Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment (GISDE)

GISDE News and Links

Congratulations to Yujia Zhang (GISDE/M.A. '11) for winning in the Remote Sensing Paper/GIS/Cartography Illustrated paper competition at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Annalise Erkkinen (GISDE/M.A. ’11) created a wall-size map of all sites in the City of Worcester where Clark students volunteer. In addition to dozens of sites this map shows public transportation (bus) routes in the City. This map is on display at the Community Engagement and Volunteering Center at Clark. According to Micki Davis, the Director of the Center, the map is very popular with students, as it allows them to better plan their trip to the volunteering site.

Joel Masselink (GISDE/M.A. ’09) participated in aninternship with CARPE, located in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. CARPE supports conservation of biodiversity and tropical forests in the Congo Basin while seeking to improve the livelihoods of people who rely on local natural resources. His responsibilities were to standardize land use and biodiversity survey maps for the 12 landscapes where CARPE funds on-the-ground conservation. The maps will be published in the 2009 State of the Forest document for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership stakeholders. A highlight of the internship was a trip to the Ituri rainforest where Masselink met conservationists and Mbuti pygmies, and visited captive okapi (forest giraffe) as well as a sustainably-managed timber company. Of the experience, Masselink said, “The internship was a wonderful addition to the Clark IDCE education, as it practically demonstrated the inextricable link between natural resource management and livelihoods.”   

In October 2008, Professor Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger was invited to Astrakhan State University in Southern Russia to deliver guest lectures and to conduct a hands-on workshop entitled “Applications of Remote Sensing to natural resource management and land cover change analysis.” She is pictured sixth from left.

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association: 2008 Student Paper Competition Award Winner:

Claire Brill (GISDE/M.A. '08) won 2nd place for her project titled Using GIS to Contrast Perceived Versus Preferred Priorities for Brownfield Redevelopment in Worcester, MA

ABSTRACT: This paper compares the perceived priorities of decision-makers with the stated desires of stakeholders concerning brownfield redevelopment in the City of Worcester, MA.  Redeveloping brownfields left over from Worcester’s industrial past is held as a critical strategy for the future of this city in central Massachusetts.  However, the goals of this strategy vary across stakeholder groups.  Key informants were surveyed regarding their perceptions of brownfield redevelopment.  An inventory of Worcester brownfields was created from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection records.  A multicriteria evaluation was carried out through Geographic Information Systems.  This study found that while economic development and job creation are the apparent focus for one set of influential decision-makers, protection of natural resources and public health are important to another group of stakeholders.  The outcomes for each end- use objective were examined to determine whether the goals for each could be met while focusing on only one redevelopment strategy.  Results reveal the land parcels that satisfy the objectives for only one group, both groups, or neither group.  Previously redeveloped sites were evaluated based on the same criteria to determine the extent to which existing and preferred priorities had been satisfied with these revitalization efforts.  The results show that focusing on perceived priorities will not accomplish preferred objectives for brownfield redevelopment in Worcester.

Read the complete paper here.

Association of American Geographers: 2008 Student Competition Awards

In the Illustrated Paper category, Alicia Simonti (GISDE/M.A. ’08) took First Place for her project Image Time Series Analysis of SeaWIFS Ocean Color Product for the Investigation of Ocean Chlorophyll Dynamics.

Classmate Oh Seok Kim (GISDE/M.A. ’08) took Second Place for his Contribution of GIScience to Carbon Credit Estimation.

Neeti Neeti (GISDE/M.A. ’07) and present Geography Ph.D. student won second place in the Spatial Analysis & Modeling paper competition.


GISDE Internships

In spring 2008, Nan Deng (GISDE/M.A. ’08) worked as an intern with the City of Worcester. Nan assisted the GIS Manager, Shane White, in building a public website mainly for querying parcel information and exploring the relationship between different geographic features. “I'm glad that the GISDE program provides us this internship option that also helps to build a friendly relationship with the City of Worcester.” Also receving an internship with the City of Worcester was Anita Malpani (IDSC/M.A. '08).

Oh Kim (GISDE/M.A. '08) was a software tester and a research assistant at Clark Labs during his studies. While there, he worked on the Land Change Modeler for ArcGIS and participated in the Conservation International Project as a research assistant, which concerns Carbon Credits estimation based on land-use/cover change modeling. He turned this experience into his M.A. final project.

Alicia Simonti (GISDE/M.A. '08) was a software tester for IDRISI at Clark Labs. Of her experience, she offered, “Over the summer, I specifically tested IDRISI's Land Change Modeler for use as an extension in ESRI's ArcMap. During the coming academic year I worked on testing the newest version of IDRISI, not yet released. As a tester, I ran through the program repeatedly in order to find bugs. Once bugs are found, I look deeply into the software to try to determine exactly where internally the bug is happening. Overall, I have learned a great deal from this position and I feel that it has been a key part of my educational experience here at Clark.”

