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Geospatial Analysis Center


Research in the Geospatial Analysis Center emphasizes regional sustainability applications, including land-use and transit planning, rural community sustainability, renewable resources, and foodshed assessment and analysis. The GAC provides GIS services and research to UMD departments, UMD administration, and external organizations. These projects are obtained through competitive and non-competitive means and are funded through sponsored projects, external sales, and the GIS Student Support Fund, a University Foundation fund.**

These are some of the projects, undertaken in collaboration with faculty, students, public agencies and private agencies.

*Note: The Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) was formerly named the Geographic Information Sciences Laboratory (GISL). Change effective 2013.


Adequacy of Provider Networks in the Health Insurance Marketplace
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded through an EVCAA Research and Scholarship Grant, UMD, $3000 (2016)
GAC is working with the Economics Department in LSBE to consider Minnesota's health insurance provider plans and their networks of service locations with respect to the Affordable Care Act's requirement of accessibility. In Minnesota this means the lesser of 30 minutes or miles for primary care, mental health and hospital care; and the lesser of 60 minutes or miles for specialty, specialized hospital, and other services. GAC is developing models to analyze and assess the population and areas of MN that are covered for each of these networks.

Impact of Split Incentive on Privately Owned UMD Student Rental Housing with Implications for an Energy Saving Housing Initiative
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded through a Carlson Sustainability project, UMN, $2000 (2016)
GAC is assisting the UMD Bureau of Business and Economic Research with their research on the Impact of Split Incentive on Privately Owned UMD Student Rental Housing with Implications for an Energy Saving Housing Initiative, through spatial analysis, visualization, and survey site selection for rental housing in Duluth.

Archaeological Mapping of al-Lajjun in Jordan
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by the UMD College of Liberal Arts, $2000 (2015)
Jennifer Jones, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is currently conducting archaeological research into the consequences of the population aggregation that developed around 5,000 years ago in the southern Levant. Jones received a CLA Faculty GIS Grant for GAC assistance to create a detailed topographic map of al-Lajjun, an ancient site in Jordan. GAC assisted in mapping various subsets of the data collected by Dr. Jones in 2012, as well as creating a basemap to add data to in the future, e.g., photos, artifact densities in certain transects, additional architectural features or data, and plan maps of complete architectural structures.

Solar Energy Potential Map for the City of Duluth
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), GAC Students
Funded by the Department of Energy, Solar Pathways Project, $21,000; the City of Duluth, $2,000; The Northeast Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development partnership, $4,995 (2016)
GAC is collaborating with Ecolibrium3, the UMN Energy Transition Lab (ETL), and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), in partnership with the City of Duluth, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the UMD Office of Sustainability to create a detailed Solar Energy Potential Map for the City of Duluth. The interactive web map will demonstrate solar potential for the end-user's selected building, as well as provide a systemic assessment of solar resources for both UMD and Duluth.

Introducing ArcGIS Online and Story Mapping to Multi-Disciplinary Classes at UMD
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC)
Funded in-house.
The Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) is fostering collaborations with classes across the University, including Writing Studies, Journalism, French Literature, Math, and Ethnobotany.

Duluth Outdoor Recreation Map and Park Kiosk Maps (2015)
Kate Carlson (Geography), Micaella Penning (GAC), Britta Hardel (GAC)
Funded by City of Duluth, $15,574
This project consisted of GIS integration, cartography, layout and design of a Duluth Area Multi-Use Trail map.

Cumulative Effects Analysis (CEA) and GIS database for the 1854 Ceded Territory
Terry Brown (NRRI), Steve Graham (GAC)
Study to define impacts to treaty resources within the 1854 Ceded Territory

Commuting distance analysis of faculty, staff and student resident addresses to UMD
Mindy Granley (Office of Sustainability), Anna Norcutt-Preuss (Sustainable Development Research Opportunity Intern), Stacey Stark (GAC)

The National Consumer Survey on the Medication Experience and Pharmacists' Roles
Jon Schommer (Pharm), Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by Peters Chair in Pharmacy Practice Innovation $20,000 (GAC part) 2016
Consumer Surveys will be distributed throughout the United States to ask consumers about their medication experiences and their views of pharmacists' roles. An interactive GIS map will visualize significant geographic results and considerations.

