Director’s End of the Academic Year Talk

About the Appearance of Chairs during the Disappearance of Bikes—Space, Time, Photography, and a bit of Drama


Krzysztof Janowicz

Center for Spatial Studies and Department of Geography

University of California Santa Barbara

Photo of Krzysztof Janowicz

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Abstract. As director of UCSB’s Center for Spatial Studies, my role is largely to moderate, facilitate, and provide an overall vision for our research. With the academic year coming to an end, I would like to use this opportunity to present some personal thoughts on spatial thinking, semantics, and theories of categorization by sharing a campus photography project during COVID in an interactive and, hopefully, cheerful style. Overall, the talk will be more about photography and society as compared to geoinformatics (in a narrower sense).

Google Earth Web (and KML) was used for an optional geographic discovery game. 

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Spatial Data Science Hangout Series: Reproducibility

The Center for Spatial Studies invites you to join us on Thursday May 20 at 9:00 a.m PT for the next Spatial Data Science Hangout on Reproducibility in Data Science Research. For this special event, we are thrilled to welcome two reproducibility experts as speakers: Daniel Nüst (Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Münster) and Casey O’Hara (BREN School, UC Santa Barbara). 

Don’t miss this event! Everyone is welcome to participate, just keep in mind that these hangouts are meant to be a comfortable environment for graduate students and early career researchers to brainstorm, talk through their imaginative ideas, discuss, and learn from each other.  

To participate in this event, please register here

Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email with Zoom login details

Casey O’Hara is a PhD candidate in the BREN School at UCSB. After completing his MESM degree in 2014, Casey has worked on the Ocean Health Index, applying data science to communicate the range of economic, ecological, and cultural benefits people can sustainably derive from healthy oceans. In his research, he applies spatial analysis and data science principles to examine the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of human activity and climate change on marine biodiversity.

Abstract: In his talk, Casey will give a short introduction to his paper on better science in less time using open data science tools, including a quick introduction to GitHub for version control and communication, and a comparison of the pros and cons of spatial analysis using ArcMap GIS, ArcMap ModelBuilder, and R. Casey will wrap up his talk by presenting some quick results from his most recent paper: At-risk marine biodiversity faces extensive, expanding, and intensifying human impacts.

Daniel Nüst ( is a researcher at the Spatio-temporal Modelling Lab at the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster. Daniel pursues a Ph.D. in the context of the DFG project, Opening Reproducible Research, where he develops tools for creation and execution of research compendia in geography and the geosciences. His professional interest is improving the scholarly publication process with new information technology—of course, with Open Source software! Daniel is reproducibility chair at the AGILE conference series and vice chair of the German association for research software engineering.

Abstract: In his talk, Daniel will give a short introduction to his paper on practical reproducibility in geography and geosciences and present some advanced technologies for reproducibility (notebooks, containers, Binder). Daniel will wrap up his talk by discussing  how reproducibility should be taken into account during peer review and give a brief overview of the initiatives CODECHECK and Reproducible AGILE. 


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.