Spatial Data Science Hangout Series: Reminder

Our Spatial Data Hangout will take place tomorrow (Thursday), December 3 from 10:00 to 11:00 am (Pacific Time). Please join us for this special session focused on Graph Data and Networks, and led by Rui Zhu, Su Burtner, Gengchen Mai, and Mike Johnson.

Zoom Meeting Link:

Meeting ID: 886 9383 0517
Passcode: geohangout

We look forward to seeing you!

Spatial Data Science Hangout Series: Call for Speakers

The Center for Spatial Studies will again be hosting a special Spatial Data Hangout on Thursday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m. All grad students are invited to attend! We are fully aware that your schedule is already crowded with  Zoom meetings, but we are hopeful that this will be  an excuse for you to hang out with other geography grads and  learn a bit about the cool projects or ideas they have been working on this year.

This spatial data science hangout will focus on learning and discussing all sorts of graph data (and analytics that involve graphs) used to do research in our department. This includes everything related to representing and reasoning on data. This is  an opportunity for you to: (i) teach others about the tools you use to represent data for spatial reasoning, –this might include some coding, (ii) discuss common graphs for spatial analytics in your research field, (iii) discuss the process you use to create a graph that you are proud of, or (iv) present early-stage ideas, projects that you might not complete yet or learned lessons from “failed” projects. This is meant to be a safe space for people to talk through ideas, and learn from each other.  Some potential topics include spatial networks in their broadest sense, such as: 

  • Social networks
  • Transportation networks 
  • Biological networks
  • Other types of networks in your domain (stream networks)
  • Knowledge graphs

We are looking for folks who would like to lead/co-lead sessions! Depending on the number of speakers, you might be able to participate with a lightning talk or a 15-minute talk. If you are interested in participating in this, please contact Marcela Suárez at by November 27 (preferably sooner), and otherwise mark your calendar to attend.

[Canceled] Spatial Tech Lunch: Roland Knapp

Canceled due to COVID19 outbreak. Any updates will be posted here.


On Wednesday, March 11, from 12:00–1:00 pm please join us for the next Spatial Technology Lunch in the Center for Spatial Studies (Phelps Hall 3512). This semi-regular series, hosted by spatial@ucsb, aims to promote discussion and interaction within the university’s spatial technology community. Please RSVP here by Saturday, March 7. Sandwiches and drinks will be provided.

Spread of a virulent amphibian pathogen across the Sierra Nevada

Dr. Roland Knapp


Abstract: The global emergence of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium
dendrobatidis: “Bd”) has caused the extinction of at least 90 frog species and the decline of
hundreds more. This impact has been called the most spectacular loss of vertebrate
biodiversity due to disease in recorded history. Bd is believed to have originated in Asia, but is
now distributed worldwide due to global commerce. In California’s Sierra Nevada mountains,
Bd emerged in the 1960s and subsequently spread across the range, causing precipitous
declines of the once-common mountain yellow-legged frog and its eventual listing under the
U.S. Endangered Species Act. Describing this spread, including identifying factors associated
with its arrival in frog populations, would allow better prediction of future spread and aid in the
identification of possible vectors. In this presentation, I will provide details on the patterns of
Bd spread in the Sierra Nevada and solicit input on how these data could best be analyzed.

Roland Knapp is a research biologist at the University of California Sierra Nevada
Aquatic Research Laboratory. His research interests include the population and conservation
biology of endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains,
and the community ecology of montane lake ecosystems. The landscape-scale surveys of
aquatic habitats in the southern Sierra Nevada (7,000+ lakes and ponds) that he led form the
basis for ongoing amphibian and lake recovery efforts in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and
Yosemite National Parks, and beyond. His current research focuses on the recovery of
mountain yellow-legged frogs in the presence of the recently-emerged amphibian chytrid
fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).


Have any questions for Dr. Knapp before or after the discussion? Give him a shout at

Spatial Data Science Hangout Series: November 2019

T next seminar in the Center for Spatial Studies’ Spatial Data Hangouts series will be on Tuesday, 11/19 from 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. at 3512 Phelps Hall. All grad students are invited to attend.

Continuing the theme of finding academic employment, where we discuss why and how to apply for a professorship, we will continue last month’s discussion of the academic hiring process and talk about interviews on-site and per teleconference. We will also do at least one test run to give you a chance to practice. Hence, if you would like to volunteer and be interviewed in front of the other students, please let Jano or Karen know.

We will be providing a light lunch after the discussion. Please contact Karen Doehner if you plan to attend.


New Spatial Visitor: Ekaterina Egorova

The Center for Spatial Studies is happy to announce the arrival of a visitor to the center, Ekaterina Egorova (September, 2019-March, 2020)


Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland


Ekaterina Egorova 

holds a PhD in Geographic Information Science from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Her

research has concentrated on studying the conceptualization of  remote natural environments

through the prism of textual Volunteered Geographic Information. Her current project, financed

through a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation, examines the spatial and temporal

aspects of human-environment interaction in the context of nature-based recreation activities, focussing on the Southern Alps, New Zealand.

