Category Archives: Students

ECU Alert tests on Aug. 15, 16 and 17

East Carolina University will conduct tests of the ECU Alert emergency notification system Aug. 15 (noon), 16 (noon) and 17 (2 p.m.). 

The tests will assess multiple communication systems including the ECU homepage, email, indoor and outdoor loudspeakers, VOIP phone text and voice, SMS text messages, desktop pop-up notifications, and messages on digital signs. On Wednesday and Thursday, portions of the system will be tested, but not text messaging. All aspects of the ECU Alert system will be tested at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17.

People on campus will hear a voice message on their office telephones and on loudspeakers that will identify this as a test of the ECU Alert emergency notification system. Employees, students and parents will also receive ECU Alert test emails to registered accounts. Digital screens located throughout campus will carry a test message. Users who have registered for ECU Alert cell phone messages will receive one SMS text message on Friday at 2 p.m.

Campus computer users are reminded that the university has a pop-up notification system, AlertUs, which will fill the computer screen with the ECU Alert message when activated. After the users have read the message, clicking “Acknowledge” will close the warning.

Registration for cell phone messaging is available by selecting the register tab at alertinfo.ecu.edu

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to download the free safety app LiveSafe at ecu.edu/LiveSafe. LiveSafe allows users to discretely and anonymously report suspicious activity and safety concerns to ECU Police.

 

Driving in style: Alumni association promotes Pirate plates

The East Carolina Alumni Association is part of a renewed push to get more drivers showing their Pirate pride with ECU-branded license plates.

The program, an existing partnership with the university and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, returns a portion of license plate fees back to ECU and supports student scholarships.

PeeDee shows off a Pirate plate on campus.

PeeDee shows off a Pirate plate on campus. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

“This partnership makes total sense for us,” said Heath Bowman, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations. “A vast majority of our ECU alumni and friends live in North Carolina, so we were excited when this opportunity came about. We want to challenge all Pirates around the state to upgrade their vehicles with a Pirate plate. It is a great way to not only support our deserving students, but to help showcase the strength and generosity of Pirate Nation around our state.”

The specialized ECU license plate with the Pirate logo costs an additional $25 on top of the regular DMV registration fee. Of that amount, $15 goes to the ECU Alumni Scholarship Fund. For an additional $30, the Pirate plate can be personalized with a custom message such as a class year.

Options available for Pirates at the DMV.

Options available for Pirates at the DMV. (Photos by the ECU Alumni Association)

To order a Pirate license plate, go to the nearest DMV office or visit the DMV online. For more information, visit piratealumni.com.

Only Pirate plates purchased in North Carolina support ECU scholarships. Various states offer collegiate license plates, and those interested in an out-of-state Pirate license plate should check with their local DMV.

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Brody offers glimpse of life in medical school

Since her childhood, Melenis Lopez has dreamed of becoming a physician who heals patients in underserved communities and makes an impact on every life she encounters along the way.

Thanks to her experience in the Summer Program for Future Doctors (SPFD), the edges of Lopez’s dream are now more defined.

Lopez and the rest of the 2018 SPFD cohort, made up of students who show interest, potential and promise for careers in medicine, went through an intensive, nearly two-month program at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, highlighted by course work, team building and hands-on medical school experiences.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors experience course work and class discussions that mirror the first year of medical school.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors experience course work and class discussions that mirror the first year of medical school. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

“The SPFD program is designed for minorities or disadvantaged students, which is what essentially caught my eye,” said Lopez, a senior majoring in public health studies at ECU. “Through this program, I wanted to learn more about medical school and further my understanding of Brody’s mission.”

Brody’s purpose is to increase the supply of primary-care physicians for the state, improve the health status of eastern North Carolinians and enhance the access of minority and disadvantaged students to a medical education. The SPFD acts as that mission in action.

“SPFD serves as a pipeline program, bringing together promising prospective students from across the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Richard Ray, director of the SPFD. “While all aspiring medical students are encouraged to apply, the program is particularly interested in students from groups underrepresented in medicine, students from disadvantaged backgrounds and non-traditional students.”

