A West Virginia University Ph.D. student is continuing her study of the Chesapeake Bay watershed with the help of a scholarship.
Lindsay Deel recently won the 2014 William A. Fischer Memorial Scholarship, which comes with an award of $2,000.
Deel’s research involves using satellite imagery to try and explain some of the various environmental disturbances in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Deel discovered that some of the major disturbances to the region are from a combination of human and natural activity.
“Funding is always an issue for graduate students as we try to conduct meaningful research while keeping our finances in good shape,” Deel said. “This scholarship will help me upgrade computer components that should enable faster processing and higher performance for satellite imagery analysis.”
Deel hopes that Chesapeake Bay watershed residents find value in her research because of the implications it could have for the region.
“Huge quantities of seafood come from the Bay, and the fisheries are a huge part of the Bay watershed economy,” Deel said. “The more we know about how pollution enters the Bay, the better we are able to protect all of these valuable economic and environmental resources.”
She said the forests in the watershed are affected by a combination of human and natural events. The most widespread disturbance is defoliation by the gypsy moth caterpillar, which impacts huge swaths of forest in vastly different intensities.
Recently Deel has been studying the effects of Superstorm Sandy in West Virginia forests.
“I have been working on the initial stages of mapping forest disturbance by focusing on an area of West Virginia, the Fernow Experimental Forest in Parsons, W.Va., which was hit particularly badly by Superstorm Sandy in 2010,” Deel said.
This area provides a unique opportunity to assess early snow and storm damage impacts on forests using satellite imagery, she said. It also gives Deel some insight into how ground-level damage can be observed when made into a satellite image.
Deel will be presenting this work at the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing conference in Louisville, Ky., in March, where she will also be accepting the Fischer award.
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