By Annie Greene (Biology ’19), Dylan Finley (Urban Studies ’17)
This semester in Lynn Christenson’s ecology class (BIOL-241), we mapped the locations of trees affected by beavers near the beaver dam at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve. Our studies revealed preferences in beaver foraging in regards to species, tree size, and distance from water. We used Vassar’s “Maps & Apps” ArcGIS Online implementation and the ArcGIS Collector App on a GPS-enabled Apple iPad to map the location of the trees based on their geographic coordinates.
Renewable Hudson Area of Focus
Renewable Highlands is working to help transition the Hudson Highlands region towards environmentally conscious energy consumption by informing local municipalities of the benefits of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and asking for their support. With enough municipalities involved, Renewable Highlands will provide assistance in obtaining and reviewing proposals from qualified energy suppliers, choosing a contract, and implementing the program. By choosing to participate, municipal leaders give their constituents an option for saving money, stabilizing rates and supporting renewable energy. At Renewable Highlands’ request, the Vassar GIS Lab recently created a custom map of the region in which the organization intends to appeal to communities (shown above). Other CCA initiatives in the Hudson Valley include Citizens for Local Power in Ulster County, and Sustainable Westchester. Continue reading
During the summer of 2015, URSI student Samuel Short ’16 and Prof. Mark Shlessman (Biology) used GPS to inventory the specimens based on past maps of the campus Arboretum. With the recent data collected, a new pamphlet map of trees on Vassar’s main campus will soon be available to all members of the Vassar Community, as well as visitors to the campus. The data collected is also being used to prepare the arboretum collection for certification by ArbNet, an international arboreta organization.
Maps can provide geographic context for academic studies in which location plays an important role. However, existing maps may not provide information at the scale, extent, and level of detail needed. Custom-designed maps are often required to highlight the specific features, patterns, and processes relevant to the study at hand. Resources for geospatial mapping available through the Vassar College GIS lab can be leveraged to produce custom maps that serve this purpose. Featured here are some recent maps created in the GIS Lab for articles written by Vassar College professors.
At this point in the Spring semester students in Geog/Esci 224: GIS begin to ramp-up work on their final projects, and many of them are looking for data related to a topic or question they will be mapping and analyzing in GIS. While there’s a lot of data to be found, getting familiar with it once you have it – enough to make some useful and interesting maps – can take some time. Different data providers create and organize their data in different ways, which can be difficult to understand at first. Users should also understand something about the methods used to collect and assemble the data. This may have important implications for how the data could and should be used.
Students often want to work with demographic and socioeconomic data, and one of the richest sources of this type of data (at least, in the US) is the U.S. Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data. The purpose of this article is to provide students with a brief introduction to the U.S. Census and ACS GIS data available, and how and where to get it. Continue reading
Students in GEOG/ESCI 220 (Cartography: Making Maps with GIS) presented their final projects last week using their cartographic and analytical skills to map features and phenomena ranging from cash crops in Africa to sea level rise in the US to the distribution of land in the West Bank. See the gallery below to view each student’s final poster.
For 25 years the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been compiling information about human capabilities (opportunities and the availability of choices) that contribute to the The Human Development Approach, rather than simply the richness of the economy in which human beings live into an annual report called the UNDP Human Development Report (HDR). The data from the 2014 Human Development Report was compiled into GIS format for a Geography class mapping exercise, and is available to any Vassar student or faculty member who wishes to use it. Continue reading
By Katherine Giesa
Urban Studies ’16
Hudson River Housing has developed many affordable properties throughout Poughkeepsie and the mid-Hudson Valley region. This map shows the location of all of their projects as of Summer 2015.
Over the summer I made a series of maps for Hudson River Housing (HRH), an organization working to encourage home ownership and provide affordable housing options for residents of the Hudson Valley. This work was completed for the Geography Field Work course (GEOG 290). Field Work courses at Vassar involve working with a non-profit organization, a government agency, or a business. Nearly every department and program at Vassar sponsors field work.
Vassar’s GIS Academic Computing Consultant, Neil Curri, helped put me in touch with Hudson River Housing and we met with them at the beginning of June to talk about what they would be most interested in seeing from a geospatial perspective. Essentially, they had a list of addresses, a list of properties they were involved with, but no visualization of their work’s location or dispersal across Poughkeepsie or the greater Hudson Valley. Continue reading
By Ellie Opdahl
Research and Restoration Post Baccalaureate Fellow, VCEE Co-op
Aerial images of the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve (VFEP) taken in the years 1936, 1980, and 2014. The red outline denotes the preserve boundary. 1) Refers to the northwest corner of the preserve 2) refers to the drumlin 3) refers to the shrublands. (click to enlarge)
Beginning this fall, the South wing of the historic cow barns located on the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve (VFEP) will begin to be renovated as headquarters for a greater conservation initiative in the Hudson Valley. Organizations including the newly established Vassar Conservation and Environmental Engagement Cooperative (VCEE-COOP) as well as other like-minded organizations such as the Hudson Valley chapter of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) will be housed in the space. Continue reading
A group of faculty who use or are interested in using spatial data in their classes and research are gathering on Monday, September 14th from 2pm to 5pm at the GIS Lab in Ely Hall to discuss some exciting developments that make spatial technology more accessible to our students with faculty: Continue reading