College students from North Carolina were honored earlier this month at the 2023 North Carolina Geographic Information Systems Conference with the G. Herbert Stout Award for Innovative Student Papers.
The award recognizes students that have completed an outstanding project using geographic data to analyze or solve a problem regarding an issue of their choosing.
“College and university students represent the next generation of GIS professionals that will be future leaders in both the public and private sectors. Rewarding their academic achievement not only benefits the individual students but ultimately the GIS community as a whole,” said Tim Johnson, Conference Chair and N.C. Geographic Information Officer.
Colleges were able to submit one undergraduate and one graduate student (if offered) for the award. Winners presented their papers as a presentation at the NCGIS Conference. Each student received a free registration to the conference, recognition at the awards luncheon ceremony and a cash award of $200.
This year’s award winners and their projects are as follows:
Cate Arnold, UNC-Wilmington – Analyzing Impacts from Hurricane Florence on Gentrification in New Hanover County, North Carolina
- Arnold conducted research to determine a correlation between the gentrification process in New Hanover County and the flood impacts of Hurricane Florence. The project aims to identify natural disaster impacts, community resilience and environmental justice issues and will be presented to local policymakers.
Madison Eaton, Elon University – The Impact of Soil Compaction and Land Cover on Soil Carbon Sequestration at Elon University
- Eaton’s project studies how soils can be used as a carbon sink to offset carbon emissions on college campuses. Her study gathered samples of soil from Elon University’s campus to determine the amount of soil organic carbon present.
Caroline Fehlman, Appalachian State University – Exploring Characteristics of Community Resilience Using a Logistic Regression Model
- Fehlman examined the ability of communities to withstand or adapt from disturbances using data on climate variables, socio-economic damages and community resilience. The study used maps to help communities determine what they need to do to prepare for and prevent damage.
Sarah Followill, UNC-Chapel Hill – Geovisualizing Urban Sprawl in the Atlanta Metro Area
- Followill built a website to help visualize trends in urban sprawl and population density in Atlanta, Georgia, from 2010 to 2019.
Ross Jensen, Fayetteville State University – War Impacts on Landscape Change in Mariupol, Ukraine
- Jensen studied the changes to the landscape in Mariupol following a particular invasion in Ukraine by the Russian military. The research used satellite imagery data as a method to quickly estimate the total damage for aid organizations.
Andrea Saravitz, NC State University – Modeling the Invasion of the Spongy Moth
- Saravitz used a model to simulate the reproduction, dispersal and establishment of the spongy moth in non-native areas. The overabundance of this invasive species is leading to defoliation and other environmental disturbances.
Neylan Visnius, Warren Wilson College – Intersections of Food Insecurity, Medicare Spending, and Non-Health Interventions in Western NC.
- Visnius sought to identify where to focus outreach of the new Medicaid program, Healthy Opportunities Pilot, which seeks to address food insecurity. Visnius sourced data and generated maps to find correlations in health and social factors that could identify HOP recipients.
Cambria White, NC Central University – Identifying Sources of Methane Leaks in the Bountiful/North Salt Lake Area
- White conducted research to determine potential sources for a methane plume that was observed over the North Salt Lake area in 2021. She used a combination of weather data and wind measurements to identify the source.
Elijah Dalton, UNC-Wilmington – Leveraging the Power of Google Earth Engine and Earth Observation Data to Create a Green Infrastructure Suitability Index for the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban Area
- Dalton’s research aimed to assess the benefits of green infrastructure (GI) as a strategy for enhancing sustainability and resiliency and the vulnerability of coastal resources. The project uses satellite data to develop a methodology for the effectiveness of GI in southeastern North Carolina.
Jeremy Davis, NC State University – Town of Matthews, N.C.: Tree Canopy Assessment Tool
- Davis used a Tree Canopy Assessment tool to help volunteers in the town of Matthews manage their trees to retain recognition from Tree City USA. This includes helping with goals such as managing tree removal, planting new trees where canopy coverage is sparse and preserving "Legacy Trees" on the basis of age, size and relevance to the community.
Eliza Merrit, Appalachian State University – Using Interactive Maps to Understand the Content of Second-order Climate Change Beliefs
- Merrit’s study used public opinion maps to examine why people have certain beliefs about climate change. The study used an interactive map of N.C. climate change opinions to evaluate how GIS can be used for effective communication regarding climate change policy.
Grey Shipman, UNC-Chapel Hill – Transportation Equity in Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Shipman examined how to design and operate a public transportation system between different areas of Chapel Hill. The analysis aimed to identify greater areas of need for investment in public transportation for individuals without vehicles and access to employment opportunities and essential services.
Mike Wallace, NC Central University – COVID-19 Rates and Proximity to Meat and Poultry Processing Plants in North Carolina
- Wallace’s project examines the impact of economic inequalities and population distribution for rural and urban areas on the rate of COVID-19 cases. Wallace used data from the NC COVID-19 dashboard, created by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
About the NCGIS Conference and the N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCCGIA)
The NCGIS Conference, held every two years, offers opportunities for professionals and students of GIS and computer mapping technology to network and learn about advancements and new applications for GIS software. It is sponsored by the NCCGIA, the N.C. Geographic Coordinating Council, and Carolina URISA.
The NCCGIA is part of the N.C. Department of Information Technology. Its mission is to advance the use of GIS technology as a tool for better decision-making in North Carolina. It accomplishes this by coordinating statewide geospatial initiatives through the NC Geographic Information Coordinating Council (NC GICC) resulting in cost-effective ways to create, access, and apply geographic data and technology.