URI researcher receives prestigious Presidential Award

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 10, 2000 — University of Rhode Island researcher Y.Q. (Yeqiao) Wang uses information from satellites to study urban sprawl and the interrelationship between the natural world and human settlements. His work recently earned him the highest honor the U.S. government bestows upon young scientists, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Wang was one of 59 scientists in the country to receive the award and one of just six whose research was recognized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The award includes a two-year, $250,000 grant to continue research he began in 1999 with support from NASA’s New Investigator Program in Earth Science. The award ceremonies were held at NASA headquarters and at the White House on Oct. 24. “These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country,” President Clinton said. “Through their talent, ability and dedication, they will quicken the pace of discovery and put science and technology to work advancing the human condition as never before.” Wang uses remote sensing data – high resolution images of the Earth taken from NASA satellites – to delineate changes in land use and land cover. “I use satellite remote sensing data to see how things on the ground are changing over time, particularly how urban sprawl is impacting the natural environment,” said Wang, a resident of Kingston. “Once we detect these changes, we can develop models of how socioeconomic and natural factors cause changes in land cover, which will allow us to evaluate, simulate, and predict human impacts on ecosystems.” His efforts primarily focus on the Chicago metropolitan area and southern New England, where he seeks to understand and predict land use and land cover changes and analyze human impacts on the environment. The techniques and models he is developing can potentially be used in other urban areas as well. Wang’s research is part of the NASA Earth Science Enterprise program, which seeks to use the vantage point of space to understand the Earth, particularly the impacts of human actions on the planet. “Y.Q. is using high-tech tools to help understand and protect the natural environment,” said William Wright, interim dean of URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences. “We are very proud of his accomplishments and extremely fortunate to have him here at URI.” For Information: Y.Q. Wang 874-4345, Todd McLeish 874-7892