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

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.

Information for Potential Applicants

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 

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 2023 for research meetings (virtual or in person)
  6. Must commit to being in Rwanda for 10 weeks during Summer 2023
  7. Must be a student in the Summer 2023
  8. Agree to participate in a follow-up research activity for 2023-2024 academic year

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

How to Apply

Two general items are needed to apply:

(1) Application materials from you and (2) reference statements from people familiar with you. Both of these items will be collected via a Google Forms.

You will be required to sign in to Google to upload materials. 

To submit your application materials, visit this Google Form: https://forms.gle/bpvJYc9sCgicapMr6

To plan for your submission, you will be asked the following on the Google Form:

  1. Basic logistical information (name, school, other facts about you).
  2. Self-assessments of technical Skills 
  3. Upload 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. 
  4. Upload a copy of your resume (2-page maximum) outlining your GIS and other relevant skill set and experiences.
  5. Contact information (name, phone number, email) for your primary faculty advisor and one other faculty member who can serve as a reference for you.

To submit reference statements from people familiar with you, please have people providing your reference statements submit their responses to via this Google form: https://forms.gle/a9Wh8fgVbYtGQHy57

To help submitting reference statements from people familiar with you, these people will be asked:

  1. speak on your maturity and capability for foreign travel; 
  2. your intellectual capacity for conducting research;
  3. any additional comments about you.

Note: Reference statements will only be collected via the Google form listed above. Letters send by email will be disregarded.

Other Important Information

Recording of Zoom-based information session for interested applicants that was held on Monday October 24, 2022.

Recoding Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16E9gCLz9W5hYxXoWhpTl_SwtP1whzcbw/view?u...

NSF IRES Rwanda 2023 Cohort

Emma Stine, Student Researcher, University of Colorado, Boulder

Shelley McMullen, Student Researcher, University of Colorado Denver

Rebekah Walker, Student Researcher, Rochester Institute of Technology

Vicenzo Roling Stella, Student Researcher, Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Sasha Persaud, Student Researcher, Rochester Institute of Technology

Reece Vydrzal, Student Researcher, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

NSF IRES Rwanda 2022 Cohort

Rob Mitchell, Student Researcher, Rochester Institute of Technology

Timothy Scott, Student Researcher, Monroe Community College

Shelly St. John, Student Researcher, Monroe Community College

Nicole Griffin, Student Researcher, Rochester Institute of Technology

Senia Quevedo, Student Researcher, SUNY Albany

NSF logo.

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).