Team 19094 at Biosphere 2 : Gabriel Prado, Abdullah Al-Battash, Edgar Gomez, Lia Crocker and Tru Quach.
Lia Crocker, a biosystems engineering student, was drawn to Tucson from Pittsburgh, PA due to the research potential of Biosphere 2. Research focusing on how climate change affects a variety of ecosystems can be conducted in Biosphere 2 without endangering the ecosystems themselves.
Crocker interned at Biosphere 2 in the summer of 2019, and after completion, wanted to complete her capstone project there. With sponsorship from her home department, Crocker and her team began working to create a controlled monitor system for coral raceways with which scientists can develop climate-change resistant marine invertebrates. Since it is estimated that about one-quarter of all marine species need reefs for shelter “It’s important to have really accurate monitoring of what those conditions [caused by climate change] are.” Coral reefs are also financially important as they produce billions of dollars through tourism, medicines, and food.
Through a class, Crocker learned to use microcontrollers and monitor air quality in the Controlled Environment Agricultural Center. She had the idea to use a Raspberry Pi to establish a similar system at Biosphere 2. The team’s goal is to scale up plans that utilize Raspberry Pis to monitor home coral reef tanks for use on larger raceways in controlled environments.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 social distancing guidelines have slowed down progress toward the goal, but the team continues to persevere.