Humans of SAL

SAL Staff & Steering Committee

The SAL is under-staffed by a full-time by a Director, and a Spatial Data Specialist.  One saving grace is our SAL Associates — skilled and talented students who share our interest and enthusiasm for all things spatial (especially maps).

The SAL Steering Committee informs and guides the development and advancement of spatial analysis capacities that align and support the educational and curricular priorities of the college. With at least one representative from each academic division, they advise the SAL Director and staff to enable broad application of spatial technologies to support the college’s diverse scholarship.

Fish Fischer '24, SAL Associate

Hi everyone, my name is Fish (they/them) and I am a senior Environmental Science/Data Science double-major from Franklin, MA. I will be doing an honors thesis with the ENV department that will use temperature proxy data to reconstruct past climate in northeastern Pennsylvania over the past 20,000 years. Previously, I’ve taken several courses at Smith that used ArcGIS and I hosted a workshop with the SAL last fall. 

Ari Cross '25, SAL Associate

I'm Ari! A junior at Smith from Milwaukee Wisconsin. I'm double majoring in Statistical and Data Sciences and Psychology. I first became interested in GIS when I made my first map in my introduction to data science class. I then was able to deepen my understanding of GIS this past summer in the Division of Data Surveillance and Informatics within the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Injury Center! The projects I worked on that summer were related to injury prevention and spatial indicators of health.

Mags McLaughlin '25 SAL Associate & Drone Thinkier

I’m Mags (they/them) and I’m a junior Statistical and Data Sciences major and Astronomy minor. I became interested in ethical issues related to drones when I took IDP 109 in the fall of 2022, and I spent this summer working on the SAL’s drone ethics principles. I have taken many courses related to data analysis and statistics, and I am currently learning to use ArcGIS!

Kala'i Ellis, Spatial Data Specialist

Kala'i Ellis is passionate about blending fields and knowledge bases to provide innovative approaches to new challenges in this ever changing world. His background in merging Indigenous and Western knowledge bases, especially in the realms of marine and terrestrial remote sensing and geospatial analyses, have been shaped by his lived experiences growing up in Hawaii and attending college in Utah. Kala'i holds a B.S. in Biodiversity and Conservation with a minor in Geospatial Sciences and Technology and received his M.S. in Biology from Brigham Young University, Provo.

Jon Caris, Director (on good days)

Jon Caris builds capacity within the Smith community to extend and enrich spatial analysis in research and teaching. Many of his initiatives build upon the notion of making invisible, visible. He enjoys creating conditions that afford opportunity to see through a spatial lens, prompting new questions and discussion. Jon previously taught at Mount Holyoke College before defecting across the river to build Smith’s Spatial Analysis Lab. Primarily trained as a geographer and environmental planner, evidence indicates Jon received a M.S. in GeoEnvironmental Studies from Shippensburg University and a B.A. in Geography from SUNY Geneseo.

SAL Composition Over Time