UCF Sociology Department Lands New NSF Project

REU Site pic 1

UCF is launching two new summer Research Experiences for Undergraduate programs and continuing a third, thanks to new funding from the National Science Foundation.

The programs are designed to encourage select students from around the country to pursue graduate studies and eventually become leaders in their chosen areas of expertise.

Getting REUs is difficult because there is a lot of nationwide competition, but UCF’s ability to land three programs is a testament to the quality of the university’s programs.

One of the three REUs is housed under the College of Sciences, within the UCF Sociology Department and its new GIS Cluster Initiative, and is new to the university this year.

Citizen Science GIS is a program that will give students the opportunity to design research questions with partner organizations in Orlando and Belize. “Students will be collecting data and learning how to use GIS [geographic information systems] and mapping software to apply it to solving real-world problems related to land-use planning, marine debris and disaster issues along the coast of Belize,” said sociology professor Timothy L. Hawthorne, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project.

“What is unique with our REU is that we build a research network with students. It’s not just a seven-week program here in Orlando or Belize,” Hawthorne said. “What we do in this three-year program is help students build a large research support network that can open the doors to bigger and better opportunities down the road.”

UCF’s Department of Sociology and the new GIS Cluster Initiative is providing support for the project that drew 365 applicants from all over the country for eight openings. Sociology major Amanda Ashby was the only UCF student selected.

“I have always found human interactions and relationships incredibly interesting,” Ashby said. “After taking Dr. Hawthorne’s Introduction to GIS class last year, I learned that I could incorporate a growing industry into my work in sociology. When I found out about the Belize REU I knew that I needed to apply because, if I were chosen, my life would change substantially.”

The other two REUs, Internet of Things and the renewed program, Computer Vision, will train undergraduate students in research-based theory and applications of the technologies used in the field.

To read more about these programs, view the original story on UCF Today, here.

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