We have several potential Em4 clients now, and are very excited to be installing one at a university in Missouri next week (can’t quite say who yet). We designed the Em4 to be adapted to both museums and academic teaching/research, and it’s getting attention in both areas. We’re now working with a museum developer for the Science Museum of Minnesota on an Em4 museum variant. We’ve also made contact with a Danish firm that can help us get models to the EU.
We’ve had great reviews on the Em4 installed at Winona State. (They also have six Em2s. All NSF-funded.) Toby Dogwiler and Cathy Summa there have done a wonderful job of teaching with the models. We’re anxiously waiting for formal reviews–what we’ve heard so far is very encouraging. A nice article on their lab here.
We now have 50 Em2 models in the wild. Here’s a map showing where they live. Aside from warm reviews from users, I’m happy to know we got the engineering right–except for a couple of bad pumps, we’ve had zero parts, safety, or other user problems. And, from user polling, no suggestions for improvements. This is what 20 years of careful tweaking yields!
Budgets seem to have recovered a bit from the panic of last fall and winter, and we’ve had many orders this year. And, overall, the economy has picked up. We narrowly missed NSF funding this spring, disappointing because there was stimulus money available. I can’t think of a small business who could put it to better use.
We’ve made so many contacts this year–we have a long list of people interested in the Em2 model who’re limited by the economy or waiting for the new fiscal year. And we’ve connected with many scientists who’re interested in the models and collaborative research and curriculum development. Our visit to the American Fisheries Society (AFS) national meeting in Nashville last week was very encouraging–the biologists who need to educate stakeholders can see the great potential our Em2 models have to do this.
It’s a great lift to get out of the office and meet literally hundreds of people who’re fascinated with our models. We’re looking forward to doing this again soon at the Portland meeting of the Geological Society of American (GSA) in October. I’m giving a talk there on use of plastic media in geoscience models.
Our new business manager, Stephanie Rhodes, is transforming much of the way we work, especially with her marketing savvy.
In the consulting/research arena, we’re talking with the managers of the Cache River in southern Illinois about directing research at this Ramsar site, which is a geologically and biologically unique. This site will also feature in work done by SIUC’s new $3.2 million NSF-IGERT program. Many of our SIUC collaborators are working on this project, and we’re happy they’ve gained this funding. I hope to soon be adjunct in three departments at SIUC, adding Geology to Geography and Zoology.
Things are looking up, partly from the economic recovery, and also because of our hard work making connections, writing grants, continuing R&D, and marketing of our wonderful river models.
Bottom photo, taken about this time in 2008, of Jesse and Cara and the first Em4 model. Top photo full caption/credit for the photo above: Winona State University Geoscience majors Kristen Dieterman, left, and Valerie Johnson examine how water can form a river on one of the Emriver stream tables in WSU’s flume laboratory in the Science Learning Center. (Katie Derus)