UCGIS to Collaborate with National Geospatial Institute to Address Climate Change Resilience and Sustainability Challenges 

A new national initiative to enable geospatial data-driven scientific discovery will create a $15-million institute to better understand the risks and impacts of climate change and disasters. Based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Institute for Geospatial Understanding, through an Integrative Discovery Environment (I-GUIDE), will receive the funding over the next five years as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) initiative. To date, the HDR initiative has established five institutes across the United States to explore questions at the frontiers of science and engineering.

 “The goal of I-GUIDE is to revolutionize theories, concepts, methods, and tools focused on data-intensive geospatial understanding for driving innovative cyberGIS and cyberinfrastructure capabilities to address the most pressing resilience and sustainability challenges of our world such as biodiversity, food security, and water security,” said Shaowen Wang, head of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science at U of I and founding director of the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies (CyberGIS Center), who will lead the institute.

 The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is one of several collaborators on the project, providing expertise in multiple areas. In her new role as Senior Research Fellow for UCGIS, Diana Sinton is serving as a co-lead on I-GUIDE’s Evaluation and Knowledge Transfer Team. She will aid in communicating about internal data-driven research advances across the project team and with external scholars and partners. UCGIS’s Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (GIS&T BoK) will also be expanded to connect its content with the I-GUIDE environment.

 I-GUIDE “creates a novel geospatial discovery environment for synthesizing data on geographically referenced social, economic, ecological, and environmental factors to better understand the risk and impacts of climate change and disasters,” the NSF reported, in a press release. Wang added, “I-GUIDE nurtures a diverse and inclusive geospatial discovery community across many disciplines by bridging disciplinary digital data divides with broader impacts amplified through a well-trained and diverse workforce and proactive engagement of minority and underrepresented groups.“

 In addition to the involvement of UCGIS, nearly 40 researchers from other universities and organizations are involved, including Columbia University, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), Florida International University, Michigan State University, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Purdue University, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Utah State University, as well as other partners.

 In all, NSF is investing $75 million to establish five new HDR Institutes as part of its “Big Ideas” initiative.

 “NSF’s Big Ideas are a set of 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering and represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergent research,” said Manish Parashar, office director for the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF.

GIS&T Body of Knowledge

The Geographic Information Science & Technologies Body of Knowledge (BoK) is onlineNew topics are added regularly, and original ones are being revised and expanded. The Editorial Team is always looking for authors and reviewers. Contribute to this global effort for an open, current, and vibrant collection of knowledge for our discipline.  You can find a 2-page overview of all topics here (last updated December 2021)

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UCGIS Welcomes new Executive Director Aaron Addison

On July 1, 2021, Aaron Addison took over the helm of UCGIS as its new Executive Director. He joins UCGIS with decades of experience with geospatial technologies, data management, teaching & learning, and organizational management in higher educational contexts.  We asked him to share his thoughts after his first couple of months on the job. 

UCGIS: What drew you most to the idea of working with us?    

AA: Having served as a past delegate and committee chair, I already knew that UCGIS was an amazing organization, so the decision was not difficult.  Many of my values around geospatial policy, education and training are in full alignment with UCGIS, so that certainly helped. 

More broadly I enjoy working with the geospatial community and learning what UCGIS members have been working on and how the organization can provide value to its members.  UCGIS is a fantastic platform for our community and one that has had excellent leadership.  My hope is that I can continue that servant leadership model and see UCGIS continue to not only grow, but be relevant in the ever expanding domains of geospatial research, education, and policy.

Read more in our blog posting!