This summer at the University of Central Florida, we are pleased to host the third year of our National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site “Preparing the Next Generation of Scholars through Community GIS and Citizen Science.” Our program, recognized with a 2017 Esri Special Achievement Award, offers fully funded summer research experiences for at least 8 undergraduate students in Belize for 5 weeks and Orlando for two weeks. The program is open to all U.S. students and runs June 25-August 10, 2018.

REU students and Hopkins residents mapping beach debris in Summer 2017.

We are interdisciplinary in nature emphasizing community geography, community GIS, and citizen science through mixed methods, including sketch mapping, mobile mapping applications, focus groups, in-depth interviews, GIS, drones, and spatial analysis.

We’re hosting a Facebook Live Event “Secrets to an Awesome Citizen Science GIS REU Application” on Thursday, February 1 @ 3 pm EST. Join Dr. Hawthorne (REU PI) and Lain Graham (REU Senior Research Coordinator) as we give away the secrets to a successful application to our National Science Foundation (NSF) #REU Site in Orlando and Belize. Please share with your pals and have them join us. #citizensciencegis #ucfreu. Join the discussion at

Research opportunities: Students will work in one of three research directions with community partners and mentors from University of Central Florida, University of Belize, Georgia State University, The Hopkins Belize Village Council, and The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program:

• Research Direction 1: Mapping disparities in flooding & disaster management
• Research Direction 2: Mapping marine debris & mitigating impacts on coastal communities
• Research Direction 3: Mapping island resiliency with drones and spatial storytelling (new for 2018 with additional NSF merit-based support)

Compensation: Each REU student will receive a competitive funding package, including a $3500 research stipend, a meal allowance, free shared housing in Belize and Orlando, up to $750 in travel support to/from the REU Site, up to $750 for post-REU conference travel, and 2 research methods books.

Application process: The priority application deadline is Friday, March 2nd @ 5 PM EST. Complete program information and application instructions can be found at

Student reflections from the field: “Challenging, emotional, fun, collaborative, thought-provoking, interesting, real-life, and eye-opening.” These are some of the words used by students to describe our previous research program. Check out a short video about our award-winning REU Site:

Questions can be directed to:
• Dr. Timothy Hawthorne: Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Systems at University of Central Florida,, phone: 407.823.1030
• Dr. Christy Visaggi: Co-Principal Investigator, Lecturer of Geosciences at Georgia State University,, phone: 404.413.5755

Check us out on the web and share on social media!

%d bloggers like this: