The Geography Program has a well-rounded team of teacher-scholars to mentor students at the undergraduate and graduate level as well as to seek developmental funds and research grants.
Steve Di Naso
Eastern Illinois University (2004 to present)
Co-Director, Geographic Information Science Center
Coordinator, Geographic Information Science Lab
Steven is a Geoscientist in the Department of Geography & Geology at Eastern Illinois University and has served full-time in this capacity as a faculty member since 2004. He earned a BS in Geology from Eastern Illinois University (1995), received an MS in Geography from Indiana State University (2008), and is presently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Earth & Environmental Systems, Indiana State University (2013). Since 2004, he has been an Esri Authorized, Certified Training Professional (CTP), and is a CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+). Over the years, he has held a multitude of Esri Instructor-Led courses and has trained hundreds of students in the geospatial sciences.
As a faculty member in the Department of Geology & Geography, I assist my colleagues throughout the College of Science, among others, with the implementation of, and application of, Geographic Techniques and Spatial Analysis. I serve as a Director of the Eastern Illinois University Geographic Information Sciences Center, and as a co-Manager of the Geographic Information Sciences Laboratory in Geology & Geography. I also administer and assist in the maintenance and support of all of the Department’s faculty computers, our mainframe servers, provide service on all related field equipment, and provide contingency support for our department’s field-orientated activities. Additionally, I am curator of the Jacquelyn and Chester Bulat Mineral Collection, a museum-quality inventory of several thousand minerals, a third of which, are on display at the university.
As a Geospatial Scientist, my research interests and activities involve numerous integrative, interdisciplinary, and multimodal approaches in applied spatio-temporal and spatio-statistical modeling for the Physical Sciences; most notably in fields of Archaeometry, Archaeology, Physical Geography, Historical Geography, Geology, and Automated Mapping and Facilities Management (AM/FM) related to Infrastructural Mapping and Asset Management.
I teach the following courses, which I designed:
GEG 3810-5810 Geographic Information Systems I
GEG 3860-5860 Geographic Information Systems II
GEG 3850-5850 GPS: Mapping the Modern Way
GEG 3830-5830 Building Geodatabases
ESC 3960 Getting Started with GIS
Current Research endeavors include: Blanding, UT, Red Ware Project, Herrin Massacre forensic investigation, Cades Cove Cemetery mapping
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
Coordinator, Geographic Information Science Lab
David Viertel teaches Remote Sensing and Cartography classes within the Geography Major’s Geographic Techniques/Spatial Analysis Concentration, in addition to occasional seminars centered on applications of geospatial technology. Dr. Viertel received his Ph.D. in Environmental Geography in 2008 from Texas State University, focusing on physical and socio-demographic aspects of urban environments using lidar-derived models of morphology. He serves as Internship Coordinator within the Geology/Geography Department, helping to place students in public and private internships to further their technical skills and professional development. He also serves as Co-Coordinator of the Eastern GIScience Laboratory.
Dr. Viertel’s research interests include applied land cover change, urban morphology, and geovisualization. One recent and ongoing project (in association with Dr. Diane Burns) involves delineating channel change in the Little Wabash River and associated land-use implications. A second project (with Mike Cornebise) seeks to compare land-use patterns in Amish settlements in Illinois vs. Ohio using satellite-derived land cover maps. A third research undertaking (in conjunction with faculty at the University of South Florida) examines the impacts of large-scale rutile mining operations on environment and livelihood in Sierra Leone.
Since arriving at EIU some 5 years ago, Dr. Viertel has conducted independent research with eleven different students, resulting in 6 posters or presentations to date. As part of a hands-on, integrative philosophy within the program, Dr. Viertel and all the faculty within our department encourage directly-mentored, undergraduate and graduate experiences in research and internship for all students.
Finally, Dr. Viertel is Faculty Co-Advisor for an active, dynamic chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geography Honor Society. The society helps facilitate the development of GIScience students by sponsoring in-house research awards and helping to support student travel to professional conferences.
