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Skidmore College

Skidmore to host NASA-funded summer research program

February 13, 2023
by James Helicke

Skidmore College will be the first liberal arts college to host a NASA-sponsored summer program that allows researchers from across the world to use NASA imaging tools and other resources to address pressing environmental and policy issues on Earth.  

Charlie Bettigole, director of Skidmore’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center for Interdisciplinary Research, will lead a pop-up research hub as part of NASA’s DEVELOP program at Skidmore this summer. The program, which is open to undergraduate and graduate students along with early-career professionals from across the world, allows researchers to learn more about using geospatial information by participating in applied science projects on topics ranging from climate and energy to water resources and wildland fires.  

At Skidmore, participants will observe, model, and analyze the climate impact of farmland conservation across New York state using NASA Earth science information. The researchers, who will be selected through a highly selective application process, will work with local land trusts to highlight the impact of their land protection and help them to prioritize future conservation efforts. The application deadline is Feb. 24.  

At the end of their 10 weeks on Skidmore’s campus in Saratoga Springs, New York, Bettigole and participants will travel to NASA headquarters in Washington and present their findings along with DEVELOP members from across the country.  

“It’s an honor to host some of the world’s future research leaders in geospatial technology on Skidmore’s campus and work with them as we deepen our understanding of the relationship between agriculture and climate change,”  Bettigole said. “The presence of this pop-up hub at Skidmore will also provide our students a unique opportunity to learn about the work of NASA and its earth science information while interacting with top researchers who are working to understand and develop solutions to an important issue facing our planet.”  

The NASA DEVELOP program will take place at several sites this summer, including Goddard Space Flight Center, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pop-up sites are tentatively slated to be hosted by the University of Wyoming and University of Virginia. Skidmore is the only liberal arts college on the proposed project list.

Charlie Bettigole, director of Skidmore’s GIS Center for Interdisciplinary Research (left), worked with Morgan Foster '23 and Avery Blake '23 (right) on a faculty-student collaborative research project last summer.

Charlie Bettigole, director of Skidmore’s GIS Center for Interdisciplinary Research (left), worked with Morgan Foster '23 and Avery Blake '23 (right) on a faculty-student collaborative research project last summer.

The Skidmore GIS Center for Interdisciplinary Research, which is housed in Skidmore’s Scribner Library, allows students and faculty to use GIS and other geospatial technology in their courses and serves as a resource for the broader community. The strength of its offerings reflects Skidmore’s growing investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities on campus, which also include the new Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences, the largest single academic project in College history. 

The NASA program at Skidmore is Bettigole’s latest effort to use GIS mapping and other imaging tools to address important environmental and policy questions while offering creative learning experiences for Skidmore students. Last summer, Bettigole  led a summer collaborative research project with students that studied the devastating impact of the spongy moth on trees in local woods and in the Lake George Watershed.

To learn more about the DEVELOP program, contact Charlie Bettigole or NASA DEVELOP Pop-up Fellow Caroline Williams

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