Participants in the Summer Program for Future Doctors enjoy each other’s company at the program’s culminating banquet.

Participants in the Summer Program for Future Doctors enjoy each other’s company at the program’s culminating banquet.

The program focuses on these populations to introduce opportunity and access, but also to be mindful of the patient cross-section that stands to benefit from Brody’s graduates.

“The goal, as it is for the Brody School of Medicine,” Ray said, “is to have a very diverse class that is representative of the patient population that Brody graduates will serve.”

During SPFD, students are immersed in what compares to the life of a first-year medical student based on academic rigor and pace. The students are given the chance to clearly demonstrate their academic readiness for the rigorous curriculum of the preclinical years of medical school and to hone their interpersonal skills and overall professionalism vital to successful medical students and doctors.

Those tests of fortitude and resilience were welcome challenges for Lopez, a first-generation college student, ECU Access Scholar and ECU Ambassador who wants to practice family medicine in areas with shortages of health care professionals and for patients with limited access and ability to afford care.

“It was eye-opening witnessing the tremendous amount of rigorous material that medical students have to conquer in such a short time span,” she said. “Overall, I learned that medical school is for the brave and the tough; however, it is not impossible.”

It takes a team of Brody faculty, staff and students to introduce the SPFD participants to an accurate view of medical school.

“A collaborative group of Brody faculty donate their time for lectures and lab demonstrations,” said Courtney Horns, director of Brody’s Office of Medical Education. “Current medical students work as TAs to assist the SPFD student with their courses, studying, test reviews and any support the student might need.”

The Office of Admissions also provides sessions to help students complete medical school applications as well as practice interview sessions. Eastern Area Health Education Center provides a clinical-skills session where students meet trained standardized patients and give the patients a diagnosis based on their discovery, among other services the participants gain exposure through.

The SPFD program isn’t all course work and clinical experiences; the students participate in team-building exercises and other activities to motivate and challenge them.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors participate in team-building exercises at the Student Recreation Center.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors participate in team-building exercises at the Student Recreation Center.

“I also try to add as much fun and excitement into the program as possible, seeing as the students are spending their summer break taking 8 a.m. classes every day for seven weeks,” Horns said. “I want these students to leave this program and either be excited they will be attending Brody in the fall, or they want Brody as their No. 1 pick for medical school when they start the medical application process.”

Since the program began in 1987, SPFD has tallied some notable statistics and success stories, including from recent cohorts.

Brody’s incoming first-year class has 12 students who attended SPFD as non-matriculating students. Thirteen of the 23 non-matriculating students in the 2017 SPFD are now in medical school; several of the others will be applying for the first time this cycle. Seventeen of the 27 non-matriculating students who attended the 2016 SPFD are now in medical school.

“Considering the fact that Brody had nearly 1,100 applications for 86 places this year,” Ray said, “SPFD greatly increases a student’s odds of gaining admission to medical school.”

Lopez’s sights are set on that path as well, now that her SPFD experience cemented her belief that medical school is the right fit for her.

“If there’s one thing this program did, it reassured me that dedicating my life to medicine would make me the happiest person on earth,” she said. “The SPFD program is definitely one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Through my experience, I learned how to get through tough times, ways to maximally utilize resources and most importantly, that I have to tools to be successful.”

 

-by Spaine Stephens, University Communications

New STEM-related degrees announced

ECU and the College of Engineering and Technology (CET) announced three new degree programs: Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering (BSSE), Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) and Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS).

“These new degrees reflect the college’s commitment to maximizing student success and leading regional transformation,” said Dr. Harry Ploehn, CET dean. “Software engineering, mechanical engineering and data science are high-demand fields. When we can provide graduates in these fields who want to live and work in our region, companies will come, grow and thrive here.”

ECU’s Master of Science in Data Science will be an interdisciplinary program with a focus on health care big data.

