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2009 Winners of the MN GIS/LIS Consortium Scholarship abstracts and bios
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Leticia Blauert - Bemidji State University – Undergrad
Lisa Curtis - Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Nicholas Entinger - University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Undergrad
Jake Galzki - University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Grad
Liz Harmon - Itasca Community College
Renee Huset - University of St. Thomas – Undergrad
Brandon Keinath - University of Minnesota, Duluth – Undergrad
Stephanie Kleinschmidt - Macalester College – Undergrad
Scott Kraushaar - St. Cloud State University – Undergrad
Brian Lorenz - St. Cloud State University – Grad
Michael Mrosla - Minnesota State University, Mankato – Undergrad
Jared Rahn - Minnesota State University, Mankato – Grad
Andrew Schmidt - Saint Mary's University of Minnesota – Grad
1. Leticia Blauert - Bemidji State University – Undergrad

Leticia Blauert is a senior at Bemidji State University. She is from Elk River, Minnesota and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Geography with an emphasis in Park and Recreation Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis in Wildlife Management. She is also in the process of completing two minors, one in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and General Biology. Her current goals are to graduate from Bemidji State University in the spring of 2010. After graduation she hopes to get a job working with the Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Service or a similar agency, working in a field dealing with wildlife management, park and recreation planning or GIS

A spatial analysis on the climate and the distribution of White-tail deer populations in Minnesota

Minnesota has many big game animals, but the most popular among them is the White-tail deer. The White-tail deer can have populations that can reach up to one million individuals in the spring. White-tail deer are found in every county across Minnesota and can easily adapt to the many different habitats and environments that Minnesota can provide. These changes can be multiple things including disease, habitat destruction/disturbance, and erratic weather patterns. These patterns in the weather can include the differences from year to year in annual precipitation and the average temperature throughout the year. This study entails the comparison of weather patterns and White-tail deer population distributions between 1999 and 2002. The aim is to examine if a relationship exists between temporal variations in weather patterns and the spatial distribution of whitetail populations.

2. Lisa Curtis - Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

Lisa Curtis is completing her studies to receive an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Geographic Information Systems and Visualizations along with an Associate of Science Degree in Environmental Science from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. She is the President of the GIS Club and the Treasurer of the Environmental Science Club and dedicates a large portion of her time to organizing and implementing events that bring the college and the community together through activities such as community geocaches. Lisa resides in Cloquet, MN with her husband of 9 years and her four children.

Determining Taxation Based on Agricultural Land Use

The Southern and Western parts of Minnesota are host to a significant amount of agricultural land use applications. Recently, North Dakota updated its tax code to account for the actual productivity potential of the soils within agricultural land use applications. This project applies that same concept to the agricultural land use in Minnesota to determine the impact of an adjustment in such a taxation scheme. ArcGIS and ENVI are used to analyze various geospatial datasets.

3. Nicholas Entinger - University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Undergrad

Nick Entinger has always had a strong interest in mapping. As a kid he constructed a 3D model of California's Half Dome Mountain out of cardboard and enjoyed tracing elevation maps out of his history books. After graduating from Osseo High School Nick enrolled in the Geography program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. During his time there he helped map the wind energy potential of the North Shore with Mike Mageau, Stacey Stark, and Nick Salo. He also created a 3D model of the Duluth campus with his adviser Olaf Kuhlke. After his sophomore year Nick left Duluth for the Twin Cities in order to attend classes offered through the MGIS program. After his junior year he secured a job with the Saint Paul GIS Office under Jim Engfer. There he helped prepare the city for the Republican National Convention. This summer Nick will be moving to Yellowstone National Park to help evaluate the park's 3D modeling program.

Estimating Lake Water Turbidity in Glacier National Park

Water turbidity is a critical biological variable in high alpine lakes. It is crucial in determining which species of fish and aquatic plants inhabit any given lake. Water turbidity is also directly related to the amount of sediment and organic particulates suspended in a body of water. Runoff, pollution, and algae all influence water turbidity. Glacier National Park, located on the border of Montana and Alberta, has a wide variety of lakes, ranging from crystal clear large lakes to small high elevation lakes choked with glacial sediments. Unfortunately Glacier’s rugged terrain and lack of roads makes in situ measurements costly and time consuming. Therefore it is an ideal candidate for remote sensing applications. Using a water turbidity model developed in the park during the early 1990s LandSAT 5 data can be used to estimate water clarity remotely. Because the LandSAT 5 program has been operating since the 1980s it is also possible to estimate any changes in turbidity that may have occurred over the past 20 years.

