Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences
Applications of Geographic Technology for Mapping Hazards & Environmental Health
Can a person trained as a social scientist in human geography be hosted by a geological engineering department at an overseas university? Through a Fulbright, expertise in geography, and the ability to use maps to communicate across cultures and disciplines, Deborah Thomas successfully answered the question in the affirmative. As an associate professor of geography, Thomas spent seven months in the Department of Geological Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Turkey.
During the spring semester, Thomas taught courses in Disaster Management and Heath Geographic Information Systems (health mapping) to what she termed "a wonderful group of graduate students". Comprehensive disaster risk reduction requires experts from engineering, as well as from the physical and social sciences. Thomas had the opportunity to not only teach but also to learn more about these topics, as applied to Turkey, from her students and colleagues,
This resulted in longer-term relationships and return trips to Turkey to attend workshops on developing mapping loss estimation tools. She also went on a number of geology fieldtrips conducted by the department. "Even as a social scientist, " Thomas said, "I can now identify a wide variety of rock types and faults in the Turkish landscape."
“My Fulbright was an incredibly rich experience, both personally and professionally, and I hope that I touched the lives of my Turkish students and colleagues in the way they affected me."
- Deborah Thomas
PhD, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences