University of California
Informatics and GIS Program

Calling all grad students: Need a research project? We got questions!

One of the core missions of IGIS is to conduct research that pushes the envelope of spatial science and spatial technologies for applications in agriculture and natural resources. To achieve this, we provide a wide array of research support services for ANR staff and their collaborators, from trainings, to proposal consultations, to online office hours. We also have a long list of research questions that guide our own research, and we are always on the lookout for good research partners.

If you are a graduate student or upper-division undergrad with a research interest that overlaps one of our areas of work, we'd love to hear from you. We generally don't have ready-to-go project proposals to hand out, but we'd be happy to talk with you to help develop your interests and point you to some useful resources.

We particularly welcome interest from UC Berkeley graduate students in the College of Natural Resources. Why CNR? Because students from departments in CNR are eligible for a summer research funding from the Graduate Student in Extension program. Note however the application deadline for summer 2017 research fellowships is approaching soon - Friday March 3rd.

See below for a summary of some of our main research areas. If you'd like to find out more, feel free to drop us an email or sign-up for our online office hours.

IGIS Research Areas

Needs assessments. GIS professionals are generally quite good at spatial analyses and working with all manner of mapping tools. However there is an ongoing need to better understand the information needs of specific audiences and the contexts in which they operate. Hence we are always interested in the spatial data information needs of decision makers at all levels, including community groups, non-traditional growers, public land managers, environmental stewardship groups, planners, non-profits, etc.

Long and short-term perspectives of forest change. California's forests are undergoing change at both long and short time scales. Understanding these processes is essential for managing our forests in a changing environment. IGIS helped digitize historical records including harvest reports going back to the late 1800s, vegetation surveys from the 20s-50s, and research reports from the UCANR Research Extension Centers going back to the 30s. We are also keenly interested in how spatial data and technologies can help us understand and manage California's current mass tree mortality crisis.

Spatial technology R&D. The convergence of several technological advancements has resulted in data collection capabilities that would have been a pipe-dream just 10 years ago. From affordable drone imaging to distributed environmental sensor networks, we can measure more environmental properties and at a finer scale than ever before. But what do we do with all this data, and how do we transform these exciting technologies into user-friendly “turn-key” systems for growers and natural resource managers? There is a lot more R&D work needed to harness these exciting technologies for applied science and real-world applications.

Drones and agriculture. The Lindcove Research and Extension Center focuses on the improvement and evaluation of citrus development, including irrigation practices, sensor systems to measure tree and fruit properties, and integrated pest and disease management. We have recent high resolution drone imagery for the Center, as well as health data on individual trees and orchards. An extremely useful data analysis project would be to correlate vegetation indices from the drone data with measurements of tree health collected in the field. This would be of great interest to the citrus industry, and more generally help us understand how to use drones to support California's large agriculture sector. 

Urban-rural connections. To support California's growing cities and economy, we need to protect and improve the ecosystem services upon which so much of state's economy and quality of life depends. Ironically however, the environmental and economic importance of natural and working landscapes is often not on the radar screen of policy makers. GIS is the perfect tool to measure, model, and visualize the connections between urban and rural areas. We need case studies, models, policy papers, decision support systems, and a whole lot more.


If none of these research areas strikes your fancy, check out the presentations from all the UCCE Academics who participated in the recent Cooperative Extension Showcase at UC Berkeley. 

Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 8:58 PM
Tags: GSE (1), IGIS (48), research (1)

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