Kelsey Potlock ('16, Environmental Science (Biological), Geospatial Technologies Minor)

Kelsey PotlockWhat do you do for your undergraduate research?

My undergraduate research experiences have primarily focused on shoreline change using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. It involves both a field component as well as a data processing one. Essentially we record the GPS location of our shorelines and collect imagery and then we compare the shoreline position to historical imagery to determine areas of increased erosion and accretion.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

My advisor, Dr. Devon Eulie, actually was my inspiration to pursue these projects. Coming into UNCW, I had never even heard about GIS. The opportunity to learn research methods as well as to learn a new technology further pulled me in.

How did you start your research project?

My research project started with lab work with historic image processing and field work. We have to collect the data in order to analyze it.

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

It's a mixed bag. I do love it, but I was so surprised about how much hard work it actually was, both mentally and physically. It has its good moments and bad; collecting the data is fun but the number-crunching and processing can get tedious, repetitive, and boring sometimes.

It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?

My research has opened a lot of opportunities for me that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise. I've been able to present at two conferences, one in Washington DC and one in Carolina Beach. I'm learning to write a paper and to prepare it (hopefully) to be published. I also have been able to received internships and fellowships because of my skillset. After the project, besides starting a study that will continue after I graduate, we are aiming to design a sign to explain the idea to visitors to our research site to further inform the public. I consider this an important part of any scientific research and I'm glad I'll be able to leave a lasting impression years after I'm done.

What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?

I received a scholarship from the Bald Head Island Conservancy to map the entire river system for the island and to find areas of high erosion. Through my advisor, we have also received grants for my current project.

What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?

I plan to pursue graduate school in either GIS & remote sensing or marine mammal studies. I'd eventually like to find a way to combine these two to study cetaceans. I'm shooting for a Masters and, eventually, a PhD.

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