineering major said. “This is one of the most important skills I intend to use after completion of this semester.

“I don’t necessarily plan on pursuing computer engineering as a career but am more interested in going to medical school. Even so, being able to identify how a large system is composed of smaller components and how they are connected is an invaluable skill I plan to take from this course.”

Once the class work is complete and the solar-powered monitors are deployed throughout the Hoosier National Forest, Himebaugh said, the data they’ll collect and transmit will help measure light patterns within the forest. The Hoosier National Forest is seeking International Dark Sky Places designation. The application process requires ongoing monitoring and documentation of specific programs intended to minimize light pollution.

“People might not think about the importance of dark night skies on their lives, but increases in nighttime light levels can have serious consequences for ecosystems, animal life, and even human rhythms,” Hoosier National Forest spokeswoman Andrea Crain said. “We hope through this project we can reach a whole new audience to communicate the importance of dark skies and potential recreation experiences on the Hoosier National Forest.”

She said the assistance from the class has been invaluable. “It’s been exciting to meet with students and see their progress throughout this process, as they’re learning to problem-solve and come up with creative solutions to new issues,” Crain said. “Being part of that learning process makes this project an extra special experience for the Hoosier National Forest employees involved.”

New Exhibit from IAHI Scholar-in-Residence Samuel E. Vázquez

IMMERSED is a group exhibition featuring works by contemporary visual artists whose creative processes reveal deeply rooted meanings through symbolism and narrative. The exhibition is organized and curated by Samuel E. Vázquez in collaboration with InCultur. Participating artists include Samuel E. Vázquez, Danicia Monét, Atsu Kpotufe, Elizabeth Bilbrey, Gary Gee, Shamira Wilson, Hector Del Campo, Maria Zepeda, Stephen Heathcock, and Heather Ward Miles.

According to Vázquez, “The main idea of IMMERSED is to share diverse expressions by featuring the works of artists whose focused studio practices are unique to each artist.” The title of the exhibition, which includes paintings, photographs, illustrations, and sculptures, “alludes to the immersive and continuous process of developing one’s voice.”

“This exhibition can speak to anyone interested in exploring, engaging, and interacting with the art and artists. It can also speak via the diverse global backgrounds of the featured artists. Through direct dialogue with the artists or the works, we can meaningfully engage in conversation while learning from one another. That’s the beauty of art – it speaks of and about life, making our collective human experience richer,” Vázquez said.

The exhibition, held at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall, will open with a reception from 6:00-9:00 pm on Tuesday, March 20, and will close on April 23. This exhibition is presented by Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts Signature Series, which features internationally acclaimed guest artists brought to Butler University’s campus. For more details, including gallery hours and parking information, click here.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1970, Samuel E Vázquez is a visual artist working primarily in mixed media. His inspiration is rooted in the New York City subway style writings of the 1970s and 80s, along with the works of Ed Clark, Jackson Pollock, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Vázquez’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and cultural institutions. He has lectured on the history of style writing in venues such as the Arts Council of Indianapolis, New York City College of Technology-CUNY, Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch, Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler Arts Center, and Indianapolis Museum of Art. Vázquez is a 2017 Scholar In Residence at the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and a 2017-18 Creative Renewal Arts Fellow of the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

MPH Data Day

Indiana’s Management Performance Hub (MPH) provides analytics solutions tailored to address complex management and policy questions enabling improved outcomes for Hoosiers. They empower partners to leverage data in innovative ways, facilitating data-driven decision making and data-informed policy making.

On March 6, MPH is hosting Data Day 2018 at the Indiana Statehouse. The MPH Data Day is an open event for people who want to share ideas and learn how Indiana is leading the nation with data and innovation. MPH partners who use Indiana data to positively impact the lives of Hoosiers will present their projects.

Presentations will run from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the North Atrium of the Statehouse. Food, refreshments, and data success stories will be shared.

Open Data and Open Government: A Workshop

View the original article.

The Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies at Indiana University Bloomington will hold a free daylong workshop March 17 in Indianapolis on access to information.

“Letting the Sunshine IN: An Open Data and Open Government Workshop” is open to anyone interested in open government and open data, including journalists, civic activists and neighborhood association members, said Anthony Fargo, director of the Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies and a co-organizer of the event.

The workshop will be in the ballroom of University Tower, 911 W. North St., on the IUPUI campus.

“The strength of our open government laws is that they apply to everyone, not just journalists or public officials,” said Fargo, an associate professor in The Media School at IU Bloomington. “Anyone at any time may need to gain access to records held by a government agency or attend a meeting of a public body, so all of us have a stake in learning how effective our access laws are.”

The workshop will take place during Sunshine Week, an annual national observance that highlights the importance of open government. Co-sponsors include the IndyPro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Indiana Coalition for Open Government. Fargo and co-organizer Gerry Lanosga, an assistant professor in The Media School, are Indiana Coalition for Open Government board members.

Confirmed speakers at the conference include state, regional, and national journalists and open government advocates, who will participate in informational sessions about state and national access laws.

The workshop will close with a hands-on session on how to request data and metadata from public agencies. Experts will guide attendees in submitting actual requests to state agencies for information about their data sets. Participants should bring a laptop computer or other WiFi-capable device.

Lanosga said the goal is to launch an open online catalog of state data sets.

“We know that one of the key barriers to opening public data is lack of knowledge about the range of data that state agencies maintain,” he said. “This effort will go a long way to eliminating the unknowns about state data sets and make it easier for journalists and others in the public to request them.”

The workshop is made possible by a gift to the Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies from IU journalism alumna Barbara Restle. It is free to pre-registered participants and includes breakfast, lunch, and parking. Visitor parking is available in the North Street and Vermont Street parking garages and the Hine Hall Tower Garage.

Although there is no charge to attend the workshop, attendance is limited, and advance registration is required. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. March 12.

Click here for the workshop schedule and registration.