Courtney Di Vittorio, left, with her Ph.D. adviser, Aris Georgakakos and some of the data she's using for her research. Di Vittorio's work to incorporate satellite data into hydrologic models so decision-makers can improve water management plans has won her a 2017 Earth and Space Science Fellowship from NASA. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)
Ph.D. student Courtney Di Vittorio has won support from NASA for her work using satellite data to better manage water resources.
The fourth-year civil engineering grad student learned this month she is one of the space agency’s 2017 Earth and Space Science Fellows, which could mean up to three years of support for her doctoral research.
“I hope that having NASA’s support will allow me to spread my research more widely,” Di Vittorio said. “I am including Dr. Erika Podest from NASA on my Ph.D. committee and hope that my research will help improve the state of knowledge and practice in hydrology and water resources.”
Di Vittorio works with Professor Aris Georgakakos, director of the Georgia Water Resources Institute, to incorporate satellite data into hydrologic models so decision-makers can improve water management plans. She has been applying her approach to a vast wetland in South Sudan called the Sudd, which is part of the Nile River Basin.
“I recently developed a method for delineating the seasonal and inter-annual variation of the wetland area using MODIS satellite imagery. I am currently using this and other information to develop a hydrologic wetland model and am incorporating it into the Nile Decision Support Tool previously developed by the GWRI,” Di Vittorio said.
“The Nile Decision Support Tool is used by the 11 countries of the Nile to evaluate alternative basin-wide water sharing strategies and to support the development of an environmentally and socioeconomically sustainable water management plan.”
The 2017 NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships went to fewer than one in five applicants in the earth science research area. Di Vittorio is the second consecutive School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student to receive one of the fellowships. Yannis Dialynas was a fellow in 2016.