ECU Graduate Students Receive RENCI at ECU Master's Thesis Fellowships

Greenville, NC
May 7, 2008

Robert Howard, geological sciences, and Christopher Betancourt, biology, will become East Carolina University's first RENCI at ECU Center for Coastal Systems and Informatics Modeling Masters Fellows. The single-semester fellowships for fall 2009 provide support for the students' thesis work.

Howard's project, "Models of Stormwater Runoff and Best Practices in Municipal Management," uses a hydrological model to predict the speed at which precipitation drains from a 2.5 km2 area of Greenville near the Colonial Mall. Pairing a soil permeability map with a graph portraying the predicted and actual runoff rates over time makes it possible to predict areas where flooding will occur. Howard sees his work, still in its early stages, as potentially "enhancing the ability of the public to understand their own city" and plans to compare this urban watershed with a rural one east of Greenville.

Howard's advisor is Michael O'Driscoll. See a video excerpt of Howard's project.

Betancourt's "Parallelizing Variable Time Step Landscape Simulations in Computational Models" is a custom-developed software toolkit for visualizing the output of a landscape model of sea-level rise. The toolkit enables the visualization of temporal sequences or snapshots of the ecosystem changes effected by rising sea level. The model demonstrates inundation and landscape changes for an area of the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, and the toolkit will be available for the ongoing model development of sea-level rise inundation and landscape changes in North Carolina as part of a research project of RENCI at ECU.

Betancourt's advisor is Enrique Reyes. See a video excerpt of Betancourt's project.

Qualified candidates from any program at ECU whose research is consistent with the Center's mission were invited to apply for the fellowships, which include a $4,500 stipend for the candidate and a $500 stipend for the candidate's advisor. As part of their work, the fellows will provide a policy brief or short article written for the general public about their research to be disseminated by RENCI/C-SIM and provide a copy of their completed theses to the Center. Each Fellow will also present his research at East Carolina University's Research Week in the Spring of 2009.

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