In May, Yevgeniy Kontar, Ph.D., adjunct faculty member, and his wife, Diane Kontar, Ph.D., associate professor of art, attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Conference, Meeting of the Americas, in Cancun, Mexico. Katia Kontar, a 2009 UF alumna and Y. Kontar’s daughter, also attended. The trio represented the University in a variety of ways.
Y. Kontar serves on the AGU meetings program committee and was in charge of the natural hazards sessions during the conference. He also presented “Assessing Hazardous Contamination Incoming with Submarine Groundwater Discharge in Tsunami Affected Coastal Areas” and chaired three science sessions.
“My science contribution was related to reconstruction and restoration work after tsunami events, and my presentation was well accepted by the international community because natural disasters like tsunamis cause enormous damage to infrastructure, the society and the environment,” said Y. Kontar. “Damage is enormous in terms of human life and wide spread destruction along the affected coastlines.”
At the conference, K. Kontar participated in her first oral conference presentation as a new Ph.D. student at the University of Alaska.
K. Kontar has continued professional relationships with her former professors Jeanette Drake, Ph.D., associate professor of communications, and Gwynne Rife, Ph.D., professor of biology and education, since graduating from UF in 2009. The three have collaborated on multiple projects, including a public affairs session at an AGU conference in 2012 and the completion of a monograph titled “New Trends in Earth Science Outreach and Engagement: The Nature of Communication,” which will be released by Springer in December of 2013.
“This May, I had a wonderful opportunity to promote our monograph and highlight some of my latest research and findings at the Weather, Climate and Food Security: American and Global Perspectives session at the AGU conference,” said K. Kontar. “In my presentation, I emphasized a need for a more proactive approach with the public, the media and policy makers about the Natural Hazards and Global Environmental Change Science and its relationship to climate change and human safety.”
In addition to exploring connections between art and science at the AGU conferences, the location of the conference attracted D. Kontar because Cancun is near the Mayan archaeological sites of Tulum and Chitchen Itza.
D. Kontar was interested to learn about the history of the Yucatan peninsula from Mexican scientists and was fascinated by new archaeological discoveries in the rain forests of Honduras.
“It was great to meet so many scientists and prepare my presentation, but stressful because my talk was on Friday, the last day of the conference,” said K. Kontar. “The location was beautiful, and I could finally enjoy it after my presentation.”
The Kontar family wrapped up their art and science adventure with parasailing over the Caribbean and scuba diving at the coral reef.
Written by Sarah Foltz
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