March 06, 2019

Remote sensing expert to give keynote lecture at SIU’s third ‘Big Data’ seminar

by Hannah Erickson

CARBONDALE, Ill. — When data sets get too large or too complex for standard desktop computers, researchers often turn to alternative tools to handle their “big data.”

To engage the growing SIU Big Data community and assist local researchers in utilizing these techniques, the third seminar in a “big data” series at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is set for March 8, and will feature a geo-information expert from George Mason University.

Seminar looks at remote sensing in agriculture

The SIU Chapter of Sigma Xi, a scientific research honors society, received a grant to host the seminar series during the 2018-19 academic year. As the third of five events, this seminar is set for 2 p.m. on March 8 at the University Museum.

The seminar specifically focuses on big data applications in remote sensing, especially applied to agricultural monitoring and decision making.

As Secretary of the SIU Sigma Xi chapter, Justin Schoof, professor and chair of geography and environmental resources at SIU, sees this series as an important way to assist local researchers and professionals who may face big data questions and problems.

Because so many fields use large data sets, we have angled this series to reflect that need and bring in a variety of professionals to offer insights, Schoof explained.

“Big data is all about the core problem of having too much data that we can’t process it fast enough,” Schoof said. “The idea of this seminar series is to bring in nationally and internationally known experts to help us with the big data problems.”

Earth System scientist to give talk on big data application

The March 8 seminar will feature world-renowned expert on geographic information science (GIS) and remote sensing, Liping Di. Dr. Di is the founder of Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems, and professor of Geography and Geoinformation Science at George Mason University.

“One of the goals is to leverage Liping Di’s expertise to help local researchers who might be working on similar problems,” Schoof said.

Di’s research interests include a wide variety of topics related to geospatial data and information, along with global environmental change and information sharing. The seminar will offer unique insights to the world of Big Data and provide researchers with practical and relevant information.

As part of his visit, Dr. Di will also hold a workshop for interested faculty and students. The workshop is set for 9:30 a.m. on March 8 in Morris Library, room 754/754.  Participants should bring their own laptop.

The mission of Sigma Xi is to support the scientific research enterprise, foster integrity in science, and promote the public’s understanding of science, Schoof explained. Having Big Data experts visit our campus and interact with faculty and students helps researchers in their individual disciplines, but also strengthens research connections across our diverse campus.