Fulbright scholar to spend semester studying urban climate effects in Greece

By

Megan Martin

For most people, the thought of Greece may elicit images of sandy beaches and beautiful buildings cascading toward the shore, but for Matei Georgescu, Greece means the opportunity to expand his research into the effects urbanization has on climate. To help him accomplish this, Georgescu has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Grant.

“A key objective of my Fulbright Award is focused on development of high-resolution data of climate output illustrating the magnitude of future extreme heat events for all of Greece,” said Georgescu, an associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and senior sustainability scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. 

This is an opportunity for Georgescu to expand the work he has been focused on at ASU. As a member of the university’s Urban Climate Research Center, Georgescu has dedicated a significant portion of his research to investigating environmental impacts, specifically climate, as it relates to the built environment. This work in Greece will provide Georgescu with the opportunity to work alongside the Remote Sensing Lab (RSL) within the Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics at the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas in Crete — one of the premier research centers in Europe.

Working at RSL and alongside their researchers, who are a multidisciplinary group addressing challenges in urban and environmental planning, provides Georgescu an exciting opportunity for work that can have the potential for broad impact.

“I have wonderful colleagues in Greece that can aid this work tremendously. The potential synergies between their local knowledge, skills and interests align with my own interests,” said Georgescu. “Together, the development of high-resolution data characterizing the projected magnitude of extreme heat events across Greece, as well as ways to keep such warmth in check, can have broad utility across disciplines and sectors, ranging from health to energy provision to city and regional urban planning. A key focus is to aid the discussion, based on data, to help create and maintain a delicate balance between natural and built systems.”

This work will be completed with the goal of using high-resolution data, mesoscale process-based modeling and statistical techniques to not only help predict the magnitude of projected heat waves, but also work to find ways to reduce the impact, specifically in urban areas. The potential use for these techniques could have global impact.

Georgescu will be headed to Crete in the spring of 2020 to start his Fulbright-sponsored research, which will last for four months. He will be added to the ranks of distinguished past participants of the program, including Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. According to the organization, more than 380,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.

The Fulbright Program, which is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, was created to promote peace and understanding through educational exchange between the United States and other countries. Today, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries around the globe.