Hyunglok Kim, a Ph.D. student in Engineering Systems and Environment’s civil engineering program, won the Outstanding Student Presentation Award at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting held last month in San Francisco. Kim presented his research titled “Assimilation of GPS soil moisture data from CYGNSS into land surface models.”

Kim, who works with Professor Venkat Lakshmi, is interested in understanding the role of hydrometeorological factors — the transfer of water and energy between the land surface and lower atmosphere — on extreme weather events. Using soil moisture data collected from various satellite systems and quantitative methods called land surface models, he is attempting to describe the processes that control Earth’s hydrologic cycle. However, sun-synchronous satellite coverage is limited across both time and space because the satellite passes over any given point on Earth at the same solar time each day, leaving gaps in the data.

Kim is seeking to solve the problem using Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System data, which, when integrated into the land surface models, has shown promise in reducing errors in soil moisture estimates.

The prestigious student presentation awards promote, recognize and reward undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students for quality research in the geophysical sciences. According to AGU.org, the top 2% to 5% of presenters in each section earn an Outstanding Student Presentation Award.

Kim works with Professor Venkat Lakshmi. Last year, Kim was selected for NASA’s first class of Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology. His research proposal was one of only 59 accepted for the new Future Investigators program in the earth science funding division.