2021 Student Research Awards

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is pleased to announce the recipients of its student awards for excellence in research during its 2021 Symposium.  We send a hearty thanks to the suite of judges from 15 different universities and geospatial organizations who evaluated the talks and posters, using multiple criteria including the robustness of the research and the effectiveness of its presentation.  We are very grateful to Esri and other sponsors who have made these awards and the Symposium possible through their financial support.

2021 Lightning Talk Awards

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Board of Directors has new members selected

For our annual elections for our Board of Directors, UCGIS delegates voted last week and selected these individuals to join our Board starting on July 1, 2021.

  • President-Elect (Vice President): Shih-Lung Shaw, University of Tennessee
  • Director (3-year term): Patricia Carbajales-Dale, Clemson University
  • Director (3-year term): Somayeh Dodge, University of California, Santa Barbara

Congratulations to these individuals!

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Aaron Addison Selected as UCGIS Executive Director

UCGIS is pleased to announce Aaron Addison as its next Executive Director. Addison has worked as a GIS professional for over twenty years, spending much of that time at Washington University in St. Louis as Director of Data Services in the library and as Coordinator of GIS, where he and his team worked to establish a university-wide geospatial program for research and teaching. He has particular expertise in the acquisition and use of research data and is a founding member of the Research Data Alliance, though it is his acumen in business development, operations management, and collaborative team building that will be the most important factors in his UCGIS activities. Addison holds an MS in Geographic Information Science from Northwest Missouri State University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Aaron has just the right combination of experience in business management and GIS within the context of higher education to serve as UCGIS Executive Director. The Board of Directors is excited to work with Aaron as our new Executive Director and confident that under his guidance UCGIS will continue to thrive,” says UCGIS President Jeremy Mennis, of Temple University. Addison has worked previously with UCGIS, serving as both a delegate from Washington University and Chair of the External Relations Committee from 2017 to 2019. 

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Fall 2020 Education Survey Results Published

In January 2021, the UCGIS Education Committee surveyed the UCGIS community to ask about their teaching experiences - the good, the bad, and the ugly - from fall 2020.  There were some technologies worth trying, some strategies that failed, and some innovations and ideas worth repeating. Screen-Cast-O-Matic was a clear winner. Lousy internet connections undermine all types of efforts every time. Virtual field trips can be wildly successful.  Here are the summarized results (pdf) - download to read them all!

UCGIS Partners to Offer Discounts on Spatial Statistics & Mapping with R Classes

Looking for some targeted professional development to enhance your mapping and spatial analysis skills with R?  Consider upcoming summer 2021 sessions of Spatial Statistics for GIS Using R (https://www.statistics.com/courses/spatial-statistics-for-gis-using-r/) or Mapping in R (https://www.statistics.com/courses/mapping-in-r/). Each of these 4-week-long online courses is taught by well-known and familiar experts from within our own GIScience community. Starting now: the classes are available to individuals from UCGIS member institutions each at a $150 discount (25% off the $589 per class price). 

Since the early 2000s, The Institute for Statistics Education (statistics.com) has been known for providing solid, rigorous short courses on a wide range of statistics and data science topics.  Their classes have always been offered online (asynchronous), with three main elements: weekly lessons with assigned readings, a private discussion board for students & the instructor, and homework assignments that will receive instructor feedback. Plus, these courses are eligible for CEU and other credit options (see the website for details).

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TRELIS Receives Supplemental Funds

UCGIS is pleased to announce that our TRELIS program has received supplemental funding from the National Science Foundation!  This means that we will be able to recruit a 4th cohort (one extra to join the originally planned three)!  In-person conversations about TRELIS topics are optimal and desired, so we will recruit this 4th cohort in Fall 2021 in anticipation of an in-person event in spring 2022.  We will also be able to host an "ALL-TRELIS" day during that same time frame and invite TRELIS Fellows from the 2018, 2019, and 2020 cohorts to join us!  

For any questions, please keep track of the TRELIS website. You can also reach out to Kate Beard-Tisdale (University of Maine,  TRELIS PI), Laxmi Ramasubramanian (San Jose State University, TRELIS co-PI), or Diana Sinton (UCGIS, TRELIS co-PI).

Fellowships Engage COVID-19 Geospatial Research and Education

The Geospatial Software Institute (GSI) Conceptualization Project has announced 16 fellowships to researchers at 13 institutions to tackle COVID-19 challenges using geospatial software and advanced capabilities in cyberinfrastructure and data science. A full list of the fellows, with biographies and project information, is at https://gsi.cigi.illinois.edu/geospatial-fellows-members/. The Geospatial Fellows program will enable diverse researchers and educators to harness geospatial software and data at scale, in reproducible and transparent ways; and will contribute to the nation’s workforce capability and capacity to utilize geospatial big data and software for knowledge discovery.

