Independent and collaborative student research is one of the cornerstones of the Spatial Analysis Lab’s approach to teaching GIS and spatial analysis. Our students and alumni have had great success presenting their research at conferences all over the US and even internationally. Below are some of our recent research projects:
The East End Cemetery Collaboratory has brought together spatial mapping efforts initiated by UR Biology and the Spatial Analysis Lab with historical and sociological efforts in over nine classes at UR and VCU. The goal of the Collaboratory is to enrich community-based learning experiences for students while contributing to a shared mission to reclaim and restore the cemetery grounds, to curate and document this outdoor archive of African American history and culture in Richmond, and to produce place-based knowledge that contributes to a community dialogue about our collective past. One of the initial efforts by the Collaboratory was the large-scale collection of GPS coordinates as part of student engagement with the cemetery. We have been successful in collecting and georeferencing over 2,700 coordinates to date.
Dr. John V. Moeser, former senior fellow of the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, worked with students in the University’s Spatial Analysis Lab to visualize the complex numbers and figures of our region. The result: Unpacking the Census, a presentation about poverty, race, and immigration in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Goochland, Powhatan, Charles City, New Kent, and Hanover that has been presented by Moeser and other facilitators across Richmond.
Numerous University of Richmond employees, students, interns, and volunteers, in coordination with the Kenyan National Land Commission (NLC) and the London School of Economics, are working to create a geospatial dataset of Kenyan Smallholder Settlement Scheme boundaries for research.
Starting in May 2017, we have been conducting teaching modules at the Belle Isle rock pools in downtown Richmond every semester as part of Introductory Biology (BIOL 202) and Geography (GEOG 250) classes. This work is conducted in collaboration with James Vonesh, a community ecologist at VCU, and includes several graduate student research projects.
In addition to cities being warmer overall than rural areas, cities themselves do not heat evenly. During the summer of 2017, we undertook a unique project to quantify the strength of Richmond’s “urban heat island” effect during one of the City’s heat wave events. In order to measure the spatial pattern of Richmond’s urban heat island effect, we used electronic temperature sensors and GPS units attached to cars and bikes to track temperature at specific geographic locations at one-second intervals during one of the hottest days of the year. These data were used to build a high-resolution model of the spatial variability of temperature for the City.