GIS Day 2018

GIS Day 2018

Visualizing the World: Connecting the disciplines through geospatial technologies and virtual reality

Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Penn State GIS Day strives to bring together those who are working with GIS, geospatial technologies, remote sensing, maps, and location-based research on campus together to foster greater geospatial awareness on campus, within the community, and beyond. We encourage participation across disciplines to both new and experienced users of geospatial information.

Recording of presentations

Over 100 attendees checked out topics from the geospatial technology demonstration and presentations.

During the Geospatial Technology Demonstration, the Maps and GIS unit within the library showed a rotating slideshow of entities on campus that used geospatial information, library resources with geospatial content, and publicly available geospatial resources. The Mobile Geospatial Systems group had a mobile geospatial technology setup to illustrate their research, along with representatives from the ChoroPhronesis group in the Geography department to speak about virtual reality applications. Participants were also able to check virtual reality applications in the new Sidewater Commons VR lab. Featured speaker Christopher Cappelli, Esri, spoke about the integration of geospatial information within our society, along with the importance of thinking geographically. Lightning talks represented presenters from Geography, Office of the Physical Plant (OPP), Geosciences, Civil and Environmental engineering, Agricultural sciences, University Libraries, Geodesign, Online Geospatial Programs and GeoDecisions. In addition, one speaker joined us from Syracuse Univeristy via the beam robot from The Dreamery. AppGeo facilitated a panel to share perspectives from GIS professionals within AppGeo.

Schedule of Events

Geospatial Technology Demo, Franklin Atrium, Pattee Library 11am-12pm

  • See examples of geospatial applications and projects
  • Electronic posters and/or images of maps and geospatial projects and applications
  • Visit the new virtual reality lab space in Sidewater Commons

Speakers and Lightning Talk Speakers, Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library, 1-4:15pm, Media Site Live

Times of speakers will be updated in the future.

1:00-2:00pm, Christopher Cappelli, Esri,

“The Age of Location: The relevance of locations to individuals, organizations, and society”

Our featured speaker is Christopher Cappelli, a computational geographer and corporate director at Esri, Inc. His passion for helping people and organizations apply geographic concepts and technologies has taken him across six continents in his 28 years with Esri. But Chris has always had a special fondness for Pennsylvania; born and raised in Strafford, he graduated from Penn State University in 1988, and in 1995, he established Esri’s office in Pennsylvania, located in Chesterbrook. In 2004, Chris and his family moved to Redlands, CA so he could lead Esri’s global business development and sales efforts and work closely with CEO Jack Dangermond on a variety of corporate initiatives.

Now, Chris focuses his time building partnerships with other technology companies and working with executives across the government and private sectors to help them understand the value of GIS, mapping, and location analytics in their digital transformation initiatives. Drawing on 30-years of career experience, he guides companies through using ArcGIS to develop analytical models and applications to improve operational processes, site new facilities, optimize supply chains, and support strategic decision making. Chris currently resides in Redlands, CA. When not at work, Chris can usually be found in his garage woodshop or training on his road bike. He moonlights as an amateur astronomer ( and Jeep enthusiast. He embraces the title GeoNerd, and still enjoys writing Python scripts and using ArcGIS Pro, Online, and Insights.

2:00-2:30pm: Lightning Talk Presentations (tentative times)

2:00-2:05pm: Anthony Robinson, Department of Geography

Elements of Viral Cartography

Making and sharing maps is easier than ever, and social media platforms make it possible for maps to rapidly attain widespread visibility and engagement. These maps can be considered examples of viral cartography – maps that reach rapid popularity via social media sharing. In this research we evaluate the design and social dissemination characteristics of viral maps, and identify a range of new research challenges to better understand viral mapmaking and leverage its social affordances.

Anthony C. Robinson is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Director of Online Geospatial Education Programs at Penn State. He is also an Assistant Director for the GeoVISTA Center in the Department of Geography. Dr. Robinson is the past-President of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), and serves as the Chair of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) Commission on Visual Analytics. His research focuses broadly on designing and evaluating geovisualization tools to improve geographic information utility and usability. He has completed research projects in epidemiology, crisis management, national security, and higher education domains. Dr. Robinson has had the opportunity to teach one of Penn State’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – Maps and the Geospatial Revolution, which has drawn over 125,000 students from 200 countries to date.

