Poster Presentations


Interactive, online tools to understand research trends and identify opportunities for research in the U.S. National Parks system 

Daniela Agostini, North Carolina State University

The National Parks are essential public resources for the preservation of species and landscapes. They also provide coveted opportunities for education and scholarship, serving as living laboratories for the study of both natural and cultural resources. Analysis of past research in National Parks allows understanding of past topical, geographic, and methods priorities and can help identify both knowledge gaps and opportunities for future research. In addition to missed research opportunities, these gaps may translate into poor conservation design or environmental decision-making, as well as missed opportunities for longitudinal studies. Using Congaree National Park as a case study, we analyzed approximately 100 scholarly articles from the park’s historical archive, which afforded us access to a more comprehensive collection of publications compared to scholarly databases. Focusing on research studies from 1950 to 2018, we performed a systematic literature review of research studies conducted at the park. We found that the majority of scholarly articles in Congaree National Park were funded by the National Park Service or the United States Geological Survey. Our results also highlight significant trends in the literature towards natural and physical sciences, and greater emphasis on quantitative methods and topics. These results identify geographic and topic trends in the research and highlight opportunities for future qualitative studies. As both funding and natural areas become increasingly limited, scholars and park managers can utilize improved understanding of historic and current research trends in National Parks to identify knowledge gaps and prioritize research. We extend broader impacts of the study through an online mapping platform that allows visualization of spatial, temporal and topical patterns in research.


Moving Frontiers of Historical Climate Change and Violence in West Africa

John Glover, University of Redlands

Today, the Lebu fisherfolk inhabit the coastal towns and villages of Cap Vert in Senegal, but their oral traditions claim that they were forced to flee their original homeland in the Hodh region of Mauritania in the 11th century C.E. due to the expansion of the Sahara and warfare.  This project spatially analyzes the initial phase of the Lebu migrations and the relationships between historical climate change, violence, the timing of the Lebu departure, and the paths taken.  The research methodology behind this project is inherently interdisciplinary. Oral traditions of the Lebu and other ethnic groups of Senegal and Mauritania provide a fundamental but flawed foundation for this study.  These sources are complimented by a range of medieval written Arabic sources that provide clarification regarding climate and sites of conflict.  Historical climate change studies were used to reconstruct the biomes of the region as they existed just prior to and during the 11th century, a period that witnessed a dramatic shift in the climate.  Archaeological studies were also consulted in order to provide additional climate data and sites for villages that served as likely Lebu sites in the Hodh.  Hydrological maps were then used to identify paleochannels that served as conduits for Lebu movements to the Senegal River valley where the Lebu founded towns that are still identified with them today.  The poster provides an overview of these sources and the resulting maps that demonstrate the impact of climate change upon conflict and the movements of the Lebu.


A Spatial Approach to William Carlos Williams

Chryse Kruse (University of Redlands), Anne Cavender (University of Redlands), and Alana Belcon (University of Redlands)

This transdisciplinary project integrates humanistic and GIS-based spatial analysis. Undertaken as faculty-student collaborative research bridging literary studies, spatial studies, and geographical information sciences, my research uses ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro to develop a spatial reading of the modernist epic, Paterson, by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). In the early twentieth century, artists and scientists alike challenged prior definitions of time and space to emphasize alternative notions such as relativity, subjectivity and multiple points of perspective. Within the modernist period, Paterson stands out as a particularly striking experimental text in terms of its spatiality. Centering on the town of Paterson, New Jersey, the poem is rooted in geography and richly layered with innovative typography and diverse visual layouts. While previous scholarship has addressed some spatial elements, such as the map or guidebook, no published scholarship on Paterson has deployed GIS tools to map either the text’s geographical allusions or distinct visual characteristics. Paterson Book Three, “The Library,” was chosen as the focus of the project for several reasons. First, this section contains the highest concentration of avant-garde visual features. Second, Williams’s choice of setting opens up further interpretive questions regarding the library as a site for the hierarchical valuation, organization, and conservation of information and cultural knowledge. My poster presentation will demonstrate new possibilities for meaning discovered by using ArcGIS Pro to scan, map, and analyze two specific spatial features of Book Three: (1) the physical places cited in the text that can be mapped, and what conclusions can be drawn from how those locales coalesce or diverge in relation to other elements of the poem, and (2) Williams’s creation of what we might call a poetic “typo-topography,” and how the patterns of words on the page create another layer of meaning through spatial form.