4. Jake Galzki - University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – Grad

Jake is a M.S. graduate student at the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in Water Resources Science. Research interests include surface water quality and how GIS can be applied to water resources.

Identifying Critical Portions of the Landscape for Water Quality Protection using GIS and Terrain Analysis

Determining which landscapes are major sources of agricultural pollution within a watershed is complicated by the mechanisms of transport. Small portions of the landscape contribute disproportionate amounts of contaminants to nearby waterways, especially in areas of accumulated surface runoff. Terrain analysis can describe the topography of different landscapes rapidly and can help identify these areas of accumulated runoff. Once located, these areas can be targeted with best management practices and their effect on surface water contamination can be minimized. Terrain attributes were calculated from a 30 meter resolution digital elevation model (DEM) for the Le Sueur Watershed in southern Minnesota. These attributes were used along with ancillary GIS layers, such as soils data, to identify critical portions of the landscape. Critical areas identified include upland depression areas, riparian areas, and ravines. With the advancement in light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies, highly accurate DEMs can be created. LiDAR data was acquired for several south central Minnesota watersheds, and terrain attributes were calculated with a 3 meter spatial resolution. Within a pilot watershed, 65 of 83 field verified gully erosional features were identified with these terrain attributes. With an ever increasing availability of LiDAR data, terrain analysis may prove very useful in the future for natural resource management.

5. Liz Harmon - Itasca Community College

Liz is currently working for the Aitkin County Auditor's Office as a Land Records Technician. She has worked at the County for 13 years starting in the Land Department and moving to the Auditor's Office 2 years ago. Until going to ICC, her GIS knowledge and training was on the job. About 10 years ago Liz started computer mapping all the parcels in Aitkin County which took about 4 years to complete. Part of her job now is keeping this parcel map layer up to date, providing maps to the public either on line or at the courthouse, and also using aerial photography and surveys to make it as visually accurate as possible. Liz also reviews legal descriptions on deeds for accuracy and helps correct any errors. She decided to complete the GIS Certificate program at ICC because Liz really enjoys that part of her job and wanted to learn more to be able to do her job better as well as be able to take advantage of any future possibilities.

Carbon Storage of Aitkin County Forests

The poster will provide information on sequestered carbon in Aitkin County’s forests. A County forest inventory layer showing cover types and volumes and how they relate to carbon storage will be mapped to show "hot spots” throughout the county. The poster will describe how carbon is emitted and concepts of how carbon storage can be increased through improved forest management and in wood products. The potential economic benefit to Aitkin County will be outlined.

6. Renee Huset- University of St. Thomas – Undergrad

Renee is originally from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and is currently in her third year of studies at the University of Saint Thomas where she is double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Renee has thoroughly enjoyed all the applications of GIS that she has encountered, but is particularly interested in using GIS to help solve environmental problems. Thus far, her research has focused on targeting degraded Minnesota forestland for carbon offset projects and further studying the state’s carbon landscape.

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Understand Minnesota’s Carbon Landscape

This project is focused on locating and further studying Carbon-rich lands in Minnesota. The first phase of the project involved mapping concentrations of above ground Carbon in the state. After locating heavy concentrations of Carbon at three different scales, the next step was to analyze the underlying processes associated with the presence of Carbon hot spots. To accomplish this, a number of factors, both physical and human, were examined for their impact on the Carbon-sequestration potential of the landscape with the use of regression analysis. The overall goal of the project was to understand what leads to Carbon absorption and forest persistence in the state of Minnesota so to make an educated formal proposal to the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council (LOHC)—the state’s governing body responsible for appropriating funds for conservation projects—suggesting lands to be preserved with above ground Carbon concentrations in mind.

7. Brandon Keinath - University of Minnesota, Duluth – Undergrad

Brandon graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in geography. He also has a certificate in GIS from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Brandon is currently working for both UMD and Superior Water Light and Power doing GIS work.

