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  1. Using the EXOplanet Transit Interpretation Code (EXOTIC), we reduced 52 sets of images of WASP-104 b, a Hot Jupiter-class exoplanet orbiting WASP-104, in order to obtain an updated mid-transit time (ephemeris) and orbital period for the planet. We performed this reduction on images taken with a 6-inch telescope of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian MicroObservatory. Of the reduced light curves, 13 were of sufficient accuracy to be used in updating the ephemerides for WASP-104b, meeting or exceeding the three-sigma standard for determining a significant detection. Our final mid-transit value was 2457805.170208 ± 0.000036 BJD_TBD and the final period value was 1.75540644 ± 0.00000016 days. The true significance of our results is in their derivation from image sets gathered over time by a small, ground-based telescope as part of the Exoplanet Watch citizen science initiative, and their competitive results to an ephemeris generated from data gathered by the TESS telescope. We use these results to further show how such techniques can be employed by amateur astronomers and citizen scientists to maximize the efficacy of larger telescopes by reducing the use of expensive observation time. The work done in the paper was accomplished as part of the first fully online Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) for astronomy majors in the only online Bachelor of Science program in Astronomical and Planetary Sciences. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 6, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Students’ sound knowledge about osmosis can lead to their understanding of other related biological processes that require the movement of materials across cell membranes, such as photosynthesis, homeostasis, and cellular respiration. However, students have difficulties to understand osmosis. This challenge has been attributed to the abstract nature of the concept and the way it is presented to students. Thus, we present an engineering design, integrated biology unit in which students use the engineering design process to learn about osmosis and its related concepts. A dependent t-test revealed statistically significant differences in students’ understanding of osmosis and related concepts, and the engineering design process before and after the unit. Overall, in this unit students developed the understanding of osmosis in a real-world context through an engineering design process. 
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  4. The cruise line industry (CLI) provides an opportunity to rapidly improve national (and regional) economies in destinations. However, lack of planning and proper preparation by destination authorities and the cruise industry can have significant impacts on the local community, commerce, and environment. This paper identifies and quantifies near-shore challenges between the national authorities and the CLI that include port facility preparedness and the potential stresses on local infrastructure. These key parameters used to quantify the impact of the CLI on established destinations can potentially become part of the analysis, negotiation, and communication between all parties involved (government, business, and tourists) as part of the contribution to ensure sustainable CLI destinations. The Port of Havana, Cuba was selected as the study site and was compared against similar cruise line destinations around the Meso-American region (Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, Belize City, Belize, and Progreso, Mexico). The Port of Havana’s natural infrastructure and the carriage available for the incoming ship (i.e., nautical charting) appear to be adequate for welcoming increased cruise ship traffic. The main concerns are the potential toll on local resources including the impact on port traffic and the local infrastructure required to support tourists once they depart the ship. 
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  5. Abstract. Clear, dark night skies are harder to see now than ever before, and it will only become more difficult as people continue to move into heavily light polluted and expanding urban areas. Dark Sky Parks offer a place where anyone can go to experience true dark skies, observing the stars and other celestial bodies in conditions unencumbered by artificial light and other sources of pollution. An atlas of these Dark Sky Parks will raise awareness about their existence and locations with the goal of education and outreach. Observatories may be utilized with a similar outcome; however, they need to be located in close proximity to large populations but far enough away to optimize dark skies. This research presents an approach for mapping Dark Sky Parks in the United States through the ongoing production of Seeing the Night Sky: An Atlas of Dark Sky Parks, and a related GIS location optimization model to identify potential observatory locations in a defined study area based on land availability, slope, presence of water/floodplain, proximity to populated places, light pollution, elevation, and transportation infrastructure.

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  6. Abstract. As routing applications become common on mobile devices, significant problems that remain are the sparse underlying data support for pedestrian-based routing and the inability to customize an existing route for specific individual accessibility needs. Cartographic researchers have repeatedly demonstrated methods for sophisticated modelling of infrastructure and have built routing portals and accessibility systems, yet these systems and their benefits have not been used widely, due to problems with underlying data support. This research reviews a few exemplar systems and presents a new routing study that uses the presence of overhead tree canopy to add a preference layer to individual routing. This allows individuals to plan and choose navigation pathways for purposes of body heat thermoregulation, a problem that exists for many individuals with mobility impairments, particularly those with spinal cord injuries. The study presented here demonstrates that successful routing underneath the tree canopy can be done in a way that only marginally increases the length of such routes. This study also demonstrates the need for detailed geographic data support for preference-based routing.

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  7. An inherent challenge arising in any dataset containing information of space and/or time is uncertainty due to various sources of imprecision. Integrating the impact of the uncertainty is a paramount when estimating the reliability (confidence) of any query result from the underlying input data. To deal with uncertainty, solutions have been proposed independently in the geo-science and the data-science research community. This interdisciplinary tutorial bridges the gap between the two communities by providing a comprehensive overview of the different challenges involved in dealing with uncertain geo-spatial data, by surveying solutions from both research communities, and by identifying similarities, synergies and open research problems. 
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