Marlon Ortega (GISDE/M.A. '08) interned with Amigos de Iracambi in Brazil.  

Eric Solatka (GISDE/M.A. '08) interned with the Boston Public Health Commission.

Shaimma Ahmed (GISDE/M.A. '08) interned with ESRI in Relands, California.

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GISDE Faculty

President Bassett has announced the appointment of Professor Ron Eastman to the Jan and Larry Landry University Professorship for a three-year term commencing September 1 2007.

Gil Pontius (pictured above) traveled to Astrakhan State University in southern Russia to present a six-day workshop on GIS and to participate in an international conference on the “Electronic Culture and New Humanitarian Technologies of the ХХI century.” Astrakhan State University has now formalized collaboration with Clark University to establish joint educational programs. We anticipate that future collaboration will involve intensive use of the Idrisi GIS software.

Professor Ogneva-Himmelberger (pictured above) traveled to Chile in May 2007 to participate in an international conference on the “Geography in the Americas: Collaboration on Research and Education.” Her presentation was titled “The value of community-based projects in learning GIS: students addressing health and food security issues in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.”

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GISDE Alumni

Victor Hugo Gutierrez-Velez (GISDE/M.A. ’07) is lead author on “Quantifying the direct social and governmental costs of illegal logging in the Bolivian, Brazilian, and Peruvian Amazon” with Kenneth MacDicken (Winrock International), which was recently published in the journal Forest Policy and Economics. The article analyzes the relationships between the main impacts of illegal logging and estimates some of the most relevant economic consequences of these practices. This past fall, Victor began a Ph.D. program in Geography at the University of Maryland. He performed the work while he was a Clark student, interning with Winrock International, an organization that frequently employs GISDE interns and hires IDCE graduates. This past fall, Victor began a Ph.D. program in Geography at the University of Maryland. Much of his research focuses on carbon dynamics and land change modeling in tropical forests.

Robert Yao-Kumah (GISDE/M.A. ’04) recently published “Accuracy Assessment for a Simulation Model of Amazonian Deforestation,” which was the topic of his master’s research project. His co-authors include his advisor, GISDE professor Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr, and five collaborators from Michigan State University. The December 2007 publication is in the nation’s première Geography journal, Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Mr. Yao-Kumah earned his bachelors degree in mine surveying from the University of Science and Technology in Ghana, Africa. He is now an experienced surveyor with a wide range of professional and academic photogrammetric and GIS skills. He has over eight years of experience in surveying, mapping, and GIS software development.

Two IDCE students in the Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment (GISDE) program have received prestigious awards this past summer. The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) announced that Safaa Aldwaik (GISDE/M.A. '07) has been selected to receive First Place in the URISA Student Paper Competition. Tomas Vaclavik was selected by the Review Committee to receive Second Place in the competition.

Two GISDE students - Victor Gutierrez Velez and Neeti Neeti - presented their master's thesis projects on Friday, August 17, 2007.

In a meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Philadelphia, GISDE student Evan Fedorko (GISDE/M.A. '04) (shown above) won the Best Student Poster award by the Water Resources Specialty Group.

N. Neeti (GISDE/M.A. '07) worked with Gil Pontius on the topic of "Uncertainty in Prediction of Land Change Under Different Scenarios" and with Ron Eastman on the "Modeling Phenological Trend." She presented a paper at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) conference held in April 2007 in San Francisco, CA.

Smitha Peethambaram (GISDE/M.A. '07) (shown above) is a 2006 New England GITA (Geographical Information Technology Association) Ed Forrest Scholar. As part of her master’s research with Gil Pontius, she has added a new dimension to map comparison by developing a novel technique to compare 3 soft-classified maps. After completing an internship at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), the world’s leading developers of GIS technology, she was asked to start a career as a product specialist with their ArcIMS team.


Links (for GISDE Students)

Comprehensive GISDE Links (Word Document) (you have to use the control-click feature to access the links)

Scholarships and Resources for GIS Students

CoFERT-Environmental Research and Teaching

Environmental Science and Policy

Graduate School of Geography

Idrisi Project

Marsh Institute

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[ Spotlight Profile ]

Claire Brill (GISDE '08)

Claire Brill (GISDE ‘08) is now the GIS analyst for the City of Worcester. While a student in the GISDE program, she won second place at the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Student Paper Competition for her project Using GIS to Contrast Perceived Versus Preferred Priorities for Brownfield Redevelopment in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The paper, which came about through her involvement with the City of Worcester’s Mayor’s Brownfields Roundtable, compares the perceived priorities of decision-makers with the stated desires of stakeholders concerning brownfield redevelopment in Worcester. 

Read more | Other Profiles