Texas Tech University

Texas Tech to Host Student Mapathon and USAID GeoCenter Director

Zoe Bell

March 26, 2015

Speaker Carrie Stokes serves as the first geographer of USAID.

Carrie Stokes
Carrie Stokes

Carrie Stokes, director and founder of the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID)GeoCenter, will visit Texas Tech University to present “The Geographic Approach to Development” on Friday (March 27) and host a Mapathon for students where they will map spatial data for an actual USAID project on food security in Bangladesh.

Stokes' presentation will take place from 3-4 p.m. in Room 001 of the Education Building and the Mapathon will take place from 5-8 p.m. in Room 204 of Holden Hall. Refreshments will follow the presentation.

“We're really trying to link the creative energy that students have here at your university with the creative energy that students have in the developing world,” Stokes said. “In particular we've partnered with Khulna University which is in the country of Bangladesh. And together we plan to map an unmapped rural farming area of that country.”

During the Mapathon, students also will participate in a Google Hangout session with students from George Washington University who served as emergency volunteers and mapped the area in the Philippines in the days prior to landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Their work was used by the American Red Cross in the humanitarian aftermath. Students will receive a training session on mapping tasks and pizza and soda will be provided. Students from any discipline are welcome to attend and are encouraged to bring their laptops.

“Having the map data allows us to understand where we need to be working in improving agricultural programs,” Stokes said. “We're very much looking forward to having what we call a virtual partnership between students here and students on the other side of the world to create new data so that we can make better decisions.”

Carrie Stokes
Stokes will host a Mapathon for students where they will map spatial data for an actual USAID project on food security in Bangladesh.

In her presentation, Stokes will share more about her vision for the GeoCenter, explain how they do what they do and provide examples about the power of a geographic approach to development. Projects showcased range from understanding climate vulnerability, mapping health services in Africa, countering human trafficking in Southeast Asia and understanding child migration from Latin America.

Stokes has worked for more than 25 years in international development and the environment. She serves as the first geographer of USAID. She established and now directs the agency's GeoCenter, which applies geographic analysis to international development programming.

Prior to becoming the agency geographer, Stokes served as the director of the SERVIR program for USAID, in a joint venture with NASA. Stokes has a technical background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), global climate change and natural resource management. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Niger and West Africa and holds a master's degree in environmental science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

USAID's GeoCenter is an agency-wide resource to expand and institutionalize the use of geospatial tools and analysis in support of development goals. The GeoCenter enhances USAID's capacity in strategic planning, program design, monitoring and evaluation by providing guidance, technical assistance and resources through the powerful tools of spatial analysis and GIS.

This event is organized by the Texas Tech University Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Arts and Sciences, Center for Geospatial Technology and The Department of Geosciences.

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