Ethan Ducken, a junior majoring in geology at EWU, was awarded the Environmental Science–Geology Murdock Poster Prize for his presentation “sUAV Mapping of the Porcupine Bay Road Landslide Complex” at the 2019 Murdock College Science Research (MCSR) Conference.
For his project, Ducken used a drone to make a high-resolution, 3D map of the 2017 Lake Roosevelt landslide site—the scene of a major geological event that closed Lincoln County’s Porcupine Bay Road for two years—to be used for classification and measurements. Chad Pritchard, an associate professor of geology at EWU and Ducken’s faculty advisor, says Ducken also used a thermal camera to identify how shallow groundwater interacted with a thick clay layer in the middle of the landslide.
“I just really appreciate that Ethan works hard, asks questions, is very communicative and took the initiative of asking to do an independent study after he aced GEOL 120,” Pritchard says.
A panel of judges at the conference awarded Ducken the poster prize based on a combination of criteria including: communication, knowledge and careful analysis of the material, creativity of the project, organization and clarity of the presentation, and poise in answering questions. A letter from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust reads, “Ethan excelled in every way. In fact, he contributed significantly towards the theme of this year’s MCSR Conference, Collaboration–A Key to Success in Undergraduate.”
In addition to a ribbon, Ducken received a $50 Visa gift card. Pritchard was also recognized for his role as a research advisor. They’ve posted a video of their day drone-mapping at Porcupine Bay Road landslide on YouTube.