University of South Florida (USF) graduate student at the College of Marine Science Institute of Marine Remote Sensing, Abdiel Laureano-Rosario, has been awarded a prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) to pursue research that addresses public health risks in coastal areas. Specifically, he will be using novel tools such as remote sensing and machine learning, to understand how health is affected by vector-borne diseases and bathing water quality and how it may be related to local environmental changes. The results of Abdiel’s research will help determine which sectors of a population may be more or less susceptible to certain diseases based on environmental factors, which will provide essential information for risk management and mitigation. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites. Abdiel will obtain data about regions in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), which is flown on two separate spacecrafts, named Aqua and Terra.
The purpose of the NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines required to achieve NASA’s scientific goals. The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) supports basic and applied research in Earth and space science. The Earth Science Research Program, managed by the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate, fulfills NASA’s mission to drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth (see NASA’s Strategic Plan) and, in particular, the strategic objective 2.2, which is to advance knowledge of Earth as a system to meet the challenges of environmental change, and to improve life on our planet. The Earth System Science component of NESSF encourages proposals that place particular emphasis on the utilization of NASA unique capabilities in study of the Earth. Foremost among NASA’s unique capabilities is its fleet of Earth observing satellites and sensors aboard the International Space Station, providing a comprehensive suite of measurements of all the components of the Earth system. The maximum amount of a NESSF award is $30,000 per year and the Earth Science component of NESSF encourages projects that link Earth science research with policy, business, or management studies. Abdiel has successfully linked Earth science research with pubic health policy and the management of risks.