Monthly Archives: November 2017

So….You Look at Rocks?

Hiking, camping and playing outside are my favourite childhood memories, and probably why I choose to study Geology. I love science and math, but being a biologist or chemist didn’t suit me. I wanted adventure, exploration and the ability to work outdoors. When you tell someone you’re going to study geology, it often follows by “Oh, how interesting…. what are you going to with that?”  or “So…. you look at rocks?” Over the past few years, these questions continue to bug me. There are so many jobs and directions you take with geography, geology or any of the geosciences. And yes, I do look at rocks, and yes they are amazing! The earth is billions of years old, dynamic, complex and full of resources, and it’s important that we understand these processes. This is why I followed my passion and finished an HBSc with a major in Geology at Lakehead University.

Rocks tell us the story of Earth’s history through their shape and chemical structures. And more importantly, they provide us with resources. If it can’t be grown and farmed, it has to be mined. So understanding how to find these resources and how they form is very important. But not only is it important, it’s fun to learn about too!

Some highlights during my four years, included a field trip to Alberta, which highlighted the processes of mountain formation, and the implications to the oil industry.  I also had the privilege of spending a whole summer working on a “Snowball” earth research project. The rocks we sampled and observed gave us clues about the environment 1.7 billion years ago, a time that scientists believe the earth was completely covered by ice. To conduct this research, I spent 2 months canoeing and camping in the interior lakes of Northern Ontario.

I also completed an honors thesis focusing on niobium mineralization and the importance of these critical metals.  To complete this work, I got to work with petrographic and scanning electron microscopes. My education was very rewarding and will allow me to go into exploration, mining, environmental sectors and many other specialized areas.

Currently, I have decided to continue my education by starting a Master’s degree at Queen’s University. This Master’s program will focus on the impacts mining has to the environment. I will study windblown tailings as a source of contaminants to surface water at a mine site in Nova Scotia.   I know I want my career to focus on environmental geology, but I also want to give back and show the importance of geology to the general public. I want others to see how amazing and important the earth is. I love how there is always more to learn, and I’m not sure where this will take me, but I can guarantee it’ll be fun.

Submitted by: Amy Cleaver

My Day of Geography!

When I was a kid my favorite uncle introduced me to Archaeology while we were out on a hike. (We had found an old building, and he told me that it was an archaeologist’s job to tell what may have happened in the past). That was it, I was hooked. From that day forward my dream was to be an archaeologist. Fast forward many years and I was a registered student at McMaster University. While there, I was in the Anthropology department and was introduced to incredible professors whom loved what they did.

During my time at a local Archaeological Field school, we were looking at the distribution of artifacts across the area, and from that moment forward my love for GIS was born. I was completed fascinated about how to connect geography and anthropology under one umbrella. How people use space to alter their actions or relationships with environments. About how animals instinctively alter their flight or migration patterns based on environmental changes (nature or man made).

At McMaster we did a few amazing projects such as “If there was Emergency at the Toronto International Airport, where would an Airbus 300 land?” This was an incredible realization about how as a society we are looking to increase transportation with safety as what would see a secondary consideration.

Then, I took remote sensing.

Have you ever heard the term “What I did not have in innate talent, I made up for in passion”? Well, that was me. I studied as hard as I could because there was something about learning how we can read the Earth’s surface and it’s changes or what is currently occurring from an image. Maybe this connected a bit to my love of photography, but remote sensing is still close to my heart.

My last year at McMaster, my friend and I were talking about post-graduate programs. He was selected for Environmental Sciences at Niagara College, and I was for the GIS program. For us, we laughed that we would be spending another year together at the same school. The program at Niagara College was one of the hardest programs I have ever completed, but while there, I met some incredible people including Darren Platakis from Geospatial Niagara.

