Aprovechar Lab L3C

is a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) with a strong social mission located in Montpelier, Vermont USA. It was founded by me, Stephen Brown, Ph.D. in 2005. I bring over 44 years of experience in using theory, modelling, measurement, and experimentation to solve problems in Earth, energy, and environmental sciences. Aside from Aprovechar Lab I am also a Research Affiliate in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I am dedicated to research, development and consulting in the Earth, environmental, and other physical sciences. I aim to provide education and develop tools and technical solutions to problems of societal importance and place them in the hands of people who need them.

I draw upon a broad range of physical science disciplines - including geology, geophysics, physics, materials science, hydrology, fluid and heat transport, and chemistry - to develop the fundamental understanding required for robust and practical results.


My primary areas of expertise are the physical properties of fractured and otherwise heterogeneous rock and the application of geophysical methods to mining, energy, and environmental problems. I combine field geologic and geophysical studies and mapping, experimental geophysics in the laboratory, computer modeling, and theoretical work. Field work typically involves fracture, fault, and structure mapping projects where the results are placed in the context of theoretical models.

Additional technical skills I have applied in the course of geological and geophysical investigations are manufacturing and prototyping using machining, metalwork, and casting, analog and digital electronics design and assembly, integration of micro-controllers into instrumentation, ELF and VLF radio receiver and antenna design and construction, radio remote control of instrumentation and data logging, laser imaging and ranging equipment design, assembly, and use, time series analysis, image analysis and processing, and numerical modeling of elastic, electrical, and fluid transport processes. Through recent advanced training I have sought to become a practitioner in the application of machine learning principles to help me effectively address difficult problems using modern tools.

New Technology Development

  • EarthAudio3D, Broad-band VLF System for Geophysical Surveying. I am developing a new generation device for geophysical surveying, based on the measurement of VLF radio signals. A portable instrument, usable by a single operator, measures the components of the VLF field in 3-D and can be used for exploration of subsurface geological structures, such as ore bodies, groundwater deposits, and buried objects.
  • High Precision RTK GPS. I am developing low-cost high precision RTK GPS rover/base-station pairs for field mapping.
  • Portable Magnetometer. I am developing low-cost portable 3-axis magnetometer for field geologic and environmental mapping. More
  • Meso-Scale Mapping Project. I am developing meso-scale mapping tools including robot- and UAV-mounted sensors including radar and imaging accompanied by artificial neural network based anomaly-detection software for applications in a number of Earth mapping applications for the monitoring environmental and geological hazards such as landslides. Currently I am focusing on the urgent problem of the location of landmines and UXO to reduce risk in humanitarian demining.
  • Modeling of Heating and Cooling Energy Use in Small Buildings.