Saturday, December 7, 2013

Anna Durrett joins LRRD

Anna in the lab with an Emflume1 prototype, showing her usual upbeat attitude!

We're thrilled to announce that Anna Durrett joined Little River as Research Assistant this spring.

She's jumped into her work with enthusiasm and grace, and she has adapted quickly to the wide variety of tasks we throw her way.

Anna is doing a fabulous job in both sales and support.  She helps Meriam (our Business Director) stay on top of the books.  She organizes all of our overseas shipments.  She manages the logistics of the many conferences we attend.  She's even written a blog post about this year's flooding in Colorado.

Anna brings valuable knowledge and experience to Little River.

She's a dual-degree graduate of the University of Missouri, with a bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics.  Before she joined us, she worked as a reporter and editor of the Madison Record newspaper in Madison, Ala. She also freelanced as a copywriter and graphic designer.

Anna has a strong interest in science.  She worked at a space camp in her hometown of Huntsville, Ala. after graduating from college, where she taught the camp kids about the science and history of space travel.

Anna is dedicated activist and is active in several admirable causes.  She is a vegan, and an animal rights activist.  Since moving to Southern Illinois, she has organized demonstrations for animal welfare, and she has organized several vegetarian and vegan social meet-ups at Carbondale's interfaith center, the Gaia House.  She volunteers for our local Women's Center, where she works the emergency hotline and advocates for sexual assault victims at area hospitals. She is also LGBTIQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Intersexed/Questioning) SafeZone trained.

She has been a wonderful addition to our team.  We are impressed with the work she has done so far, and everything she has learned about river science and policy in the short time she's been with us.  We admire her activism and volunteer work.  And we enjoy working with her every day; her sense of humor and upbeat spirit make her a great colleague.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For your inspiration: adds a resources page

We've added a Resources page to!

Emriver users can find materials there to help them get the most out of our models: lesson plans, curriculum packets, lab exercises, graduate theses, videos, and more.  There are resources for everyone -- grade schoolers, laypeople and professors, on up to postgraduate researchers.  Go check them out!

If you have a curriculum item or lesson plan—or anything Emriver-related—you'd like to share, contact us, and we'll add it to the page.

Also, check out the Emriver Working Group on Google+.  Our friend Matt Kuchta created the group as a place for Emriver users to share tips, tricks and hacks for Emriver models.  We'd love to see more people join and contribute.  Go join and contribute!

If you're more the Facebook type, you can find us here. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far by sharing curriculum materials with us or posting them to the web.  We can't wait to see more!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vermont ONRCD develops Emriver curriculum for G4-6.

We're happy to learn from Larry Kasden that curriculum for our Emriver Em2 has been written in Vermont.

The 46-page lesson packet, aimed at grades 4-6, is used in a “River Roadshow,” a program run by the
Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District (ONRCD) to bring to the community an appreciation of rivers and how they work. The Roadshow developed the lesson packet; Jennifer Guarino of Ecotone Education wrote it.

You can download the packet here.  The ONRCD encourages users to review the packet and offer suggestions for improvement and expansion.  The packet contains contact information.

We are thrilled to see our Emriver Em2 models used this way, and to see this well-done curriculum developed.

 From the packet:  "The lesson packet covers many aspects of river dynamics in a way that encourages observation, discussion, and experimentation. For example, students do simple activities with marbles to see the effects of meanders on speed and the relationship of speed and volume to force. They carry these activities to the stream table and easily note the relationship of river speed and volume to erosion and degradation. In short, rather than being told how streams work, they discover, on their own, the concept of Lane’s Balance, one of the primary principles of river dynamics. So while the topic of this lesson packet concerns rivers, the process is for students to learn to observe, question, form theories, test their theories, and formulate and apply their findings. 
ONRCD is grateful for the advice and assistance of Staci Pomeroy and Marie Lavesque Caduto of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Chris E. Smith of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for serving as scientific advisors. We are also grateful to Kathy Renfrew, Vermont Agency of Education, Jenny Hewitt, a teacher at the Pomfret School, Audrey Halpert, a teacher at the Albert Bridge School, and Jill Kurash and Karen White of Woodstock School whose years of experience insured that this packet would be valuable to classroom teachers. And finally, we thank Jennifer who has the talent to bring it all together."

