USF Weather Center

University of South Florida
School of Geosciences
4202 E Fowler Ave, STOP NES107
Tampa, Florida 33620-5550

Office: NES 201
Fax: (813) 974-4808

Weather, Climate, and Society
Research Experience for Undergraduates

Important Information:
When: 9 weeks over Summer 2019 (arrival May 24, departure July 26)
Where: University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Housing expenses and stipend provided
Application Deadline: February 1, 2019

REU participants must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.

This Weather, Climate, and Society (WCS) REU will be hosted by the University of South Florida (USF). We have an exciting interdisciplinary program that will focus on rising sophomores pairing each participant in a team with other WCS REU students, and with research mentors in the physical and social sciences. The teams will conduct research on one of a range of topics from the social and physical factors which affect hurricane evacuation decision-making, to assessing the social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities of coastal regions to sea level rise, and biological processes involved in climate change.

In addition to an intensive 9-week mentored research experience, the program provides experiential learning, professional development workshops, remote seminars that offer interaction with national and international scientists, trainings in social and physical research techniques and interdisciplinary perspectives on social and physical aspects, and impacts of severe weather and climate related disasters.

Students are paid a $500/week stipend along with free housing, food stipend, travel allowance to/from Tampa, FL, and a travel allowance to present their research at a national conference.

Highlights from previous years:

Apply Here!       (Application Instructions)

Three projects:

1. Social Connections in Hurricane Preparedness Planning

The Gulf Coast of Florida has been hard hit by two strong storms in two years. Hurricane Irma in 2017 caused widespread destruction in the Florida Keys before impacting the Tampa Bay region. In 2018 Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage to property and resulted in the loss of lives as it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Some argue that climate warming contributes to the growing intensity and frequency of these storms. This project will begin with a Community Impact Assessment of the Tampa Bay area, exploring and documenting social and physical vulnerabilities that might hinder hurricane evacuation and increase disaster risk. Specifically, the project will engage local stakeholders through survey and focus groups to understand the role of social connections in preparedness planning particularly among the most vulnerable populations. Students will gain direct field experience in several research techniques including data collection and analysis. Outcomes from this project will include recommendations to emergency managers, disaster service organizations, and community leaders to incorporate the role of social connections into their comprehensive preparedness plans.

Faculty mentors: Robin Ersing, Beverly Ward, and Jennifer Collins

2. Hunting for carbon dioxide concentrating mechanism components in the genome of deep-sea bacterium Hydrogenovibrio thermophilus JR2

Autotrophic organisms consume CO2 as they grow (they fix CO2) and we study their bicarbonate transporters.

One motivation for studying these transporters is industry-linked. Right now there is interest in having industrial precursor compounds synthesized by microorganisms instead of deriving them from petrochemicals. This is especially interesting if the microorganism can synthesize such precursors....starting from CO2. People have started engineering organisms with autotrophic metabolisms to do this, because there is interest in carbon-neutral (in this case, carbon-negative) industrial processes.

We have successfully mobilized bicarbonate transporters from our organisms into E. coli; since they are easy to mobilize, they could be added to the microorganisms described above, which would facilitate CO2 uptake and likely make these organisms function a little better.

Faculty mentor: Kathleen Scott, and Jennifer Collins

3. Water Quality in Haiti

Poor quality drinking water and lack of proper sanitation have been a serious and continuous global health issue especially in developing countries. It has been known that more than a billion people from developing countries do not have the access to safe drinking water and sanitation. In the first week of March 2015, our team performed coliform test on various samples of water sources at Dilaire, a small village in Haiti inhabiting about 4,000 people. In our study, we aimed to collect water samples from different sources and test for coliforms. From our site visit we can conclude the reason for the contamination may be due to the lack of maintenance of latrines, defecating near the river, leaving livestock near the river, dumping all types of waste in the river due to the lack of solid waste management. We need to have additional analyses performed on our subsequent data collection activities through 2019.

Faculty mentors: Thomas Mason and Javier Cuevas