Belize Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The University of Central Florida has announced the 3rd year of National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site “Preparing the Next Generation of Scholars through Community GIS and Citizen Science.” The program offers fully funded summer research experiences for at least 8 undergraduate students in Belize for 5 weeks and Orlando for 2 weeks.  The program is open to all U.S. students and runs June 25-August 10, 2018.  The program is interdisciplinary in nature emphasizing community GIS and citizen science through mixed methods, including sketch mapping, mobile mapping applications, drones, in-depth interviews, GIS, and spatial analysis.  Student applications are welcome from a range of disciplines including geography, geology, biology, environmental science, sociology, public health, marine science, and more!

A Facebook Live Event “Secrets to an Awesome Citizen Science GIS REU Application” will be held on Thursday, February 1 @ 3 pm EST. Join Dr. Hawthorne (REU PI), Dr. Hannah Torres (REU Faculty Mentor), and Lain Graham (REU Senior Research Coordinator) and learn the secrets to a successful application to the National Science Foundation (NSF) #REU Site in Orlando and Belize. Please share: #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 in 2018 with additional NSF funding)

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 from REU fieldwork at:

Questions can be directed to:

  • Dr. Timothy Hawthorne: Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Systems at University of Central Florida

o   [email protected]

o   phone: 407.823.1030

  • Dr. Christy Visaggi: Co-Principal Investigator, Lecturer and Undergraduate Director of Geosciences at Georgia State University

o   [email protected]

o   phone: 404.413.5755

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