2:05-2:10pm: Robert Phillips, Office of the Physical Plant (OPP)

2:10-2:15pm: Clio Andris, Department of Geography

2:15-2:20pm: Christelle Wauthier, Geosciences

2:20-2:25pm: Brian Naberezny, PLS, GISP

Modernization of the Pennsylvania State Plane Coordinate System

The North America Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) will be replaced by the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) in 2022.  This change necessitates changes to the Pennsylvania Coordinate System Law.  This talk will discuss the need to modernize the NSRS and opportunities for modernizing the Pennsylvania State Coordinate System.

Mr. Naberezny is a Lecturer of Surveying in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the Pennsylvania State University.  He also serves as the Geodetic Coordinator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a liaison between the positioning and mapping community and the National Geodetic Survey.  Brian is a graduate of the Surveying Program at the Pennsylvania State University and received his M.S. in Spatial Information Science and Engineering from the University of Maine.  Mr. Naberezny is a licensed Professional Land Surveyor in the State of Maine and a certified GIS Professional.

2:25-2:30pm: Martina Calovi, Postdoctoral Scholar, Geoinforamtic and Earth Observation Laboratory, Department of Geography and Institute for CyberScience

GFS Downscaling Using Personal Weather Stations for Heat Wave Vulnerability

Martina Calovi, Guido Cervone, Luca Delle Monache, Weiming Hu

This research investigates the use of an atmospheric model and private weather stations to generate forecasts of surface temperature with high spatial and temporal resolution in an urban area. The Analog Ensemble (AnEn) method is used to downscale Global Forecasts System (GFS) deterministic forecasts and to generate deterministic forecasts with a higher spatial and temporal resolution than the input forecast. In this work, the ensemble mean is used for the generation of the results.

Martina Calovi is a Postdoctoral Scholar since January 2018 at the Geoinformatics and Earth Observation Laboratory (GEOlab) in the Department of Geography and Institute of CyberScience at the Pennsylvania State University. She is collaborating with the Grozinger Laboratory, in the Department of Entomology and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Pennsylvania State University.  She obtained her Ph.D. in Change and Complexity Management, in December 2017, at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

2:30-2:35pm: Mobile Geospatial Systems Group (Doug Miller, Brennan Holderman)

Assessment of low-cost remote sensing and reality capture methods for measuring and modeling the environment

Rapid advances in new low-cost remote sensing technologies, such as mobile LiDAR and structure from motion (SfM) photography, have created opportunities for application in small-scale natural resource management spaces. The emergence of small-scale DIY remote sensing will be disruptive to traditional forest mensuration methodologies in Pennsylvania forests and provide unparalleled insight into their associated hydrological systems, amongst others. In addition, by facilitating the ability to make data-driven decisions in near real-time, much of the error propagated by traditional sampling techniques will be eliminated. This can revolutionize the way ecosystems are mapped, modeled, and eventually managed, all in a new cost-effective manner.

Many commercial remote sensing systems that have been explored have proprietary off-the-shelf counterparts. However, these systems are generally inaccessible due to budgetary constraints and low-margin production uses in natural resources. This has created a demand for Free and Open Source Systems (FOSS) and hardware solutions, as well as a need to unify methods and best-practices for DIY low-cost remote sensing. These technologies need to be proven accurate enough to supplant traditional methods, as investment in expensive commercial systems is unlikely.

2:35-2:40pm: Ryan Baxter

Resources for the Penn State GIS Community

This talk provides an update on activities within the Penn State GIS Users Group and the Penn State DataCommons.

2:40-2:45pm: Albert Rozo

Recording the Past to Inform the Future

My talk will be on using GIS to improve the discoverability of Mid-century Modern architecture in State College, PA.

Albert Rozo is a Digital Preservation Specialist in the Preservation, Conservation, and Digitization Department, Penn State University Libraries.

2:45-2:50pm: Cary Anderson, Penn State Campus Maps

Your Users Are Not Geographers—and other lessons from building a campus map for everyone. 

“You are not your users.” A mantra in user experience research, the phrase reminds us that users rarely use or think about our tools the way we expect them to. And often, we expect them to use them like geographers. Not only does the increasing ubiquity of web-maps call for increased usability research, special attention ought to be paid to whether these tools encourage users to employ spatial thinking when problem-solving with maps—an approach we often take for granted. In this talk, I introduce the new Penn State interactive campus map, and highlight what my role in building and testing it taught me about making maps that work better for everyone.

Cary is a lecturer in Penn State’s online Postbaccalaureate GIS Certificate and Master of Geographic Information Systems programs in the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. She also works on usability research, map design, and data organization as part of Penn State’s Campus Map team.