He was my client for my thesis the Niagara Minecraft 2.0 + Geology project, where we utilized the geospatial data of the Niagara region into the video game Minecraft. The purpose of this project was to provide an educational opportunity for students in the Niagara region. He also introduced me to the Niagara Aspiring Geopark and later the TreeOcode projects. Although that was the toughest year I have ever educationally experienced, it was the most rewarding. Both in the people I went to school with and the education I received.

I spent almost two years volunteering with Geospatial Niagara after I graduated from Niagara College, and today, I am Geospatial Niagara’s first paid employee and I am constantly looking for grants or other opportunities to continue to bring Open Data and Educational Opportunities. I spend my days creating much needed maps for volunteer organizations and the TreeOcode project in St. Catharines.

My education did not stop when I graduated and it continues to this day. My job is not sitting at a desk making maps and writing reports. It is building and developing ideas and educational tools for kids and adults so we can keep Niagara people in Niagara. It is making connections to grow geography in Niagara and continuing to build on Darren’s ideas that geographic education shouldn’t end in elementary school.

Because the most important thing is making sure, we all have a place.
Add me or follow @spatialceleste

Day of Geography – Making Urban Forestry More Efficient

Whilst I can’t technically classify myself as a Geography Professional, I do seem to spend a lot of my time urging Public Sector Clients and prospective Clients to take more advantage of Geospatial Technologies in their everyday work.

My name is Ian Lucas. I’m a partner in a Niagara Falls based company called Public Service Request Inc. (PSR). We use geospatial techniques to streamline work and service delivery processes with a view to helping the Public Sector become more efficient and less cost consuming.

Today I have been building a case for the City of Edmonton to extend the functionality of their Open Tree Map based geospatial tree inventory and eco benefits database, to enable reporting of tree-related problems by the Public and by Staff, by incorporating our tools simply and effectively.

Edmonton’s system is called YEG Tree Map. Take a good look of you haven’t seen it before. Keeping track of close to 270,000 City-owned  trees is a challenge. My job is to help them extract even more value from their investment.

It’s fun, it’s sometimes tedious, but ultimately rewarding in the battle against urban overwhelm. Let me know if you have questions.

Day of Geography 2017

Hello everyone. Welcome to the 4th annual Day of Geography!

On this day, I’m doing a wide variety of things. As my full time job is working in the Long Range Community Planning pod of Planning and Development Services at the Niagara Region, a healthy part of my day so far is catching up on some applications that needed to be entered into our iDarts – Development Application Tracking System. This is a system that manages the various types of development applications that come in (these include Subdivisions, Condominiums, Zoning By-law, etc.). I wasn’t at work this passed Friday so the applications have piled up a little.

As some may know, I’m also the founder of Geospatial Niagara (the organization behind Day of Geography) and we have so many projects on the go. One thing that is particularly new this year for me is the GeoNiagara Radio Show.  This project began as a 4th Year Honours Internship in Brock Universities Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. Season 2 has just gotten underway and we will be airing Episode 3 on November 22, 2017.

The premise of the show is to engage and inform educators, students, and the broader community about the relevance and importance of geography as a discipline and geo-literacy as an educational necessity in a world that is ever increasingly being informed and influenced by geospatial technologies and information. The show is hosted my myself and co-host/producer RJ!

All of the episodes air on 103.7 CFBU, usually on the third Wednesday of the month, but after airing, the MP3’s are made available for download. If you wouldn’t think that you could make a career in media if you have a geography background, take a look around at the use of maps and visualizations in print media on television and on the internet. There are plenty of examples of stories that will include interactive maps as part of the story. After the passing of Gord Downie – lead singer and lyricist of The Tragically Hip, the CBC posted a story map of the geographic inspirations for  some of the bands songs. You can be interested in media and utilize a geographic education for that career that you desire!

Some more good news! Geospatial Niagara now has employee number 1, Celeste, and today a little bit of time has been spent communicating with her with respect to some of our other projects, trying to determine budgeting of some services.

It’s never ceases to amaze me the types of jobs that I do in a day and as all of them are based one way or another in Geography, these do not feel like jobs! To me it is fun!

Happy Geography Awareness Week!!