Spatial and More Seminar Series

October 18th, 2016 7:31 AM

Please place the following presentations on your calendar for the remainder of the fall semester.

Spatial and More Seminar Series

Sponsored by NCGIA

October 19: 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Chris Bennet, PhD student in Spatial Information Science and Engineering

Evaluating and Alleviating Cognitive Map Decay for Older Adult Navigators through the use of Virtual Reality Simulation

Abstract. The aging process is associated with changes to various tasks of daily life for older adults, e.g. driving and walking. This is particularly challenging in rural areas where public transportation is often non-existent. The current research explored how age affects navigation ability through use of virtual reality simulations. Particularly, these research studies focus on the decay of cognitive maps (mental representations of space) for older adult navigators over time. In each study, participants were required to learn and sketch cognitive maps of various virtual environments at several time intervals (in-lab and after 1-day, 1-week, and 2-weeks). Results consistently show that older adult performance was lower than the younger adult group and also revealed declines of cognitive map accuracy over the time delay periods. Results also demonstrate the efficacy of immersive virtual reality as an effective research tool. Based on these findings, compensatory augmentations (navigational aids) are currently being developed and tested. This research provides evidence for cognitive map decay, implications of potential solutions, and enriches the understanding of navigation and age-related concerns.


November 2: 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Stacy Doore, PhD student in Spatial Information Science and Engineering

Spatial Preposition Use in Indoor Scene Descriptions

Abstract. In order to provide accurate automated scene description and navigation directions for indoor space, human beings need intelligent systems to provide an effective cognitive model. Information provided by the structure and use of spatial prepositions is critical to the development of accurate and effective cognitive models. The use and choice of spatial prepositions in natural language is extremely varied, presenting difficulties for natural language systems attempting to provide descriptions of indoor scenes and wayfinding directions. The goal of the present study is to better understand how English language speakers use spatial prepositions to communicate spatial relationships within virtual environment (VE) indoor scenes. This talk will present findings from a series of experiments that investigate spatial preposition use and the influence of scale, topology, orientation and distance within indoor scene.


November 19  12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Cyndy Loftin, Associate Professor and Unit Leader, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs): Applying quantitative approaches and expert opinion to identify conservation areas and evaluate vulnerability

Abstract. The PARCA project is a national initiative to map important amphibian and reptile habitats based on knowledge of species’ distributions and habitat associations. We applied PARCA guidelines with species distribution modeling via the Maximum Entropy algorithm to model habitat suitability for northeastern herpetofauna of conservation significance. Our modeled PARCAs combined habitat suitability models based on known species occurrences and important abiotic variables with species richness and landscape integrity estimates. We evaluated our models by comparing predicted with observed data, identified gaps in species occurrence and richness datasets affecting model outcomes, consulted with state herpetologists to understand how our spatial application of the PARCA criteria captured quality habitat for modeled species, and evaluated representation of PARCAs in the network of current conservation lands. Our efforts can inform conservation of priority landscapes for northeastern herpetofauna, including assessment of the long-term vulnerability and climate resiliency of these habitats.


November 30 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Anne Knowles, Professor of History

Seeking Space and Place in the Holocaust

Abstract. The Holocaust has become a new focus of spatial historical research, both theoretical and empirical. The wealth of bureaucratic records and plans makes it relatively easy to map Nazi actions, the establishment and demise of camps and ghettos, and Nazi spatial visions for the Reich. Although interviews with Holocaust survivors contain many kinds of spatial information, much of it is poorly suited to GIS and other modes of conventional geographical analysis and representation. This presentation will explain the issues of bridging the gap between perpetrator and victim histories in the Holocaust, and describe the modes of textual analysis that may enable spatial interpretation of victims’ experiences.

Four Out of Ten Top Paying Jobs for Women in IT

April 26th, 2010 6:08 PM

A recent CNN report indicates that of the top ten paying jobs for women, 4 out of 10 are in IT. (see the article) Combining this with the “Best Jobs in America” previously which assessed job satisfaction, security, compensation and numerous additional factors and we see a great future for both men and women with high level skills in our disciplinary programs.

