Socio-Environmental Analysis Lab (SEAL) Members


 

DR. NARCISA GABRIELA PRICOPE

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Welcome to my page and thank you for visiting! I am an Assistant Professor of Applied Geography at University of North Carolina Wilmington. Previously, I was an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Southern Oregon University and a Visiting Researcher with the Climate Hazards Group and the Human-Environment Dynamics Lab in the Geography Department at University of California Santa Barbara. Between 2006 and 2010, I was a National Science Foundation Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Traineeship (IGERT) research associate at the University of Florida where I earned a PhD in Geography, with a minor in Environmental Engineering in 2011. Prior to that, I earned my Master’s of Science degree in Geosciences from Western Kentucky University (2006) where I combined my love of rivers and caves with water quality monitoring programs and modeling landscape-level soil erosion in an agricultural watershed. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Geography and English in 2004 from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where I simultaneously explored my passions at the time: geomorphology, GIS and foreign languages.

My current work and the combined efforts of our lab members focus on applied questions at the intersection between land change science, watershed science, and population geography. My overarching interest and long-term focus revolves around understanding the vulnerability of different populations to environmental change in the context of transboundary-managed water and natural resources. I examine the drivers, patterns and impacts of vegetation change and degradation on both ecosystems and people particularly in southern and eastern African drylands. My work is mostly focused on drylands ecosystems as they are fascinating to me but also fragile and at increasingly high risk from various climate and environmental change impacts. They also cover approximately 40% of the Earth’s surface and are home to over 2 billion people, more than 90% of whom live in lesser developed countries.

I am an avid traveler, explorer, mountaineer and skier. During the half year spent in Nepal in 2009 as a field research assistant, I trekked for weeks in six of Nepal’s national parks and climbed to a little over 6500 m, to gain some spectacular views of the world’s highest mountain and much of the Nepali Himalaya Mountains from Mera Peak. I grew up literally on the banks of a large mountain stream in western Romania, in a large depression surrounded by spectacular mountains on all sides which I was enamored with and explored from an early age. I am also a cave explorer and mapper, having descended into the world’s largest cave system (Mammoth Cave) on a bi-weekly basis for work purposes for a year and participated in mapping swaths of the unexplored caves on Isla Mona, in Puerto Rico. I love Africa: from the smell in the air as the airplane opens its doors (even in Johannesburg!) to the wonderfully friendly and warm people, the endless plains of grass scattered with trees and wildlife and the hardships of doing fieldwork under constant threat from elephants, hyenas and other majestic creatures. But above all, I love traveling, dipping into local history and culture, and getting lost in unfamiliar places! And I really enjoy meeting new people, making new friendships, and cutting across cultural boundaries only to discover that laughter and kindness are a language we all understand, irrespective of our cultural background.

seal meeting oct 2017


Current SEAL Graduate Student Researchers

BRITTON J. BAXLEY

baxley

 

 

My name is Britton Baxley and I am a first year master’s candidate for Geosciences here at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  I received a B.S. in Environmental Studies for conservation and a minor in GIS in 2015 as an undergraduate at UNCW.  Before transferring to UNCW I had tried several degree paths but found a true calling for environmental work here in NC’s unique and diverse ecosystems.  During my studies, GIS became a dedicated passion while working with Dr. Pricope through remote sensing, analysis and map making.  As a graduate student alongside Dr. Pricope I hope develop a thesis to work with emergent technologies such as drones to answer ecological issues that NC faces today and will continue to face in the future.  In addition I hope to acquire a post-baccalaureate certificate in GIS and my FAA drone certification.  My research interests encompass using remote sensing, photogrammetry, and image classification to help answer environmental and ecological questions.  I am currently an intern for the US Army Corps of Engineers working with river basin flood mapping and modeling as well as coastline image collection.  In my personal time I enjoy most any outdoor activities from kayaking, to surfing, to climbing, and much more.

