Celebrating SSI Undergrad Research

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photo credit: Michael Quick 

Student teams present at the USC Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work

Spatial Sciences Institute undergraduate students and their faculty advisors culminated their research for the 2016-2017 academic year with presentations at the university’s 19th Annual Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work on April 12, 2017. Presented by the USC Office of Undergraduate Programs and the Office of the Provost, the annual symposium is modeled on a professional conference poster session and provides students with the opportunity to share and showcase their research with the university community.

Among the 276 students who participated in this year’s symposium were the following Spatial Sciences Institute students and their SSI faculty advisors:

  • “3D Visualization of the USC University Park Campus”: Elizabeth Berson, Grace Corsi, Courtney Fassett, Julia Fruithandler, Eliza Gutierrez-Dewar, and Sarah Ladhani (Dr. John Wilson and Beau MacDonald, advisors);
  • “Alternative ‘SunSmart’ Landscapes for Elementary School Playgrounds: A GeoDesign Approach”: Diana Kim and Thwe (Nida) Soe (Dr. Darren Ruddell and Dr. Jennifer Swift, advisors);
  • “LA GeoHub: A Spatial Analysis of Street-level Crime Trends in Los Angeles”: Izzy Mitchel, Leonard Ngo, and Richard Windisch (Dr. John Wilson, Dr. Noli Brazil, and Beau MacDonald, advisors);
  • “Life-Sustaining Water on Pimu/Santa Catalina Island as a Foundation for Understanding Past and Future Settlement Decisions”: Kevin Mercy (Dr. Su Jin Lee, advisor);
  • “Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Nighttime Lighting In and Around National Parks”: Benjamin Banet and Yu Chuan Shan (Dr. Travis Longcore, advisor); and
  • “Spatial Patterns of Air Pollution (PM 2.5) in Los Angeles County”: Caroline Buth and Monica Finnstrom (Dr. Su Jin Lee, advisor).

After the symposium, the SSI teams and advisors celebrated at the awards ceremony and banquet hosted by Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Quick in Town & Gown.

“One of our highest priorities for our undergraduate students – GeoDesign majors, Spatial Studies minors, and Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence minors – is to provide them with research opportunities to work on funded research projects,” said Wilson, professor and founding director of SSI. Wilson added, “Not only are these students developing valuable research experience and deep connections with our faculty, they also become geospatial scientists in their own regard, making direct contributions to innovations in spatial sciences and technologies.”

Richard Windisch, a junior in the B.S. in GeoDesign program, said, “My team and I have had a fantastic experience working on the LA GeoHub project, and getting to present our poster in the Undergraduate Symposium was a great way to share our work with other faculty and students across the university. We are all very proud of how our research will positively impact not only the community around USC, but also the entire Los Angeles region. I have learned so much by being part of the LA GeoHub team, and as a result of that and other SSI experiences, have been able to secure an internship this summer with JPL-NASA. I’m really looking forward to my summer research and to continuing with an SSI research project next year.”

photo credit: Susan Kamei

Read more about SSI undergraduate research activities. For more information about SSI undergraduate research opportunities, please contact Susan Kamei, SSI managing director, at


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