29 July 2008

GIS Research Centers

Someone asked recently about GIS research centers that are like CRSSA. Aside from the simple answer that there is no place else like CRSSA, it really got me thinking about how different the centers I know are. They each tend to have their own flavor, being influenced by their region, the school, specific disciplinary ties and the individuals conducting the research.

The first comparison that comes to mind for me is the LICGF at Wisconsin where I did my doctoral work. They are an RGIS site and do both locally-relevant work (e.g., Shaping Dane) and nationally-significant work (e.g., NSF projects). This is about as close as I think I see to the CRSSA model - and since CRSSA's Dr. Lathrop and LICGF's Dr. Ventura were classmates at UW, it might be a total coincidince.

A fairly similar model is used at Dan Brown's Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the University of Michigan's SNRE. The projects seem more thematically focused around landuse.

A different model is the approach of the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. As I understand it, this is structured on a model that more closely resembled a library in the way that it serves other programs on campus.

My experience has been that OSU's Center for Mapping had a diverse set of inputs, but managed to maintain a stronger conncection with engineering and geography.

The model that I don't expect to see replicated is the national center, like the 3-university NCGIA at UCSB, Buffalo, and Maine. The impacts have been far-reaching and the research prorgams that have resulted have been pretty impressive.

Some seem to reflect on their home departments. Michigan State's RGIS seems to be more of a social science service center based in the geography program.

In some cases I know less about the centers that I do about the faculty. Another geography program center looks to be University of South Carolina's CGIRS which is lead by David Cowen, Michael Hodgson and John Jensen.

I've left out a lot, but this is a start.

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