July 10, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Two Western Michigan University students have recently won national awards for research papers in the fields of telecommunications management and geology.
James R. Hutchins of 42432 C.R. 673, Lawrence, received second place in a national research paper competition conducted by the Association of College and University Telecommunications Administrators (ACUTA). Hutchins won $500 and an expense paid trip to ACUTA's 26th Annual Conference in Atlanta in July.
Madhav V. Machavaram of 2724 Westbrook F-18, Kalamazoo, received the Outstanding Student Paper Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for his research paper in the hydrology section. Machavaram, originally from Hyderabad, India, was one of 10 students selected from 200 around the world. He was awarded an expense paid trip to the organization's spring meeting in San Francisco next year, and he was recognized in the AGU newsletter in June.
The title of Hutchins' paper was "Rand Study Simulation: Digital Video Compression and the MPEG II Standard." He said improving digital video compression is important to developing new technologies, such as high definition television.
"Digital video compression is a support technology that has an economical advantage," Hutchins said. "It allows one television station to broadcast five or six channels from the amount of space on the electromagnetic spectrum that the original, single channel provided. It fits more information in the available space."
Hutchins said his advisor, Dr. Richard A. Gershon, associate professor of communication, encouraged him to submit his paper to the competition.
"I think that's one of the reasons why the telecommunications management program at Western is so unique," said Hutchins, who will earn a bachelor's degree in telecommunications management in December. "The people in it, like Professor Gershon, are exceptional. The faculty is very supportive and also excited about the industry."
Gershon said WMU's program is one of only 30 telecommunications programs in the country, and one of only a handful of those programs devoted to telecommunications management.
"We are the only telecommunications program in Michigan with an emphasis on management," Gershon said. "The program is a very interesting and unique blend of management and technical skills training."
Machavaram presented his paper, titled "Interannual Variation in the Lake Moisture Contribution to Precipitation at Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA," at the AGU's fall meeting in December, establishing his candidacy for the award. He said the quality of WMU's geology program has helped him be successful in his research.
"The geology program is extremely good because of the faculty and facilities," Machavaram said. "The faculty are very supportive, and we have one of the best stable isotope geochemistry laboratories in the country.
"Western's program is also unique because we can specialize in hydrogeology," he said. "We also have a very good field camp that allows students to gain hands-on experience on scientific equipment they will use in daily life."
Dr. R.V. Krishnamurthy, associate professor of geology and Machavaram's advisor, said that the other students who won the award hailed from such institutions as the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Washington and Stanford University.
"In the past 15 years, I have seen only such names appearing on these awards," he said. "I am very proud and delighted that we could put Western in such company."
He noted that Machavaram's research, which involves hydrological investigations of how evaporation moisture contributes to precipitation, is expected to have direct implications in such areas as hydrology, atmospheric sciences and geochemistry.
Machavaram earned his bachelor's degree from Nagarjuna University in India in 1986, his master's degree in marine geology from Mangalore University in India in 1989 and his master's degree in hydrogeology from WMU in 1993. He is expected to obtain a doctoral degree in geology from WMU in August. His dissertation is titled "A Coupled Investigation of Stable Isotopes and Radio Nuclides in Precipitation, Kalamazoo, Southwest Michigan."
He has served as a doctoral research associate in the WMU stable isotope geochemistry laboratory and as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Geology. In 1996, he was one of nine students selected as University Graduate Research and Creative Scholars.
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