Ekaterina’s research lies at the intersection of GIScience, spatial cognition and cognitive linguistics, and combines methods from NLP, Geographic Information Retrieval, computational discourse analysis, and spatial analysis. Her interests include the production and processing of geographic information across a variety of contexts, spatial semantics, and methods for the automated extraction of spatial concepts from multimodal geographic information sources.


Her work can be explored at:
Google scholar:
Twitter: @textandspace

Please join us in welcoming Ekaterina to campus! She will be working at 3512 Phelps Hall during her stay–please feel free to contact her — — if your research interests intersect with hers.

Spatial Tech Lunch: Dan Baciu

On Tuesday, November 12, from 12:00–1:00 pm please join us for the next Spatial Technology Lunch in the Center for Spatial Studies (Phelps Hall 3512). This semi-regular series, hosted by spatial@ucsb, aims to promote discussion and interaction within the university’s spatial technology community. Please RSVP here by Friday, November 8. Sandwiches and drinks will be provided.

The Geography of Cultures: New Methods for Decoding, Analysis, and Synthesis

Dan Baciu


Abstract: It is tempting to believe that ideas and culture are free to spread and therefore free of geography. However, the phenomenon of “culture shock” most dramatically questions and limits the validity of such hypothesis: When chasing your dreams and horizons, you may end up in a different culture on a different continent, and, under those circumstances, you may loose your sense of self. Geography and culture are inseparable because geography is an important medium for cultural life.

Although people carry their cultural values with them, they may reach a place where those values no longer apply. So to say, their cultural currency is no longer accepted—but this anecdotal evidence should really only raise interest in new research directions with global implications. At UCSB, Benjamin Cohen has shown that money has surprising geographies with massive political consequences on a global stage. Dan C. Baciu, supported by the Interpretation Lab, continues along this path but goes further in studying the geography of cultures. In an age of information and knowledge, as Alvin and Heidi Toffler contemplated, cultures are the new currencies. Companies are no longer valued for their transaction volume alone, but also for their ability to amass information about people and their cultures. Yet, how are these personal, local, and global scales of culture interconnected? And how do mass and social media shift geographical distributions and reshape entire systems of value?

Studying these questions, Dan Baciu envisioned and probed new methods of extracting geographical information from public media. Instead of relying on gazetteers, his team uses natural language processing and publicly contributed knowledge bases. This makes it possible to create many interconnected layers of geography, history, and cultural circles, allowing for the application of a richer stock of analysis and synthesis methods. In turn, these new possibilities for empirical assessment allow for the testing of new theory about the relationships between individuals, cultural cannons, and shared global geography.

Imagine collecting hundreds of thousands of books, news, social media, and TV for everything called “Chicago school,” “Humanities,” and “Science.” What would these data reveal? Dr. Baciu and his collaborators used supercomputing to decode natural language, and they went on to enrich these data with geographical and historical information. Furthermore, they combined historical evaluations with data analysis, dimensionality reductions, and classification. Finally, to make sense of their results, they developed interfaces to interactively visualize distributions and stratification. Their GeoD and 7D toolkit is expected to be released to the public in a forthcoming research article.

The newly discovered geographical distributions of culture are surprising: There are maps of science, humanities, universities networks, postmodernism, national parks, oceanography, study abroad, and many more. And these geographies are not as you expect them. If you think that the U.S. Dollar is limited to the U.S., and that national parks are where they are, you will be surprised. The new methods allow us to refine our understanding of how culture grows in geographical space.

The new methods of analysis and synthesis were driven by theory and questions that preoccupied Dr. Baciu already during his Ph.D.; and the new findings confirm his earlier postulates. For him, the newly discovered geographical distributions are no longer surprising. Although new to humanities scholars, the theoretical foundations of his work are not new to everyone. Equivalent mathematics are a textbook-case of evolutionary dynamics already.

“United we stand” inspires not only collaborative spirit, but also a new research direction in the study of urban culture and diversity. “United” in this context means learning to listen to everyone. Dan C. Baciu has shaped this research direction most recently as Postdoc in English at UC Santa Barbara.

Spatial Data Science Hangout Series: Fall 2019

Spatial Data Science Hangouts Poster

After a successful first run in the last academic year, the Center for Spatial Studies will again be hosting the Spatial Data Hangouts, with the first one on Thursday, 10/17 from 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. at 3512 Phelps Hall. All grad students are invited to attend.

With the season for academic jobs starting, the next few spatial data science hangouts will be used to to discuss why and how to apply for a professorship, eg., how to write your cover letters, what makes a good recommendation letter, how to structure your CV, how to score during the on-site interviews and your talk, how to negotiate, and so on.

We will focus on jobs in spatial data science, GIScience, remote sensing, spatial cognition, and so on, but most of what we will discuss applies to academic employment in general. We will do all this in a hands-on, interactive style.

