Coffee Hour with Johnathan Rush: SKOPE: A CyberGIS Approach for Understanding Past Environments

Friday, February 3, 2017 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

  Pueblo Bonito

“Aerial view of Pueblo Bonito” Photo by John Wiley.

Today's Coffee Hour is co-sponsored by the Big Data Social Science IGERT, and is part of the Geospatial Data Science Workshop

About the talk

In this coffee hour, Johnathan Rush will introduce a cyberGIS-enabled project to better understand past interactions of human and natural systems. The environments of the past cannot be assumed to be fixed, or equivalent to today's conditions. Shifting spatiotemporal patterns of settlement, land use, and climate can be important factors in understanding the contexts under which historic and prehistoric societies operated. However, data on these conditions can be difficult to discover and interpret. SKOPE, Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments, is being designed to fill this need. SKOPE will be an online resource for paleoenvironmental datasets, reconstructions, and models. SKOPE will increase the accessibility of publicly-funded, peer-reviewed data and reconstructions, and support reproducible science through the integration of provenance information and hosting of model execution environments. Users will be able to run models and customize their parameters through a friendly web GIS interface, with execution being handled automatically on a supercomputing environment. Previously the domain of advanced GIS users and programmers, anyone with an interest in past environments will be able to uinvestigate the data and run scientifically-vetted models on advanced cyberinfrastructure.

About the speaker

Jonathan RushJohnathan Rush is the education, outreach, and training coordinator for the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rush has trained hundreds of participants in cyberGIS tutorials at his home campus and at international conferences. He coordinates the national CyberGIS Fellows program, which seeks to develop cyberGIS education materials and curricula that are effective and keep pace with the rapidly advancing state of the art. He consults on research projects, helping connect domain scientists and scholars with cyberGIS technologies. Rush's experience is primarily in the public and higher education sectors. After college, he worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory on population modeling and disaster impact assessment. More recently, he has worked as a regional transportation planner. For his master's thesis, he created a web-based, interactive 3D geovisualization of population mobility. His dissertation continues to develop interactive web-based maps, this time designing a system for discovering and exploring oral histories.

Suggested readings

• Exploration and exploitation in the macrohistory of the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest

• CyberGIS and spatial data science

Contact us

Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Angela Rogers in advance of your participation or visit.

Angela Rogers  office: 814-865-2493 email:

Coffee Hour