In 1995, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was awarded five-year funding from NASA to create the Pan-American Center for Earth and Environmental Studies (PACES). An additional five-year funding award was granted in 2000 to continue the operations of PACES. The technical mission of PACES is to conduct basic and applied research contributing to NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. PACES is a repository for information used by researchers to develop improved understanding of geological, geophysical, ecological and environmental processes and changes in land usage currently taking place in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico region. Complementing this research effort is an educational mission to produce highly qualified minority scientists and engineers.
The core faculty consists of members of UTEP's Colleges of Science and Engineering with outstanding research records. These faculty have traditionally worked together administering federal and state grants, and have contributed to the education of many minority scientists and engineers by involving them in research.
Program Director for PACES is Dr. Scott A. Starks (Department of Electrical Engineering). He is assisted by Co-Principal Investigators Dr. G. Randy Keller (Department of Geological Sciences), Dr. Ann Gates and Dr. Vladik Krienovich (Computer Science Department). Dr. John M. Seeley is Assistant Program Director for PACES. Dr. Seeley directs Remote Sensing and GISresearch and also manages the PACES Geoscience Applications Research Center. GIS research, at PACES is conducted and coordinated by Mr. Raed Aldouri, who is the director of the Regional Geospatial Service Center. PACES primarily collaborates with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Ames Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Texas campuses at Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Other significant collaborators include the USGS and the GEOSAT Committee.
Besides conducting basic research, PACES facilitates summer fellowships to students and faculty, establishes technical seminars, networks with external organizations which might benefit from access to the data and technologies of the center, publishes a newsletter, and implements means of technology transfer and information dissemination and exchange.
The technical plan for PACES calls for research in several areas: geological studies of the Rio Grande Rift Region, Studies of Human Environmental Impacts, and Investigation of High Level Languages for processing large databases. Our intent is to seek additional opportunities to expand the research activities by leveraging PACES resources. In particular, we view the establishment of this center as serving a vital need for data and information for the southwestern United States and northern Mexico in support of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. There is no comparable repository of this kind addressing changes in this region. Changes here are analogous to those taking place in other arid and semi-arid locales around the world. PACES also contributes much needed researchin defining high level tools for processing and analyzing remotely sensed data. It is clear that the current state of technology provides the ability to acquire and store huge amounts of data. However, it remains a problem to access and analyze the data to produce information content which can in turn, be used by scientists and policy makers. A primary goal of PACES is to assist NASA in addressing these issues.