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
Eastern Illinois University (2011 to present)
Barry J. Kronenfeld is a professor of Geographic Information Science with expertise in spatial modeling and statistics. His research investigates how different models of space, distance and uncertainty affect spatial reasoning and pattern inference. Dr. Kronenfeld has developed several new techniques for spatial analysis and representation, including methods for visualizing uncertainty, analyzing co-location and sampling populations efficiently in the field.
Dr. Kronenfeld also has a keen interest in environmental history, and is currently engaged in a project to reconstruct the North American landscape prior to European settlement. Through land survey records from colonial Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere, his research seeks to document and map historical influences of anthropogenic disturbance on forest and prairie ecosystems, and to better understand the role of native Americans in creating the landscapes that the first Europeans encountered.
Dr. Kronenfeld uses both commercial and open source GIS in his research and teaching, and occasionally develops his own custom software for creating maps, calculating spatial statistics and simulating spatial patterns.
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
Eastern Illinois University (2009 to present)
The word “geography” means “describing” (graphy) the “Earth” (geo), and geographers are fortunate that we have developed a set of tools (GIS and remote sensing software) that allow us to do what geographers do best: create maps and interpret spatial data/information. It’s what sets us apart from others, and what makes someone a true geographer. While many claim to be GISci users, only geographers – those whose education is grounded firmly in the study of spatial orientation, recognition of patterns, and an understanding of how various human and physical processes of the Earth function – hold a true understanding of the geographic theory and fundamentals of our discipline that underpin GISci tools and the curriculum(s) that have since been developed.
I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to GISci tools as an undergraduate at South Dakota State University in the late 1990s. What drew me to it was that it allowed me to couple my inherent interests in spatial relationships and fundamental geographic understanding with my desire to create and manipulate spatial data for my own uses. As a geographer, nothing is more powerful than being able to create your own maps and spatial datasets. In my opinion the ability to do so should be a fundamental requirement for all geographers, regardless of their specialty. And while I cannot claim to be a true GIScientist (I do not write my own programming code or create specialized tools and/or algorithms as is possible in many software packages), I, like many other geographers, understand its power as a tool. What was once only possible with pen and paper, and what could take months of time to create, today takes mere minutes. And though the process of map and data creation via GISci software may seem to some as being only “a push of a button away”, it is crucial to realize that those buttons and menu items are carrying out analyses that are solidly grounded in geographic theory, as old as the discipline itself, and even without the speed and power of today’s modern, computer age, would be possible with the tried and true methods of basic geographic and cartographic techniques.
For nearly fifteen years I have been a student of geography and spatial analysis. I create maps on nearly a daily basis utilizing freely accessible data. The ability to use GIS software, and more importantly, to understand what the results of various spatial analyses describes (theoretically, quantitatively, or both) allows me to arrive at answers that, without GIS and geographic education, would be much more difficult to do. All of my advisees at EIU are strongly urged to take at least one course in GIS and/or remote sensing, as I have experienced first-hand the doors that will open (both personally and professionally) if that knowledge is obtained. Students in my courses, on nearly a daily basis, are exposed to maps that I have created to help me explain to them a particular geographic process/pattern, usually related to some sort of land use practice or process that without GIS would be difficult to visualize. I would very much like to require that GIS 1 be a prerequisite for all of my upper-division courses. This would allow students to apply what they’ve learned in classroom lectures to real-world data and applications, helping to ground them even further in the importance of understanding both human and physical spatial relationships.
In summary, while GISci software and analysis techniques can be learned by someone taking a weekend “crash-course”, being able to truly understand the power of GISci, and more importantly the fundamental geographic theory in which GISci is grounded, takes years of education, experience, experimentation, failure, and success. The new GISci Center and curriculum at EIU will be driven by these ideals.
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
Eastern Illinois University (2010 to present)
I am a physical geographer, and more specifically, a geomorphologist, who frequently uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in my research. My current research program relies on GIS as a vital tool used in the investigation of fluvial systems. I utilize GIS when preparing a field site for data collection; for example, establishing cross-sections that are precisely orthogonal to the orientation of a river’s channel in order to accurately measure velocity components. Geomorphic characteristics are easily determined in GIS, from watershed delineation to measuring the sinuosity of a meandering river. I use interpolation schemes in GIS to process collected data, including measurements of river bed depth to generate bathymetric maps. Georectification of historical aerial photographs through GIS allows for comparison of consecutive photos of fluvial features, such as stream junctions, to assess channel stability or change over time.
