UCF Sociology Student Selected for NSF REU in Belize

Amanda Ashby revised 2

Amanda Ashby working in the GIS space at UCF.

The University of Central Florida Department of Sociology and the UCF geographic information systems (GIS) cluster initiative are pleased to announce that Amanda Ashby, a UCF junior sociology major, has been selected as a National Science Foundation international community scholar in the University of Central Florida Community GIS and Citizen Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site. The REU Site is funded by a $374,480 grant from NSF to Timothy L. Hawthorne, Ph.D., assistant professor of GIS in the department of sociology and core member of the GIS cluster initiative at UCF.

“Amanda and the other eight REU scholars will have a unique, interdisciplinary opportunity to engage in GIS mapping research with impact that helps to better connect international research partners, including citizen scientists, in understanding coastal management from a human perspective, ” said Dr. Hawthorne.

The research team will work on exploring marine debris with citizen scientists along the Belizean coast.  “While our study site is in Hopkins, Belize, the work aims to demonstrate a transferable model for scholars interested in engaging in citizen science work across international borders,” said Dr. Hawthorne.

Amanda was one of eight students selected nationally from a pool of over 360 applications.  “I am interested in being an international community scholar in the UCF REU Site because of my passion for community based research and involvement,” Amanda explained. “I believe that community members are our best resource and by working with them we will learn from their extensive knowledge of the local area and develop a stronger understanding of what we can do to assist them.”

GIS and qualitative methods will be used by Amanda and the research team, in partnership with Dr. Hawthorne, the University of Belize, the Pan American Development Foundation and the Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program. The NSF REU Site runs June 20 through August 5 in Orlando and in Belize.

Learn more about this interdisciplinary, community based research at http://www.citizensciencegis.org/ucf-reu-site/.

Follow Amanda’s research journey on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/citizensciencegis.

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