University of Connecticut

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Geography colloquium - May Yuan

Friday, September 29, 2017
12:20pm – 1:15pm

Storrs Campus
Aust 434

Geographic Conceptualization for GIS Representation and Analysis

Our conceptualization of geography affects how we represent and analyze geography digitally. Spatial data analysis methods operate on predefined spatial units to seek distribution patterns or spatial relationships among these spatial units. Most, if not all, predefined spatial units are set by observations (such as sample locations), survey grids, or enumeration areas (such as census blocks). However, observations, surveys, or enumerations may not reflect ways in which we conceptualize geographic phenomena or processes. In this talk, I would like to advocate for geographic conceptualization as the driver to innovate GIS representation and analysis. Instead of constraining ourselves to GIS data in current forms, I would share three research projects that seek novel ways of thinking about geographic problems and then develop methods to transform and analyze space-time data for new insights and solutions. Specifically, the first project uses crime incident data. Instead of looking for hot spots of crime occurrences, we reveal criminology of places. The second project, instead of mapping changes in temperature as projected by General Climate Models (GCM), searches for spatial patterns of warming and cooling as well as their converging and diverging patterns. Finally, the third project evaluates international trade. Instead of gravity or other spatial interaction models, we investigate the changing international-trade patterns of individual countries to probe global trade dynamics. The three projects provide examples of how geographic conceptualization can push for new thinking of geographic problems and consequently new GIS representation and analysis that can lead to new findings and interpretations.

May Yuan received all her degrees in Geography: B.S. 1987 from National Taiwan University and M.S. 1992 and Ph.D. 1994 from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Geospatial Information Sciences in the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. Before she joined UT-Dallas in August 2014, she was Brandt Professor and Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor and Director of Center for Spatial Analysis at the University of Oklahoma (1994-2014). Her research interest expands upon temporal GIS and its applications to understanding geographic dynamics. Over the years, she has been working to develop new approaches to represent geographic processes and events in GIS databases to support space-time query, analytics and knowledge discovery. Her research has been supported by NSF, NASA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, and Oklahoma state government agencies in the U.S.A.


Scott Stephenson

Geography Department (primary), Center for Environmental Science and Engineering, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Geosciences, Political Science, UConn Master Calendar, Urban and Community Studies

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