I was first exposed to GIS in an introductory course during my undergraduate studies at Elmhurst College. I remember one of my first projects was using ArcView 3.2 to digitize and georectify a paper map of the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park and add hotlinks of personal photos to some of the thermal features. I was hooked when I realized how quickly a visually appealing interactive map could be produced. I pursued an internship opportunity stemming from this class with the Village of Mount Prospect, Illinois, where I gained further familiarity with GIS in an applied setting with a suburban municipality. These early experiences with GIS largely contributed to my decision to pursue graduate education.
My thesis research at the University of Wyoming originated from a Wyoming Water Research Program and Wyoming Water Development Commission project examining the use of hydrologic models to predict winter streamflow in remote mountain watersheds of southeast Wyoming. Discharge was measured for a number of small, ungaged mountain streams during low-flow winter months, a critical period for planning and water allocation, and correlated with data from downstream gages. I relied on GIS extensively to calculate predictive basin characteristics for use in a multiple regression streamflow model. I also had the opportunity to organize geospatial data and produce maps using GIS for the Wyoming Digital Atlas.
More recently as a Geographer at the Illinois Water Science Center of the United States Geological Survey, I researched and developed a geospatial database of watershed and geomorphic characteristics for use as variables in regional regression analyses of flow duration and peak flood frequency curves. Computation of these basin characteristics with GIS contributed to projects involving the development of total maximum daily loads at ungaged sites in Illinois and Indiana and the evaluation of potential hydrologic impacts of wetland and prairie restoration in urban and suburban watersheds of northeast Illinois.
Vince Gutowski (Professor Emeritus)
Professor, Geography Program
Eastern Illinois University (1983 to 2010)
When I began working at EIU’s Department of Geography & Geology in 1983 we were still using the vellum and ink to draw maps and using the darkroom for the photographic reproduction of the final copies. Over my career I have seen changes in the way maps were produced and, as the resident cartographer, I had to see that the Cartography Laboratory changed with the times to provide our students with a background in current cartographic techniques. When computers reached a size and price range that would allow desktop computing, we changed our mapping courses to stay current with the times. However, there were changes in mapping techniques and in the way people could procure, store, analyze and visualize geospatial data. Here, in EIU’s Geography Program we responded to changes in software, hardware and philosophies of mapping, to provide students access to a laboratory that had state of the art computing and mapping capabilities. The Cartography Laboratory evolved to become the Geographic Analysis Laboratory and later to the Geographic Information Science Laboratory, a name by which it is known today. As the industry changed, so too did the capabilities of our lab. Over the years we added personnel, Betty Smith taught GIS, David Viertel was hired to teach Remote Sensing, Steve Di Naso enhanced our GPS and GIS capabilities and most recently Barry Kronenfeld has been hired to assist teaching GIS courses.
Student enrollments in our Geographic Techniques courses are at an all time high. Geography research efforts are including more and more GISci to assist students and faculty in completing the tasks at hand. Contract work over the past six or seven years has provided paid work opportunities for student interns and has provided funding to keep the lab, computers, software, printers, plotters and scanners as current as possible. The university has recognized the efforts being put forth by the practitioners of Geographic Techniques and encouraged us to create the EIU Geographic Information Science Center. This is a testimony to the hard work done by geographers and others in the university who recognize the power of this important tool set. The GISci Center will empower faculty in diverse disciplines to use these tools and encourage students from various disciplines to take advantage of geospatial inquiry in a manner that suits their threads of research.
For me, it has been a wonderful trip to see the changes in the discipline over recent decades, and, although retired, I manage to keep up with personal and collaborative research efforts, assist in contract work, and help mentor students working with current faculty. I hope to remain active in the GISci Laboratory and the Geography Program in general, lending support where I can. I encourage students from geography and other disciplines to strongly consider enrolling in GISci courses in order to broaden their university learning experience and to better prepare them for life in the modern world. The use of GISci has grown from a geographic tool to a global necessity in analyzing the interrelatedness of our planet’s physical and human systems.