Emriver Em2 in use by the ONRCD, photo courtesy of ONRCD.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Our first model in Italy! / La nostra prima spedizione in Italia!

[Editor's note: Business Director Meriam Lahlou translated this post into Italian.]

We shipped our first Emriver model to Italy last week—an Em2 is on its way to the engineering department at the University of Trento, where it will be used to teach civil and environmental engineering by Dr. Guido Zolezzi.

The Little River team celebrates our first shipment to Italy.
Left to right: Steve Gough, LRRD owner; Meriam Lahlou, Business Director;  
Nathan Speagle, Prototyper & Shop Supervisor; JM Krahe, Assistant Prototyper; 
Anna Durrett, Research Assistant; Jim Nation, Assistant Prototyper
Il nostro team Little River celebra la nostra prima spedizione in Italia.
Da sinistra a destra: Steve Gough, proprietario LRRD; Meriam Lahlou, Direttore Commerciale;
Nathan Speagle, Prototyper e Supervisore di officina; JM Krahe, Assistente Prototyper;
Anna Durrett, Assistente di Ricerca, Jim Nation, Assistente Prototyper

We met Dr. Zolezzi, a professor at the University of Trento, when he spoke at SIUC about the effects of dams on European rivers.

LRRD Business Director Meriam Lahlou used her Italian skills to make this deal happen.  Grazie, Meriam!

We've put another pin on the map!  Click the Google map image to explore the interactive map of Emriver locations.

The University of Trento's Em2 is our 11th model in Europe!
Il Em2 a L'Università di Trento sarà il nostro 11° modello in Europa!

[Nota del redattore: LRRD Direttore Commerciale Meriam Lahlou ha tradotto questo post in Italiano]

La settimana sorsa, abbiamo spedito il nostro primo modello Emriver in Italia. Il modello Em2 è in rotta per la divizione ingegneria a l'Università di Trento, dove verrà utilizzato per insegnare ingegneria civile e ambientale.

Circa 17 mesi fa , abbiamo incontrato il Dott. Guido Zolezzi, professore a l'Università di Trento, a SIUC quando ha parlato degli effetti delle dighe sui fiumi europei.

LRRD Direttore Commerciale Meriam Lahlou era felice di usare la sua conoscenza della lingua italiana per favorire questo accordo. Grazie, Meriam!

Un alto puntino sulla mappa! Clicca l'immagine mappa di Google per esplorare la mappa interattiva dei luoghi Emriver .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

LRRD rocks GSA's 125th anniversary meeting

Better economic times and, thankfully, an end to the ridiculous federal government shutdown, boosted attendance at this year’s annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver to well over 8,000.

We had a great time celebrating GSA's 125th anniversary.  We met passionate geology professors and students and hard-working researchers and professionals, and we visited with old friends like Callan Bentley.  We now have nearly 170 Emriver models worldwide, and we were happy to see many Emriver owners in Denver.  We saw the effects of the recent floods first-hand (an important issue for us), and talked with scientists and residents in the area about what happened and how to rebuild.

Matt Kuchta explains how to make a 3D model of
topography in the Em2 using his Xbox Kinect
A highlight was Matt Kuchta’s setup in our booth.  After presenting his poster session on use
of the Kinect sensor to measure geomorphic change in his Emriver Em2 model, Matt demonstrated digital 3D modeling with the Kinect in our models.  Matt also brought along his famous high speed camera and captured some cool video of water and particle movement in our Emflume1.

Many thanks to Matt for his interest in our models and for putting them to such good scientific use!

Anna Durrett talks coded modeling media with visitors in our booth at GSA 2013
This year's GSA was the first conference for our new colleague Anna Durrett, and, as we expected, she did a wonderful job.  Anna also handled much of the complex logistics.  Thanks Anna!

Thanks also to students who helped in our booth—Bo Cherry, an IGERT fellow at SIUC, and Candice Passehl, Nora Dwyer, Sara Holden, Kyle Lewis and Catherine Vogel, students at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.—we couldn't have done it without them!