Flood Hazard Mitigation Analysis output for Wadena and Morrison Counties
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC)
Funded by Region Five Development Commission (2015)

Flood Hazard Mitigation Analysis and Mapping for Chippewa, Yellow Medicine and Big Stone Counties
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC)
Funded by the Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission (2015)

Five-year Review and Update of County Hazard Mitigation Plans
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC), Adam Pine (Geography)
Le Sueur County, Renville County, Carlton County, Sibley County, Traverse County, Wright County, Scott County $19,080 - $32,287 each county (2014-2015)

Tribal Hazard Mitigation Plan Development
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC), Adam Pine (Geography)
Leech Lake Reservation $27,877 (2014-2015)

Five-year Review and Update of County Hazard Mitigation Plans – subcontract through ARDC
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC), Bonnie Hundreiser (ARDC) ($21,765)
Aitkin County, Itasca County, and Koochiching County

Hartley Nature Center Viewshed Analysis for Master Plan
Partnership with Hartley Nature Center (in-house)
Micaella Penning (GAC), Stacey Stark (GAC)
Hartley Nature Center collaborated with the Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) to create viewshed analyses from both the Nature Center Building and Rock Knob in order to visually and statistically demonstrate the potential impacts of paved trails and new development in the park proposed in the Hartley Park and Woodland Recreation Area Master Plan.

Duluth Hillside Neighborhood Survey Analysis
Partnership with 1Roof Community Housing (in-house)
Sam Giebner (GAC)
In collaboration with 1Roof Community Housing and the Metropolitan Interstate Council. The goal of the project was to reformat and analyze data from a community survey in Duluth’s Central Hillside Neighborhood and produce maps showing patterns of perceptions of safety, service needs, and community.

National Consumer Survey on Medication Experiences
Jon Schommer (College of Pharmacy), Charlie Moore (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by the College of Pharmacy $3,335
210 Consumer Surveys were distributed throughout the United States, asking consumers about their various medication experiences. By using GIS we visualize these data for each US Census Division.

Lake Vermilion - Trail Location Study (in collaboration with SRF Consulting Group, Inc.)
Kate Carlson (Geography), Stacey Stark (GAC), GAC student
Funded by the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission
The GAC utilized GIS mapping and analysis to study the best potential trail alignment and amenity locations of several sections of the Lake Vermillion Trail, for presentation to the Lake Vermilion Trail Steering Committee.

GIS of Culturally Significant Features, Spirit Mountain Area, Minnesota
Stacey Stark, (GAC), GAC and FDLTCC students
Funded by the Minnesota Lake Superior Coastal Program $3,616 (2013)
This project resulted in the creation of Geographic Information System (GIS) layers to identify areas where archaeological sites are highly probable, and allow a base map for conversations about sacred places. While there is a great deal of knowledge and interest in this area, cultural features have not yet been recorded in a permanent and transferrable way. GIS layers of the cultural resources will allow maps to be made and remade for different purposes. From both regulatory and environmental perspectives, review of cultural resources before and during development planning will benefit coastal communities.
View Live Map

State of Minnesota Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan Update
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GISL), GAC students
State of Minnesota, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management $126,499 (2013-14)
The University of Minnesota Duluth provided geospatial services, data gathering and risk assessment development for the Minnesota State All-Hazard Mitigation Plan update, in order to identify and profile hazards and conduct vulnerability assessments for the 2014 State MHMP.

