NSF REU in GIS for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking

The Center for Geographic Information Science & Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is now accepting applications for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site ‘Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking’ summer 2019 cohort. Full applications (including reference letters) for the 2019 REU Cohort are due Friday 18 January 2019.

About the Research Program:

This cutting-edge ten-week interdisciplinary REU Site hosted at the Rochester Institute of Technology will be the first to focus on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for disaster resilience spatial thinking. Project objectives are to (1) enable students to research, create, and evaluate serious GIS games for disaster resilience spatial thinking, and (2) create and evaluate an interdisciplinary STEM research environment at the intersections of Geographic Information Science, disaster management, Information Technology (IT), social science and game development. The proposed REU Site will be the first research environment to explore the novel linkage between disaster resilience, spatial thinking, GIS, and serious games via three unanswered scientific research questions: (1) Which spatial thinking components are relevant to disaster resilience, (2) Which GIS tools and visual representations best connect disaster resilience with spatial thinking, and (3) What are the best serious game design practices that incorporate spatial thinking GIS tools and visual representations for disaster resilience to achieve learning outcomes.

We will continue with the successful 2018 cohort and the development of Serious GIS games for disaster resilience. We also received supplemental funding from the NSF to conduct field work in Houston, Texas to study the response and recovery to 2017 Hurricane Harvey.

Logistical Information:

The program is only available to current, full-time undergraduate students at US-based institutions. Students who have already graduated or are planning to graduate before the summer 2019 cannot be considered.

We can only consider applications from US Citizens and permanent residents.

Students must have a GPA 3.0 or higher (4.0 scale) at the time of application. We are looking to recruit Geography, Social Science, Game Design, Computer Science, Information Technology, and any other groups of undergraduate student interested in GIS, disasters, spatial thinking, game development, and vulnerable populations.

We particularly encourage participation from underrepresented groups in science. For example, RIT has a strong Deaf and Hard of Hearing student and faculty population via RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

The program will run for 10 week during summer 2019 on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Rochester NY. Located in upstate NY, Rochester is a great location to spend the summer with a wide variety of outdoor activities that range from bicycling on the historic Erie canal to water activities on Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes. Rochester also has a great music and nightlife scene with world-class attractions such as the National Museum of Play and the George Museum House of Photography.

Accepted students for the program students will receive a housing, per diem and living stipend to support their summer research experience at RIT.


Full applications (including reference letters) for the 2019 REU Cohort: Friday 18 January 2019

Skype interviews for short-listed applicants: Week of 28 January 2019

Notification of selected applicants: Week of 4 February 2019

Commitment/confirmation from accepted applicants to participate in 2018 summer cohort due: Monday 11 February 2019

For More Information and to Apply:

A video overview of information for potential applicants can be found on YouTube at:


For more information on our research accomplishments to date, see our 2018 REU student-made video:


Visit our website for more information on the REU Site and to apply:


For more information and questions, please contact:

Brian Tomaszewski, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Center for Geographic Information Science & Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY 14623, USA
phone: +1 585-259-9678
Skype: brian.tomaszewski