Steve, Alee, Nathan and Anna after a successful meeting!
Alee, Matt and Nathan talk tech in our booth at GSA 2013

Steve shows off stratigraphy formations in our Em3 at GSA 2013

There was a constant crowd in our booth at GSA 2013

GSA 2013 move out from Steve Gough on Vimeo.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pondering the Colorado floods on the way to GSA 2013 Denver

Editor's note: This is the first blog post by our new Research Assistant, Anna Durrett.

Last week’s end of the government shutdown will bring needed disaster recovery funds to Colorado.The deal that reopened the government included $450 million for rebuilding transportation infrastructure in Colorado devastated by flooding last month.

While money is necessary to rebuild, Colorado’s problems are not over. Not all roads and bridges should simply be rebuilt. Infrastructure should be built smarter to fit the new climate we are facing and be less susceptible to severe damage.

Floodwater destroys a bridge along Highway 34
toward Estes Park, Colorado, on September 13, 2013.
(AP Photo/Colorado Heli-Ops, Dennis Pierce)
See more photos of flooding here.

States must fight lengthy battles to rebuild stronger infrastructure in order to be less vulnerable when the next storm comes along. Making upgrades during rebuilding often has higher short-term costs, but it can reduce long-term costs and reduce damages in the future.

River conservation and science education are two of our prime goals at Little River Research & Design. One of the main purposes of our models is to help educate legislators and stakeholders, and our models were extensively used for this following flood damage in the Northeastern U.S. in 2011.

Roadways should be given different paths that are less susceptible to flood damage. When roads run along rivers, floods can cause severe damage that is not a quick fix. On mountain terrain, there isn't always another option, but a new design could be possible in some damaged areas.

Bridges can also be improved. Floodwaters can wash away poorly designed bridges that are out of harmony with river processes, and those bridges are good candidates for a redesign.

Out of Colorado’s 411 bridges on state roads, 120 need repairs, but the Colorado Department of Transportation deemed none to be completely destroyed and in need of replacement.

Some bridges on local roads will need to be replaced. Colorado Springs plans to replace seven bridges.

Colorado will be hit by another flood, and what happens during the next few years while the state rebuilds will make all the difference. Financial cost isn’t the only concerning issue. Eight people died in October’s flood, and the environmental impact from oil and gas spills is yet to be fully known.

You can see the immense power of water in this video from Loveland, Colo. where the flooded Big Thompson River nearly destroyed the town’s last water pipeline.

There are people with good ideas out there making positive changes. Rives Taylor of Houston is one of the people on the right track to handling stormwater. He advocates for working with the water instead of against it.

Four of us from LRRD will display our Emriver models in Denver next week at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. I look forward to learning more about the effects of the flood and rebuilding efforts in Colorado directly from the scientists living and working there. I am also excited to see GSA attendees interact with our models.

Nathan packs the truck before heading to Denver for GSA 2013.
If you would like to come see our Emriver models in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, we’ll be there from Sunday, Oct. 27 to Wednesday, Oct. 30. You can email me at anna.lrrd at gmail dot com for all the details.

Nathan talks with GSA attendees in 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stop the government shutdown now!

The current crew at LRRD. Nine of us depend on LRRD for
 our living.

An open letter to friends, colleagues, and our vendors:

The ongoing government shutdown is hurting our business and is about to hurt yours. This is not the way our democracy should work.

This GOP-engineered move against our recently re-elected President and the Supreme Court-approved Affordable Care Act is terribly irresponsible and must stop at once.  Government employees aren’t allowed to work, the private sector is unable to operate normally, and a massive amount of uncertainty has been injected into the economy.

The annual GSA meeting is our one big chance to show
 our products; it'll be a disaster if federal employees can't
attend this year.
We are a small business of nine dedicated people in Carbondale, Illinois.  A good portion of our research and education products are purchased with federal funds.  Little River was already suffering from one of the worst economic slumps in US history. 

This crass move hurts us further, and will soon be reflected in your bottom line as well.