Emergency Sensing

April 17th, 2010 9:26 PM

UMaine informatics research is helping the Maine National Guard create an improved disaster relief information system. See UMaine Today

Onsrud Speaks at Law and Technology Centers

March 23rd, 2010 4:46 PM

A frequent invited speaker on law and technology topics, Professor Harlan Onsrud  was featured as an invited speaker on March 5 for the opening of the new Centre for Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa. His talk on Ubiquitous Tracking: Supporting Privacy and Free Speech described emerging and likely pervasive surveillance environments in our future and then suggested combined technological and legal solutions that might be used to protect both privacy and corporate free speech within our digital future. On March 19 he was featured also at an international workshop at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and Information/Communication Technologies (ICRI) at Katholieke Universitet Leuven in Belgium speaking on Open Access Licenses and Lessons for Creating a Global Marketplace in Geographic Data.

Spatial Information and Volunteering

March 20th, 2010 11:00 AM

Graduate students Guillaume-Hallee and Matt Dube report on the value of their spatial technology skills in aiding others through volunteerism in a short article on Spatial Information and Volunteering

Best Jobs in America

March 17th, 2010 12:18 PM

Check out the best jobs in America at You will find that many of them involve in-depth information technology skills including the top rated job in the nation. The criteria for selecting the best jobs is quite interesting. After narrowing the field of over 7000 jobs down to the top one hundred jobs using objective criteria, over 35,000 people in the top hundred jobs were asked to evaluate their jobs based on quality of life factors such as flexibility, stress, and personal satisfaction. Current employment, long-term growth, pay, security and projected openings were also considered. This study comports with many earlier studies including those focused on spatial technologies and the results are consistent. The information technology skills provided through the department’s graduate courses and programs are and will continue to remain in high demand both across the nation as well as in Maine.

Jake in the News: UMaine Researchers Study Emergency Responder Technology

February 9th, 2010 8:51 PM

Jake Emerson was recently interviewed concerning his development research with emergency response technologies See the video at WLBZ News at

Evidence for amodal representations after bimodal learning: Integration of haptic-visual layouts into a common spatial image.

January 3rd, 2010 3:22 PM

Giudice, N. A., Klatzky, R. L., & Loomis, J. M. (in press). Evidence for amodal representations after bimodal learning: Integration of haptic-visual layouts into a common spatial image. Spatial Cognition & Computation.

Participants learned circular layouts of 6 objects presented haptically or visually, then indicated the direction from a start target to an end target of the same or different modality (intra-modal versus inter-modal). When objects from the two modalities were learned separately, superior performance for intra-modal trials indicated a cost of switching between modalities. When a bimodal layout intermixing modalities was learned, intra- and inter-modal trials did not differ reliably. These findings indicate that a spatial image, independent of input modality, can be formed when inputs are spatially and temporally congruent, but not when modalities are temporally segregated in learning.

Worboys Selected for National Research Council Advisory Committee

January 1st, 2010 9:08 AM

Michael Worboys, chair of the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering, has been selected to serve on the Mapping Science Committee of the National Research Council, under the auspices of the  National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. The appointment runs from Jan. 2009 through Dec. 2012. The Committee provides independent advice to society and government at all levels on geospatial science, technology and policy. It also addresses  aspects of geographic information science on the acquisition, storage and use of spatial data used in a variety of interdisciplinary ways. Congrats!

Spatial learning and navigation using a virtual verbal display

January 1st, 2010 5:57 AM

Giudice, N.A., Bakdash, J.Z., Legge, G.E., & Roy, R. (in press). Spatial learning and navigation using a virtual verbal display. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception.

We report on three experiments that investigate the efficacy of a new type of interface, called a virtual verbal display (VVD) for non-visual learning and navigation of computer-based virtual environments (VEs). Although verbal information has been studied for route-guidance, little is known about the use of context-sensitive, speech-based displays, e.g. the VVD, for supporting free exploration and wayfinding behavior. During training, participants used the VVD (Experiments I and II) or a visual display (Experiment III) to search the VEs and find four hidden target locations. At test, all participants performed a route-finding task in the corresponding real environment, navigating with vision (Experiments I and III) or from verbal descriptions (Experiment II). Training performance between virtual display modes was comparable, but wayfinding in the real environment was worse after VVD learning than visual learning, regardless of the testing modality. Our results support the efficacy of the VVD for searching computer-based environments but indicate a difference in the cognitive maps built up between verbal and visual learning, perhaps due to lack of physical movement in the VVD.