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A Day in the Life of a Geospatial Scientist

Ever wondered what it is exactly that geospatial scientists do? You need to find out what happens in a day in the life of a geospatial scientist.

Well, we say day – how does a week sound?

In 2019, we partnered with SheMaps and James Cook University Queensland to put together a ten-part video series. The series follows Dr Karen Joyce, she of SheMaps fame, as she boated her way out to Heron Island for a field trip that would feature beautiful vistas, challenging winds, exciting technology… and a lot of screeching birds! Operating out of the James Cook University Heron Island Research Station, Karen uses the video series to take the audience through each step of her week-long journey.

This series is not only a great chance to get a sense of what sort of work a geospatial specialist might do – it’s also a robust resource for teachers who want to draw connections between geospatial science and their students’ regular classwork.

Heading out to Heron

The video series covers a lot of ground, from trip preparation to day-to-day planning, even covering a little light drone aircraft action.

Karen and her colleague are on the island to collect geospatial data about the coral reefs just off the shoreline. This data is key when trying to understand how the reefs are changing over time. They examine what types of rocks, corals and minerals are found out there. They even look at fauna – like seas cucumbers – to see what impact they have on the reef.

In the past, people have been able to map reefs using satellites. Modern drone technology gives us a chance to get more reliable results; this also provided Karen a chance to examine how drone technology can be better utilised on these types of survey trips in the future.

All of this data will be analysed and interpreted by Karen and her team for a long time to come – up to a year! – before they head out to the island again to see what else they can find.

Where to find the series

Geospatial science is an exciting but complex field – and that means that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to grasp the ins and outs of it. This video series manages to effectively and engagingly illustrate the activities of a geospatial scientist, which makes it an invaluable resource for students and teachers alike.

To explore the playlist, you can click through to one of the Youtube video links above, or you can play the videos as a series through the SheMaps YouTube playlist.

You can also read up on SheMaps in one of our previous blogs, found here.

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