2:50-2:55pm: Dan Meehan, Geodesign Program

Dan has been in the geospatial technology industry for over 15 years. In that time he has worked developing, integrating and applying GIS in support of local, state, and federal government projects and academic research. He has managed GIS/IT projects in spatial data analysis, database design, data management, and web mapping application development. Dan is currently Program Manager for online Geodesign graduate degree programs at Penn State.

2:55-3:00pm: Katherine Zipp

3:00-3:05pm: Justine Blanford

Geospatial Sciences: Where are the women leaders of tomorrow?

Justine Blanford (Penn State) & Jane Read (Syracuse University)

Few career trajectories are straight forward or linear. In reality many of us take a ‘scenic’ career tour that provide us with experiences that can help us become leaders in the future. In 2018, the first TRELIS* (Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM – Geospatial Sciences) workshop brought together 16 women from diverse institutions to network and discuss career development and trajectories in the geospatial sciences. We have continued to build this network in our universities through workshops that we are hosting – one here at Penn State and one at Syracuse University. The purpose of these workshops are to identify challenges women geospatial scientists currently face in our universities, provide an opportunity for active engagement and build of peer-mentorship networks within departments and across the university and between universities. During this talk we will highlight topics covered such as Work-Life Integration (WLI), Career Trajectories & Leadership (TL), Mentoring & Coaching (ML), Communication & Language (CL) and Obstacles, Conflicts & Solutions (OCS), the importance of providing safe spaces for discussions centered on these topics and what’s next.

3:05-3:10pm: Joey Grosso, GIS Coalition, Department of Geography

Overview of our organization and activities
The Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Coalition is a student organization that offers students majoring, minoring, or sharing an interest in GIS opportunities to develop supplementary knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the professional GIS industry.


3:10-3:15pm: Konstantin Kireenkov, Kelly Fisher, GeoDecisions

Using the Power of GIS to Fight Crime in PA

Project Safe Neighborhoods Mapping and Analysis Program (PSNMAP) analyzes crimes using a web-based GIS application for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. It provides local law enforcement the information they need to more effectively coordinate their investigation and crime prevention activities. This application links crimes to locations, criminal cases, individuals, and organized criminal groups. As the opioid epidemic increases, this tool is important in the fight as it can find links between crimes and drug use not previously seen using traditional databases. In addition, law enforcement officers use the application on mobile devices to record new criminal activities in real time.

Konstantin Kireenkov is a Senior Development Manager and Technical Architect at GeoDecisions, a division of Gannett Fleming, Inc., located in Camp Hill. As such, he performs business analysis, systems prototyping, requirements gathering and modeling, technical specifications, workflows, and test cases. He designs technical architectures for large-scale projects and technically-sound environments. He also builds geographic information system (GIS) infrastructures as well as develops custom applications using ESRI and open source GIS software. Konstantin has been with GeoDecisions for 9 years.
Kelly Fisher is a GIS Project Manager that has been working in the GIS industry for the past 21 years. She is a Penn State graduate. Responsibilities include overseeing GIS staff, developing/designing geographic information system (GIS)-based Web and desktop solutions, interfacing with the client, managing the development team, overseeing technical architecture, and preparing/performing deployments.

3:15-3:20pm: Brittany Waltemate, Department of Geography 

Cancer Disparities and Navigation in Central Pennsylvania: Visual Interpretation and Dissemination through Esri Story Maps
During the 2018 summer while interning at the Penn State Cancer Institute she worked with the Community Sciences and Health Outcomes Research Core to incorporate cartographic design and geovisualization to bring light to the cancer health disparities in Central Pennsylvania.
Brittany Waltemate is a graduating Penn State senior majoring in Geography with the GIS option. Her focus is on cartographic design and geospatial analysis.
3:20-3:30pm: QA with speakers

3:30-4:15pm, AppGeo

“What does a career in GIS look like?: Stories and advice from GIS professionals,” Moderator, Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson has had a distinguished 34-year career in GIS, from his beginnings as an analyst in transportation GIS to his leadership as the first State Geographic Information Officer (GIO) for the State of New York. As session facilitator, Bill will contribute his own observations on a career in GIS and draw out the stories from several recent graduates and staff at AppGeo who are starting their GIS careers. Each of four AppGeo staff will share their experiences and advice for kick-starting a career in GIS – describing how they got started and what roles they perform as GIS consultants.

Reception, Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information, Central Pattee Library, 4:15-5:15pm

  • Enjoy light refreshments and networking conversations with attendees.

If you are interested in participating as a speaker or electronic map/poster contributor, contact Tara LaLonde,, GIS Specialist, Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information.

In addition, a CANVAS module is available that links to this GIS Day website. Contact Tara LaLonde,, for more information.