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Feb. 10, 2006
Contact: Kelly Mason, Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, (785) 864-7761.

Geography doctoral student wins prestigious NASA fellowship worth $72,000

LAWRENCE — Joel C. Plummer, a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at the University of Kansas, has received a NASA Earth System Science (ESS) Fellowship. The award provides $72,000 over three years to support Plummer’s studies in the area of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Plummer returned this month from a research trip to Antarctica.

NASA selected Plummer’s research proposal, “A Geographic Information System (GIS) Application to Ice Sheet Mapping and Mass Balance,” for one of approximately 50 fellowships the agency awarded this year. Plummer’s fellowship is the first associated with the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), which was established by the National Science Foundation at KU in June 2005.

The interdisciplinary center will develop new tools and computer models to better understand changes in the earth’s polar ice sheets and their effect on sea level rise and global climate change.

Plummer’s research adviser, David Braaten, associate professor of geography, said: “Joel has received this very prestigious fellowship from NASA because of the importance of his work. He recently completed a map of the bed under the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, and scientists from around the country are already asking for it.”

Plummer said, “I feel very honored to have received this award and I look forward to working with both NASA and CReSIS. It is very exciting to be able to apply my training in geographic information science to one of the most important global environmental issues of our time.”

In January, Plummer worked in Antarctica as a member of the team associated with the Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements project, which is funded by NSF and NASA. The PRISM project is a precursor for CReSIS activities. While in Antarctica, Plummer helped drive a rover that carries a radar system and also helped operate the radar itself. The innovative radar systems being deployed in Antarctica gather data to contribute to models and hypotheses about the ice sheets’ current dynamics and future behavior.

The ESS Fellowship Program awards outstanding students pursuing graduate degrees in fields supporting the study of the Earth as a system. More than 700 fellowships have been granted since the program’s inception in 1990, in fields such as climate and hydrologic systems, ecological systems, solar influences and data and information systems. Each fellowship provides funds for tuition and a stipend over a period of three years.

Plummer and his wife, Margaret Carlise, are Lawrence residents. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

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