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Faculty of Science School Of Geography & Earth Sciences
Faculty of Science

School Of Geography & Earth Sciences

Mapping success: McMaster geographers dominate global competition

Satellite image of night sky with bright light spots across northern US and southern canadaian border

A group of McMaster Geography and Earth Sciences students has proven it really knows its way around, taking five of nine top places in an international contest that tested competitors’ creative use of geographic information systems, or GIS.

The Esri Global Content Challenge competition drew more than 500 entries from nearly 60 countries around the world in three categories: Land, Ocean and Population. In each category there were cash prizes for the three top finishers, for nine prizes in all.

Students in Patrick DeLuca’s course, Special Topics in GIS, managed to take second and third in Land, second and third in Ocean, and third in Population, dominating the competition, plus one honourable mention.

Competitors were presented a list of authoritative data and, using their backgrounds and imaginations, developed compelling scientific stories using Esri’s Story Map Journal app.

DeLuca explained that McMaster’s entrants drew on their skills and experience from other classes and the new web-mapping and app-development skills they were learning in the fourth-year Special Topics in GIS class.

“I am very proud that the students we teach and mentor here in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences are good enough to win international competitions such as this one,” DeLuca said. “These tools and procedures aren’t just for conducting the science, but also for disseminating it to the public, and that is what this contest was about.”

DeLuca said that participating in the competition helps students in their current studies and can give them an advantage in the job market. 

“There is a very rich job market for GIS, and for students who can expand the platform with new tools, apps, and models,” Deluca said.

Here’s a look at McMaster’s winners and their entries:

Land Category:

Second Place: Karl Chastko, Food, Water and 7 Billion People: Improving Water Efficiency in Agriculture

Third Place: Kayla Wong, Soil Carbon Sequestration Potential Based on Soil Properties

Ocean Category:

Third Place: Kevin Yang, Climate Change in Earth's Polar Regions

Population Category:

Second Place: Michael Kirchin, The American People

Third Place: Spencer Elford, Concrete Jungle: Urban Expansion and the Rise of the Megacity

Honourable Mention: Christopher Koido-Bunt, Volcanic Hazard Risk in East and South East Asia

McMaster experts join major Canadian initiative on the future of the world’s water

A major national research initiative on the future of Canadian and global water resources features leading McMaster researchers from several disciplines.

Water research is a particular area of expertise for McMaster, which has strength in a wide range of research fields, including hydrology, climate change, the Great Lakes, flood forecasting, groundwater pollution, environmental contamination and public policy. The recently formed McMaster Water Network works to bridge research and policy both within the university and externally with other researchers, practitioners, policy makers, industry and communities.

The Global Water Futures project, announced today, will see senior McMaster researchers working in partnership with colleagues from across Canada in a $143-million program led by the University of Saskatchewan, and also including University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Searching for insight: Students conduct research at Hidden River Cave

Image of group of SGES researchers

Students from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have spent the past week at Hidden River Caveconducting research that involves looking at the cave’s sediment with hopes of gaining insight on how to protect it and other caves.

This past week was not the first time McMaster students had visited Hidden River Cave. They have been coming to the cave for more than a decade to do reports on caves and karst, but didn’t begin their research project until last year when they began working with the university’s micropaleontology lab.

“What we are trying to do is a get a good look at the history of Hidden River Cave. We’re talking about going back thousands of years,” said Peggy Nims, educational director for Hidden River Cave / American Cave Museum, adding that the McMaster students are adding to the cave and museum staff’s base knowledge and understanding of the cave, which will help with the protection of it and other caves.

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As Peat Bogs Burn, a Climate Threat Rises

Image of lightning storm above forest

Kristyn Housman grabbed the end of a sampling auger, a steel tube that twocolleagues had just drilled into amoss-covered hummock in a peat bog, and poked through a damp, fibrous plug of partly decomposed peat.

Peat has been building up for centuries in this bog, where the spongy moss is interspersed with black spruces and, on a late spring morning, the air is teeming with mosquitoes. The sample, taken from three feet down, is at least several hundred years old, said Ms. Housman, a graduate researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.“There’s literally tons of carbon here,” she said, looking around the bog, which covers several acres off a muddy oil-company road amid the vast flatness of northern Alberta.

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

School of Geography and Earth Sciences
McMaster University

General Sciences Building, Room 206
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4K1

Contact Information

Office Hours:
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Telephone Inquiries:
+1 (905) 525-9140 ext.24535
Email Inquiries:
sges@mcmaster.ca

McMaster University - Faculty of Science

Mailing Address

School of Geography and Earth Sciences
McMaster University

General Sciences Building, Room 206
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8S 4K1

Contact Information

Office Hours:
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Telephone Inquiries:
(905) 525-9140 ext. 24535
Email Inquiries:
sges@mcmaster.ca