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As a geographer, I realize just how important the use of Geographic Information Science has become to understanding the world around us. Indeed, GIS has played an important part of both my professional and personal lives. I have used GIS to perform research on Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound, the possibility of a prehistoric road connecting modern day Newark and Chillicothe, Ohio, as well as to produce maps for other purposes ranging from professional journals to community projects. In addition, I have used the tools of GIS to make cartographic illustrations for photo albums and websites as a way to involve those who might happen upon my personal world.
GIS has taken me to far off regions of the world, including trips to Nigeria, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Working alongside United Nations Peace Keeping Forces in Kinshasa, DRC, one of my recent projects involved implementing an enterprise GIS system to produce Topographic Line Maps (TLM50) of various regions using satellite imagery. Other African projects included assisting Nigerian government officials to realize the benefits that GIS has to offer not only regional governments, but communities and businesses as well.
One of my most favorite uses of GIS has been discerning possible correlations between land cover, land use, slope, and proximity to water or prehistoric Ohio Valley Indian mound locations in an attempt to find possible routes of what has since become known as the Great Hopewell Road. My Master of Arts thesis, entitled The Great Hopewell Road: GIS Solutions Towards Pathway Discovery, used ESRI’s ArcGIS software extensively to import, manipulate, transform, maintain, and perform spatial analyses on a variety of data. Cartographic models were produced using shapefiles, grids, digital elevation models, national land cover data, as well as digitized maps from databases and previously recorded material. The processes involved were both long and tedious procedures, culminating in a seventy page work that has stirred interest with the Ohio Historical Society and Ohio University anthropologists alike. A synopsis of this work was published by the U.S. National Park Service in their Hopewell Archaeology Newsletter, Volume 7, Number 1, December 2006.
Geographic Information Science was also used in the spring of 2002 when the Great Serpent Mound, located in Adams County, was mapped using Global Positioning Satellites. During this research, data was collected using GPS information collected onsite, as well as DLGs, DRGs, DOQQs, and DEMs downloaded from on online repositories. The final product was a 30” X 36” map that showed not only the mound, but the elevation of the surrounding area as well. The project was printed and submitted to the Ohio Historical Society, along with a data CD containing all information archived from the project. The OHS has shown interest in having the map reproduced for an interpretive panel at the park.
I have also used GIS to examine the relationship of land use change over time for the Mill Street area of the City of Athens, Ohio as part of a special project assigned to me by Athens City Councilwoman Nancy Bain. For this project, aerial photographs taken at various times during the 1900s were collected, scanned, geographically projected, and then digitized so that the effects of urban sprawl and land use change could be easily interpreted throughout the years under study. This research was then used as part of a “mock” comprehensive plan for the City of Athens and presented to members of the Ohio University and Athens communities at part of an open forum discussion.
In addition to my previous responsibilities as a student at Ohio University, I was also a teaching assistant during my time as a graduate student. During that period, I was responsible for presenting lectures to students on subjects ranging from physical geography to the advanced uses of GIS. Following the class syllabus of various professors, I was in charge of preparing both lectures and exams for all of the classes I taught. I also helped students learn the numerous software packages that are available to today’s geographers – from Microsoft’s Excel and Access, to Esri’s ArcInfo and ArcView.
Moreover, I was also in charge of setting up and maintaining Ohio University's node of the OhioView Laboratory for Geospatial Analysis. This task involved everything from installing and repairing computers to wiring the networks that supported them. This facility consists of a remote sensing teaching laboratory which supports 25 networked computer workstations, related networking hubs and peripherals, and houses $200,000 of image processing and mapping software. The computers are networked to one of three servers that make up the OhioView domain. The server has a static IP that allows clients to obtain floating licenses for the various software systems supported at Ohio University (ESRI ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, PCI Geomatica, and Research Systems ENVI, ER Mapper, Pixoneer, and Idrisi Kilamajaro). Faculty research is supported by a separate laboratory facility that consists of 10 computer workstations, large format printers/plotters, film recorders, scanners, digitizing systems, two servers running under the Windows operating system and a 1 Terabyte data server for image storage and archiving. In addition a Unix server is onsite that manages the OhioView website. The labs are linked with a PolyCom system to provide horizontal collaboration using voice/video over IP protocols. Several large format printers, digitizer tablets, SMART Boards, and closed-camera surveillance systems rounded out the facility. Operating systems varied from Windows XP to Mac OSX, while servers used Server 2003, Windows NT, or Mac OSX.
In conclusion, my experiences have been numerous and varied throughout my life and I have learned much from my former advisors, colleagues, and peers. I look forward to my continued learning and look forward to a career that will allow me the opportunity to pursue my goals and ambitions.
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