Spatial discovery and the research library

A paper co-authored by spatial@ucsb’s Sara Lafia and Werner Kuhn, along with the Map and Imagery Laboratory’s Jon Jablonski and Spatial affiliates Antonio Medrano and Savannah Cooley was published in Transactions in GIS:

Lafia, S., Jablonski, J., Kuhn, W., Cooley, S., & Medrano, F. A. (2016). Spatial discovery and the research library. Transactions in GIS 20(3): 399–412.

Abstract: Academic libraries have always supported research across disciplines by integrating access to diverse contents and resources. They now have the opportunity to reinvent their role in facilitating interdisciplinary work by offering researchers new ways of sharing, curating, discovering, and linking research data. Spatial data and metadata support this process because location often integrates disciplinary perspectives, enabling researchers to make their own research data more discoverable, to discover data of other researchers, and to integrate data from multiple sources. The Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the UCSB Library have undertaken joint research to better enable the discovery of research data and publications. The research addresses the question of how to spatially enable data discovery in a setting that allows for mapping and analysis in a GIS while connecting the data to publications about them. It suggests a framework for an integrated data discovery mechanism and shows how publications may be linked to associated data sets exposed either directly or through metadata on Esri’s Open Data platform. The results demonstrate a simple form of linking data to publications through spatially referenced metadata and persistent identifiers. This linking adds value to research products and increases their discoverability across disciplinary boundaries.

ThinkSpatial: Werner Kuhn

On Tuesday, June 6, 2017 The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Place-based GIS: What’s the big deal?

Werner Kuhn

Center for Spatial Studies
Department of Geography
University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)


Modeling “place” remains a conundrum for spatial computing. Geographic Information Science has discussed requirements and possible approaches for many years, but has not yet produced a convincing solution. In this brief talk, I will present my recent work, together with colleagues at Melbourne University, that sheds new light on the topic. We took the current state of my Core Concepts of Spatial Information (Location, Field, Object, Network, Event) and asked what the simplest possible account for place would be in them that still satisfies the known requirements. The proposed solution (places are a special kind of objects) is now being tested against the requirements stated in the literature. Your feedback and questions will help in this process.


Werner Kuhn holds the Jack and Laura Dangermond Endowed Chair in Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is professor of Geographic Information Science. He is also the director of the Center for Spatial Studies at UCSB. His main research and teaching goal is to make spatial information and computing accessible across domains and disciplines. Before joining UCSB in late 2013, Kuhn was a professor of Geoinformatics at the University of Munster, Germany, where he led MUSIL, an interdisciplinary semantic interoperability research lab. Kuhn is described as a leading expert in the area of geospatial semantics and especially known for his work on Semantic Reference Systems as well as his work on interaction metaphors for Geographic Information Systems. Recent research projects include the Linked Open Data University of Muenster (together with the university library), and a series of EU projects on geospatial services in the semantic web.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Kitty Currier ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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spatial@ucsb Retreat

mealStudents, interns, ​and the center director of spatial@​ucsb enjoyed a weekend ​retreat with great weather, beautiful nature, and spatial thinking at La Casa de Maria in Montecito. The group​ built camaraderie over meals​, hikes,​ and ​other activities. Several work sessions were spent discussing how to improve specifications for core computations of spatial information. Students enjoyed learning more about the functional language​,​ Haskell​,​ and were eager to implement core computations using other languages like Python. A particular highlight ​of the retreat ​was a beautiful afternoon hike on the San Ysidro trail,​ which was lined with running creeks and wildflowers, and ended with a humble waterfall.

working hike

ThinkSpatial: Kelly Caylor

thinkspatial_logoOn Tuesday, May 30, 2017 The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

“Dryland Feedbacks between Biogeochemistry,
Plants and Surface Hydrological Dynamics”

Kelly Caylor

Professor, Department of Geography and the
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
Director, Earth Research Institute
University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, 2017 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)

Dryland landscape

Both the ecology and hydrology of dryland landscapes are characterized by high degrees of spatial and temporal heterogeneity. In particular, temporal heterogeneity in rainfall drives coupled hydrological and biogeochemical surface dynamics that are themselves highly influenced by the spatial organization of dryland vegetation. Despite being appreciated as a conceptual tool for understanding dryland function, the specific role of temporal and spatial variability in governing the dynamics of drylands has received little empirical attention. Most studies of variability in rainfall and soil moisture dynamics have attempted to capture either fine-scale spatial heterogeneity caused by vegetation structure (i.e. tree/grass/bare patch differences) or short-term impacts of shifts in soil moisture distributions via experimental manipulations. In this talk, I will examine the larger-scale implications of rainfall variability, impacts of variability on the partitioning of surface hydrological fluxes, and subsequent patterns and dynamics of vegetation and biogeochemistry across a range of ecological settings. Of particular interest is understanding how dryland, moist tropical, and subsistence agricultural ecosystems will respond to shifts in rainfall climatology which may alter the frequency and depth of rainfall events without necessarily impacting average seasonal rainfall totals. Using examples from across the tropics – with a focus on sub-Sarahan Africa – I will highlight some recent work which explores shifts in ecosystem function driven by altered rainfall climatology and the potential impacts of increased variability on the structure and function of African ecosystems.

