GeoTalk: REcycle textile posters into useful products

GeoTalk: REcycle textile posters into useful products

Conference posters: Most scientists spend tens (if not hundreds) of working hours perfecting their conference poster. There’s not just the science to think about, but also the design, the flow, the images, the language… The list is endless. Once complete, you print it, roll it up and feed it into the protective poster tube. Then you travel to the conference venue, whereupon you ‘compete’ with other scientist trying to stand-out from the crowd and entice fellow attendees to stop by your presentation, if only for a few minutes.

And then it is over, almost as quickly as it started. You pack up your poster to take back to your institution, to languish amongst the pile of other posters in a corner of your office. Best case scenario, you’ll revisit the electronic version when presenting on the same subject again and rework some elements. In all likelihood, the few hours of glory in the poster hall will be the climax of hours of hard work!

What if you could breathe a longer life into your poster? One which would mean you’ll reach audiences you never expected, while transforming your work into a brand new, useful product?

Today we speak to Sandra de Vries, a former master student, who also crafts posters into wearable garments, breathing a new lease of life into your scientific findings.

It all starts with a textile poster – where your presentation is printed on fabric as opposed to paper – which Sandra then turns into anything from a tie, to a tote bag, through to a skirt! The designs come complete with QR Codes, which people can scan to access the original presentation.

First, could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little more about your background.

Hi, everybody! As a water ambassador during my studies, and currently working as project developer for the Valorisation Program Deltatechnology and Water, my interest for the water sector has been growing for a couple of years now. That brought me to my new job, where I just started working as IHP-HWRP Committee Secretary.

I take special interest in supporting and increasing innovative solutions in the water sector and creating awareness for the importance of water (on a national as well as international level) for which I helped set up the initiative Team Helder Water. I like to tackle challenges by being creative and enthusiastic about the solutions possible.

During my Water Management master at the Delft University of Technology I conducted research in the Mara River Basin – Kenia, Jakarta – Indonesia, and Ostional – Nicaragua. I conducted this research in cooperation with UNESCO-IHE, Deltares, and the research institute CIRA in Managua – Nicaragua, respectively. Living, travelling, and working abroad has created an interest of discovering other cultures and working together with them on challenging and global issues.

Repost is your initiative to turn textile posters into useable items. How did you come up with this original idea?

What if your poster could become a handy tote bag? Credit: REpost/Sandra de Vries

What if your poster could become a handy tote bag? Credit: REpost/Sandra de Vries

It actually all comes back to my time as an EGU conference assistant, during EGU2014 and 2015. For my work in the poster areas we were asked to remove all left-behind posters every evening. These are quite a few, and surprisingly, some posters turned out to be printed on textile instead of paper. After the first evening of throwing away perfectly nice posters that were only used for two effective hours, I discussed with a friend the waste of material, time, but especially effort. As I had been designing and making  clothes of my own for a couple of years, I started joking about keeping some of the textile versions. “I could make a dress out of it and perhaps a beach bag for you!”, I exclaimed to my friend. So at the end of the next day, instead of throwing away the textile posters, I started collecting them. Beautiful pieces of research, all of them!

In the year after EGU2014 I did what I promised my friend, and chose two posters to become a beach bag and a dress. Again, in 2015 I joined as an assistant, and this time it was even better, I was working at the hydrology poster area. This gave me an even better possibility to collect textile posters, which often showed topics of my own interest! And during the Delft hydrology dinner in Vienna (every year organised by the division), I wore the dress made out of a poster from EGU2014. This resulted in really enthusiastic reactions, which only increased my own enthusiasm for the idea. After EGU2015 I created a couple of aprons which were used during the hydrology fieldwork of my master, and a pencil skirt for my own thesis defence. Of course with all topics matching that of my own thesis. And finally, I created the tie, a present for my supervisor Prof. Hubert Savenije.

Is the process of turning the posters into clothing items difficult? What does the process involve?