ECU’s Master of Science in Data Science will be an interdisciplinary program with a focus on health care big data. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The new BSSE degree will replace the current Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, which the department has offered since 1972. It will apply engineering principles and proven industry practices to enable graduates to design, produce and validate large-scale, high-quality, secure software. Special features of the program include well-balanced coverage of theory and practice, and summerinternship and research experiences.

The BSSE program will recruit high school seniors and community college transfer students who plan to enroll as full-time students. “Society’s demand for fast, accurate and secure computing and software will continue to increase,” said Ploehn. “ECU will provide the computer scientists and software engineers who will meet this demand.”

The MSME degree is a research-oriented program that will focus on two areas — advanced energy systems and mechanics of biomaterials. Advanced energy systems include sustainable and efficient energy systems such as solar, wind and ocean-wave energy. Mechanics of biomaterials centers around the mechanical behavior of biological tissues, as well as materials for medical implants.

Graduates will gain advanced problem-solving and critical thinking skills to serve a wide range of industries and government organizations. This program will cater to those who have completed degrees in engineering, science and health care professions – and are looking for advanced knowledge and research skills needed to advance in their careers.

Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam

Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam

“This (MSME) new degree program aligns with key components of the ECU mission statement, which is to be a national model for student success and public service,” said Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam, an associate dean for CET. “ECU is the only university within the UNC System that offers academic programs in engineering, medicine, dentistry, nursing and allied health on one campus. The MSME program plans to take advantage of these strengths.” ​

The MS in Data Science is an interdisciplinary degree program involving ECU’s departments of computer science, health services and information management, mathematics and biostatistics. Features of the health-care-centric program include theory and practice of data science in the context of medicine and related health care professions, as well as strong industry involvement.

According to Dr. Venkat Gudivada, chair of CET’s Department of Computer Science, the MSDS program will aim to produce data scientists who will be innovators in reducing health care costs and improving quality of care through big data-driven decision making.

“Data science refers to a set of new algorithms and approaches for advancing scientific discoveries and business innovation through big data,” said Gudivada. “The knowledge and skills needed to analyze and interpret big data are quite different from those that are needed for small-scale data sets. Data scientists play a critical role in enabling organizations to improve their products, business processes and services using the data they collect.”

The MSDS program will recruit students with an academic background in computing or other quantitative disciplines such as mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, engineering andepidemiology. Applicants must have a strong undergraduate preparation in mathematical and computational problem-solving. Students from disciplines other than computer science are required to complete two specially designed bridge courses before they begin the program. The program will be delivered using both online and face-to-face instruction. Thirty semester hours are required to earn the degree.

Summer internships and research opportunities will be part of the new Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering program.

Summer internships and research opportunities will be part of the new Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering program.

“Our students should be able to progress as high and as far as their ability and motivation will take them,” said Ploehn. “That’s why we’re building more and better graduate and certificate programs, like the new MSME and MSDS degrees.”

All three programs currently are accepting applications.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Undergraduates share research at event

Ten undergraduate researchers from across the country shared their research projects Aug. 3 at East Carolina University’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, wrapping up the final week of a research-intensive program funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling Research Experience for Undergraduates, led by ECU’s departments of engineering, kinesiology and physical therapy, hosted students from nine universities to conduct original research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The program, initially funded by a $288,000 grant from the NSF, gives undergraduate students an understanding of how to conduct research and to learn more about graduate school opportunities.

Madeline Pauley’s, left, research topic focused on plantar fasciitis and the internal structure of the foot in healthy patients and patients suffering from the condition.

Madeline Pauley’s, left, research topic focused on plantar fasciitis and the internal structure of the foot in healthy patients and patients suffering from the condition. (Photos by Matt Smith)

During the 10-week program, students investigated fields ranging from bioengineering to physiology, learning the research process firsthand.

“This was really my first time doing research that was my own project,” said Madeline Pauley, who will graduate this summer from ECU with a degree in exercise physiology. “The program allowed me to decide what I wanted to research. We were guided through the process, but we had a lot of freedom to make our own decisions that you may not get when you’re just volunteering in a lab.”

Pauley’s research focused on plantar fasciitis and the internal structure of the foot in healthy patients and patients suffering from the condition. Joining Pauley from ECU was rising junior Victoria Blackwood. Her research looked at osteoarthritis in post-ACL reconstruction patients and rehabilitation techniques that may limit knee joint pain in patients who have undergone surgery.

“I came to the program with little research experience, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Blackwood said. “In just a short time I’ve realized what goes into conducting research and that I do want to continue participating in research projects in the future.”

•Rising East Carolina University junior Victoria Blackwood, right, shares her research on osteoarthritis in patients who have undergone ACL surgery at the The Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling Research Experience for Undergraduates post session at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Friday.

Rising East Carolina University junior Victoria Blackwood, right, shares her research on osteoarthritis in patients who have undergone ACL surgery at the The Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling Research Experience for Undergraduates post session at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Friday.

Pauley and Blackwood said that having students from other universities – including the University of Connecticut, Mercer University and Long Beach State University, among others – added to their program experience.

“Our research peers from other universities helped show me my strengths and weaknesses,” Pauley said. “It was interesting to see how we complemented one another. My background is in anatomy and physiology, but most of their backgrounds were in bioengineering and technology. It was eye-opening to learn about their interests and see how researchers can work together to accomplish things.”

Stephanie George, an assistant professor of engineering at ECU, oversees the program with associate professor of kinesiology Zac Domire. George hopes giving undergraduate researchers with varied interests an opportunity to work with one another shows them the importance of multidisciplinary and collaborative research.

“They put a lot of work into it, but they rely on each other a bit because of their diverse expertise,” she said. “We have computer science, engineering and physics majors; there’s a lot of different expertise that they share with one another. We believe at the end of it all they have a better understanding of the research process and gain confidence that they can lead a project and share it with others.”

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

After wife’s death, professor creates nursing scholarship in her name

Dr. Tom Irons keeps a voicemail on his phone of his wife laughing. It’s just a short giggle in an otherwise mundane message, but her laugh is one of the many things he adored about her.

When she passed away unexpectedly in May 2016, Irons struggled not only with the shock of her death, but how to keep her memory alive.

Dr. Tom Irons with his wife, Carol

Dr. Tom Irons with his wife, Carol (Contributed photos)

Here was a woman who lived life so fully, who was so strong and vivacious. Carol Irons loved music, theater and Pirate athletic events. She laughed loudly and often and was not afraid to use colorful language. She was a fierce friend, a devoted mother and an empathetic and accomplished nurse. She was outspoken about social injustices and equality and was an advocate of women’s and children’s health.

“She really knew how to take care of other people,” Irons said.

He decided to create a scholarship in Carol’s name for Honors College students who are interested in women’s and children’s health, show commitment to service and demonstrate financial need.

“I think the primary reason I chose to do this with the support of my children was that I wanted the things she stood for to continue. To have something in her name that would give aspiring nurses the opportunity to enhance and fund their education,” he said.

Irons is a professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine, director of ECU’s generalist physician program and associate vice chancellor for regional health services. He is a Greenville native who returned home in 1981 to join the faculty at Brody. After he and Carol raised three children, Carol went back to school to get her master’s degree in nursing from ECU and later joined the faculty as well. Both of their sons, Tom Jr. and James, graduated from ECU. Their daughter, Sarah, did not attend ECU but is a physician like her father.

Nurses are uniquely prepared to cultivate their empathy, and Carol was good at it, whether it was opening their home to neighborhood children and strangers in need or deciding at age 60 to go to Africa and start a health clinic in Zambia. To her core, she believed in service, a tradition she shared with her husband and ECU.

Tom and Carol Irons on a medical mission trip in western Zambia.

Tom and Carol Irons on a medical mission trip in western Zambia.

“Something that was important to Carol and I was that, if we were to be remembered for anything, we wanted to be remembered for what we gave, and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about how we served,” Irons said. “I believe we give for the students of the future, the young faculty of the future. To show that this university stands for what it says it does.”

The Carol Irons Nursing Scholarship is also about Carol’s legacy for her family.

