Williams Lecturer Receives Fulbright Fellowship for South Africa Research

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Alex Apotsos, lecturer in geosciences at Williams College, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to spend 11 months doing research in South Africa starting in August.

Apotsos's project, "Mapping the Climate Change Vulnerability of Coastal Urban Areas in Southern Africa," will increase understanding of the climate vulnerability and informational needs of coastal urban areas in Southern Africa. Apotsos will develop localized climate change vulnerability maps that combine biophysical factors, such as storm surge and sea level rise, with socio-economic factors, such as poverty rates, educational levels and infrastructure, that influence the ability of communities to increase their resilience.

During the development of these maps, Apotsos will engage with local and regional planners to understand better their perceptions of urban vulnerability as well as the information they need to address these vulnerabilities. This research builds off his background in coastal oceanography as well as his work with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on assessing vulnerability in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"With more and more people moving to the urbanized areas of the coast, it is essential that we begin to understand better the vulnerability of these growing populations," Apotsos said. "I am grateful for the opportunity to investigate the nexus of biophysical and socio-economic factors that can lead to more resilient communities in Southern Africa with my colleagues at the University of Cape Town."

Over the last 18 years, Apotsos has done both scientific studies of the coastal environment and developed and implemented effective policy based on scientific information. A coastal oceanographer by academic training, Apotsos has also served with the Peace Corps and worked for the U.S. Senate and USAID. This research combines his expertise in coastal processes, climate change vulnerability, and the integration of science into policy and implementation.

Teaching at Williams since 2015, Apotsos has a bachelor's degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


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