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MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Dardet
561-297-3029, cdardet@fau.edu

FAU Student Receives Award from NASA to Study Factors Leading to Florida’s Coastal Hazards

BOCA RATON, FL (September 19, 2011) – Janie Forbes, a doctoral student in the department of geosciences within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University, has received a grant from the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium (FSGC), an affiliate of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. Forbes is FAU’s first-ever FSGC fellowship recipient. 

The grant supports Forbes’ three-year doctoral dissertation, a geographic information science project studying the social and physical science factors that lead to an increase in Florida’s coastal hazards.  These hazards are defined as natural events that affect people, places, and other living things, such as hurricanes. 

“By taking a systems science approach to examining what is changing and why, our ultimate goal is to turn these findings into knowledge and, hopefully, wisdom,” said Forbes, who recently received a master’s degree in geography from FAU.  “This knowledge will help inform environmental managers and the people of Florida as to how best to mitigate or reduce the consequences associated with these coastal hazards.”

Using her expertise in computer programming, geography and mathematics, Forbes is developing spatial statistics and spatial database techniques to combine and analyze data about Florida’s land surface and coastal waters. NASA sensors and satellites provide the data, which allows Forbes to examine patterns and processes occurring in the natural world across multiple scales and time periods.

Forbes has assembled an interdisciplinary dissertation committee of FAU scientists with expertise in geographic information science, geology and marine biology to assist in the investigation.

“This is precisely the type of interdisciplinary training we need to provide to our students so that they graduate from FAU with the necessary skills to help find solutions and guide policy decisions based on scientific facts regarding societal issues, such as preparing for hazards posed by hurricanes,” said Gary W. Perry, Ph.D. dean of the College of Science at FAU.

The FSGC awards three fellowships each year and is a voluntary association of 17 public and private Florida universities and colleges led by the University of Central Florida.  In addition to fellowships, the consortium supports the expansion and diversification of Florida’s space industry through providing grants and scholarships to students and educators from Florida’s public and private institutes of higher education.   For more information, visit www.floridaspacegrant.org.

-FAU-

About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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