“I’d like my (seven) grandkids to look at this scholarship and say, ‘That’s named after my grandma,’” Irons said. “I’d like them to know what a great nurse she was, and a great citizen. I think this is an opportunity to let other people know what she stood for.”

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Task Force Dagger Foundation, ECU partner to provide rehabilitation diving for veterans

-News release by Department of Defense

Task Force Dagger Foundation working in partnership with East Carolina University is developing a program that seeks to provide rehabilitation opportunities for Special Operations veterans through the underwater archaeological study of WWII maritime heritage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These grant funds will provide Task Force Dagger Foundation (TFD) with more opportunities to expand existing dive rehabilitative therapy programs which serve to provide retired Special Operations veterans with a new MISSION PURPOSE FOCUS.

TFD has teamed up with ECU’s program in maritime studies and the Florida Public Archaeology Network to develop and undertake a maritime heritage education program for wounded Special Forces veterans that will be hands-on and introduce veterans to the history of WWII and its underwater maritime heritage. The program will be held in the Mariana Islands on Saipan from late July to early August. It will cover classroom topics such as underwater archeology, artifacts, ship and aircraft construction, conservation, and heritage laws. After the classroom training, veterans will hit the water and practice their underwater archaeology skills by diving and recording WWII underwater heritage from the Battle of Saipan.

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises during a recent trip to Saipan, where ECU has partnered with Task Force Dagger Foundation to provide retired Special Operations veterans with dive rehabilitative therapy programs. (Contributed photo)

“This program reaches an audience that has an intimate knowledge and background on the subject of war, conflict, and materiel remains,” said Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor at ECU. “There is an assumed awareness and appreciation that only needs fostering to understand how this heritage is meaningful and needs to be protected.”

Keith David, managing director, said, “What is important about this event is that it demonstrates to these veterans that no matter how badly they are wounded or injured, they can have a productive and fulfilling life. It is all about having a MISSION – PURPOSE – FOCUS for their life.”

This project stands to be the first of its kind that engages wounded veterans in the recording, understanding and appreciation of WWII maritime heritage in the Pacific. The plan is to hold the educational program yearly with returning and new recruits to feed into a program of archaeologically-trained diving veterans.

Without your donations, we cannot achieve our mission supporting the U.S. Special Operations Command’s service members and their families.

The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s three core programs: (1) Immediate Needs, (2) SOF Health Initiatives and (3) Rehabilitative Therapy Events provide resources and healing for Special Operations Forces (SOF) members and families. Our SOF Health Initiatives provides program recipients care and treatment that is designed to treat the problem and not the symptom through functional medicine and other treatment modalities that are holistic in nature. Task Force Dagger Foundation supports Army Green Berets, Rangers, Civil Affairs, Military Information Support Operations, Army Special Mission Units, Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Tactics/Operations and Marine Special Operations and their families. These are some of the units that comprise the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Since 2009, we have supported USSOCOM with more than $3.5 million of support to 3,100 SOF service members and their families. The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s overhead rate is 10.91 percent.

 

-Contact: Task Force Dagger Foundation Office, 214-420-9290, info@taskforcedagger.org or http://www.taskforcedagger.org

Abroad in Saipan: Same field school, different perspectives

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students traveled to Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Emily DiBiase and Molly Trivelpiece, who detail some of the experience in personal accounts below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the fourth and final post from this trip. Read the firstsecond and third posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

As a first-year maritime studies student with very little dive experience, I came into this field school not knowing what to expect. I had previously participated in land-based archaeological projects during my time as an undergraduate, so I was thinking that it would be similar. I was definitely wrong.

I realized that underwater archaeology is a lot more equipment-intensive than doing the same activities on land, because we were snorkeling or diving instead of just walking around. This may sound self-explanatory, but I had never really considered how much more difficult it would be to move, write and record in the water. Many of us discovered areas where we could improve. The main one for me was using the program Illustrator, which we used to digitize the data that we collected. It takes all kinds of people to make a project go well and recognizing each person’s skills and shortcomings helps.

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named "Emily."

