PhD student Kaleo Roberts, who works to improve remote sensing of soil moisture in forests or other highly vegetated terrains, was awarded a scholarship from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).
Roberts’ research helps allow for a more complete picture of water distribution on land and how it changes over time, which is important for environmental conservation, natural resource management, and agriculture. It’s especially helpful for understanding the impacts of climate change and predicting weather systems and cycles of natural resources.
“Soil moisture has an important impact for weather, because the amount of water added to the atmosphere from evaporation and transpiration – where plants ‘sweat out’ water – can create storm systems,” Roberts says. “If scientists have a better understanding of how much water is moving through that part of the system, they can make better predictions.”
Roberts uses MATLAB for simulating and evaluating backscatter simulations. He also uses HFSS to design antennas and Advanced Design System to prototype some of the microwave circuits that may go into a prototype remote sensing system.
Roberts is a member of AISES, an organization that supports scientists and engineers who are descendant from or identify as American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous peoples of Canada. Roberts’ grandfather, a Native Hawaiian, was also an electrical engineer.
“Because of some of the things that he showed me when I was growing up, I thought electrical engineering would be pretty cool,” Roberts says.
Roberts is advised by Kamal Sarabandi, the Rufus S. Teesdale Professor of Engineering and Director of the Radiation Laboratory. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University.