Panel features geodesign students’ summer research

The Spatial Science Institute hosted the Fall 2016 Geodesign Speaker Series, where geodesign students shared their summer research and internship experiences in a panel open to students interest to the program, in the Allan Hancock Foundation building Wednesday.

Two students presented their summer experiences and were followed by questions from the panel about the impact of their research or internship. Panelist Diana Kim, a senior geodesign major, spoke about her experience working as a Geographic Information Science Intern in the Botanical Division at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Kim said that her internship experience helped her realize what she wants to do upon graduating, which is work in the private sector, though before her internship, she was planning on going on to get her master’s degree and work in the public sector.

“My past experience might have helped the other geodesign students learn about the opportunities that we can have here at USC,” Kim said, adding that she highly recommends the interdisciplinary geodesign major, which is between the School of Architecture, the Sol Price School of Policy, Planning and Development and the Dornsife College Spatial Science Institute.

“Within the geodesign major, you learn how to efficiently build a city through looking at and analyzing data,” Kim said.

Ben Banet, a junior geodesign major, talked about his research experience with the study Beach Light — Measuring Ecological Light Pollution at the Land-Ocean Boundary, which is being conducted by Travis Longcore, an assistant professor of architecture and spatial sciences. Banet shared his experience collecting data on the Los Angeles county beaches over the summer.

According to Darren M. Ruddell, director of undergraduate studies for the Spatial Science Institute, there are almost 50 students in the geodesign major, which was started three years ago. Ruddell said that the main purpose of the event was to have upperclassmen share the work they’ve been doing with the first- and second- year students of the program.

“Really what we’re trying to do is educate and inform our first and second year students about all the different things that are possible and encourage them to pursue these opportunities, to create their own opportunities — you never know where these things lead,” Ruddell said.

Elizabeth Berson, a freshman majoring in geodesign who attended the event, said that due to the program’s small size, students are highly encouraged to utilize the programs offered to them.

“It’s important for me to use the small community of the geodesign major to really understand the field and better myself, because I have the resources, and there’s only six geodesign majors in the freshman class,” Berson said.

Berson added that the program’s size contributes to a close sense of community within the major.

“It’s a great community, and everyone is really supportive and easy to talk to,” Berson said. “It’s also really lucrative — I didn’t even understand how important a lot of the stuff we study is to all these other fields, so I hope that more people become interested in geodesign.”

The next event in the GeoDesign Speaker Series will be held in October and will discuss assembling e-portfolios to help with gaining internships or research employment.