Communicating 'Wondrous' Research Efforts


From: Jill Hummels, Public Information Officer, University of Kansas School of Engineering

In August, my boss sent me an email with the subject line of “FYI.” I know what he really meant to type was “Great Opportunity.” In the email he asked if I would be willing to travel to the southern tip of Chile to report on the activities of a University of Kansas research team.

My response: “I carry my passport with me at all times … Yes.”

As a public information officer for the KU School of Engineering, I work with people who do truly wondrous things that few others outside the school or the field know much about. My job is to ensure more people know the wondrous, seemingly magical, research efforts of our faculty.

This time I’m following the adventures of KU researchers who’ve developed radars and computer models that can tell the world a lot about what’s happening to our polar ice. Not a bad gig. The KU team, housed at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets and led by Professor Chris Allen, was selected by NASA to provide much of the instrumentation for Operation Ice Bridge. Also, not a bad gig.

I’ve traveled to most states and visited many Canadian provinces and a few Mexican states, but this is my first trip outside North America. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to travel to Punta Arenas, so much so that a 29-hour flight itinerary seems like a pretty cool endurance test. I guess it’s good that I like to fly. That finely honed skill will come in handy if I’m able to sit in on a flight over Antarctica in NASA’s DC-8.

My family is pretty pumped about my Chile excursion, too, although we haven’t broken the news to the dog, yet. We think she might be jealous.


4 thoughts on “Communicating 'Wondrous' Research Efforts”

  1. Sounds as if it could be fun, Jill – you obviously have the right mental attitude to ‘adventures’. I hope you carry a camera!
    Do you have an opportunity to get any ‘hands on’ experience on trips, or is it just observing and reporting?

  2. Best of luck on this mission Jill. I was fortunate enough to have been the Mission Director on the AIRSAR mission to Punta Arenas in 2004. Spent 3 weeks in that amazing city. Don’t forget to go to the statue of Magellan in the town square and rub the foot of the statue to ensure safe return for those on the mission. Pass my regards to Bob C.

  3. i’m still consoling our poodle patrick. he is quite heartbroken that my dad (chris allen) is away!!

    i’m so glad you are there to keep us updated. i tried to convince my dad to keep a video blog, but that’s not really his “thing”. haha!

    hope all is going great!
    -Anna Allen

  4. Sounds like a fascinating mission. Goodspeed! From a KU alum. Go Jayhawks!

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