James L. Carmon Scholarship Award 2014
Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2014
Sergio Bernardes, a doctoral graduate in geography, has conducted ground-breaking research on the study of ecosystem responses to extreme weather and changing climate. He uses multi-terabyte datasets, also known as “big data,” to examine how different regions respond to periods of intensified droughts, persistent multi-year droughts and instances of anomalous wet periods. These events may impact critical biogeochemical cycles, and their associated negative effects can ripple through several connected biological systems, resulting in impacts on food security, ecosystem functioning and changes in plant and animal distribution. Bernardes’ work uses datasets and methods he developed to quantify extremes in hydroclimate, vegetation health and productivity, and to discover the relationships between vegetation status, water availability and temperature. His dissertation work involved the proposition and implementation of many computational solutions to analyze ground and satellite data, totaling more than 25,000 lines of written computer code.