UNA Pressroom

Una Student Accepted Into Prestigious Nsf Internship

Apr. 25, 2017

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

Bryan Rachal, University Communications

FLORENCE, Ala.-University of North Alabama senior Savannah Watson has been accepted into the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Watson, who is currently majoring in Geographic Information Science (GIS), will travel to Northern Iowa University as part of the nationally competitive science research internship. While there, she will study for eight weeksin Interdisciplinary Research Experience in Hyperspectral Imaging.

Hyperspectral Imagingcollects and processes information from across theelectromagnetic spectrumwith the purpose of finding objects, identifying materials, or detecting processes.

"When people ask me what it is I'll be doing, it's so hard to explain because this field is so broad," she said.

According to Watson, a simple way to put it is that you're looking at satellite imagery through different spectral bands.

"So if I wanted to look at specific vegetation to know if it's healthy or not, I would be looking at different vegetation indices," Watson said. "The healthier vegetation would show up as one color and the not so healthy vegetation would be another color."

Watson said you can look at real-time data or previously uploaded information and then these spectral bands can be laid over a city or rural area to determine any number of things like disease detection for agriculture, land mine detection, urban development expansion, etc.

"It all depends on what you're studying," she said. "The professor I'll be studying under at Northern Iowa focuses on urban remote sensing. One of her specialties is studying urban heat islands in different cities."

Watson said that while this technology is extremely beneficial to urban planning, careers in this field can be located anywhere and with multiple types of companies. As for Watson, she eventually wants to work for NASA.

"They have an urban planning section, so if someone needs to know what the heat index is for a city and where they need to plant vegetation or would a body of water be good here to lower the temperature? That's just one example, but like I said there's a lot you can do," she said.

The program will take place between May 22 and July 14. Watson said the internship pays for housing, food and her flight out there. Once she returns to UNA, she has one more semester to complete before she graduates.

For more information on GIS at UNA:https://www.una.edu/geography/Undergrad/gis-major/index.html


The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programsthrough the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business,Education and Human Sciences, and the Anderson College of Nursing.Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals. UNA also operates arenownedcollegiate athletic program in NCAA Division II's Gulf South Conference.The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age or national origin.