Four Weeks In

Four Weeks In: So much Accomplished, but OH So Much More to Do

The fall semester is in full swing, and the Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL) is feeling the heat of the ever quickening pace across campus. The month of September has been packed full of workshops, class support, individual faculty and student support, new SAL student workers, and, of course, some sports related social engagements!

To dice all of this up into bite sized pieces for all you interested readers, let’s break these into categories as we go into detail:


The SAL hosted the first wave of  the 2014-2015 GIS-related workshops to introduce faculty, students, staff, and community members to the beauties of geography and its tools. This included two offerings of our GPS I & II workshops and one offering of our new Introduction to Webmapping/Intermediate Webmapping workshops, brought to us by our new Spatial Fellow, Victoria Beckley, who loves…webmapping.

We are hoping to offer these and other workshops again as soon as the demand is appropriate.  To express interests in these workshops please visit the workshop announcement.

Class Support

Professor Bob Newton (Geosciences) and Bob Merritt (Biology) brought their research methods course, Biogeochemical Cycling in the Avery Brook Watershed, into the lab multiple times during which students developed a land cover layer for the watershed area based on aerial photography. Victoria and our Trimble Juno fleet (the GPS units) were able to join the class outside the Spatial Analysis Lab for an afternoon of field data collection a couples weekends ago. Pictures coming soon.


Professor Lisa Armstrong’s Study of Women and Gender course, Gender, Land and Food Movement, commenced the mapping component of the course in the Spatial Analysis Lab this month. The session acted as an introduction to the web mapping platform that the class will use to enrich the narratives of the Mason Square Farmers Market in Springfield, MA.

SWG230  Fall2014-SWG230

Individual Faculty and Student Support

The Spatial Analysis Lab began working with Professor Vis Taraz of the Economics department to map rainfall in India to support her research and writing on the topic. Additionally the Lab met with Emily Kim, a senior student who is interested in developing a phone application to compliment the modernized campus map she created last year.

The SAL is also working with Geoscience Associate Professor Amy Rhodes and senior Alanna Sparagna to map well water tests from an area in Northern Pennsylvania where a natural gas fracking site is proposed to be built. The two traveled out last weekend to Thompson county PA where they used Trimble Junos to collect locational data that will be joined in the GIS with their tested data later this week in the SAL.


New SAL Student Workers

The Spatial Analysis Lab welcomed back returning student employee, senior Stephanie Huynh (Biochemistry).  Stephanie will be updating the Smith Campus Sustainability Map, and assisting with many other SAL initiatives.

We are also working with two STRIDE students, sophomore Christine Hamiliton, and sophomore Alex Widstrand to establish a baseline inventory of both coral reef and mangrove forest ecosystems using field data and high resolution imagery (via kite or UAV).  Conservation planning efforts will be enhanced once the spatial extent, coverage and reef species are documented within the marine habitat.

Social Commitments

September also means times for the first Mystery Map.  We do have a winner and the final answer will be announced soon.

Director of the SAL, Jon Caris, and Spatial Fellow, Victoria Beckley helped to put together Smith College’s first pick-up ultimate Frisbee game for faculty and staff (and families, and students if they want). We are happy to report that no injuries occurred and it was a fun time for all. Look forward to more Friday afternoon pick-up games as long as the weather holds up.

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