College of Science’s McMichael Awarded $172K NASA Grant

Research Associate to Use Funds for Maize Agriculture Study 

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology Research Associate Crystal McMichael was awarded a $172,000 grant by NASA for her research, “Mounds, Microclimates, and Maize: Understanding the influence of inland lakes on maize agriculture in pre-Contact indigenous societies using remotely sensed data.”

This project, which started in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2016, is in collaboration with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, where McMichael served as a postdoctoral associate after completing her doctorate in ecology at Florida Tech.

The funding came through NASA’s Space Archaeology program because much of McMichael’s work involves using remotely-sensed data collected by satellites to predict archaeological features in the landscape.

The study centers on tracing the spread of maize throughout the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and identifying microclimates that may have been preferable for maize agriculture using remote sensing, archeological surveys and paleoecological reconstructions. McMichael specifically focuses on analyzing pollen and charcoal found in the lake sediment cores, which allows her to trace the movement of people and associated maize agriculture throughout the region.

The grant will be used primarily to core additional lakes in the region and analyze additional sediment samples.



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