Geography professor receives NASA fellowship

August 21 2008

TERRE HAUTE " An Indiana State University geography professor will study the effects of urban heat for an agency known to look toward space.

Qihao Weng, an associate professor of geography and director of Center for Urban and Environmental Change, was recently awarded a senior fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Postdoctoral Program. He will work at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center for one year starting Dec. 15.

"I am excited about this excellent opportunity to work with the world-class scientists at NASA," Weng said. "I am hopeful that this fellowship will enhance my experience in research on earth system science and application of geo-spatial technology in earth and environmental sciences."

The program offers unique research opportunities to talented national and international scientists to participate in ongoing NASA research programs. The fellowship appointments are highly competitive and are designed to advance NASA's missions in space science, earth science, aeronautics, space operations, exploration systems and astrobiology.

"Dr. Weng's appointment as a senior fellow at NASA continues a long-standing relationship between NASA and ISU geography faculty," College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tom Sauer said. "Dr. Weng, with his work on remote sensing of urban heat islands (using Indianapolis as a case study), will fulfill the purpose of NASA's Postdoctoral Program of ensuring the continued quality of the NASA research workforce, while also providing an opportunity for Dr. Weng to enhance relationships between NASA and ISU and increase opportunities at NASA for internships and future employment for our graduate and undergraduate students."

Weng's research will seek a better scientific understanding of how land cover changes through urbanization has and will affect local and regional climate and air quality characteristics.

"My proposed research also will provide fundamental knowledge in developing conceptual models and algorithms for urban storm water management in the context of urban climate change and global warming," he said. "Within my area, NASA's focus is to assess, mitigate and forecast natural hazards that affect the society."

Remote sensing technology is empowering scientists to measure and understand subtle changes in the Earth's surface and interior, which reflect the response of the Earth to both the internal forces and the climatic forces that sculpt the Earth's surface, Weng said.

"My research can provide a better scientific understanding of how land cover changes impacted urban climate and air quality, which are closely related to human health, quality of life and environmental sustainability," he said.

Weng has researched several major cities in the world, and has used Indianapolis for his latest research into reducing the impact of urban heat islands.

In 2006, Weng received the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research Award by Indiana State University, the university's highest research honor.


Contact: Qihao Weng, associate professor of geography; director, Center for Urban and Environmental Change, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2255 or  

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or


Cutline: Qihao Weng, ISU associate professor of geography, (center) conducted field work of urban heat islands in Indianapolis with his students.

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An Indiana State University geography professor, Qihao Weng, will study the effects of urban heat for NASA.

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