By Janet Harron |
Sept. 16, 2010
Dr. Nigel Waters, a distinguished scholar from George Mason University, will deliver the Henrietta Harvey Lecture at Memorial University on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
Dr. Waters is an internationally renowned geographer and the director of the Centre of Excellence for Geographic Information Science at George Mason University in Virginia. In his lecture, Dr. Waters will discuss Geographic Information Systems (GIS) research and why it is important for both the university and the general public.
"Geographers and geographic information scientists are fond of saying that 80 per cent of everything happens somewhere or to put it another way, 80 per cent of the data that we use in academia and in our daily lives can be geographically referenced and these geographic co-ordinates are useful in helping us to understand the meaning of the data and in helping us put it to good use.”
Dr. Waters says that almost every academic department in the university can make use of geographic information. Archaeologists use GIS software to produce site maps; biologists use GIS to examine species distributions and habitat use; and doctors use GIS to look at the spread of disease and disease distributions and to locate medical facilities so as to reach the greatest number of patients.
GIS is hugely important in our daily lives as we navigate in our cars along roads that our governments manage with GIS software. GIS is also used by all emergency services including police, firefighters and emergency medical services.
Dr. Waters’ lecture, “GIS Research: Why is it important to the University and to the Public?” will start at 7 p.m. in room 2001 of the Inco Innovation Centre. Free parking will be available in lot 15B and a reception will follow the lecture.
In addition to the Henrietta Harvey lecture, Dr. Waters will speak to several geography classes while in St. John’s and will participate in the Geography Blue Box Seminar on Friday, Oct. 1. This presentation, entitled “Did Spatial Analysis Lead to the Burning of the Bronx in the 1970s and the Loss of Thousands of Lives?” is also open to the public and will take place from 3-4 p.m. in room SN-2018.
“The impact of having Dr. Waters deliver the Henrietta Harvey lecture will be far reaching. University research is becoming more application oriented for issues related to the province’s delivery of health care, education and public services as well as concerns relating to economic development and the environment. GIS is an integral part of understanding these complex issues and it also provides a means to evaluate proposed solutions. This lecture will increase the awareness of how important geographical information is to the decision making process in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Elizabeth Simms, associate professor in the geography department.
The Henrietta Harvey Lecture:
Henrietta Harvey was a Nova Scotian who came to Newfoundland in 1905 to visit her aunt, Lady Whiteway, the wife of Newfoundland’s prime minister. A year later she settled in St. John’s as the wife of St. John’s businessman John Harvey. When she died in 1964, her will directed a substantial portion of her estate to Memorial University. The Henrietta Harvey lectureship is possible in any year where there are funds left over from the funding of the Henrietta Harvey research chair, the primary purpose of the endowment fund.