Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Students Map Food Insecure Areas of Bangladesh

Zoe Bell

April 2, 2015

Carrie Stokes, USAID GeoCenter Director, hosts Student Mapathon.

Carrie Stokes
Carrie Stokes

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

During the Mapathon, approximately 40 undergraduates, graduate students, and volunteers participated in a Google Hangout session with students from George Washington University who were mapping the same area. Students also received a training session on open source mapping prepared by Ms. Stokes and Patricia Solis, Texas Tech research associate professor of geography. Together, the students from both universities mapped highways, roads, rivers and homestead ponds where women in Bangladesh raise fish for protein sources. The data will be checked for quality and used by the USAID for planning development activities under their Feed the Future program.

“This effort is an opportunity for Texas Tech students to learn a new mapping skill, feel connected to students on the other side of the world, and know that the new data they create will be used to make decisions about improving food security in Bangladesh,” Stokes said. “It is also an opportunity to contribute new data to an open, crowd-sourcing effort to map the entire world.”

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.

Thursday (March 26) Stokes received a tour of the Center for Geospatial Technologies by Kevin Mulligan and Lucia Barbato, co-directors of the Texas Tech Geospatial Technology Center, and Guofeng Cao and Carlos Portillo from the Department of Natural Resources Management.

The Center for Geospatial Technology is an interdisciplinary center established to support the larger mission of the university. The center, established in 2005, is self-supporting and funded through research grants and contracts. The center's mission is to promote, facilitate and support applications of geospatial technology in interdisciplinary research, education and community service.

This event was 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.