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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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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. 

Elections 2019

Our Nominating Committee has completed its work for the season and has put forth these individuals to be considered for the upcoming election, listed below. Bios and short statements from all of these candidates is available at the elections 2019 page

  1. President-Elect: Jeremy Mennis, Temple University. 
As per our By Laws, if anyone else would like to run for the position of President-Elect, additional nominations may be made by petition signed by five delegates and received by the Executive Committee no later than May 22, 2019.
  1. Members, Board of Directors (2 will be elected):               
    1. Kevin Curtin, University of Alabama
    2. Paddington Hodza, University of Wyoming
    3. Alan Murray, UC Santa Barbara
    4. Suzanne Wechsler, Cal State University at Long Beach                   

A big THANK YOU to these individuals who are contributing to our democratic process of shared governance!  

Update on the Geospatial Data Act of 2017

Whatever happened to the bipartisan Geospatial Data Act (GDA) of 2017, you may be wondering? This important bill is designed to facilitate and support geospatial data development, sharing, and coordination across federal agencies and partnerships with state and local governments, towards a more robust National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Unfortunately, the bill has yet to reach congressional floors for a vote. Back in mid-November 2017, parallel versions of a revised Geospatial Data Act of 2017 made their way to their respective committees in the Senate (S. 2128) and the House (H.R. 4395). You can find the committee assignments at the links to the bills above. Those identical bills had been modified to remove language in two places, Sections 11 and 12, that UCGIS and many other organizations and individuals had previously regarded as problematic to the pursuit of open GIS and mapping activities in academic and public sectors.

Since that time, actions have been largely behind the scenes and the bills remain on their respective congressional dockets. Further discussions and debate around data and mapping language have taken place but have yielded no changes to the text.

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UCGIS Publishes Statement on Data Science

As a long-established information science discipline, the Geographic Information Science & Technology (GIS&T) community has key contributions to make to evolving data science curricula. This statement articulates the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science’s (UCGIS) position for the academic GIS&T community and provides recommendations and action items for the benefit of both internal and external audiences. On May 22-24, 2018, UCGIS held its annual Symposium under the theme of Frontiers of Geospatial Data Science, coordinated this year with the AutoCarto conference of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS). Drawing from discussions at that event, together with many months of internal exchanges, UCGIS offers these statements for the benefit of its member organizations as well as the broader geospatial community. The goals of this white paper and its recommendations are to 1) describe and clarify the value of incorporating geospatial knowledge, skills, and data for students, employees, and employers within the emerging field of data science; 2) highlight potential pathways and opportunities for academic geospatial scientists to establish connections with data science programs and personnel on their university campuses; and 3) initiate a national dialogue about the synergistic benefits of mutually enriching data science and geospatial science curricula.

Please find our white paper, A UCGIS Call to Action: Bringing the Geospatial Perspective to Data Science Degrees and Curricula, available here (pdf)

Set of CaGIS Journal Open-Access articles

Papers in Cartography & Geographic Information Science, available for free (open-access) but only through Thursday, May 31, 2018. Thank you, Taylor and Francis publishers.

  • Marc P. Armstrong (2017) How large is Aroostook County? Exploring the historical mutability of US county area measurements, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1370392
  • Sarah E. Battersby, Daniel “daan” Strebe & Michael P. Finn (2017) Shapes on a plane: evaluating the impact of projection distortion on spatial binning, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 44:5, 410-421, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1180263
  • Barry J. Kronenfeld (2018) Manual construction of continuous cartograms through mesh transformation, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:1, 76-94, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1270775
  • Lawrence V. Stanislawski, Kornelijus Survila, Jeffrey Wendel, Yan Liu & Barbara P. Buttenfield (2018) An open source high-performance solution to extract surface water drainage networks from diverse terrain conditions, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:4, 319-328, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1337524
  • Waldo Tobler (2018) A new companion for Mercator, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:3, 284-285, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1308837
  •  Xinyue Ye, Qunying Huang & Wenwen Li (2016) Integrating big social data, computing and modeling for spatial social science, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 43:5, 377-378, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1212302