Emerald Ash Borer and Focusing Ash Seed Collection in Minnesota

The Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis, is an invasive beetle from China first documented in the United States in Detroit, MI in June 2002. This estimate is approximate due to the condition of the ash trees in Detroit at that time. With confirmed detections in Southeastern Wisconsin eventual dispersal into Minnesota is all but certain. University of Minnesota Extension and the University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources are collecting vast amounts of ash seed from Minnesota forests to ensure preservation of the ash species present in these areas. Ash collection in Minnesota can be focused using current scientific literature and GIS analysis. The majority of ash seed collected so far has been limited to Cass, Itasca, and Koochiching counties. As well, green ash density has been artificially enhanced due to intense planting following losses from Dutch elm disease. Consequently, green ash trees are highly related to one another, greatly increasing the risk to urban ash trees. Ash collection information and ash density was analyzed using ArcInfo 9.3. A density map was created based on potential movement of Emerald Ash Borer at 10.6 km/year. These maps suggest a need for increased ash seed collection in areas of southern Minnesota and areas of high urban ash density. White ash should also be a collection priority because of its possible resistance to Emerald Ash Borer.

8. Stephanie Kleinschmidt - Macalester College – Undergrad

Stephanie is from Glenburn, ME and attends Macalester College in St. Paul. She has worked as a GIS intern at Kleinschmidt Associates in Pittsfield, ME for a year and a half following her first year of college. Stephanie is currently working on finishing her Geography major and Math minor at Macalester. She has taken two advanced GIS classes at Macalester focused around a Community Based Research project that allowed for direct contact with and impact on the community. Stephanie has also worked as a teacher’s assistant for one of the GIS classes, and is doing so again this fall. When Stephanie graduates she’d like to go on to graduate school to pursue a degree in environmental GIS.

Analysis of Streamflow Change in the St. Croix River Through Hydrological Modeling

In 2004, the USGS published findings about the St. Croix River water flow based on two different measuring stations: Danbury and St. Croix Falls. The data, available until 2001, from these stations revealed that the stream flow at St. Croix Falls, the downstream station, was significantly higher than that at Danbury. The USGS ruled out differences in climate between the stations as a cause of this disparity because the sites are in close proximity to each other, but said that "the trends of increased flow between Danbury and St. Croix Falls may be related to factors other than climate, such as hydropower operation, population growth, changes in agricultural practices, or changes in land use.
This project uses hydrological modeling in a GIS to analyze the relationship of factors expected to be influencing the flow rate of the St. Croix River. Of primary focus are the effects of land use changes, urbanization (an increase in impervious surfaces), land cover and agricultural practices, as well as other sources of increased runoff. Data used originate primarily from state and federal agencies, and several models were evaluated for their appropriateness. This project seeks to explain how stream flow is affected by anthropogenic changes to the environment, looking specifically at the St. Croix River.

9. Scott Kraushaar - St. Cloud State University – Undergrad (not participating in competition)

Scott spent the summer working on an internship and was busy preparing for a trip to Russia. Scott’s busy schedule prevented him from participating at the fall conference, but he is preparing for his future by attending graduate school in Missouri.

10. Brian Lorenz - St. Cloud State University – Grad

Brian is a graduate student in GIS at St. Cloud State University (SCSU), where he has been working toward a graduate certificate in GIS. He has been employed in the biology department at SCSU since January 2007, where he manages a research animal facility, but also supports research in the SCSU Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory through the application of GIS technology. Previous to his work at SCSU, Brian worked for nine years in wildlife ecology as a biologist and biotechnician specializing in the management of nongame wildlife, particularly amphibians and reptiles, but also threatened and endangered birds and mammals. His current research interest is the application of GIS technology to study relationships between land use/cover patterns and the occurrence of xenobiotic estrogens in aquatic ecosystems.

Utilization of Geographic Information Systems to Investigate Relationships between Landuse and Wastewater Management Practices and the Occurrence of Endocrine Active Compounds within the Redwood River Watershed in Southwestern Minnesota.

Recent research has found evidence of endocrine active compounds (EACs) in multiple species of fish occurring within the watersheds of three tributaries of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. A geographic information system (GIS) was developed to identify nine riparian sites within the watershed of one tributary in southwestern Minnesota, the Redwood River, for evaluation of the presence of EACs. Sites were selected based on the presence of potential point and non-point sources of EACs, including agricultural, industrial and wastewater effluent and/or runoff, as assessed by evaluation of multiple data layers within the GIS. At each site, 20 males and 12 females of a common aquatic indicator species, the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), were deployed in cages for three weeks. Following deployment, fish were sacrificed for analysis of the egg-yolk precursor protein vitellogenin as it has been demonstrated that this protein will be found in male fish in the presence of EACs and may decrease in female fish exposed to some EACs. Additionally, multiple water samples were collected at each site for evaluation of total estrogenicity. Results of this study will further our understanding of the influence of land use practices and wastewater management on the presence and concentration of EACs and their potential impacts on fish within a watershed at varying distances from point and non-point sources.