As you might imagine, posters are printed on a textile that is best compared to canvas. This is pretty stiff fabric, and for sure not everything can be made out of it. The first dress I made is actually the best example for this. I was not incredibly satisfied because the inflexible fabric did not allow for a nice fit. I also broke many a needle in my sewing machine, since the fabric is often thicker than normal fabric. So the product-possibilities depend on the type of fabric, and the thickness of the textile posters have thus far influenced my product choices.

The next step is like designing any other piece of clothes or accessories. You need to design a 2D-pattern that shows you which pieces of fabric you need to create a 3D product. In case of clothing, which naturally should also fit a person, one needs to take into account different clothing sizes.

You include QR codes in all the items you make, why is it such a unique feature?

The extra highlight of our product, especially interesting for researchers, is indeed the QR-code attached to the product. This QR-code redirects to the original poster of the author. Imagine the extra publicity you can create for your work in this manner!

Cutting up the poster in order to REmake it, can create a loss of the information contained in the poster. By including the QR-code we ensure to REpost the work to anybody who might be interested by what is shown on the clothing or accessories.

Which items have you enjoyed creating the most and why?

I still remember the first time people saw the beach bag I made for my friend. Everybody was enthusiastic, envying her for her new bag. This was very surprising for me, I had not expected that others would like the idea as much as I enjoyed it.

Sandra models her pencil skirt. Credit: REpost/ Sandra de Vries

Sandra models her pencil skirt. Credit: REpost/ Sandra de Vries

I am most proud of the pencil skirt I made. When I started creating it, I was not even sure if it would work out, and I wanted it to be perfect to use it for my own thesis defence. Eventually, it turned out to be great, and so original that I was asked by people where I bought it!

What next for REpost? Do you plan on pursuing this as a business where anyone can purchase items you’ve made?

Yes, definitely! It started out as a nice fun hobby and project. Now, after having talked to many people, I believe this has more potential than just keeping it for myself. Together with my sister Maria, we are finding ways to increase production, incorporate the QR-code and bring this to a higher level. To make it easier for you in the future, we’re actually in contact with conference organizers  to incorporate this choice into the digital registration procedure.

If this sounds interesting to you as a poster-author and you’re planning to print on textile, contact us via our email address or check our facebook page repost poster!

GeoEd: GIFT Workshops at the General Assembly – What the 2016 participants can expect

GeoEd: GIFT Workshops at the General Assembly – What the 2016 participants can expect

The General Assembly (GA) is not only for researchers but for teachers and educators with an interest in the geosciences also. Every year the Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) is organised by the EGU Committee on Education to bring first class science closer to primary and high school teachers.

If you are an educator attending this year’s edition of the GIFT workshop –the topic of which is ‘The Solar System and beyond’ and is co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA) – you might be asking yourself what to expect. If so, read on, as this post should go some way towards showcasing the important take-home messages which come out of taking part in the workshop.

Anna Elisabetta Merlini, a teacher at the Scuola Dell’infanzia Alessandrini, near Milan in Italy, attended last year’s edition of the GIFT Worksop at the 2015 General Assembly in Vienna. Following the workshop she wrote a report about her time at the conference. Below you’ll find a summary of the report; to read the full version, please follow this link.

“My experience to GIFT workshop 2015 has been a real opportunity to find the connection between schools and the geoscience world,” explains Anna in the opening remark of her report. The 2015 GIFT workshop focused on mineral resources and Anna felt that “the GIFT workshop gave all teachers a new awareness of the presence of minerals in our daily routine” and equipped participating teachers with tools to tackle important mineral ores related topics, carrying out practical and productive activities with students.

As a teacher with a geological background, Anna found that the GIFT workshop allowed her to achieve mainly three different goals:

  • Realisation of new didactic ore related projects

Following the workshop, Anna took some of the things she learnt during her time in Vienna and applied them to ongoing teaching projects she was involved with prior to the GA. In particular, she

Anna (center) with other teachers at the 2015 GIFT workshop in Vienna. (Credit: Anna Elisabetta Merlini).