The GSI Conceptualization Project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and UCGIS is a partnering organization in the efforts, along with the American Association of Geographers (AAG), the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). Technical and cyberinfrastructure support are provided by the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies (CyberGIS Center)  at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Built on the progress made by cyberGIS-related communities, the GSI conceptualization project is charged with developing a strategic plan for a long-term hub of excellence in geospatial software infrastructure, one that can better address emergent issues of food security, ecology, emergency management, environmental research and stewardship, national security, public health, and more.

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Education Committee Publishes Report

Members of the UCGIS Education Committee have published a report following their interactive session during the June 2020 Symposium, Capturing New Opportunities in GIScience Education.  The session focused on three topics: 1) opportunities, 2) equity and accessibility, and 3) effectiveness. You can find a full copy of the report here (pdf).

Geo-related Ethics in the News

Like many in the Geographic Information Science community, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is concerned with media reports of the apparent dismissal of a GIS Professional employed by the Florida Department of Health after she refused to alter publicly available COVID-19 geospatial data for what are perceived to be political purposes. Our concern is magnified given what we view as continuing threats to scientific integrity germane to Geographic Information Science, for example in a recent initiative at the EPA. Ethical conduct is embodied in the UCGIS mission to “Advocate policies for the promotion of the ethical use of and access to geographic information and technologies…” and in the GIS Certification Institute’s (GISCICode of Ethics, which includes the obligation to “Provide full, clear, and accurate information.” UCGIS will continue our longstanding activities to promote ethics in Geographic Information Science through education and research. More information on the importance of ethics as it relates to science and the profession can be found in the UCGIS  GIS&T Body of Knowledge sections on Professional and Practical Ethics and GIS and Critical Ethics.

 

COVID-research by Geospatial Fellows

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Geospatial Software Institute (GSI) conceptualization project (https://gsi.cigi.illinois.edu), along with its partners such as the American Association of Geographers (AAG), Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), NORC at the University of Chicago, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), has recently created a Geospatial Fellows program to foster collaborative work on advancing COVID-19 research and education.

Apply by July 31, 2020. Find more info at https://bit.ly/GeospatialFellows and become a Geospatial Fellow for joining the collaborative fight against the COVID-19 crisis.

2020 Innovation in GIScience Education Award

Last year, UCGIS introduced a new biennial award for Innovation in GIScience Education. This month, the 2020 recipient was finally announced. In recognition of efforts far and beyond expectations, during massive disruptions at our universities in the first few months of this year, the UCGIS awards the 2020 GIScience Education award to the entire global GIScience Education community. For every person who jumped into online teaching and learning, and did all they could to just make it work and support their students, the citation says it all: 

For meritorious service in developing innovative learning techniques to advance GIScience education and promote equity and inclusiveness under trying circumstances and extreme risk of mortal illness.

Reflections from a Decade of Online Teaching

by Karen Kemp, Professor Emerita at University of Southern California and UCGIS President 2019-20

As I hear from many of you and read lots of blogs and articles about the challenges of going suddenly to online teaching, my heart goes out to the many of you trying to do your research, advise grad students and learn to teach your own courses online while at the same time learning to teach your school-age children and keeping them entertained while dealing with everything surging around you. I am moved to think about all the lessons I learned in my own decade of teaching online. In 2008 when I started teaching in the expanding online master’s in GIS&T program at the University of Southern California, I was just as green as all of you. How do I do this???

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UCGIS joined by AAG and URISA in Response to EPA Transparency Rule

There is currently a rule under consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is cause for major concern within the research community. The proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule indicates that as the EPA uses scientific research to guide future policy decisions, preference will be given to studies which make their raw data publicly available. Consequently, this would allow the EPA discretion to discount research that does not fully disclose such data, which includes any findings that draw from personally identifiable medical and location information as well as proprietary data. 

UCGIS, in partnership with the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), submitted a public comment expressing our opposition to this proposed rule.

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GIS&T Body of Knowledge helpful for COVID-19 Related Topics

Are you teaching and learning about mapping diseases and other topics related to COVID-19?  Remember that the GIS&T Body of Knowledge has helpful articles on classification and clusteringkernels and density estimationpoint pattern analysisproblems with scale and zoningstatistical mappingspatiotemporal representationrepresenting uncertaintyepidemiology, and public health, among many others that you might find helpful.  

