Catawba College Professor to Present International Research at GIS Virtual Conference
September 3, 2020
Recent research overseen by a Catawba College professor found that roughly half the earth’s ice-free land remains without significant human influence. However, there is great variation in levels of human influence across ecosystems with some, like temperate grasslands, under severe threat.
Dr. Andrew Jacobson, assistant professor of GIS and Conservation in Catawba’s Department of the Environment and Sustainability, oversaw the research, which involved a team of international scientists including those at the National Geographic Society. Jacobson was selected to present this work at a unique virtual conference on geographic information science on Thursday, Sept. 3. The North Carolina ArcGIS Users Group conference is an annual conference held for specialists in GIS across government, the private sector, and academia. The three-day conference is held annually at various locations across the state. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is being held virtually.
“Dr. Jacobson’s research provides important context and urgency for conserving earth’s remaining habitats,” said Dr. Luke Dollar, Chair of the School for the Environment and Sustainability at Catawba. “While his research is targeted to influence global negotiations on protected areas, like national parks, it also showcases exemplary GIS skills. I am thrilled to have Dr. Jacobson share this ground-breaking work and its relevance for North Carolinians.”
Jacobson is a conservation biologist and oversees the Geographic Information Systems and Technology Minor at Catawba. “Geographic information systems, or GIS, are an incredibly powerful tool to understand our world and make better decisions in it,” said Jacobson. “GIS is integral to my work, studying and conserving special places and species around the world. Only with the power of this technology can I understand the impact of habitat loss on an ecosystem, or the location of the last habitat patches of a threatened species.”
GIS is a multi-billion dollar industry with continued strong growth outlook, he added. It is widely used in government, transportation and environmental sectors, and is increasingly linked with business intelligence such as determining the location of new stores or warehouses.