Anna (center) with other teachers at the 2015 GIFT workshop in Vienna. (Credit: Anna Elisabetta Merlini).

adapted existing teaching activities to highlight the practical connection between daily life and minerals found in objects. For instance, the youngest pupils in the Milan based school enjoyed a more hands on approach to learning about soil by exploring the areas just outside the building gates!

  • New interconnection to other teachers and scientific institutions

During the workshop in Vienna, Anna realised “how important is to involve young generations in geoscience topics in order to grow a more eco-aware generation in the future.” This notion inspired the primary teacher to start the Geoscience Information for Kids (GIFK) programme  to be implemented throughout local schools.

  • New ideas for my professional future within educational area

The GIFT workshop is not only an opportunity to develop new skills and develop new ideas, but also a place to network.  Through interactions with the teachers she met at the GIFT workshop, Anna felt empowered to “improve my skills in teaching geoscience, learning new tools and new strategies to involve students in the best way.”

For example, fruitful discussions with a Malawi based teacher meant she now better appreciates the differences between teaching in two, so vastly different, countries and how that impacts on students.

Anna concludes that the GIFT

“experience opened my eyes about the future, enforcing my conviction that children are our future and educational programs need to involve students at all levels, starting from the beginning.”

The EGU 2016 GIFT workshop ‘The Solar System and beyond’, co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA), is taking place on April 18–20 2016 at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 17 to 22 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

GeoTalk: Anastasia Tezari – understanding space weather

GeoTalk: Anastasia Tezari – understanding space weather

Weather – it dictates the clothes we wear, is engrained in our culture, shapes our seasons and plays an important role in our daily lives. Not only that, its long term forecast and understanding of its variability, is the focus of much research as it holds one of the keys to understanding the Earth’s past and future. Earthly weather has an altogether less familiar, but not less fascinating and important, extra-terrestrial cousin: space weather. In this month’s GeoTalk interview we talk to Anastasia Tezari, a masters student at the University of Athens, whose work on understating this phenomenon was recognised by the Solar Terrestrial Science Division at the 2015 General Assembly.

Anastasia, before we get going, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your research so far?

I hold a B.Sc. in Physics with a specialty in Nuclear and Particle Physics awarded by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. After attending many courses, I decided to select cosmic radiation as the main subject of my research. I received a proper training on experimental methods and gained significant research experience at the Athens Neutron Monitor Station (A.Ne.Mo.S.) in collaboration with the Neutron Monitor Database (NMDB) and as a member of the Athens Cosmic Ray Group, supervised by Emeritus Prof. Helen Mavromichalaki.

Currently, I am a M.Sc. student in the field of Environmental Health at the University of Athens Medical School, studying about the way environment impacts on our health, and specifically the biological effects of space weather. My research interests liein the field of cosmic radiation and space weather forecasting. Many technological and biological effects can be interpreted in terms of different solar and cosmic phenomena.

At the same time, I am also a private tutor for children for physics and maths. I really enjoy taking long walks with my dogs, trekking, going to concerts and travelling around the world!

As we touch upon in the introduction, most of us are very familiar with earthly weather. What is space weather and how is it different?

The term space weather was introduced in 1950s but it was not before 1990s that came to common usage. It describes the ways that the Sun and the solar wind specifically affect the environmental conditions in Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere and includes various solar and cosmic ray phenomena. These phenomena can have several impacts on earth’s climate, for example cloud formation, on technological systems, such as electronics on satellites and spacecrafts, communications systems and GPS, but can also have impacts on human health especially for astronauts and aircraft crews.

At the General Assembly in 2015, the Solar-Terrestrial Sciences Division awarded you with the Outstanding Student Poster Award for your work on cosmic radiation and space weather forecasting. Can you tell us a little more about the work you presented at the conference and its implications?

My work for the EGU2015 concerns the study of the Cosmic Ray Modulation and specifically the diurnal anisotropy of the cosmic ray intensity. Diurnal anisotropy is a short-term variation which is due to the rotation of the Earth around its axis and the way different places on Earth “measure” the cosmic ray intensity, as the geographic coordinates of the detectors are of great importance. In order to study the diurnal variation and its characteristics, we used data from the Neutron Monitor Stations of the University of Athens (Greece) and the University of Oulu (Finland), two stations of about the same geographic longitude but different geographic latitude.

