geoLab Student Research Assistant Application
NOTE: Applications to the lab are assessed once a semester, and you may not hear back on your application until the end of the semester in which you applied. Application to join geoLab in the Spring 2020 semester is due November 17, 2019.

This form is an application to participate in the Geospatial Evaluation and Observation Lab (geoLab) at William and Mary. Only current William and Mary undergraduate students are eligible to apply.



Team Descriptions and Qualifications:


geoBoundaries
Did you know we don’t know where some cities, counties, districts, or even states are around the world? It’s true! This research program requires experience and/or relevant coursework in geospatial analysis (specifically, INTR 204 - Introduction to GIS) and is intended for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors looking to get involved in research focused in international relations and geospatial studies. The focus and responsibility of the geoBoundaries research team will be to collect and prepare subnational boundaries of countries across the globe (in terms of both administrative and heath boundaries) for use in research and the GeoQuery platform. The boundaries will be accessible by researchers and students who may desire to use the information for their own research and projects. Students who participate in this program will be able to gain experience in working in geospatial research; further, students on this team may be able to (a) receive COLL 400 course credit through independent research in the Data Science Program, (b) receive formal credit as a contributor to the geoBoundaries project in published materials [i.e., if you create the best boundaries known for Mexico, every researcher using it will be citing you!), and (c) be competitive for Data Science Fellowships. Based on the quality of effort and commitment put into this program, a student may be given the opportunity to ascend higher leadership positions or join future research teams of higher skill and responsibility.Working on this team will provide you with the opportunity to work with outside affiliates such as Columbia University's CIESIN and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


geoData
There is a phenomenal amount of data out there, but relatively little time to figure out what data is good, and what is just junk. geoLab relies on students to help us identify the best datasets to distribute to our researchers through the www.geoquery.org platform. The focus and responsibility of the geoData research team is to gather, prepare (or, create!), and analyze data sets that can be are used by thousands of individuals from hundreds of organizations to facilitate policymaking. Students who participate in this program will be able to gain a foundation in working in research and have the opportunity to gain recognition in research papers and academic briefs. geoData has three functioning roles: SDG searching, data processing, and analytics. SDG searchers will scour the web, utilizing a wide range of resources to find datasets on UN Sustainable Development Goals on a subnational level. Data processors will play the critical role of taking the datasets collected by SDG searchers, cleaning, processing, and uploading them to the GeoQuery tool so that the 300+ researchers and academia using the tool will have access. These roles are intended for freshmen and sophomores looking to start getting involved in research, but not sure where to start.

The third role is much more analytical. In this role, students will work with partner organizations, analyze, clean, and give insight towards clients' challenging questions through data. This role does requires programming (CSCI/DATA 141, DATA 146, DATA310, and/or CSCI241 are preferred) and is intended for sophomores and juniors. GIS experience (GIS 201/INTR 204) is also preferred, however, it is not necessary.

In addition, members of the geoData research program will have the opportunity of gaining recognition in research papers and other career opportunities; further, students on this team may be able to (a) receive COLL 400 course credit through independent research in the Data Science Program, and (b) be competitive for Data Science Fellowships. Based on the quality of effort and commitment put into this program, a student may be given the opportunity to ascend higher leadership positions or join future research teams.


geoDev
R&D makes geoLab work. Want to learn Machine Learning skills? Web development? Python? Want to help the other teams work better, solve text mining problems, keep our website working, or work on other applied computational projects? geoDev is for you. This research program requires knowledge and/or relevant coursework in computer science and computer programming - specifically CSCI 141 or DATA 141, but upper-level coursework (CSCI 301, CSCI 312, and any CSCI 400-level coursework) as well as basic GIS (INTR 204 - Introduction to GIS) is a plus. The focus and responsibility of the geoDev research team will be to provide technical assistance to the other geoLab teams in terms of debugging code, helping solve programming problems, improving the GeoQuery website, and deriving new code to solve applied research problems. Students who participate in this program will be able to gain experience in applying computer science knowledge in a research environment. In addition, members of the geoDev research program will have the opportunity of gaining recognition in research papers and other career opportunities; further, students on this team may be able to (a) receive COLL 400 course credit through independent research in the Data Science Program, (b) receive formal credit as a creator of new software packages, R or Python scripts, and (c) be competitive for Data Science Fellowships. Based on the quality of effort and commitment put into this program, a student may be given the opportunity to ascend higher leadership positions or join future research teams of higher skill and responsibility.


geoParsing
Sometimes, we don't know where international aid and other financial flows are going - which can be a big problem if you want to better coordinate aid, fight corruption, or inform foreign policy. The geoParsing team in the geoLab helps fix this problem. Joining the geoParsing team is a special type of commitment - we partner with institutions around the world to find, parse, geovisualize, and analyze data on international development, security, and diplomacy. Our current projects are on Russian power projection in Sub-Saharan Africa and Chinese Belt-Road Initiative development finance in Latin America. Unlike the other teams in the geoLab, the geoParsing team does not require technical or data science skills -- you just need a keen mind, an eye for detail, and good work ethic. Skills in foreign policy and development analysis, writing reports/memos, and research design are pluses but not necessary. Knowing Russian and/or Chinese is also a plus but definitely not necessary. Students on the geoParsing team will gain valuable analytical and communication skills and have the possibility to join the leadership team for the lab. Students who participate in this program will be able to gain a foundation in working in research and have the opportunity to gain recognition in research papers and academic briefs - many students have already found their way into the acknowledgements of large-scale evaluations of World Bank and UN projects! Further, students on this team may be able to (a) receive COLL 400 course credit through independent research in the Data Science Program during their second (or later) semester in the lab, and (b) be competitive for Data Science Fellowships.

More information can be found at: https://www.wm.edu/as/data-science/researchlabs/geolab/index.php
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