We will be providing a light lunch after the discussion. Please contact Karen Doehner if you plan to attend.


New Spatial Visitor: Weiming Huang

The Center for Spatial Studies is happy to announce the arrival of a visitor to the center, Weiming Huang (September-November, 2019)

Weiming Huang is a Ph.D. student in Geographical Information Science at Lund University, Sweden. His research topic is “Knowledge-based geospatial data integration and visualization with Semantic Web technologies.” His research interests span geospatial semantic web, geospatial semantics, data integration, data visualisation, and machine learning.

His work can be explored at:

Please join us in welcoming Weiming to campus! He will be working at 3512 Phelps Hall during his stay–please feel free to contact him — — if your research interests intersect with his.

Spatial Center Receives NSF Grant

Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara participating in NSF C-Accel Pilot

View the complete news release at:

The Center of Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara is receiving research funding under the Open Knowledge Network track of the new Convergence Accelerator Pilot (C-Accel) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Prof. Krzysztof Janowicz leads a diverse team of partners from academia, industry, and federal agencies. The team will develop Artificial Intelligence based models, methods, and services for representing,  retrieving, linking, and predicting spatial and temporal data from a highly diverse set of public knowledge graphs that range across topics such as soil health and the historic slave trade. 

This new NSF Convergence Accelerator Pilot program is set to “bring teams together to focus on grand challenges of national importance that require a convergence approach […] and have a high probability of resulting in deliverables that will benefit society within a fixed term.” NSF is funding several teams under this program in an effort that will lead to the development of public knowledge graphs which in turn have “the potential to drive innovation across all areas of science and engineering, and unleash the power of data and artificial intelligence to achieve scientific discovery and economic growth.” The funding program is highly competitive and had an acceptance rate of only 8.5%.

2019 Spatial Data Science Symposium

Spatial Data Science Symposium

“Setting the Spatial Data Science Agenda”

December 9–11, 2019


Upham Hotel (

Santa Barbara, California


Space and time matter not only for the obvious reason that everything happens somewhere and at some time, but because knowing where and when things happen is critical to understanding why and how they happened or will happen. Spatial data science is concerned with the representation, modeling, and simulation of spatial processes, as well as with the publication, retrieval, reuse, integration, and analysis of spatial data. It generalizes and unifies research from fields such as geographic information science, geoinformatics, geo/spatial statistics, remote sensing, and transportation studies, and fosters the application of methods developed in these fields to outside disciplines ranging from the social to the physical sciences. In doing so, research on spatial data science must  address a variety of new challenges that relate to the diversity of the utilized data and the underlying conceptual models from various domains, the opportunistic reuse of existing data, the scalability of its methods, the support of users not familiar with the language and methods of traditional geographic information systems, the reproducibility of its results that are often generated by complex chains of methods, the uncertainty arising from the use of its methods and data, the visualization of complex spatiotemporal processes and data about them, and, finally, the data collection, analysis, and visualization playing out in near real-time. Spatial data science does not only utilize advanced techniques from fields such as machine learning or big data storage and retrieval, but it also contributes back to them. Recent work, for instance, has shown that spatially-explicit machine learning methods substantially outperform more general data when applied to spatial data even though this spatial component may seem of secondary importance at first glance.

Co-sponsored by Esri, the Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara is hosting a symposium entitled “Setting the Spatial Data Science Agenda.” The meeting will bring together academic and industry representatives from fields such as geographic information science, geoinformatics, geo/spatial statistics, remote sensing, and transportation studies, with interest in setting an interdisciplinary research agenda to advance spatial data science methods and practice, both from scientific and engineering viewpoints. We also invite experts from related fields and those that are producers or users of spatial data in the social and physical sciences.


Instead of being restricted by a historically grown partition into small and overlapping communities that deal with spatial data in one way or the other, the overarching goal of this symposium is to put spatial data science at the forefront of a unified field that explores the current research and application landscape to define an agenda for spatial data science for the next 10 years.


About 35 invited and funded experts from academia and industry will convene to share and develop visions, insights, and best practices. Plenary presentations and intense exchanges in small breakout discussion groups offer opportunities for knowledge transfer.

Call for Applications 

To apply, please submit a one-page, paragraph-style bio with a photograph and a short two-page position paper (in PDF format), discussing your perspective on the subject by August 23, 2019. Participants will be selected by the organizing committee and notified of their acceptance by September 9. Our goal is to achieve a balance of participants from a variety of disciplines and from different career levels. Hence, we especially encourage early-career (including graduate students) participants from both the industry and academia to apply. We will cover the full expense of accommodations and reimburse travel expenses up to $1,200 for international participants and $700 for domestic. 

The meeting will be held at the Upham Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara on Dec. 9–11; suggested travel days are Dec. 8 and the afternoon of Dec. 11.

Please see for more information. 

Submit your application directly to Karen Doehner <>.

Please feel free to contact Krzysztof Janowicz <> if you have questions about the event or the call for applications.