11. Michael Mrosla - Minnesota State University, Mankato – Undergrad

Michael Mrosla is a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he is currently finishing his degree in the Department of Geography. His focus is on Geographic Information Science where he uses his skills as an intern at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. His research interests include physical geography, cartography, meteorology and biogeography. In his spare time Mike enjoys sports and enjoying the outdoor activities

2009 Red River Valley Flooding Analysis and Damage Assessment Using GIS

The 2009 Red River flood along the Minnesota and North Dakota boarders set record flood levels in the Fargo-Moorhead area. This study aims to better understand the magnitude, causes and impacts of the flooding on the Red River using GIS. Major questions addressed include: (1) what areas of Fargo and Moorhead are most susceptible to flooding? (2) How many people were affected by the 2009 flood in Fargo and Moorhead? (3) Without levees, what areas of Fargo and Moorhead would be covered by the flood waters? The answers of these questions will help to increase awareness of the dangers that come from the Red River Valley flooding.

12. Jared Rahn - Minnesota State University, Mankato – Grad

Jared Rahn is a Masters student in the Geography Department at Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato. He received his B.S. in Education from Martin Luther College in New Ulm in 2002. Jared has spent three years as an elementary school teacher in Michigan. At MSU, he worked as a graduate teaching assistant both for introductory and intermediate GIS courses from fall 2007 to spring 2009. He attended and presented at the 2009 AAG Conference in Las Vegas. He also presented and won the first-place award for the poster competition at the 2009 South Dakota State University Geography Conference. Jared is examining the historic interactions between people and their environment as manifested during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12. He plans to graduate in December and seeks a job either as a GIS specialist or in education.

GIS Analysis and Simulation of Earthquake-Driven Riverine Tsunami Inundation

Abstract: Eyewitnesses reported violent disruptions of the Mississippi River, including waterfalls, spouts, whirlpools, giant waves, and the famous retrograde current, during the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes. These disruptions were responsible for the deaths of people and riverine environment change. A repeat of these events could trigger a fluvial tsunami, which would threaten the town of New Madrid, Missouri and its surroundings with catastrophic flooding. In this project, GIS spatial and hydrologic analysis techniques are applied to modern elevation and land cover data to model Earthquake-driven waves at different scales. This investigation reveals the spatial pattern and extent of the tsunami inundation, providing a guide for disaster preparation and management efforts.

13. Andrew Schmidt- Saint Mary's University of Minnesota – Grad

Andy’s background includes completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography with an emphasis in GIS in the spring of 1999 from Saint Cloud State University. He also completed a Masters of Science in Geographic Information Sciences in the spring of 2009 from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Since completing his bachelor’s degree, Andy has been employed at Great River Energy in the United Services Group department for the past 10 years. He started as a GIS Technician and currently is a Senior GIS Technician. Currently Andy is working to give back to the educational institutions that helped prepare him for his career by being a mentor for a perspective Saint Cloud State University geography student, along with training sessions and presenting papers at local and national GIS focused conferences.

Implementing a GIS Methodology for Siting High Voltage Electric Transmission Lines

Standardization of high voltage electric transmission line siting methodologies using GIS spatial analysis tools has great potential in helping predict and defend new optimal route corridors. A standard methodology that incorporates multiple weighted perspectives of influence can aid in the route approval by the governmental and regulatory permitting entities as well as the support of the affected public. Users of transmission line siting methodologies must fully understand, implement, and remain unbiased in the tools used to ensure that results remain consistent, reliable, and defendable. Great River Energy (GRE) had a need for a tool to help in the decision making process of siting of new transmission lines. Too often in the past, a transmission line route was chosen using expert judgment, and then if needed, a case to defend it for the permitting process was built. By utilizing the Electric Power Research Institute-Georgia Transmission Corporation (EPRI-GTC) Overhead Electric Transmission Line Siting Methodology and applying needed changes based on corporate guidelines, regional factors, and work process, an adapted GIS transmission-siting model was developed for use at GRE by this research. The methodology takes a defined study area, and then through a funneled approach of both an area of interest and increasing accuracy in GIS data sources, it identifies macro corridors, defines alternative types of corridors based on weighted perspectives, plots alternative routes within the corridors, and finally, selects a preferred route. The steps, analysis, and results to build and run the GIS siting methodology on a potential transmission project will be presented.

Our congratulations go out to all of the recipients for a job well done!


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