SUNY-ESF is a unique, small unit of the state university system granting PhDs, Masters and Bachelors Degrees in many environmental and natural resources fields. It is located on the same campus as Syracuse University, just south of the well known Dome athletic facility. Faculty and students learn and conduct novel research in several aspects of geographic information science, beginning in the 1970s.

The tour includes two stops, (1) a tour of the F. Franklin Moon Library, which has a focused collection, archives, and special collections to support the mission of SUNY ESF, and houses various primary sources including arial, place-in-point, and image-based sources that could be considered the pre-history of GIS and a special collection of GIS documents from the 50 states dating back to the beginning of GIS use, and (2) a visit to Baker Lab, where five graduate students will provide an overview of their novel projects and enable UCGIS participants to interact individually with students to learn specific project approaches and details.

At Moon Library, UCGIS participants will be able to examine the only comprehensive archive of GIS and related activities in any sector of government in the United States. The collection, begun by Dr. Lisa Warnecke in the mid 1980s, includes original historical documents about the very first GIS activities in each of the 50 state governments, beginning as early as the 1950s and 1960s in some states. The archive was officially established at Moon almost 20 years ago with the donation by Dr. Warnecke and funding support provided by Barbara Ryan, the UCGIS conference keynote speaker, when she was Associate Director of USGS.

Recent partnership and funding from the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), representing the 50 State GIS Coordinators, is enabling the scanning of summary research about the 50 states conducted by Dr. Warnecke and others dating back to the early 1970s (projects funded by NASA, USGS, EPA, FEMA, National Academy of Sciences, etc.). Moon Library will make this work available later this year via its institutional repository, allowing it to be discovered and used by scholars worldwide.

However, scanning and digital access to original documents from the individual 50 states is not included in this funded phase of the project. Access to these documents is only available in hard copy physically at Moon Library, which will be included in the tour. Investigation of the collection revealed that over 90% of these documents are not available anywhere on line, and many of states do not have hard copies of some of their own historical GIS documents that do exist at Moon. This unique resource provides much useful raw data about the origins of GIS, governing and coordinating approaches to GIS in each of the 50 states, and details about virtually all types of GIS applications, many in partnership with academic institutions and/or federal and local agencies.

The second stop on the tour will be at Baker 105, known as ARSenAL (Advanced Remote Sensing Applied Lab), and led by Dr. Bahram Salehi, Assistant Professor of Remote Sensing Engineering at SUNY ESF. Several graduate students are conducting novel remote sensing research of the environment in partnership with and funding by several different agencies. Work combines advanced machine learning, deep learning, and photogrammetric analysis with space-, air-, and UAV-borne, multispectral, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and LiDAR data for mapping, monitoring and forecasting wetlands, forest, and water quality changes at local, statewide, and national scales. The tour will include a short briefing about five projects provided by each student, followed by the opportunity for UCGIS participants to interact individually with each student to learn about project details. Dr. Lindi Quackenbush, Chair of Environmental Resources Engineering at SUNY-ESF, will also be on site to provide additional information. The students and projects include:

  • Ms. Haifa Tamiminia (PhD Candidate): State-wide Forest above-ground biomass estimation and historical change monitoring using multi-source remote sensing data and machine learning techniques
  • Ms. Sarina Adeli (PhD Candidate): Wetland Inventory Map of New York State using Multi-source Earth Observation Data: Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, and GEDI data
  • Ms. Rabia Khan (PhD Candidate): Water Quality monitoring over freshwater lakes in US using high resolution earth observation imagery
  • Mr. Victor Igwe (MSc Student): State-wide classification of wetlands using Google Earth Engine.
  • Mr. Sina Jarahizadeh (PhD Student): Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Photogrammetric Image Processing for Automatic Forest 3D Modeling

UCGIS participants are invited to visit one or both sites during the designated time.

For more information, contact Matthew Smith, Director F. Franklin Moon Library