Shantytown Mapping Project
Marion Clement, Princeton, N.J.; School of Arts and Sciences; geography major with a cultural concentration, French minor; president of the Rutgers Undergraduate Geography Society (RUGS), member of the SAS Honors Program Artists' Collective, facilitator for the GO Outdoors program
"We had a wonderfully balanced relationship with Professor Mitchell—we learned a lot from him, but he gave us the freedom to shape the project," says Marion.
"I was interested in doing independent research, but I also wanted faculty guidance. The Aresty Program allows faculty members to guide students through research projects while also giving them the opportunity to explore on their own," says Marion.
Kae Yamane, North Brunswick, N.J.; School of Arts and Sciences; geography major with a concentration in geographic techniques, Japanese minor; secretary of the Rutgers Undergraduate Geography Society (RUGS), volunteer Japanese tutor with the SAS Honors Tutoring Project
"I wasn't aware of the Aresty program before applying to Rutgers. It was a challenging and worthwhile experience," says Kae.
"Web-based mapping tools make it possible to inspect the physical makeup of cities and provide important evidence about the exposure of neighborhoods to natural hazards," says Professor Mitchell. "The Shantytown Mapping Project explores the potential uses for these tools in assessing the disaster vulnerability of these neighborhoods in large cities."
"We looked at the satellite images and analyzed data we collected on shantytown roof counts, area, population estimates, elevation, and distance from water bodies," says Kae.
Then, the students compared their data to the Mumbai Human Development Report. "We looked for a pattern of percentage error in our comparison so we could see to what extent these maps are valuable to research," says Marion.
Kae and Marion presented their research at the Annual Association of American Geographers Meeting, where they took second place in the poster competition.
"Professor Mitchell was an ideal mentor: patient, approachable, and always willing to advise us whenever there were obstacles. Marion and I nominated him—successfully—as Aresty Faculty Mentor of the Year!" says Kae.
Professor Mitchell has high hopes for what's next for shantytowns: "The residents of these disadvantaged places, nongovernmental organizations, or other community-based organizations now have a new tool they can use in lobbying for measures that will reduce vulnerability to hazards," he says.