Mentoring Award for UIUC's Sara McLafferty

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Sara McLafferty, Professor in the Department of Geography and GIScience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has been selected for the 2020 Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award.  Dr. McLafferty has served as both the Department Head and Associate Head during her 20-year tenure at UIUC, as well as Professor and Department Chairperson at her prior institution, Hunter College.  A geographer by training, she applies GIScience approaches and concepts to the field of environmental and public health, along with other topics in the social sciences, through her use of GIS tools, spatial analysis, and computer models. In all of these areas, her students and peers reference her dedication to collaborative work and her promotion of their own scholarship. The positive reactions to her mentoring style and practices span her career as well as those of her peers and students, at all levels. She has been commended for her patience, her compassion, and her dedication to students from diverse backgrounds and minorities.

“She made me feel completely comfortable when communicating her critique to me as she is so modest, personable and respectful. Based on my observations, she is always passionate about mentoring and firmly committed to empowering others to pursue their research and education goals.”

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Helena Mitasova Selected for 2020 Research Award

UCGIS is pleased to announce that Dr. Helena Mitasova, Professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Associate Director for Geovisualization at the Center for Geospatial Analytics, at North Carolina State University (NCSU), has been selected to receive its 2020 Research Award.  Dr. Mitasova’s groundbreaking work in the methodological and theoretical developments of open source geospatial software are key to ongoing GIScience activity. With her specific expertise in both geomorphology and open source GIS, she has made fundamental and innovative contributions to 3-dimensional and spatio-temporal dynamics, such as development of open source software modules for spatial interpolation, topographic analysis, water flow simulations, and erosion modeling. For these, the International Environmental Modeling and Software Society awarded her their prestigious Biennial Medal for outstanding contributions to environmental modeling and software (2006). Her co-authored book, Open Source GIS: A GRASS GIS Approach (3rd ed., 2008), is one of the most widely cited monographs in the GIScience discipline. Other co-authored books include Tangible Modeling with Open Source GIS (2nd ed., 2018), and GIS-based Analysis of Coastal Lidar Time-Series (2014).  

Dr. Mitasova played a critical role in establishing the first Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Lab in the United States (NCSU OSGeoREL, now the NCSU GeoForAll Lab), which subsequently became a primary node the OSGeo global network of GeoForAll labs. Her long-term contributions to open source geospatial software development and applications have also been recognized by an Excellence in Development award from the Open Geographic Information Systems Foundation (1994), the Sol Katz Award for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software from OSGeo (2010), and the Waldo Tobler GIScience Prize for outstanding and sustained contributions to the discipline, Austrian Academy of Sciences (2018).

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Online GIS&T Teaching

Rapid responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have left many GIS instructors scrambling to shift to an online educational format with little notice. For those new to the experience, what knowledge can be gained quickly from those who have years of experience?  What's a piece of advice that you might share with your peers at this point in time?

more about our Hawaii venue

Are you wondering about the experience of our 2020 Symposium in Hawaii? UCGIS President Karen Kemp has created a brief video overview of the venue where we'll be, at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu. Our 2020 TRELIS workshop will also occur here in the days immediately before the Symposium begins.

UCGIS part of new National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Award

UCGIS is a partner in a $1 million grant from a new interdisciplinary NSF program to foster building an "open knowledge network" for spatial decision support technologies. The inspiration for this type of network comes from Tim Berners-Lee's (best known founder of the World-wide Web) vision for the "semantic web," which applies tags with relationships to information on the Internet, allowing computers to do basic reasoning for improving search results and answering questions. Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant all use these technologies.

Individuals from UCGIS’s leadership group are members of a team of 13 researchers and practitioners from 10 different institutions and organizations who are collectively focused on spatial decision support (SDS) systems, a systematic approach that improves access to tools for analyzing geographic data. Despite many successful applications, SDS contributions are limited by challenges in integrating information across complex organizational networks and across an array of data and tools developed for narrow (often disciplinary) applications. The project is being led by PI Sean Gordon, research faculty at Portland State University, which is a UCGIS member institution. "The proliferation of online mapping technologies has greatly increased access to and utility of these kinds of tools, and a logical next step is increasing our ability to find the appropriate data and tools for your problem and link these together for more complex analyses," says Gordon. Through engaging stakeholders in three applied case studies (the management of wildland fire, water quality, and biodiversity conservation), the interdisciplinary project team will develop and test participatory and automated methods for finding and sharing decision-relevant information using semantic web technologies.  

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New Members selected for the Board of Directors

UCGIS Delegates voted last week to elect Jeremy Mennis (Temple University) as the incoming Vice President, and Paddington Hodza (University of Wyoming) and Suzanne Wechsler (Cal State Long Beach) as Directors. Their terms will begin on July 1. Congratulations!  

UCGIS also thanks its outgoing Board Members: Shashi Shekhar (University of Minnesota) is concluding his year as the past-President, and Ross Meentemeyer (North Carolina State University) and Kathleen Stewart (University of Maryland) will complete their 3-year terms as Directors.