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Meet Meagan Snow Mapping the Future of GIS

Meagan Snow is the Program Director for Geospatial Research Support at the American University Library. She teaches "Principles of Geographic Information Science" for the AU School of Public Affairs Analytics and Management Institute.

In 2014, Snow helped establish American University's Geospatial Research Lab, located in the Anderson Computing Complex on campus. Snow has an expertise in Geographic Information Systems technology and resources, an area of growing economic and strategic value. GIS benefits organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry. Maps produced in GIS are increasingly used to display everything from weather patterns to election results. Snow has the technical software skills needed to create maps and experience in effectively communicating data.

Snow works with faculty and students across disciplines when they need technical insight on how to tie spatial locations into research or teaching projects. In the lab, she builds and curates the university's spatial data collection and provides support for both research methods and software in the pursuit of robust geospatial research on campus. Snow encourages researchers to explore how geographic visualization and analysis can assist in examining relationship and causalities, uncovering patterns, and making predictions.

Snow has a varied background that allows her to connect with researchers from across disciplines and help them understand how to incorporate spatial analysis into their research design. Snow graduated cum laude from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in geography with a concentration in GIS and a minor in environmental studies. She earned her M.A. in geography from the University of Minnesota where she focused on economic geography and critical GIS. As a teaching assistant and graduate fellow at the University of Minnesota, she was a lab instructor and teaching assistant for both GIS and human geography courses.

Snow has extensive experience working with U.S. Census data and was a research assistant for the Minnesota Population Center's National Historical Geographic Information System. She is expected to complete her Ph.D. in geography at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2018.

Exploring the Potential of GIS

In the course, "Principles of Geographic Information Science," Snow will cover the foundational skills in GIS software to help students think critically and creatively about how spatial analysis can be applied to their work.

"Almost all research topics have a spatial component to them, regardless of discipline," said Snow. "My goal is for students to understand how these tools can help them ask better questions and make stronger arguments on the issues and topics that are most important to them."

The course will serve as an introduction to spatial data types and formats, coordinate systems, spatial queries and joins, geoprocessing tools, and the art and science of cartography. By the end of the course, students will know how to make basic maps, how to create, edit, and query spatial data, and have an understanding of what else is possible with GIS, given further study.