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The AAG is pleased to announce that the Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography is awarded in 2016 to Hannah Cooper from the Department of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. She receives a grant of $2,000 to support field research in Everglades National Park.

 Hannah is currently a third-year PhD student developing innovative models for sea level rise applications in the coastal Everglades.

Accurate ground elevation data is vitally important in the low-lying Everglades for various reasons including emergency planning and ecosystem management. However, the two best elevation datasets that are currently available have shortcomings; one did not include enough checkpoints to provide fine-scale mapping while the other lacked an accuracy assessment.

Hannah’s field survey will collect the survey-grade GPS and total station elevation measurements which will be used to validate and calibrate the LiDAR elevation data for different coastal vegetation substrate.

The data collection will focus on the coastal Flamingo district of Everglades National Park, an area consisting of estuarine forested wetland, estuarine scrub/shrub wetland, and estuarine emergent wetland.

Three colleagues from the Department of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University will be involved in the fieldwork: Assistant Professor Dr Caiyun Zhang, fellow doctoral student Matt Sirianni, and graduate student Pramod Pandey.

The field experience will enable team members to learn new skills in field survey mapping tools and data post processing. They will also gain hands-on experience in the remote coastal Everglades learning about this unique habitat.

The objective of the Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography is to carry on the tradition of excellence and humanity in field work espoused by Dr. Melvin G. Marcus. Marcus was an internationally-recognized physical geographer and served as president of the Association of American Geographers in 1978-79. He was committed to making physical geography accessible to everyone with a love of the outdoors, including women, minorities, and the less-privileged. He created and oversaw programs that emphasized excellence in field studies and the translation of field studies into scholarly achievement. He took students on research expeditions to the Yukon and Alaska, the Himalayas, the Southern Alps, the Colorado Rockies, and the Grand Canyon, as well as many other locations. These expeditions were often life-transforming experiences for those students fortunate enough to participate. This award in his name enables faculty to involve students in field-based physical geography research in challenging outdoor environments.