Research group honored for GIS work at state conference – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Research group honored for GIS work at state conference

A research partnership coordinated by Anne Wibiralske, assistant professor of environmental studies and an assistant director of environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, recently received an award honoring new uses of Geographic Information Systems within the state.

At the New York State GIS Conference, Oct. 23 in Lake Placid, the Old Forest Mapping and Preservation Partnership received the New York GIS Coordination Program’s 2006 GIS Partnership Award.

That partnership is a research and capacity-building collaboration that includes Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Environmental Studies Program; Finger Lakes National Forest; Finger Lakes Forest Watch and Friends of the Forest, two local citizen advocacy organizations; Finger Lakes Land Trust, a regional environmental conservation group; and the Finger Lakes Institute, based on the HWS campus.

One focus of the partnership is to increase GIS mapping and analytical skills of HWS students, faculty, and local residents interested in forest management and protection, while producing new information to assist regional forest management and protection efforts.

The mapping project began in the Fall 2005 HWS Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, where eight students, in collaboration with community and forest service partners and under the direction of Wibiralske and James Hall, a former GIS Specialist at the Institute, used GIS technology and historic aerial photographs to make a map of potentially old forest stands in and around the Finger Lakes National Forest. This new information is contributing to the ongoing forest-planning processes and will be field-verified in the summer of 2007.

Students involved from the Fall 2005 Senior Seminar were Allison Callahan, Kate Feller, Lauren Geiger, Abby Gray, Krystal Hans, Nikki Vance, Evan VanGorder and Kate Warner, all 2006 graduates; and Emily Runnells ’08, hired as a research assistant for the Spring ’06 semester, supported by HWS Provost’s Office.

Karen Edelstein, GIS Specialist and Stewardship Coordinator at the Finger Lakes Land Trust and Project Manager of FLI’s Geospatial Information Technology (GIT Ahead) program; Wibiralske, and Hall, now an GIS analyst with a private firm, also gave their co-authored presentation about this work, “GIS Education: A Dynamic Tool for Multi-Party Collaboration,” at the conference.

Wibiralske, who joined the HWS faculty in 2004, holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, a master’s from Yale University, and her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

First Photo: (left to right) Melissa Reichert, Forest Planner, US Forest Service; Anne Wibiralske, HWS Environmental Studies; Diane Burbank, Forest Ecologist, US Forest Service; Chris Zimmer, Assistant District Ranger, Finger Lakes National Forest, US Forest Service.

Second Photo: (left to right) Kathy Engel, Friends of the Forest; Karen Edelstein, Finger Lakes Land Trust, GIT Ahead; Anne Wibiralske, HWS Environmental Studies.