A few weeks ago on October 11th I was fortunate enough to attend the Esri Canada Education and Research Conference with several of my McMaster GIS colleagues at the beautiful University of Toronto campus. The plenary and opening session featured Dr. Cynthia Brewer of Penn State, creator of the famous ColorBrewer app. The ColorBrewer presentation was interesting to me as I’d never put much thought into how colour ramps are made and the rationale behind their use, even though I’ve made countless maps in my short GIS career so far. I’ll definitely have to re-visit it next time I have to symbolize any sort of spatial data.

It was also cool to explore all the posters up in the courtyard in the morning, as I’m always interested in what students at other schools have been working on. I was pleasantly surprised to see my own Esri Young Scholar poster there, which was based on work that I did for my undergraduate thesis last year.

Myself and my Young Scholar poster at the conference. Photo taken by Pat DeLuca.

After the opening session, I attended the Transit/Transportation seminar to watch my fellow McMaster student associate Matt Brown present some research related to his undergraduate thesis, as well as McMaster’s own ECCE App Challenge participants Karl Chastko and Tasos Dardas present their award-winning app. Though I’ve never done much work on the transportation side of things myself, it’s always great to see what my colleagues have been working on and how useful their work can be.

After lunch, I attended Mike Leahy’s workshop on working with the R-ArcGIS bridge. This was a session I’d been really looking forward to, as I’ve used R for basic statistics in my summer work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada but have never explored its geospatial applications. It was cool seeing how easy it is to import R scripts into ArcGIS Pro, and how much extra customizability and functionality this gives the software. I’ll be getting much more experience with R-ArcGIS next semester as I’ll be taking Pat DeLuca’s Advanced Spatial Statistics course and this demo definitely gave me something to work off.

After the workshop, it was time for me to present my research on badland susceptibility mapping in Italy at the Physical Processes/Modeling seminar. Though I was a little nervous since I’d only presented it for my thesis at McMaster’s research day, I feel it went well enough and was a great learning experience. I also watched my fellow student associate Michele Tsang’s presentation on land cover change in the badlands. There were a couple other cool presentations in this session, including using Lidar point clouds to analyze forest canopies and using drone imagery to monitor land use changes in Canada’s sensitive northern environments.

Overall this conference was a great experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in what researchers in any field are using GIS for. I’ll definitely be attending next time, and am sure it’ll be worth the two year wait.