Five-year Review and Update of the Le Sueur County Hazard Mitigation Plan
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Micaella Penning (GAC), Adam Pine (Geography)
Funded by Le Sueur County $31,146 (2012-13)

Lake County Trail update
GAC students
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission $3000 (2013)
This project involved updating/verifying all Lake County trail attributes to fit the NRPA system using an ARDC web-based editor. Priority was given to corroborating attributes in every trail section with the US Forest Service Trail Plan, Lake County ATV maps, Superior Hiking Trail data, and other publicly available information readily supplied or accessible by internet or GIS data. Notes about conflicting sources, restricted use, and inability to verify were also noted. 

Historic Logging Activity Layer
Michael Joyce, GAC students
Ron Moen, Natural Resources Research Institute (2012-13)
This project resulted in a GIS data layer that identifies logging activity in NE Minnesota and Canada that can be used in geospatial analysis of moose and pine martin habitats.

Archaeological Survey and GIS Development in the Cloquet River Valley
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Sue Mulholland (DAC)
Funded by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants program $62,338 (2012)
The overall goal of this project is to develop a better understanding of the prehistoric archaeology in the travel corridor along the Cloquet River system. Identification of environmental factors that correlate to high potential for prehistoric archaeological sites can lead to avoidance of impacts to such sites by various agencies that conduct ground disturbing activities. A secondary goal is to collate a more developed and cohesive history of the region for use by educators to present the history of the area. The project has three specific objectives: 1) use GIS to summarize the present knowledge of prehistoric human occupation in the Cloquet River Valley, 2) update the OSA site files for present status of recorded prehistoric archaeological sites and find unrecorded prehistoric archaeological sites in the Cloquet River Valley, 3) use GIS to support new field survey and build a GIS of prehistoric archaeological site locations and their paleoenvironmental setting using high resolution digital elevation models derived from LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). 

Five-year Review and Update of the Brown County Hazard Mitigation Plan
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Adam Pine (Geography)
Funded by Brown County $25,247 (2012)

Enterprise GIS - Duluth Interactive Campus Web Map
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Peter Angelos (CLA - IT)
Funded by UM University Services IT (2011-2012)

Flood Risk Assessment Model for Dakota County, MN
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), GAC Students
Funded by Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management $34,655 (2011-2012)

Five-year Review and Update of the Lake County Hazard Mitigation Plan
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Adam Pine (Geography)
Funded by Lake County $23,310 (2011)

Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites - Investigating Poorly Known Areas of Minnesota - Region 9, The Lake Superior Region
Sue Mulholland (Sociology/Anthropology), Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by the Minnesota Historical Society (2011)

East Swan River Watershed Assessment, GIS Analysis
Stacey Stark (GAC), Kate Carlson (Geography), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by the South St. Louis Watershed Conservation District $23,000 (2010-2011)

Mapping of the UMD Farm
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC)
Funded by the Barbara J. Wilson Environmental Fund $1870 (2010)

MN Statewide Flood Risk Assessment
Steve Graham (GAC), Stacey Stark (GAC), Deb Richards (Geography student), Zach Guttormson (Geography student)
Funded by MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office $98,000 (2010)

Locally Adapted Food System Assessment: Western Lake Superior Region
Stacey Stark (GAC), David Syring (Anthropology), David Abazs (Round River Farm), Mike Mageau (CSCD), Gayle Nikolai (Fond du Lac Band)
Funded by Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute, University of Minnesota $34,000 (2009-2010)

St. Louis County School District's Transportation Study
Stacey Stark (GAC), Steve Graham (GAC), Mike Mageau (CSCD)
Funded by Johnson Controls Inc. $11,000 (2008-2009)
Project aimed at developing a GIS modeling tool for analyzing St. Louis County School District busing routes. The busing model focused on maximizing transportation cost savings, and minimizing the time children spend on the school bus given a wide variety of school configurations within this large district. 


** We also have a development fund set up specifically to support our community grants program and to fund GIS students with work experience. For more information about the Geospatial Sciences Student Support Fund, please contact SCSE Development Director Carrie Sutherland at or (218) 726-6984 or


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