 

KERRY L. MAPES

KERRY

 

I am an M.S. Geoscience candidate in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences. I began my college career at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in my hometown in the B.S. Biology (Ecology and Conservation) program, where I graduated cum laude in December 2012. I think my interest in ecology, primarily of forests and streams, began in my childhood which was spent exploring the woods and small creek behind my house. As my town grew, development altered the landscapes and I watched over the years as the stream and forest changed. It didn’t occur to me until many years later that this was something that people studied, but it is now the primary focus of my thesis research at UNCW. I am very interested in how human land use and deforestation impacts local watersheds and stream biota, and how forested stream buffers can be utilized to mitigate these impacts and improve water quality and habitat in streams.  I have previously worked in the entomology lab at Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, PA, helping to sample and identify aquatic macroinvertebrates used in water quality analyses. I am certified with the Society of Freshwater Science for macroinvertebrate identification to the family level and will integrate my previous experience, and my knowledge of stream ecology, into my research. I hope to map land use and land cover change in the Cape Fear Watershed and correlate existing water quality data to examine impacts through time. I love interacting with people in the local communities and getting others excited about freshwater conservation and hope to organize outreach projects such as education and buffer plantings.

We would like to congratulate UNCW Geoscience MSc student and Socio-Environmental Analysis lab fellow, KERRY MAPES, on being awarded a prestigious Ahuja Academy of Water Quality Fellowship for this academic year. In her own words: "Being nominated for and being awarded the Ahuja Fellowship is such an honor for me. All the support I have received since I began at UNCW has enabled me to connect with so many other people who share one vision and one goal of protecting our precious water resources. My specific purpose is to increase unbiased, scientific research that ultimately leads to improvements in water quality so our children have a future with a clean, secure water source. "

STEELE F. OLSEN

olsen

 

 

I completed my undergraduate education at UNCW in May of 2016 with a B.S of Environmental Science cum laude with a Biology, Chemistry, and Geospatial Technology minor. I am currently seeking a M.S in Geoscience at UNCW with a concentration in Geospatial science along with a post-baccalaureate certificate in GIS. My research interests include localized high-resolution geospatial data collection methods, fire science, and understanding prescribed fire’s effects on forest structure and ecology. My goal is to understand how UAV collected imagery can be used to influence better decision making and more accurate monitoring within conservation efforts in regards to fire management objectives. High-resolution imagery collected by a UAV rivals traditional aerial mapping, and is cutting edge technology when conducting research at a local level. The longleaf pine ecosystems around Wilmington offer me the ideal study area for my research due to their short fire-regime, well defined vertical vegetation structure, and relatively open canopy. My passions outside the classroom include drumming, hiking, and fishing.

 

LAUREN M. ROSUL

Lauren Rosul

 

 

 

My name is Lauren Rosul and I am first year masters student at UNCW. I received a dual bachelor degree from Florida Institute of Technology in Environmental Science and Oceanography. At UNCW I hope to focus my thesis on local coastal vulnerability to sea level rise, incorporating geospatial data into my study. The oceans interaction with the land is such a complex system that has always been a source for curiosity for me. I have spent most of the last six years observing the many processes that govern the shaping of the coasts. I am very excited to be in Wilmington where I am able to study this very unique environment.

                       

Current Undergraduate Student Researchers in SEAL

AMELIA C. BRADSHAW

Amelia Bradshaw

 

 

My name is Amelia Bradshaw, and I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I am pursing a Bachelor’s in Science in Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation and a Bachelor’s in Arts in Geography. I have always been fascinated by the natural world, devouring books about everything ranging from animal life all around the world to volcanoes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Though I always loved geography, reading National Geographic as a child and looking at maps for entirely too long, I never knew I could have a career in geography until I took my first physical geography class at UNCW after I transferred to the university to pursue a degree in environmental science. After taking that class, I knew I absolutely had to add a geography major to my degree path. This decision was confirmed when I took my first Introduction to GIS class with Dr. Pricope, and I loved it! As I have taken more classes in geography and begun undergraduate research, my desire only grows to learn all I can in this field. I am currently a SURCA Grant recipient for the project “Working with data collected by an unarmed aerial vehicle to model human-environmental interactions”, where I am working with drone data collected in the field in Namibia. Starting in the fall of 2017, I will begin my honors thesis with Dr. Pricope as my faculty advisor, with the goal of pursing a PhD in Geoscience after I complete my undergraduate degree.

 

RACHEL SULLIVAN

sullivan

 

 

I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with minors in Geospatial Technologies and Biology. I am most passionate about how climate change affects mountainous/glacial landscapes and the indigenous cultures that inhabit the regions, specifically in Arctic, Antarctic and high altitude environments. My career goals involve traveling to remote places and working with indigenous cultures to help mitigate the effects of climate change, specifically from glacial melting, and to document, quantify, and map changes in glacial extent and depth globally through GIS and remote sensing techniques. The latter has brought me to Dr. Pricope’s lab, where I am currently learning how to use GIS to map changes in glaciers and snow extent over time. I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Geoscience or Glaciology in the near future.

 

 

 

SEAL Graduate Student Alumi

JERI BURKE

Jeri

 

 

My name is Jeri Burke and I am a second year Masters student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. My research interests include land change science and hydrogeology, particularly mapping flooding patterns and examining how they change through time and impact the surrounding ecosystems.  I began my journey at UNCW with the intention of studying paleoecology, but a presentation given by Dr. Pricope about her work in Africa completely changed my academic path. I was inspired by the power of remote sensing and GIS to answer important questions around the world. I have loved Africa since a young age and was lucky enough to complete my fieldwork examining the flooding patterns of the Chobe River in Namibia and Botswana in the summer of 2014. Dr. Pricope and I collected training samples at numerous locations along the floodplain as well as on the surrounding rivers and lakes. I was able to receive invaluable input from people living on the rivers, those working for hydrologic agencies, and even professors from local universities.

UPDATE: Jeri completed her Master's thesis in May 2015. Her final project was entitled: " Modeling Surface Inundation and Flood Risk in a Flood Pulsed Savannah: Chobe River, Botswana and Namibia" and a PDF copy of her thesis project is also available here.

Publication resulting from this work: Burke, J.J., Pricope, N.G., and Blum, J. 2016. Thermal Imagery-Derived Surface Inundation Modeling to Assess Flood Risk in a Flood-Pulsed Savannah Watershed in Botswana and Namibia. Remote Sensing 2016, 8, 676; doi:10.3390/rs8080676

ALYSSA M. LE

Alyssa

 

 

I am a first year graduate student who is excited to start working with Professor Pricope. I completed my undergraduate degree at Tufts University, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Geology. I took a rather circuitous route to end up at UNC – Wilmington that started when I traveled to Uganda for a few weeks on a clean water access trip with the Engineers Without Borders chapter at my university. I loved the exploration of both the technical problem of increasing clean water access as it was coupled with the complexities of the culture of the community. I interned at CDM Smith, an engineering firm based out of Boston, to explore the possibility of hydrogeologic work relating to better allocation of groundwater resources. Ultimately, I found that the confluence of my interests could be explored fully under the guidance of Professor Pricope. I hope to work on assessing current and future groundwater availability for the Lake Victoria Basin in order to effectively influence policy and eventual groundwater allocation.

UPDATE: Alyssa completed her Master's thesis in May 2016. Her final project was entitled: "Introducing novel inputs and agent-based modeling analysis to hydrologic modeling of a poorly gauged basin, western Kenya".

Publications resulting from Alyssa's work: Le, A.M.; Pricope, N.G. Increasing the Accuracy of Runoff and Streamflow Simulation in the Nzoia Basin, Western Kenya, through the Incorporation of Satellite-Derived CHIRPS Data. Water 2017, 9, 114.