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named “Emily.” (Contributed photos)

Generally, I learned a lot during this field school experience, mostly about how to be a better diver. I came in having only done open water and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences diver classes. This trip allowed me to practice skills while figuring out things on my own, like how to arrange my extra gear so that I could access it easily underwater.

Finally, I learned a lot about the other people in my cohort, which is good because I’ll probably be interacting with them for a long time. I found out new things about each of them and realized that they are a solid group of people. I think we became a better team and figured out how to work with each other during this field school.

Overall, Saipan was a fantastic learning experience where I was given the opportunity to hone my skills as an archaeologist. The island itself was amazing, too  –  from the sites to the food. Though I’m probably not going to eat fish or rice for the rest of the summer.

 

-by Emily DiBiase, graduate student

 


Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Although Saipan offered new challenges and experiences, I’m no stranger to the maritime archaeology field. The last several summers I worked in Florida, becoming familiar with high temperatures and even higher humidity levels, but the warm clear waters in Saipan were something new to behold. Past experiences with diving had either been in cold or dark water, oftentimes both.

But the biggest hardship for me was to constantly remind myself that I was a student, not a supervisor. For the past three summers, I had been a senior supervisor for a field school that operated very similarly. While part of me reveled in just being a student again and not having the responsibility to plan out the days and monitor students, there were times when it became frustrating and several occasions where my supervisor mindset slipped out.

When dealing with frustrations, however, I had to keep in mind that this project objective was by far the most important aspect of any work I have been a part of. If we were successful in finding or identifying a site, we could be that much closer to bringing closure to the family of a lost WWII service member.

Overall, this was the smoothest field school I have worked on. I think that going into the project with people you have been in class with for the past year really worked in our favor. As a slightly smaller class with only 11 students, we already had a grasp on who worked well together and their strengths or weaknesses. There was also no personal drama, which tends to be a rarity in any field. I cannot wait to continue to learn and work with the rest of the maritime studies program students and see what exciting development comes next for us.

 

-by Molly Trivelpiece, graduate student

Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Ryan Miranda, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the third post from the trip. Read the first and second posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Bird Island

Bird Island (Contributed photos)

As we fly on top of the crystal blue waters in the zodiac boat, multiple thoughts run through my head: the plan for the day, my job during the dives and what types of materials we are looking for. Scanning the horizon, I imagine how 74 years ago it would be filled with the huge metal masses of United States Navy ships.

Our field school has been underway for the past few weeks and it’s been an amazing experience. For me, the best way to learn the techniques and methods of the archaeological process has been being in the field or, in our case, on the water. We’ve dived, snorkeled and have become a lean, mean surveying machine.

As the field school progresses, our knowledge and execution of archaeological methods such as six-person snorkel surveys, side scan sonar lines or two-person dive circle searches has improved. We were even able to help conduct surveys with a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) that was provided and driven by one of our partners.

We also conducted public outreach about our research and the overall mission.

Several maritime students appeared on radio shows, the local news and classmate Joel Cook and I talked to several classes at Kagman High School on the island. Our camaraderie has grown as well. On the boats, we talk, joke and grow closer as a group.

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students. (Contributed photos)

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students.

But while we have been working hard, we also have been taking time to explore Saipan and the massive amount of history here. We have walked into a Japanese bomb bunker, machine gun emplacements, visited Banzai and Suicide Cliffs and looked at the ancient paintings at Kalabera Cave.

Japanese Bomb Magazine where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

Japanese Bomb Magazine, where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

A special treat came on the final day of jumping targets when we finished early and were able to dive at some of the better-known sites on the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan. We were able to explore downed aircraft and shipwrecks and marvel at the amount of preservation. It reminded all of us why we chose this field of study.

As our work turns from being on the water to being behind a computer, we realize how much we have achieved and the area we have covered. Personally, I am amazed and surprised how much we have done.

Looking back, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this field school and the overall mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. It allowed us to learn and improve our archaeological skill while serving a greater purpose.

We still may have more to learn but I look forward to the challenges and adventures that are on the way.

 

-by Ryan Miranda, graduate student

 

Read more: Same field school, different perspectives

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