This is the Heliosphere, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, in which all the phenomena related to Space Weather take place. You can see the solar wind that streams to every direction in a spiral formation reaching the Earth that is rotating around its axis. This is the mechanism that creates the phenomenon of diurnal anisotropy of cosmic ray intensity.

This is the Heliosphere, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, in which all the phenomena related to Space Weather take place. You can see the solar wind that streams to every direction in a spiral formation reaching the Earth that is rotating around its axis. This is the mechanism that creates the phenomenon of diurnal anisotropy of cosmic ray intensity.

The activity of the Sun changes periodically from maximum to minimum conditions forming the so- called solar cycle which is an 11-year variation. During the different phases of the solar cycle, diurnal anisotropy variations are observed, which are correlated to the solar cycle. There are also variations of the diurnal anisotropy during extreme solar and cosmic ray events, such as GLEs, Forbush decreases and geomagnetic storms, which are interpreted in different ways by each station.These results can be useful for long-term space weather monitoring and biomagnetic studies.

Today, ground based neutron monitors remain the state-of-the-art instrumentation for measuring cosmic rays. The Cosmic-Ray Station of the Athens University (A.Ne.Mo.S.) is unique in the Balkan area and the east part of the Mediterranean Sea and was among the first stations in the worldwide Neutron Monitor Network to provide real time data online. Since 2003, a data processing center (Athens Neutron Monitor Data Processing Center – ANMODAP) collecting data from 23 real time NM stations together with satellite data from ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) & GOES (Geostationary Satellite Server) is operated at the Athens NM station. Today it provides accurate data with resolution up to 1 sec and a real time GLE-Alert System, which is a Ground Level Enhancement alarm system.

Most attendees at the EGU General Assembly are at PhD level, or above. The EGU encourages the attendance of both undergraduate and masters students to the conference. As a masters student, how did you find the experience of presenting at an international conference?


Anastasia presented her work at EGU 2015. (Credit: Anastasia Tezari)

The EGU2015 is actually the first conference (national or international) that I participated actively via a poster presentation. In the beginning, I was really anxious about doing this and was definitely out of my comfort zone, but due to the huge support of my professor and friends, I took the big step. The experience was really rewarding as I had the chance to defend my work for the first time and interact with so many scientists from different disciplines and different countries. Despite the size of the event, it was organised very well, so I was able to attend many workshops and follow all the breakthroughs in science. I also got to see Vienna, which I can confirm is one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe and made a lot of new “international” friends!

Do you have any words of advice for students who are planning on attending the EGU 2016 General Assembly?

The advice is one and only: you definitely have to attend the EGU2016! It is by far the greatest conference you will be able to participate. It is a great chance to exchange knowledge and ideas with so many other scientists, as well as get advice that can contribute to your studies and research from different scientific fields. So, continue doing what you really enjoy, work hard and don’t wait to reach a PhD level in order to participate in such a conference. Just be well-prepared as the questions concerning your work can be really tough! And don’t forget to enjoy yourself in Vienna!

Imaggeo on Mondays: The Grand Canyon and celebrating Earth Science Week

Imaggeo on Mondays: The Grand Canyon and celebrating Earth Science Week

Today marks the start of Earth Science Week – a yearly international event which aims to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences. The event is promoted by the American Geosciences Institute and the Geological Society of London, amongst others, so be sure to head to their websites to find out more.

Our Imaggeo on Monday’s image celebrates Earth Science Week too, as well as the General Assembly 2015 conference theme, A Voyage Through Scales! This stunning image of the Grand Canyon was taken by Paulina Cwik.

The awe inspiring Grand Canyon is “446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attains a depth of over a mile 1,800 meters. Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. Visiting Grand Canyon is like a voyage through time scale”, explains Paulina.

To learn more about the geology of this geological landmark, take a look at the information available from the National Parks Service webpages, which also includes an informative video.

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at