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Professor Eman Ghoneim Awarded NSF Grant to Unearth Ancient Egyptian Settlements

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Eman Ghoneim, professor in the UNCW Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences and director of the Space and Drone Remote Sensing Lab, has been awarded a three-year, $203,874 grant from the National Science Foundation to unveil the ancestral Nile River course and its defunct branches.

Using remote sensing, geographical information system, historical, archeological, geomorphological and geophysical field surveys, Ghoneim will lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Macquarie University (Australia), the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (Egypt), and the University of Memphis to map the Nile’s ancestral water system to develop the geochronological framework for the study region. The team will use geophysical equipment and advanced radar and infrared satellite imaging technology from NASA, German Aerospace Center and the European Space Agency satellites to penetrate the Sahara sand and unveil subsurface terrain.

“From a societal perspective, our project is important because of the wide presence of ancient sites in the proximity of unmapped paleoriver systems – both in the USA and globally – and the large human population near these sites that could affect their preservation or extinction. Discovering the ancient Nile and having a more refined idea of where ancient Egyptian settlements were possibly located in relation to it can drastically improve our cultural heritage conservation measures and raise awareness of these sites for modern development planning,” said Ghoneim.

This summer, Ghoneim led a field expedition in the desert of Sudan in search of sandy buried drainage systems as part of a $75,000 grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

Born in Egypt, Ghoneim earned a bachelor’s and master’s in physical geography from Tanta University and a Ph.D. from University of Southampton, UK. In 2018, she received the Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award and the Board of Trustees’ Teaching Excellence Award, UNCW’s highest honor. She was also honored with the prestigious 2021 UNC Board of Governors for Excellence in Teaching Award.

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