Limes – Who? What? When? Where? Why? A ThinkSpatial Recap

The Spatial Center was glad to invite Grant McKenzie, one of Geography’s own graduates, back from the chill of Montreal for a visit and talk on March 5. Formerly from the STKO lab, Grant is interested in how geographic information has a role to play in the study of the the intersection of information technology and society and what we can understand about human behavior.

At the Center, he presented some early exploration he and his group were doing on scooters as a form of public transportation. Here, he asked the audience if anyone frequently used Lime to get around (just one?!):

Engaging participants across disciplines -- Public Scooters
Engaging participants across disciplines — Public Scooters

This analysis led to a discussion about Lime’s function for users as a replacement for or adjacent to bike sharing and other form of shared economy transport means.

Introducing the Subject - Grant McKenzie
Introducing the Subject – Grant McKenzie

One of the takeaways? It looks like (in DC) bikes are used for commute (such as to and from work), whereas scooters are used for quick, short trips (average duration of just 5 minutes!).



The Lunch Incubator: A Spatial Data Hangout Recap


What a treat it was to host the Center for Spatial Studies’ first Spatial Data Science hangout. Almost 30 usually dispersed graduate students crept out from their hiding places into the bright of day this Tuesday, having heard the call of an informal gathering of spatial data scientists. Initially smelling the hor d’oeuvres from C’est Cheese, they stayed to hear Dr. Janowicz propose two moonshot ideas to advance the field of Spatial Data Science. If we want to make Spatial Data Science a field with a vision, he imagines, we need a big, crazy idea to drive towards. What could that idea be? How about a Geo-Turing test: say a user asks a GIS question of a machine and is unable to tell the difference between a machine’s and a GIS analyst’s results? Or, as another crazy idea, how about detecting and resolving spatial trends of civil destruction, before the Great Filter is upon us?

Students then hopped into the mingling space to grab some Mediterranean food and discuss the ideas they’d just heard. What more was there to learn and do? What next could be done? Inter-lab discussion brought a chance to catch up with old friends and get new ways to think about these topics.


We plan to host many more productive discussions on a monthly or a bi-weekly basis by bringing together bright young minds in a space with some brain food and a provocative thought.  

If you were unable to make it and are dreaming of the pita, or have ideas for topics of discussion, please contact or join the Spatial Data Slack channel.


Join us for Spatial Data Hangout 2 on March 15!

“Light Our Minds On Fire!” A Spatial Lightning Talks 2019 Recap

Audience from SLT 2019

New space, same (but never old!) event, 2019’s Spatial Lightning Talks were one to remember. As they munched on sandwiches and pizza, our listeners from across campus were regaled with three-minute talks that ran the gamut, and that captured our attention for over an hour. Speakers had the challenge to present a new topic to the audience in only three minutes, after a which a loud (electronic) bell would stop their thought in its tracks – because it was question time!

Now it was the audience’s turn; two minutes to grill the speaker. Our favorite comment (in response to a talk about searching for nowhere — Point Nemo? Gurbantünggüt Desert? Or Nowhere, Oklahoma?): “Nowhere or Now here?”)

Image result for nowhere oklahoma gnis

We had students discussing their research: 

Aaron Bagnell: Clustering Water Masses to Overcome Local Sampling Biases

Others discussed their histories in terms of geographic units:

Thomas Hervey: Travel Spaces and their Stories

Professors from a diversity of departments (History; Religious Studies; Geography) spoke on topics of personal interest – race on college campuses, Buddhist symbols (maps) of the universe, the U.S./Canada border.

We had the opportunity to hear from visitors from the community as well: Skona Brittain, co-founder of SB Family School, about Space-Filling Curves, and Ken Dunkley, retired, on food labeling of country of origin, and its impacts on quality of food and on trade. 

Here is the full list of presenters:


It was a treat to hear all of these wonderful presenters. Join us again for next year’s event!

If you are interested in presenting a 3-minute lightning talk at next year’s event, get in touch with Anagha anytime. Videos of this year’s talks will be posted on the Spatial Center website once they become available.