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Geography student places at national science competition

A University of Toledo geography student recently competed against some of the nation’s most intelligent young scientists and engineers from top U.S. colleges, including Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

Jeff Kodysh, left, posed for a photo with the $1,000 prize he received for placing third in the energy division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2010 Science and Energy Challenge. His adviser, Dr. David Nemeth, professor of geography and planning, also attended the competition in Chicago.

Jeff Kodysh, left, posed for a photo with the $1,000 prize he received for placing third in the energy division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2010 Science and Energy Challenge. His adviser, Dr. David Nemeth, professor of geography and planning, also attended the competition in Chicago.

Jeff Kodysh, a senior at UT, placed third in the energy division of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2010 Science and Energy Challenge.

The competition took place in November at the Argonne National Laboratory facilities in Chicago, where 95 students participated in five categories: energy, physical sciences, life science, energy and computational science, and environmental science.

Kodysh competed in the energy category and received third place with his research project titled “A GIS-Based Methodology for Assessing Rooftop Solar Energy Potential.” He was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

During his time as an intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory last summer, Kodysh developed a new methodology to determine photovoltaic energy potential in urban areas using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and a Geographic Information Systems-based approach.

That work at the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy internship program was the basis for his research project, which took about 11 weeks to develop.

“I felt so much pride for Kodysh when he received his award,” said Dr. David Nemeth, professor of geography and planning, and adviser to Kodysh. “I was enthused that a geographer could place among so many scientists and thrilled that the field of geography could contribute to the energy science. UT has built a great learning foundation in solar energy.”

Uncommon in the competition, Kodysh was one of only two geography students. Most participants were majoring in chemistry, engineering or physics.

“As a geography and planning major, I have quite a unique academic background as far as the Science and Energy Challenge and the Department of Energy are concerned,” Kodysh said. “The production and distribution of energy have unique spatial characteristics, so I am able to use my academic background as a geographer to help solve questions that perhaps a physicist or a chemist might not completely understand.”

Kodysh plans to graduate in May and intends to take some time off to hike the Appalachian Trail before attending graduate school.

“I really enjoy working with energy and energy-related research, so I think that I will continue to research those topics as I continue with my graduate education,” Kodysh said. “Energy and energy innovation are vital components for our nation’s long-term well-being, and I would like to use my training as a geographer to help create a brighter future for the U.S.”

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