 

 

JANARDAN MAINALI

IMainali

 

Hello, this is Janardan Mainali, a Fulbright Scholar from Nepal pursuing Masters in Geoscience here at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I have a Master’s degree in Botany from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. My special interest is in analyzing spatiotemporal pattern of ecological processes. I expect to use Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS) and quantitative tools to unearth the hidden patterns in our natural and social ecosystem. My specific interest is in the relationship between climate and ecological processes across time and space. During my time in the UNCW SEAL (lab), I will be working on some of the above mentioned topics in the regions like Nepal Himalaya and other parts of the world. I have worked in many parts of the Nepali Himalaya including Everest National Park, Manaslu Conservation Area, Annapurna Conservation Area etc.  Previously, I was a researcher and GIS trainer at Research Solutions Nepal (ReSoN), which is research service provider enterprise established in collaboration with colleagues in Nepal in 2012. This organization provides training in research related issues and also conducts independent research projects. I am also working as an executive member of Research and Development Society, Nepal, a nonprofit organization. I also administer the Facebook Group named Research Forum Nepal (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReFoN/). I also have experience working for a year in the Resources Himalaya Foundation as a GIS research associate.

So ready for a ride, let’s see where I will be!!

UPDATE: Janardan completed his Master's thesis in May 2016. His final project was entitled: " Spatial Assessment of Climate Vulnerability in Nepal: Exploring the Role of Multiple Scales and Approaches".

Publications resulting from his work: Mainali, J. and Pricope, N.G. 2017. Spatial assessment of climate vulnerability in Nepal: exploring the role of multiple scales and approaches. Applied Geography 82: 66-82.

DAVID D. GRAYBILL

David

 

 

 

I completed my undergraduate degree in December of 2013 at UNCW and received a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Physical Geography with a Geospatial Technology minor. I'm currently seeking a Masters of Science degree in Geoscience with a Geospatial Technology concentration at UNCW. I am excited to work with a drone to obtain location specific high resolution data, and I am interested in land and climate related changes but am uncertain about the specific focus my thesis will take. I love anything outdoors, working on cars and boats and love boating!

 

SEAL Undergraduate Student Alumi

SYDNEY BOHN

sydney

 

 

Sydney Bohn is currently and undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she is pursuing a BS in Environmental Science and a BA in Geography.
Her main focus and passion is with GIS and geospatial technologies. She plans to pursue a career in this field post-graduation.

Sydney is currently gainfully employed as a GIS Analyst at the Esri Charlotte regional office and loves her job!

HANNAH CHARTER

HANNAH

 

 

 

My name is Hannah Charter and I am in my senior year as an undergrad at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. I am studying environmental science with a concentration on environmental conservation and am working towards two minors, one in biology and the other in geospatial technologies. After taking Dr. Pricope’s GIS class I decided I wanted to pursue geospatial technologies further and started a DIS with her.  I have been working with Dr. Pricope to create different maps and layouts for her work that focuses on population changes in the eastern Africa region. I love to travel and explore new places any chance I can get and am excited to see where GIS can take me as I finish up my undergraduate degree.

EVAN H. HILL

Evan

 

 

 

Evan Hill is currently an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he is pursuing two B.S in Environmental Sciences and Oceanography with a Geospatial Technologies minor. He is also a member of the Honors College and is the president of the Ukulele Club. He plans to continue his education by working towards a PhD in Coastal Sciences. He then hopes to become a professor and conduct research at a university by the coast. 

 

JUSTIN A. WELLS

WELLS

 

 

I’m a SEAL undergraduate student working with Dr. Narcisa Pricope through the Spring Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award, while finishing a B.S. in Geology. During the summer of 2016, I worked as an intern with the U.S. Forest Service in the Medicine Bow NF, Wyoming, collecting an inventory to characterize groundwater-dependent ecosystems. My current work focuses on classifying those groundwater-dependent ecosystems using GIS and remote sensing. So far, I have been invited to present this work at two conferences, and received the G. Herbert Stout Award for innovative use of GIS. I grew up in Asheville, NC. The uniqueness of my hometown and the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, left me with a passion for art, culture, and the natural world. As an artist, my passions include writing, music, and occasionally PowerPoint. I enjoy both the cultural and natural aspects of traveling, and avidly pursue my passions for hiking, camping, and snowboarding, and my ambition to see new mountains all over the world.

Employed with Esri Redlands, CA Campus as a Insider Sales Representative!

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