Hi, I am Marcela Suarez. I am an assistant teaching professor of spatial data science in the Department of Geography at Penn State. I teach courses on cartography, GIS, and spatial data analysis in the online geospatial education program offered by the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.
I earned my PhD in geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Broadly my research interests lie at the intersection of geographic information science, cartography, and emergency management. In my research, I use spatial analysis, geovisualization, machine learning, and data mining techniques to understand how user-generated content and volunteered geographic information can be used along with other official data sources to inform how social and environmental phenomena are experienced at a local scale. My research contributes to understanding the role of information contributed by the general public in emergency management. Additionally, it informs us about the use of different spatial clustering methods, spatial aggregation techniques, and content analysis techniques to both summarize social media data and conflate them with other official data for decision making.
Prior to joining Penn State, I was a research specialist at the Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In the past, I also worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Colombian Massif, and as GIS specialist for different governmental organizations in Colombia.