Geography and information sciences will collide during the upcoming fellowship grant that Hannah Gunderman, a postdoctoral research associate with SIS and the Center for Information and Communication Studies (CICS) and an SIS masters student, will soon attend. She pitched a project that blends both of her passions – geography and information sciences – to the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and was recently awarded a grant for a two-week research trip to the library.
Gunderman earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geography from the University of Wyoming before getting full-funding to earn a doctorate degree at the University of Tennessee Department of Geography. But there was always a part of her interested in libraries and information sciences, and it all came together when she saw an advertisement for her current position at SIS and CICS. At her current position, Gunderman has focused on intensive research in data management, information retrieval and data sciences.
When she pitched her idea to the American Geographical Society Library Research Fellowship, Gunderman had plenty of wiggle room within the wide range of topics in subject areas supported by the library – which can include cartography, history of geographic thought, discovery and exploration, and more.
“I thought, ‘What if I do something that blends not only geographic research, but information sciences research at the library?’,” Gunderman said. “The library has a bunch of historical photographs. A portion of them are digitized, but a large portion are not. I am going to prioritize which images should be digitized – maybe they speak to current issues, such as climate change or water resources.”
Once the fellowship is complete, Gunderman plans to write white papers and create a manuscript for a presentation on her work. Her end goal is to provide another set of data to researchers who are studying certain topics.
“We don’t always think of images as being data sources, but they are, and they can provide a lot of context and convey information in an interesting way,” she said.
Gunderman said she is excited about the fellowship, and hopes to bring an aspect of information sciences into her world of geography.
“This puts my career in a direction that I really want it to go,” she said.