s-talk: Interview with Professor Dan Montello

Announcing the inaugural s[patial]-talk:

Interview: Professor Dan Montello

Dan Montello | Department of Geography | UC Santa Barbara

Mosher Alumni House

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

12:00–12:45 pm, interview in the Alumni Hall (updated)
12:45–1:30 pm, reception on the terrace


The Center for Spatial Studies will be initiating s-talks, a new series in which Director Krzysztof Janowicz will interview prominent scholars, thinkers, and practitioners who are working with spatial data and advancing theories of spatial thinking, analytics, modeling, and representation.

These interviews will not follow the usual route of paper-sized presentations but will explore the big research ideas underlying our guests’ work, their careers, and their thoughts on how their and our work is contributing to society at large. Interviews will start with a brief introduction, followed by about 30–40 minutes of on-stage discussion, and then questions from the audience before we move to the informal part of the presentation with Mediterranean snacks (served on the terrace outside, due to COVID precautions).

As a professor in the Department of Geography and affiliated professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dan Montello has published widely in the areas of spatial, environmental, and geographic perception, cognition, and behavior and has made foundational contributions to the study of human cognition in GIScience—the study of human knowledge and knowing involving geographic information and GIS. This cognition includes both internal mental structures and processes, such as beliefs and perceptions, and external symbolic structures and processes, such as maps and natural language. This interview will probe the development of these topics throughout his career.

While we hope to see you there in person at the Mosher Alumni House, this is a hybrid event and it will also be available online via Airmeet.

Space for in-person attendance will be limited; please informally RSVP by March 4 to Karen Doehner

To join the event online, please register in advance on Airmeet and confirm by clicking the link emailed to you upon registering.

2022 Lightning Talks

Announcing the 11th annual

Spatial Lightning Talks

February 28, 2022

10:00 – 11:30 am PST | 6:00 – 7:30 pm GMT

Please register here and confirm by clicking the link emailed to you upon registering. 

Spatial Lightning Talks, February 28, 2022, 10am PST

Inspired by the Ignite Talks, the Spatial Lightning Talks feature intrepid presenters who have three minutes to deliver their idea, story, or message. Topics may be wide-ranging, as long as they somehow relate to space, broadly interpreted. Both serious and lighthearted presentations are welcomed, as long as they stick to the mantra, “Enlighten us, but make it quick.”

The event will be held on Airmeet, which runs best in the Chrome browser. This year, we are again pleased to welcome presenters from across the US and several countries around the world. After all presentations, there will be an opportunity for presenters and attendees to interact through virtual tables (i.e., video chatrooms) in Airmeet’s Social Lounge.

Preliminary Schedule:

10:00 am PST

  • Welcome: Krzysztof Janowicz (Director, Center for Spatial Studies)
  • Technical notes: Kitty Currier (Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Spatial Studies)

10:06 – 11:00 am PST

Lightning Talks:

  1. Tyler Hoffman (Arizona State University)
    Private Wojtek, Soldier Bear: A Tale in Three Maps
  2. David Palacios (KartaSoft Digital Mapping)
    The Future of Location Insights
  3. Tuqa Jirmo (The Nature Conservancy)
    Marine Spatial Planning
  4. Carlos Baez (UC Santa Barbara Geography)
    Institutions in GIScience: What can we learn from Elk Hunting in Yellowstone National Park’s “Zone of Death”?
  5. Craig Beech (Regenerative SPACE)
    9-Square Conservation Bricks
  6. Mable Zhou (Hegarty Spatial Thinking Lab, UC Santa Barbara Psychology & Brain Science)
    Direction estimation and navigation efficiency in an outdoor setting: No gender difference!
  7. Yingjie Hu (Department of Geography, University at Buffalo)
    How much does a neighborhood drink: Human-place interaction and alcohol-related outcomes
  8. Markus Kattenbeck (TU Wien Geoinformation / UC Santa Barbara Geography)
    Let me observe your behavior and I will tell you how native you are
  9. Molly Meyer (Omni Ecosystems)
    Ecosystem Services Across Scales in the Built Environment
  10. Phil Dustan (College of Charleston)
    Sustainability: Overused and Little Understood
  11. Grant McKenzie (McGill University)
    PrivyTo: Privacy Preserving Location Sharing
  12. Mohammad Kazemi (RMIT University, Department of Geospatial Sciences)
    Answering Qualitative Geospatial Questions Using Deductive Spatial Reasoning

11:00 – 11:30 am PST

  • Interact with presenters and attendees at virtual tables in the Airmeet Social Lounge

Browse lists and videos of past Lightning Talks speakers here.

Spatial Lightning Talks: Call for Presenters

Now recruiting presenters

for the 11th annual

Spatial Lightning Talks

to be held online via Airmeet on February 28, 2022 at 10:00 am PT

Submit your presentation idea here by February 11
(Sorry; we are no longer accepting entries.)

