Written by 2017 NSF REU field site in Belize scholars, Brenner Burkholder, Chinonso Uzowihe, Kate Brandt and Julia Jeanty.

Mid-April, the 2017 Citizen Science GIS student team traveled to New Orleans for the 2018 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting. The conference was vast, spanning 3 different hotels, with 100s of sessions to attend and over 10,000 conference attendees. The team’s presentations were spread throughout 2 different sessions, with Kate Brandt presenting on GIS modeling of headwater runoff, Brenner and Julia presenting a broad overview of the 2017 flooding track’s findings and Chino, Rigo and Erin presenting on marine debris and sense of place in Hopkins. Brenner, Julia, Chino, Erin, and Rigo were pleasantly surprised by how animated their session discussion became, with over 15 attendees with expertise in community-based participatory research commenting on various aspects of value-based praxis and action for social and environmental equity.

Chinonso Uzowihe presenting on the 2017 marine debris data.

There was never a dull moment at the conference, with the exhibitor hall filled with dozens of geoscience-related organizations eager to speak with conference attendees, to the various mixers and socials that allowed everyone to network with others in the field, there was a little something for everyone. The exhibit hall was especially impressive, with dozens of exhibitors including technology companies, academic publishers, government organizations, and graduate schools. The team even had the pleasure of celebrating Brenner’s birthday, which fell during the conference. Encouraged to explore the city of New Orleans instead of sitting in on one too many presentations, the 2017 team savored the food, architecture, music, and culture of an eclectic space with a complex history.

Kate Brandt and Julia Jeanty standing in front of Jackson Square in the French Quarter.

Overall, the conference was an immensely gratifying experience which presented the team with the opportunity to not only fine tune their presentation and networking abilities but also gave them the unique chance to delve deep into the professional world of geography. AAG 2019 cannot come soon enough!

Brenner Burkholder volunteering in the exhibit room at AAG.

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