Students representing various departments at the University of South Florida, from the College of Public Health to the College of Engineering and beyond, presented research projects using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to illustrate public health issues at the 2015 GIS Summer Poster Session on July 17 in the COPH lobby.
It was the fifth GIS poster session, and its organizers, Dr. Benjamin Jacob, COPH research assistant professor, and James Kukat, teaching assisting and MSPH candidate in the Department of Global Health, were quick to note the increased sophistication of the work over that of previous sessions. Some of the students who submitted work were also students in the COPH’s GIS course.
“There were more students enrolled in this year’s summer course compared to previous years,” Kukat said. “This increase in enrollment resulted in several research projects and much appreciated variability in GIS applications for public health research.”
The GIS course is designed to teach an array of essential upper level GIS skills and to explore its application in the field of public health. Topics covered include: mapping raw data and imagery, creating land use and land cover maps, vegetation indices, meteorological models and others that portray distribution and density of infectious disease processes and bio ecologically significant material across a landscape.
“GIS applications in public health have made the visualization and processing of health data more possible than in the past,” Kukat said. “Today, public health planners and researchers can make valuable decisions regarding pressing health questions from spatial mapping.”
This year’s presentations included a wide array of cartographic models representing various disciplines including geography, engineering, medicine and marine science. Students were eager to elaborate on their work, even though the highly technical nature of their projects presented some daunting terms for the casual listener.
There were three winners from this year’s poster presentations.
In first place, Zachariah Brown’s research poster “Quantifying 3D Geomorphological Terrain-Related Coefficients for Mapping Flood-Vulnerable Geolocations, High Priority Hurricane Evacuation Routes, and Remotely-Identified Levee Construction Sites in Hillsborough County,” provided a clear cut terrain and evacuation route in case flooding strikes Hillsborough County.
Coming in second place, Colleen Naughton’s poster “Validation of a Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) Land Suitability Model Using Remote Sensing of WorldView-2 Imagery in Mali, West Africa,” provided an extension from her Peace Corps work in Mali.
Finally, Andrew MacKinnion’s poster “Devising Linear Regression Field and Satellite Covariates for 35 Districts of the Mekong Delta Subregion for Geospatially Targeting Potential Land Use Land Cover of Productive Anopheline Habitats,” placed third for its characteristic of being geovisually effective.
“I truly enjoyed the opportunity of working with students in modelling important infectious diseases and chronic health conditions that inflict public health and have the capability of affecting populations on earth,” Kukat said. “The attendance of students, faculty and others during this event signify the importance of this fairly new application in public health.”
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Story by Benjamin Jacob and Anna Mayor, photos by Natalie D. Preston, College of Public Health