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IRES Track I: Mapping and Quantifying the Natural Disaster Resilience of Displaced People with the University of Rwanda Center for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing

Information for Potential Applicants

We are now accepting applications for the 2022 IRES Rwanda cohort.

Before applying to the IRES Rwanda project, please review this 10:20 video that contains information for potential IRES Rwanda applicants:

NSF IRES Promotional Video 

Video Link:

If selected for this opportunity, travel costs and a full living stipend are provided to spend 10 weeks in the summer in Rwanda.

This opportunity is available to RIT graduate students with the following requirements:

1. US-citizen or permanent resident
2. Enrollment in IGME 771 – Introduction to GIS (online) in Spring 2022
3. Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
4. Currently enrolled as a full-time student
5. Physically present on RIT campus for Spring 2022 for research meetings (no remote/co-op participation)
6. Must commit to being in Rwanda for 10 weeks during Summer 2022
7. Must be an RIT student in the Summer 2022
8. Agree to participate in a follow-up research activity for Fall 2022

A Monroe Community College student  in the Geospatial Information Science and Technology program is also welcome to apply.

Strong preference will be given to applicants who will use the research experience for follow-up graduate study work the academic year after the summer research experience. 

To apply for the NSF IRES Rwanda Program:

The application has two parts:

Part 1: Complete the RIT compass application available here.

Part 2: Please email directly to Brian Tomaszewski ( the following:

a. A 1000 word statement of interest as to why you wish to conduct research in Rwanda and how you see the experience benefiting your educational experience and long-term career prospects in science, technology or engineering fields. Please clearly indicate in your statement when you a graduating from school. 

b. Two letters of recommendation: one from your  primary faculty advisor and another from a faculty member that can speak on your maturity and capability for foreign travel and intellectual capacity for conducting research.
c. Contact information (name, phone number, email) for your  primary faculty advisor and one other faculty member who can serve as a reference for you.

Applications are due: Sunday, November 28th, 2021 11:59pm

About the Project

This International Research Experience for Students (IRES) is focused on mapping and quantifying the natural disaster resilience of displaced people in Rwanda. Over a three year period, fourteen U.S. graduate students from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and three undergraduate students from the Monroe Community College Geospatial Information Science and Technology program (MCC) will participate in a ten-week summer research experience at the University of Rwanda Center for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (CGIS). Significant activities include student access to and learning from CGIS on displaced population natural disaster resilience issues unique to Rwanda, East African context student research training activities, and access to disaster management organizations focused on displaced people such as the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) only available in Rwanda. The project will create unique linkages to East African organizations that will train, educate and professionally develop 17 STEM student research scientists over three years focused on disaster resilience, displacement and GIS. The project will broaden participation of underrepresented groups as we will fully leverage RIT's existing underrepresented recruitments networks such as RIT's large Deaf-and-Hard of Hearing population, women, and minorities. The MCC student will create a unique opportunity for undergraduate international research experience as well as community college international research capacity development. Displaced people in Rwanda will also benefit through their participation as field research assistants as well as the research providing outreach and advocacy for their situations. Intellectual products created by IRES students, such as community-scale resilience maps displacement resilience indexes will provide important benefits to society that can bring global attention to displacement and disaster resilience research and GIS. The project is particularly strong in enhancing infrastructure for research and education as IRES students will become part of Rwandan and East African research networks only available by being on-site in Rwanda. CGIS and MIDIMAR for the first time become linked to NSF research. Workshops on disasters and resilience GIS mapping will be conducted by IRES students with Rwandan secondary schools and disaster stakeholder groups for broader project outreach. If successful, findings will be generalizable for additional internationally-focused research beyond displaced population natural disaster resilience in Rwanda (for example, the Syrian and Rohingya refugee crises) and particularly US-national interest disaster resilience and displacement issues like seen in hurricanes Harvey and Maria, creating the potential for broader US-national and international research on displaced population natural disaster resilience that can provide future students with the knowledge, motivation and inspiration to pursue internationally-focused science careers to solve US-national and global challenges.

This research is funded through a grant from the US National Science Foundation and the project IRES Track I: Mapping and Quantifying the Natural Disaster Resilience of Displaced People with the University of Rwanda Center for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (NSF OISE-1854247).