Here's how the shutdown has directly impacted LRRD in only one week:
  • $500,000 in open quotes hangs in the balance.  Whether or not we make those sales depends directly on the sort of federal funding that is held up by the shutdown.
  • Our clients who depend on federal grant money - that includes universities, colleges, public schools, private schools, museums and nonprofits, to name a few - don't know the status of their grants for FY2014.  Those who applied for grants don't know if they'll get funding.  Those who got funding can't access it until the budget is approved.
  • The Illinois Office of Trade and Development awarded us money through the STEP program for a sales trip abroad.  That money comes from the Small Business Administration, a federal entity, and we can't have it until after the shutdown ends.

If the shutdown doesn’t end soon, we lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.  When we lose business, our suppliers lose business.  See a list of some of those suppliers below, who can expect a dramatic cut in sales from us as the shutdown drags on.

Since much of basic research in Earth Sciences and medicine is government funded, our colleagues in those areas are suffering as well, and not just from furlough.  Valuable projects are being abandoned and spoiled because scientists cannot monitor them, or are going to miss once-a-year field windows.  

Our biggest conference of the year, the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Denver, is only two weeks away.  If federal employees are barred from attending, our $25,000 investment in a booth there will be largely wasted.

The list goes on and on.  This is no way to run a great country.

Please contact your elected representatives ( in Washington and tell them to pass a budget and end this shutdown immediately.


Steve Gough
Owner and Founder, Little River Research & Design
Since 1991

Local suppliers:
Baine Roofing Company
Common Grounds Coffeehouse
Fastenal Company
Longbranch Coffeehouse
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Hunan Restaurant
Murdale True Value Hardware
Neighborhood Co-op Grocery
Pagliai's Pizza
Southern Recycling Center
Wright Do-It Center
National suppliers:
Allied Electronics
BDG International Inc.
Composition Materials
Critical Velocity
Digi-Key Electronics
Enco Manufacturing
Jameco Electronics
Little Machine Shop
Mouser Electronics
L.E. Sauer Machine Shop
YRC Freight

Nathan finishes an Em2 box.

Jim, Nathan, and Anna ship a river model.  Many of our
models are at least in part federally funded, and many
vendors, including this truck driver, depend on our 

Our models are used worldwide for education and
research in river science, earth sciences and conservation.

Vital research that must be done in narrow field seasons has been abandoned
or cancelled; in some cases, project are ruined.  This is a huge waste of money.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our first international Em3 ships.

Yesterday we shipped our first Em3 outside the United States, to the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin.  This model is a single axis tilt version; with adjustable tilt along the long or downstream axis.

Current research projects there include the analyses of recreational fisheries management,  development of reliable ecological assessment tools,  rehabilitation of sturgeon as charismatic umbrella species, and understanding biotic responses to hydromorphological changes

The model's use there will include teaching and research on hydrodynamic transport and biogeochemical turnover processes in floodplain aquifers and hyporheic zones.

LRRD at IAG Paris!

La semaine dernière, LRRD était en Europe encore une fois, à l'AIG, 8ème conférence internationale de géomorphologie, à Paris cette année.

La conférence a eu lieu à la Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie; u n grand succès, avec plus de 1,400 participants et des centaines de présentations et posters. Nous avons rencontré des scientifiques du monde entier, la plupart d'Europe, Europe de l'Est inclue, ainsi que Pologne et Russie; nous n'avons toujours pas cette chance lors des conférences aux Etats-Unis.

Les organisateurs de l'AIG nous ont donné un super emplacement. Nous avons discuté avec des centaines de personnes. Bien que nous soyons bien connus dans le monde occidental, nos manipulations ont suscité beaucoup d'intérêt et beaucoup de nouveaux contacts. Je suis sûr que nous enverrons de plus en en plus de modèles en Europe!

Un de nos hôtes était François Directeur de l'équipe de Géomorphologie Planétaire au Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)  et Directeur du laboratoire IDES (Interaction et Dynamique des Environnements de Surface) à l'Université Paris Sud 11 . François nous a emmené à Orsay au Sud de Paris où nous avons visité son laboratoire à l'Université de Paris-Sud.