Redrawing the Map of Religion

Lillian Larsen, University of Redlands

Like much of America, the geographical footprint of Redlands, California has traditionally been framed as a homogenous religious landscape. Anecdotally nicknamed a ‘City of Churches’, at last report, the tally for discrete ‘Houses of [Christian] Worship’ hovered in the mid-sixties. When identifying this number, residents often quip that there is ‘a church on every corner’. (In fact, one intersection – dubbed ‘G_d’s Corner’ – is home to three churches, and an insurance company, explicitly focused on serving the needs of religious congregations.) Given both central and dispersed density, one might easily view Redlands as an iconic exemplar of America’s acclaimed Christian ethos. However, this poster tells a different story. Juxtaposed data and maps, drawn from regional archives, position Redlands’ discrete religious landscape within Southern California’s more populous Inland Empire. GIS strategies developed and deployed in ‘Redrawing the Map of [World] Religion’ (Larsen/Higgins 2015-17), link regional intersection and exchange to broader networks of national and global migration. As visualization renders Redlands’ data rich archives accessible, it re-threads the tethers that link local, national, and global landscapes. As the contours of traditional narratives are derivatively re-defined, viewers are presented with something of a spatial sandbox. Here, variable predispositions and/or data densities no longer present formidable hurdles. Instead they serve as tools for effectively ‘redrawing the map’ – and re-telling the story – of local, national and global religion.


Cartographies of Suffering: Mapping Holocaust Testimonies

Sharon Oster, University of Redlands

Anne Knowles, Alberto Giordano, and their fellow authors have described the Nazi genocide as “a profoundly geographical event, rooted in specific physical spaces, times, and landscapes,” “characterized by a spatiality of process” demanding geographical analysis. The violence of the Holocaust, as conveyed through individual Holocaust survivor testimonies, was enabled by geographies of collective habitation, arrest, and occupation. GIS mapping technologies thus help visualize such collective oppression from a distance—the scope, scale, trends and patterns of genocidal programs over broad swaths of time and space. Yet “distant reading” of suffering risks the appropriation, even elimination, of individual voices of those who were tortured and murdered. For this poster session, I will present samples of student-created GIS Storymaps from English 334: Representing the Holocaust, Spring 2018, for an assignment “Mapping Holocaust Testimonies.” For this project, students in small groups study one Holocaust survivor testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation VHA archive; they conduct historical research about the places mentioned and major events which occurred there; and incorporate that information with direct quotations and video clips of survivors’ unique voices into a multi-layered ESRI Storymap. This project provides students with a powerful sense of the scope and scale of the complex phenomena comprising the Nazi genocide, while exposing the ethical limits of quantitative, and arguably “flashy,” technologies to “map” narratives of human suffering as statistical “samples” or sources of data. Yet even with these limitations, I welcome the chance to share my experiences, and discuss and explore further with GIS experts the pedagogical gains of engaging students in this project.


Accessibility and Activity: Can Twitter detect the association. A Spatial Analysis perspective on physical activity

Chayanika Singh, Texas State University

Every day, millions of people use location-based social media such as Twitter, to express their feelings, emotions, thoughts and daily activities in text/pictures/video form. Since, it has a location, this user-generated data is becoming a primary source of spatial database. This voluminous big geo-data often provides powerful insights through geographic visualization for numerous human phenomenon which otherwise may not be observed without physical or online surveys. In this study, I analyzed such geo-referenced user tweets mentioning keywords that depict involvement in any form of physical activity by the user and compared them with statistics from the Center for Disease Control to find statistical significance. The Spatial footprint of these tweets highlights the place-based clustering of point locations for known access to the facilities that support any form of physical exercise or activity. The results indicate strong correlation between existence of physical activity centers and its usability, evident from keywords found within user tweets. Using nearly 400,000 user-generated tweets during the month of January 2018 from the state of Texas and county health ranking data to detect correlation of results using spatial statistical methods. This study provides evidence that location-based social media data is a valid source of databased for research in public health studies and the inferences that are drawn from it can be used as a basis for decision making while planning for promoting healthy neighborhoods.