Cardinal Courses: Rosemary Knight & Dustin Schroeder

[MUSIC PLAYING] The whole focus of
a Cardinal Course is to allow students to learn
new information while applying it to solving a real problem. So we’re out here in the
Tulare Irrigation District applying advanced
geophysical imaging methods. So students are learning all
about the latest and greatest in geophysics. And we’re using those tools
to help the Tulare Irrigation District think about where they
can flood water in the fields, and allow that water
to percolate down and recharge the groundwater
system in this area. So the big question
is, where can you spread water on the surface
and have it move effectively into the subsurface
without ponding and risking damage to the trees
that are growing here? So a lot of the techniques
we’re using here were developed for
oil exploration, were developed for military
radar technology in World War II, were places that someone
who started with a question, I care about sustainable ground
water management, probably would not look as the
first place for inspiration of how to solve these problems. And I think having a
classroom experience where we are drawing upon that
understanding of those tools is really educationally valuable
to teach them to think widely that the ideas they need to
solve the problems they care about may come from
something totally unrelated to their interests. So this is a great
relationship where we can connect the private
grower, the public agency, and the private
university out there, and the science that
brings it all together, and look at the problems
and the solutions. So as a public agency
and irrigation district, we’re getting data. As faculty at Stanford,
they’re getting the opportunity to bring their students into
the field, feel the dirt, see what they’re
doing instead of just turning pages and seeing it. It’s actually right
in front of them. As a Stanford undergrad,
one of the exciting things about the near-surface
geophysics class was getting to take a
project and look at it from the beginning to the end. So we started by thinking
about the problem that we were addressing
with our community partners in Tulare all the
way through survey design and the implementation
of the actual fieldwork. So getting to see the
whole scope of the project, rather than just one
method or one element of it was very exciting. I think this problem
really combines the things that
the School of Earth values, teaching undergrads
and graduate students together, working on problems that bridge
the classroom and research, and using our understanding
of science and technology to understand how a
piece of the earth works, and a very specific piece of the
earth that matters to society. And I think doing all that
together in one course is really what we try to do
every day in our research and teaching. I love the fact that we
have Cardinal Courses that are encouraging not
only our students but our faculty to
think about making that connection
between the knowledge that we’re generating and
teaching at Stanford and the needs out there that we
could be connecting with.

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