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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.

** UPDATE - March 2022 **

The IRES Program is now accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate students outside of RIT.

This is a change in the original structure of the IRES program, disregard any information indicating applications only from RIT students will be accepted.

Non-RIT students are welcome to apply.

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 undergraduate and graduate students at US-based institutions with the following requirements:

1. US-citizen or permanent resident
2. prior GIS classwork (Esri prefered)
3. Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
4. Currently enrolled as a full-time student
5. Available to attend Spring 2022 for research meetings (virtual or in person)
6. Must commit to being in Rwanda for 10 weeks during Summer 2022
7. Must be a student in the Summer 2022
8. Agree to participate in a follow-up research activity for Fall 2022

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. (for RIT students only)

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: April 11, 2022 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). 

NSF IRES Rwanda 2022 Cohort - click on each Fellow's picture to learn more about them.

Rob Mitchell

Student Researcher
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rob is a Data Science masters candidate at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He received a bachelor's degree in Russian Literature from Amherst College and worked as a reporter, editor, digital manager and other roles in journalism for 15 years before changing careers. He currently works for a human services agency as a data and quality specialist. His research interests stem from his experience reporting on disasters and complex regulatory issues, and include disaster resilience, the intersection of GIS with politics and land use, and the creation of geographic communities. Outside of work and school he enjoys outdoor sports, travel, Everton football and spending time with his wife and three children.





Timothy Scott

Student Researcher
Monroe Community College

Tim is currently a Geography student on the Geospatial Tech Associates degree track in the Geography department at Monroe Community College (RIT). He has a BS in Cinema production from San Francisco State and a Master's in International Relations from California State University, Fresno. His research is focused on the additional pressures faced by physically disabled migrants and refugees, their treatment, their support, and how they adapt. He intends to use his education and research to aid in building resilience in humanitarian programs for those most in need. In his free time, he enjoys photography, reading, hiking, and travel.  



Shelly St. John

Student Researcher
Monroe Community College

Shelly is currently a student in the Geospatial Information Science and Technology program. She has a BS in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Albany. Her research interests focus on quantifying the environmental impact of refugee camps and measuring impacts on the host communities using remote sensing analysis.  



Nicole Griffin

Student Researcher
Rochester Institute of Technology

Nicole Griffin initially graduated from RIT in 2019 with a B.S. in Game Design and Development and a minor in Russian Language and International Relations. They returned to RIT in 2020 to pursue a M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction. During their time there, they realized their passion for research and the pursuit of knowledge. They want to use their passion to bridge interdisciplinary fields of study and hope to gain experience in doing so during this opportunity. They enjoy learning about other cultures and languages, photography, and videography.  



Senia Quevedo

Student Researcher
SUNY Albany

Senia is currently a student in the Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy program at the University at Albany. She graduated with a B.S. in biology from the University at Albany in 2020. Her research interests are environmental conservation, climate change, and environmental justice. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her dog.