Inspired by the Ignite Talks, the Spatial Lightning Talks feature intrepid presenters who have three minutes to deliver their idea, story, or message. Topics may be wide-ranging, as long as they somehow relate to spatial thinking and/or analysis. Both serious and lighthearted presentations are  welcomed, as long as they stick to the mantra, “Enlighten us, but make it quick.”

Affiliates and non-affiliates of UCSB are invited to present and attend. With the online format, we hope to attract participants from around the globe.

2021 Lightning Talks screenshotExamples of past years’ titles:

  • “You Are Here” (Michael Goodchild, 2021; video)
  • “Human [reference] map” (Katy Börner, 2021; video)
  • “Your Smartphone, Organize It” (Thomas Crimmel, 2017; video)
  • “The Un-Spatial Talk” (Dan Montello, 2017; video)
  • “A Lovely Mess–A Brief History of UCSB Campus Plans” (Dennis Whelan, 2017; video)
  • “Acoustic Spatialization” (Elizabeth J. Hambleton, 2017; video)
  • “Why isn’t the US metric?” (Keith C. Clarke, 2015; video)
  • “Go West, Young Man: Consistency and Inconsistency in Cognitive Representations of Cardinal Directions” (Bernard Comrie,  2015; video)
  • “Polar Bears and Great Pyrenees Dogs: A Matter of Scale!” (Tommy Dickey and Hot Rod Linkin, 2015; video)
  • “Navigating Narratives as Networks” (Jeremy Douglass,  2014; video)
  • “Airports: The Good, the Bad, and the WTF” (Grant McKenzie,  2013; video)
  • “Marine Transportation: OOPS” (Rick Church, 2010; video)
  • and many more

We will try to accommodate all submissions, but if interest exceeds the available time slots, we will select talks based on their title and a brief description of the concept (1-3 sentences). Please submit your idea through this Google Form no later than February 11. Confirmation of presenters will be emailed by February 15.

Questions? Contact Kitty Currier, kcurrier@ucsb.edu. We look forward to your submission!


ThinkSpatial: Amanda Cravens

ThinkSpatial logo

The UCSB forum on spatial technologies presents

Effective decision support tools:
The importance of understanding user experiences and institutional barriers to doing so

Dr. Amanda Cravens

Social and Economic Analysis Branch, US Geological Survey

11:00 am (PT), Thursday, February 3, 2022 (online)

Please register here and confirm by clicking the link emailed to you upon registering.

Abstract: Adapting to climate change and variability, and their associated impacts, requires integrating scientific information into complex decision-making processes. Recognizing this challenge, there have been widespread calls for information providers and scientists to work closely with decision makers to ensure they produce datasets and tools that meet real-world needs. Despite the emphasis on integrating user needs into the design of resources, tool developers often do not understand the range of ways their tools are actually incorporated into the decisions of potential users nor the reasons why someone might opt not to use a seemingly-relevant tool. Therefore, there is a need to better understand the specific social and institutional factors that influence why users use (or do not use) particular resources as well as the strategies that tool developers use to engage with users. Using the Upper Colorado River Drought Early Warning System as a case study, this study explored both the process of tool development and the process by which tool users find relevant information for drought decision making. Understanding these two groups’ experiences suggests ways to more effectively design and implement decision support tools in the future.

Amanda CravensBio: Amanda Cravens is a Research Social Scientist with the US Geological Survey’s Social and Economic Analysis Branch in Fort Collins, CO. Amanda’s interdisciplinary research interests include the translation of scientific information into decision making, policies and institutions that influence environmental management, and understanding the cognitive and social processes that make decision support tools work effectively. She is also very interested in the practice of interdisciplinary science and has served as a member of multiple working groups as well as published on the role of creativity in science. She earned her PhD from Stanford University’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources and her MA in Geography from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand).

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial Forum 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.

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2021 Lightning Talks

The Center for Spatial Studies’ Lightning Talks are designed to be serious or funny, as long as the mantra is followed: “​Enlighten us, but make it quick​.

This year the talks were held on ​Tuesday, March 16, 2021. This annual series of ​3-minute​ lightning talks typically brings together speakers from across the UCSB campus and the local community to enlighten the crowd on thought-provoking ​spatial topics of all kinds​. Since this year the event was held online, it had much broader participation from across the globe with an exciting lineup of speakers from the spatial community worldwide. See the list of selected speakers and the titles of their talks below. Recorded videos can be found here.

Special note: ​The 2021 annual Center for Spatial Studies ​Lightning Talks​ were dedicated to the memory of Paul Wilson, who was one of the Center’s most avid and constant participants of all things spatial. Paul’s presence at our ongoing activities will be sorely missed. See his 2014 Lighting Talk on Whale Traffic Control: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6t4627c5

Rui Zhu ruizhu@geog.ucsb.edu