Click for a transcript of Alan MacEachron's Intro Video.
Hi. Alan MacEachron, professor of geography and information sciences and technology here at Penn State. I've been here a little bit more than 30 years doing research and teaching in cartography, visualization, and various aspects of geographic information science. Last couple of years I've been focusing in quite a bit on place and big data. Like most of the faculty in our department, I spend most of my time working. But when I do have a chance to get away from work, my main outdoor activity is bird watching. I've been trying figure out over the last several years how to combine that bird watching activity with some of my research. Finally have an opportunity to do that. I gave a talk in Germany last year on place and big data, and I happened to mention the large citizen science project at Cornell University called eBird. It collects data from bird watchers around the world, and they now have about half a billion bird sighting records in eBird. I put in about 2,400 of those myself. I'm sitting here on my porch doing a little bit of morning bird watching. Here's the bird list for just the birds that I saw from my porch here this morning. At any rate, I got some colleagues in Germany, some computer scientists, interested in this topic. And they decided to do a visual analytics research project trying to take advantage of these eBird data, but with a particular focus on the many kinds of uncertainty-- spatial, temporal, and attribute uncertainty that exist in these data. The data are really important for modeling migration of various species around the world, but you need to understand the uncertainty in order to do good modeling. So hopefully, maybe in about six months or nine months, you'll get a chance to see a paper that comes out from this collaborative work where I've been able to attach my birding hobby to my visual analytics research. I hope to see some of you in one of my classes this year or perhaps off at a conference. I'll be heading to Melbourne, Australia for the GIScience conference in a few weeks. Hope to do a little bit of birding there, myself. Or maybe with your binoculars I'll see you out in the field doing some birding with me.