Professor Caylor is the Director of the Earth Research Institute and Professor of Ecohydrology in the Department of Geography and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB. He received his PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. Professor Caylor’s research seeks to develop improved insight into the way that land use and climate change are interacting to affect the dynamics and resilience of global drylands. His primary research sites are in sub-Saharan Africa, where he is focused on understanding the vulnerability of pastoral and subsistence agricultural communities to current and future changes in hydrological dynamics. His teaching experience and interests include field courses in Kenya, earth system sciences, environmental biophysics, and environmental sensing and sensor development. He is a co-founder of Arable Labs, Inc. (, a company focused on enhancing agricultural decision making and improving in-field data availability for farmers. Professor Caylor conducts research at a number of spatial and temporal scales; from small-scale experiments during individual rainfall events all the way up to continental-scale analyses of climate trends. A major focus of his research is the development of new methods to improve the measurement and prediction of ecosystem water use efficiency. Professor Caylor has served on the editorial board of Water Resources Research, the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, Vadose Zone Journal, and Environmental Research Reviews, Environmental Research Letters. He was a recipient of an Early Career Award from the NSF, and was the inaugural recipient of Early Career Award in Hydrological Sciences given by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Kitty Currier ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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Spatial Tech Lunch: Mike Johnson

On Monday, May 22, from 12:00–1:00 pm please join us for the next Spatial Technology Lunch in Phelps Hall room 3512. This semi-regular series, hosted by spatial@ucsb, aims to promote discussion and interaction within the university’s spatial technology community. Please RSVP to Kitty Currier ( by Sunday, May 21. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

Accessing the National Water Model

Mike JohnsonMap of US

Abstract: This talk will briefly introduce the National Water Model (NWM): a joint effort between NOAA, NCAR and the academic community to produce real-time and forecast streamflow predictions for all 2.7 million stream reaches across the continental US. It will cover methods for delineating local watersheds and exploring output via Hydro Share and if time permits will look at how this model is being used to forecast floods at the national scale.

Mike Johnson is a graduate student at UCSB under Dr. Keith Clarke. His research focuses on water security and supply issues in California. Last summer he was a student participant at the National Water Center’s Summer Institute and will be returning this summer as a course coordinator.

spatial@ucsb.local17: Poster and Plenary Session


Environmental Conflict Resolution in the Santa Barbara Channel

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Corwin Pavilion

[button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”]Invitation & Agenda[/button][button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Speakers [/button][button link=”” type=”icon” newwindow=”no”]Posters[/button]

The annual spatial@ucsb.local17 Poster and Plenary Session that showcases how spatial thinking facilitates research and creativity was held on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at Corwin Pavilion. With Rockney Rudolph presiding, the Channel Islands Regional GIS Collaborative (CIRGIS) held its annual meeting; Grace Goldberg moderated the Plenary Session on Environmental Conflict Resolution in the Santa Barbara Channel, and 38 posters were submitted for viewing and discussion after the meeting.

Representatives from the private sector and industry and campus-wide academics in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and engineering programs participated in this event.

Photo credit: George Naugles


Carrie Kappel, Ph.D.
Associate Research Scientist, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California, Santa Barbara

Planning for Aquaculture in the Southern California Bight, with Models, Maps, and Real Stakeholders

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly used to reduce conflicts and environmental impacts and promote sustainable use of marine ecosystems. We developed a modeling framework to coordinate the development of multiple emerging ocean uses while balancing multiple existing management objectives. In this talk I will demonstrate its value for guiding offshore aquaculture (bivalve, finfish and kelp farming) development in relation to existing sectors and environmental concerns (wild-capture fisheries, view shed quality, benthic pollution and disease spread) in the Southern California Bight. We identified >250,000 MSP solutions that show that aquaculture can be highly compatible with other ocean uses while generating significant seafood supply and billions of dollars in revenue with minimal impacts. To illustrate, I’ll discuss how these results are being used to inform offshore shellfish aquaculture planning, and stakeholder engagement in Ventura, CA.

Bio: Carrie Kappel is an Associate Research Scientist at University of California’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. She earned a B.S. with Honors in Biology from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University. A marine conservation biologist and community ecologist by training, she has worked in coral reefs, kelp forests and rocky intertidal systems and now uses collaborative synthesis science to develop conservation solutions that protect marine ecosystems and enhance human well-being.

Morgan Visalli
MESM, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Whales, Ships, and Missiles in the Santa Barbara Channel:
Solving Complex Environmental Problems with Innovative Spatial Tools

The Santa Barbara Channel region has an exceptional abundance and diversity of marine species, and provides important habitat for Gray, Blue and Humpback whales. The area is also heavily transited by large cargo ships and serves as a military testing ground. These dynamics have resulted in fatal ship strikes on endangered whales and conflicts among ocean users. This talk will explore how spatial tools and mapping are used to help solve complex environmental problems with diverse stakeholders.

Bio: Morgan Visalli is a California Sea Grant Fellow (2015) and a graduate of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (MESM 2014). She has worked on mapping and spatial analysis projects at the Sustainable Fisheries Group, NOAA, and as a thru-hiker on the California Coastal Trail. She is excited about marine spatial planning, connecting science and policy, and reducing marine debris.

Moderator: Grace Goldberg
Director of Operations
SeaSketch & McClintock Lab, University of California, Santa Barbara

Bio: Grace Goldberg coordinates activities at the SeaSketch and McClintock Lab, and serves as an interface between the lab and collaborators. She is trained as a scientist, interested in research questions that include human users in marine ecosystems, with relevance to spatial management and real conservation goals. Goldberg received her M.S. in Marine Systems and Conservation from Stanford University, completing a thesis on sea turtle spatial dynamics to inform sustainable development. She spent time at Hopkins Marine Station as a scientific diver, and in the Earth Systems Program, which focuses on interdisciplinary environmental problem solving, systems thinking, and communication.