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Of 160 U.S. entries, JSU meteorology student is only one with perfect poster score

Research by Jackson State University meteorology student Keon Gibson, a junior in the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences and Geoscience, aimed to improve measurements of precipitation accumulation.

Research by Jackson State University meteorology student Keon Gibson, a junior in the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences and Geoscience, aims to improve measurements of precipitation accumulation.

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Gibson said his career goal is to work with meteorological or space weather instruments. (Photo by Spencer McClenty/JSU)

Gibson said his career goal is to work with meteorological or space weather instruments. (Photo by Spencer McClenty/JSU)

A poster presentation by junior meteorology student Keon Gibson at Jackson State University recently won the top award among more than 160 entries nationwide during the 16th annual student conference of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Seattle.

Gibson, a standout JSU College of Science, Engineering and Technology student in the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences and Geoscience, said he was surprised after he was informed that he earned a spot in the Top 10 percent.

In fact, an email by Aryeh Drager, poster session chair of the AMS Student Conference, informed Gibson that he was “the only one to receive perfect scores from both judges.”

Gibson said he was pleasantly stunned by his performance.

“I thought my poster wasn’t good enough. In fact, my judges didn’t even show up in the beginning of the presentation.”

After last summer’s internship at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colo., Gibson undertook an experiment titled “Investing the Sources of Inaccuracy in a Geonor Precipitation Gauge.”

The research aimed to improve the measurements of precipitation accumulation after previous tests showed inconsistencies. Two of the three vibrating wires on the precipitation gauge under test showed erroneous measurements and provided false readings.

The three wires should have been in sync and output the same frequency and thus accumulation measurements.  However, this was not the case.

To rectify the problem, Gibson isolated the variables of the noisy data by investigating the ambient (outside) temperatures impact on the wire frequency output. He removed each wire from the instrument; placed them all together inside a weatherproof enclosure; and then placed a thermometer inside the box to observe how the outside temperature affected each wire’s frequency output.

As a result of the research, Gibson showed that “as ambient temperature increases or decreases, the measurements could either increase or decrease as a result, indicating the data is not always reliable,” he said.

Gibson said he hopes his data will spur further improvements to the gauges, yielding more accurate measurements of precipitation.