HERO: Human-Environment Regional Observatory

HERO Fellowship



The NSF REU Site Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program is a unique undergraduate-graduate-faculty experience that engages in research on human-environment relationships in Massachusetts. HERO Fellows conduct hands-on research under the mentorship of Clark University faculty. The research conducted by HERO Fellows often leads to scholarly publications, presentations at academic conferences across the USA, and awards and honors.

This eight-week curriculum (June 8 through July 31, 2015) is sponsored by Clark University O'Connor Fund and NSF REU program. HERO Fellows analyze the causes and consequences of global environmental changes at local scales in faculty-led research projects. Each Fellow is paired with a Clark faculty mentor and other researchers on the HERO team in one of two research domains. Fellows will learn how to use various research methods,including GIS, remote sensing, geostatistical modeling, interviews and focus groups.


HERO-MA Research areas

Hero engages in two main areas of research concerning the causes and consequences of the Asian longhorn beetle (ALB) infestation in central Massachusetts on urban and ex-urban forests and the subsequent tree replanting initiative by the USDA, Massachusetts DCR and Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI):

Beetle Impact Assessment
This stream will produce validated measures of spatial and temporal changes in tree cover composition on the ALB-infestation area. Evaluate impacts of ALB on forest diversity and cover at present and in the future. Methodologies used include landscape metrics, GIS, remote sensing and geospatial modeling.

Place-Making Assessment
This stream will assess management and policymaking responses to community concerns in response to the ALB impacts, involving stakeholders throughout the analysis. Evaluate ALB impacts by socio-economic status, race/ethnicity and management/governance regime to explore how a more engaged stakeholder group would respond to policy as a result of the ALB experience. Methodologies used include qualitative methods, such as interviews and focus groups.

HERO fellows will participate in both research streams in Summer 2015.


HERO Fellows are awarded $3,500 for the eight weeks of full-time research (June 8 through July 31, 2015), in addition there will be opportuity to attend the 2016 Association of American Geographers scholarly meeting in San Fransisco to present your research to an audience of like-minded scholars and professionals. Funding for AAG TBD.


Based on a competitive application process, each year the HERO program selects a diverse group of undergraduate students to be HERO Fellows. HERO values students who demonstrate energetic and inquisitive minds, and who are fearless when charting new intellectual territory. Previous course work in human or environmental geography—such as urban and population studies, GIS, landscape ecology, land-use planning, statistics and remote sensing—is helpful but not required. There is no minimum GPA or required class standing, but evidence of outstanding scholarly and professional potential is essential. Students must also still be enrolled full time as undergraduates during the Fall of 2015.

If you are a Clark Student:

Clark HERO Summer 2015 Application » [PDF Form]
The application is due by February 20, 2015. Email applications to heroadmissions@clarku.edu.

If you have questions about applying to HERO, contact:

Rachel Levitt
Assistant to the Director and Associate Director of HERO

Dr. John Rogan
Associate Professor of Geography
Director, HERO Program

Clark University
School of Geography
950 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610-1477