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GIS Across Campus

GIS and other forms of geosptatial technology are widely used across the Kent State campus.  The following are some of the highlights of GIS research and applications at Kent.
  • The Department of Geography is collaborating with the College of public Public Health in developing a course on Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) that integrates GIS, in collaboration with two public health departments and a national non-profit that facilitates HIAs.
  • GIS is also being used in EHHS (College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) – School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies).  First, through a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents,  GIS, maps, spatial data, and a suite of geospatial technologies are being studied to understand how they can improve student learning outcomes in earth systems science. This focuses on teachers in high-need urban schools in Ohio.  Second, with the Kent State University Child Development Center (CDC) spatial cognition in 3-5 year olds is being studied. This study investigates children’s use of the Outdoor Learning Lab (OLL) and its implications for early science learning with a focus on the natural environment.
  • In a major collaboration between the Department of Biological Sciences and Geography, a Geospatial Database for Environmental Science is being developed.  This involves the development of an online geospatial data server and GPS technology as pedagogical tools for providing Environmental Science students with skills in collecting, managing, and visualizing geospatial data.  Environmental Science at Kent State encompasses at least 6 majors across five departments (Biological Sciences, Geography, Geology, Public Health, and Recreation and Park Management) allowing for multidisciplinary approaches in designing courses and course activities that incorporate spatial data collection or analyses using geospatial technologies. By linking field data collection experiences to data visualization and spatial analyses, and ultimately to effective decision making and environmental resource management, students garner hands-on real world job skills and opportunities to collaborate with other students and professionals in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • In the Department of Sociology, GIS provides insights into spatio-temporal patterns of neighborhood blight and its impact on residents’ use of their surrounding environs.  Dr. Jaqueline Curtis is working with Sociology on using GIS and allied geospatial technologies to conduct fine-scale spatial data collection and analysis to study neighborhood change over time and its implications for residents. GIS enables a new perspective on his earlier work with data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) data.
  • The Computational Social Science (CSS) Lab has been collaborating with scholars from other disciplines both on campus and with other universities in the USA and China. The mission of this lab is to spatio-temporally integrate computational science and social science. For example, with Psychology faculty, Juvenile Delinquency is examined in the Multiple Neighborhood Contexts in Toledo. With Geography, Public Health, and Computer Science faculty, a Comprehensive GIS‐Agent Based Model has been developed to examine area disparities in public health as related to obesity prevalence, while a predictive model is also being developed. With Geography, Computer Science, Linguistics, Recreation and Park Management, Public Health, and Communication faculty, we examine spatiotemporal modeling of human dynamics across social media and social networks, community-wide healthy lifestyle management through human behavior modeling, and building a universal multi-purpose “Starter kit” for communities embarking on data intensive research initiatives. With Communication faculty, we study the transferability of virtual network systems into physical relief actions using social media, and malware propagation in social networks. GIS-LCCA integrated pavement management is also proposed between CSS Lab and College of Architecture and Environmental Design.
  • The Departments of Geography and Anthropology are collaborating on projects involving the mapping and spatial analysis of archaeological sites both in Mexico and Ohio.
  • The GIS Health and Hazards (GHH) overseas multiple geospatial project collaborations. For example, data has been collected in Africa for the following countries; Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Zambia. Collaborators include faculty and students from the College of Public Health at Kent State University, as well as collaborations with Epidemiology and Medicine at Ohio State University. GHH is also collaborating with epidemiologists at the University of Florida focused on cholera patterns in Haiti. In Cambodia GIS collaborations exist between GHH and DC CAM which is the primary museum / research center associated with Khmer Rouge period of rule in that nation’s history. Health and security collaborations exist between GHH and a number of different city sites, with examples being Akron, Cleveland and Youngstown in Ohio, and Los Angeles in California. Partners include county boards of health, local area hospitals, neighborhood groups, and from academia; clinicians, criminology, education, landscape architecture, public health, and sociology to name a few. Ongoing hazard collaborations involving damage assessment and recovery for hurricane, tornado and wildfire locations include the academic disciplines of psychology, public health, and sociology, as well as neighborhood associations, nonprofit organizations (such as American Red Cross), and all levels of government up to and including FEMA and NIST.
  • Multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations including geography and computer scienceParallel and high-performance computing (HPC) provides massive computational power for resolving big spatial data challenges. However, effectively leveraging HPC resources often requires expert knowledge in parallel computer architecture, exploiting parallelism in spatial data and analytics, and parallel programming, which pose barriers for adoption in the field of geographic information science (GIScience). Research in the HPC lab has established a new programming language for GIScience to exploit HPC capabilities. The language is designed to be easy to use and scalable to data-intensive analytics. We have implemented the language based on a powerful and easy-to-understand cartographic modeling framework, and the open source language Python for straightforward integration with mainstream GIS capabilities. 

  • The HPC lab is involved in a project on multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional (global) study of simulating glacial climate in coastal South Africa (developing the climate parameters to model a paleoscape during modern human origins).  This is a major collaboration between the disciplines of paleoanthropology, archaeology, botany, behavioral ecology, geography, and climatology.  The Paleoscape Model is creating the first model that connects paleoclimate/paleoenvironment to resource distribution patterns and then resource distribution patterns to behavior for human origins studies. Specifically, this project is creating a paleoclimate and paleoenvironment model for a modern human origins timescale, (1) studying its connection to the historic record for climate and oceanic change, and (2) testing it with agent-based simulations (ABS) grounded in behavioral ecology and then (3) testing ABS-generated expectations with fieldwork.