Annisa Saengdara spent most of her summer studying human-dominated wetlands. Saengdara, a Millersville University junior environmental and spatial sciences student, was one of 10 students awarded the National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates award in Interdisciplinary Problem Solving. She looked at Human-Dominated Wetlands during the 10-week program at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The REU program emphasizes engaging students in interdisciplinary earth systems research that builds collaboration and communication skills for solving complex environmental problems. The program uses wetland restoration as a lens through which participants will get hands-on experience in studying the interactions between science and society that shape ecosystem functions and services.
REU participants receive a stipend of $6,000, free on-campus housing in RIT’s Global Village, meal allowances, and a travel stipend. Additional funding is available after the summer session ends for some students to travel to conferences to present their research.
There are no qualifications to participate in the program, just an interest in wetlands.
Projects are grouped into interdisciplinary research clusters that include the following approaches: biogeochemistry and ecology, sociological feedback, and geospatial patterns and scaling. The summer research experience centers around four key components: mentored research projects, interdisciplinary skill development, professional development workshops, and scientific communication and outreach. The program also offers weekly skills workshops and restoration activities in wetlands, public outreaches, and presenting in the undergraduate research symposium.
“Out of the 10 participants, I was the only one given the task of using remote sensing. I was part of the created wetlands cluster, and my project was titled ‘Estimating SOC in created wetlands through hyperspectral imagery,’ says Saengdara. Her project used this hyperspectral imagery to look at organic content in soil from RIT’s managed wetlands in the High Acres Nature Area in Monroe County, New York using historical data from 2019 due to weather constraints.
The program is particularly well suited for students who will be completing their second or third year and who have limited access to earth science or environmental science research opportunities at their home institution. This is an interdisciplinary program that welcomes participants from all academic majors who are interested in environmental science questions.
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