Student Accomplishments in Spring 2022! | Department of Geography and the Environment
May 26, 2022

Student Accomplishments in Spring 2022!

Several Geography students had some notable accomplishments in Spring 2022 - from presenting their research to winning a contest. Read on to learn more about what Geography students have done this semester.

At both UNT Scholars Day and the Geography Student Assocdiation (GSA) & Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) undergraduate research symposium, Cody Kimpton presented his research poster "All Roads Lead to Polluted Air? Particulate Matter Accumulation by Live Oaks on UNT Campus" about the particulate matter (PM), or pollution, accumulation on leaves of live oaks and comparing the amount of PM on the trees near roads against the amount of PM on trees further from roads. With help from Shritha Gayathri, Jennifer Ellis, and Dr. Alexandra Ponette-González, Cody collected and analyzed the data he used to make his poster. Presenting was extremely fun for Cody (after you get over the presentation jitters) and he learned a lot, both from people commenting on his research and from listening to other students present their research. Both Scholars Day and the GSA & SER Research Symposium were great experiences, and Cody would encourage other students to participate in upcoming years.

Sarah Pettyjohn (pictured left) is a current undergraduate at UNT and plans to graduate in Fall of 2022. This summer Sarah will be attending the Texas Parks Field School here at UNT, where she will be exploring and studying Texas state and national parks with fellow students. Shortly after, Sarah will go to San Francisco for the Sustainable Groundwater REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) internship for nine weeks. The REU program promotes research experiences with undergraduates in areas that are funded by the National Science Foundation. Sarah will be living on campus at San Francisco State University, and working with Dr. Erin Bray, an associate professor at the university, on a research project involving river and groundwater processes. This experience will provide Sarah with academic and professional development.

Ronney Phillips, who studied with Dr. Lu Liang as an undergraduate student (and will enter our master's program in the fall!), recently won the Student App Category in the 2022 GISCO Mapping Contest, hosted by GIS Colorado. According to Ronney, his project was created out of the frustration of few air quality sensors in Denton County, Texas, home of the University of North Texas. Denton County only has one EPA-approved air quality monitor for the county -- how will citizens truly know the qualities of their air? In his app, he proposes a low-cost alternative to expensive EPA monitoring. The intended audience are the citizens of Denton County, Texas, or any individual with an interest in air quality monitoring. The maps were created in ArcGIS Pro and further enhanced in ArcGIS Online. His research is ongoing, and we are currently placing low-cost monitors throughout Denton County, Texas, to further understand spatiotemporal air quality change. Pictured right is Ronney's award package from GIS Colorado.

Shritha Gayathri, one of Dr. Ponette-González's students and is also part of UNT's Texas Academy of Math and Science, had the opportunity to conduct research on the effects of particulate matter accumulation on the health of live oak trees. Shritha believes it was an amazing experience overall, starting from learning how to sample and perform spectroscopy on leaves, to presenting her own research poster at UNT Scholars' Day and the GSA/SER Conference. Shritha had the chance to meet other talented researchers, listen to insights from knowledgeable professors, and share her findings to other passionate students. She is super grateful to have worked on this project alongside an amazing team, which consisted of Cody Kimpton, Jennifer Ellis, and Dr. Ponette-González. Her first year of research was one full of discovery, excitement, and learning, and she is looking forward to pursuing new projects and ideas in the future!

Dr. Rice's GEOG 4230/5230 Location Intelligence class worked with Vaquero Developments, engaging students in real-world business GIS analysis. Vaquero is a great partner for UNT Geography, having hired their initial GIS team of two UNT grads/current students in 2021. Having been impressed with our graduates' contributions, Vaquero extended their partnership with our department this semester to give our students the opportunity to engage in a real-world business GIS analysis. The project focuses on geographic analysis of investment opportunities for a new business Vaquero is starting. Early indications are that the students have made quite an impression with Vaquero, introducing a number of innovative ideas for Vaquero to use in its business development activities. Jonathan Cupit won "Most Creative Project" in the class's Business BIS Research Project Competition with his paper "Vaquero Ventures' Expansion into Self-Storage: A Suitability Analysis of Florida's Market"; James Pilkenton won "Best Undergraduate Student Project; Ciara Mason won "Best Project Recommendation" with her paper "Initial Storage Facility Placement Analysis: East Rockies Region"; and Larry Voice won "Best Graduate Student Project" with his paper "Analysis of the Carolinas for Potential Self-Storage Locations.