Nous avons laissé à François notre modèle Em2 pour des fins de recherche en géomorphologie périglaciaire et planétaire. François nous a facilité la tâche à l'AIG où il a réuni d'excellents collaborateurs et étudiants qui nous ont merveilleusement assistés. Nous comptons aussi collaborer ensemble sur un protocole pédagogique appliqué au Em2. A suivre dans un future billet de blog. Merci beaucoup, François!

Notre Meriam était dans son élément à Paris, parlant Français et Italien. Avec l'aide d'Anna, Alee et Lily, elle a fait un excellent travail dans la coordination des logistiques complexes qui nous ont permis d'atterir à Paris avec notre matériel, sans difficultés. Alee et Nathan étaient aussi présents ainsi que mon épouse Kate qui a également travaillé dans notre stand.

Nous avons tous beaucoup apprécié la belle ville de Paris. C'était mon premier voyage en Europe. Kate et moi avons passé un super jour de vacances après la fin de la conférence.

Je me suis à peine impliqué dans l'exécution de ce congrès. L'équipe LRRD a tout arrangé, le transfert du modèle Em2 au laboratoire Paris-Sud, compris. Meriam et le reste de l'équipe ont arrangé tous les détails sans oublier le travail délicat de déplacer notre matériel à travers les frontières et d'assurer son envoi et arrivée en bonne et due forme; un travail fantastique de la part de Nathan.

C'était vraiment un plaisir de travailler avec les étudiants et collègues de François. Bien informés en géomorphologie, professionnels et consciencieux, ils ont attiré beaucoup de monde dans notre stand et nous ont brillamment aidés.

Un grand merci à  Nicolas Roux, Benoît Hurault, Jennifer Fernando, François Andrieu, Antoine Séjourné, Salomé Granai, Romain Schläppy, Anne-Thérèse Auger et Damien Devismes. Vous nous avez tous beaucoup inspirés et nous espèrons que nos chemins se croiseront encore une fois.

Nous avons des capacités phénoménales.  J'ai beaucoup de chance d'avoir mes collègues LRRD  et je suis très enthousiaste à l'idée de nos futures opportunités à travers le monde.

LRRD journeyed to Europe yet again last week, to the 8th IAG Conference on Geomorphology in Paris

Held in Paris' Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the conference featured hundreds of presentations and posters and over 1,400 participants.  We met scientists from all over the world, but most were from Europe, including many from Eastern European countries, including Poland and Russia, whom we don't usually see at meetings in the United States.

The conference organizers set us up with a wonderful location and we talked to hundreds of people.  Though we are becoming well known in the West, many at this meeting had not heard of us, so our exhibit drew much interest.  And I'm sure we'll be shipping lots of models to Europe!

One of our hosts was François Costard, a Director of Research for France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

 and faculty at the University of Paris-Sud's Department of Earth Science.  He took us on an afternoon trip to his lab in Sud, south of Paris.

We left our Em2 model with François for use in his research on the geomorphology of cold sediments both on Earth and elsewhere.  He provided us with a group of wonderful grad student helpers, and we'll be collaborating on curriculum for the Em2.  More about that in a future post.  Merci beaucoup, François!

Our Meriam was in her native habitat in Paris, using both her French and Italian.  With Anna, Alee, and Lily, she did a wonderful job on the complex logistics of getting us and our gear to Paris.  Alee and Nathan also attended, and my wife Kate worked the booth as well.

And we all enjoyed the beautiful city of Paris.  It was my first trip to Europe.  Kate and I had a wonderful day off after the conference ended.

I did very little to make this happen; LRRD's staff arranged the whole thing, including the transfer of our Em2 model to François Costard's lab.  Meriam and others worked out hundreds of details, including the tricky business of moving the gear across borders and making sure it's shipped correctly and arrives undamaged.  Nathan did a fantastic job on that.

Working with François' students during the conference was splendid. They were knowledgeable and engaging, and they helped us acclimate to being in France.

Thank you so much Nicolas Roux, Benoît Hurault, Jennifer Fernando, François Andrieu, Antoine Séjourné, Salomé Granai, Romain Schläppy, Anne-Thérèse Auger and Damien Devismes. You all are an inspiration!

Our capabilities are amazing.  I'm very lucky to have my LRRD colleagues, and excited about our future abroad.