geoLab Student Research Assistant Application
NOTE: The application deadline is Sunday November 27th for Spring 2023 consideration. 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. Selected applicants will be invited to interview.

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:

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 looks for students with experience or interest in GIS and is intended for students looking to get involved in research focused in geospatial studies and analysis. The focus and responsibility of the geoBoundaries research team is to collect and prepare sub-national administrative boundaries of countries across the globe for use in research and on

Students who participate in this program will be able to gain experience working in geospatial research, their name in the citation for our product (, and the opportunity to advance to leadership positions. Additionally, working on this team will provide you with the opportunity to work with outside affiliates such as Columbia University's CIESIN, ESRI, Data Science for Sustainable Development (DSSD), and progress to data science / gis projects if interested!

Former members have gone on to work / intern in GIS roles with local governments, ESRI, the CGA, and more!

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 - at a minimum CSCI 141 or DATA 141 and CSCI 241.  An ideal candidate will have experience and good working knowledge in either of the areas of machine learning or web development.  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.

In the past few years, the international political environment has become increasingly obscured. Russia’s political activities are often mixed together with state sponsored misinformation and disinformation. The Chinese government has classified the exact specifications of their Belt and Road Initiative as a state secret. Additionally, with the immense physical amount of information in the world (i.e., thousands of newspapers, government reports, datasets, videos, social media posts), identifying the most important political activities that speak to China and Russia’s respective intentions and actions can be difficult. geoLab’s geoParsing team approaches this problem from a geointelligence perspective, utilizing both text-based open source data and satellite imagery.

Our projects are currently working with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Open Source Enterprise, both of which are a part of the US intelligence community. This semester, we focused on Chinese industrial parks, Chinese financed copper mines in the Andes, and Russian sponsored mines in the Central African Republic, looking at themes including indigenous resistance, environmental impact, foreign policy implications, etc. Our topics change every semester but the concept stays the same: using geospatial and open source intelligence to analyze potential international threats.

Overall we are looking for applicants who are able to critically analyze material, work both independently and as a team, and are enthusiastic about research. Foreign language experience in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, and/or Arabic is a plus, but by no means required. Applying to geoParsing does NOT require any technical or data science skills. Roles on the teams are flexible, but researchers have the opportunity to write reports, geocode, analyze data trends, triangulate data, and much more. Students on the geoParsing team will gain valuable analytical and communication skills, have the possibility to join the leadership team for the lab, and are guaranteed to be published by the US intelligence community.

More information can be found at:
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Email *
Enter your name *
Enter your student email *
Enter your graduation year & semester *
Which team(s) are you most interested in applying to? *
How are you qualified for the team(s) to which you are applying? If applicable, do you meet all the requirements? If you are considering more than one team, please provide separate justifications for each (200 word max). *
Why do you want to join the team(s) to which you are applying (200 word max)? *
Joining the geoLab program is very competitive.  What sets you apart (200 word max)? *
Is there anything else you think we should know when considering you for the geoLab program (200 word max)?
How strong would you rate your skills in: *
I'm new to this!
I've dabbled.
I'm pretty good.
I am the best there is.
Data Processing
Web development
If you are applying to geoParsing, how strong would you rate your skills in:
No experience
Russian language
Chinese language
Arabic language
French language
Spanish language
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If you are applying to geoDev, please send a Google Drive link to your resume
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