Student wins KAMP scholarship at GIS conference

Shantel-Ann Pettway

The Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals held their fourth Kentucky GIS Conference in Owensboro Oct.12-14. 

Lebanon, Tennessee, senior Ryan Uthoff presented his research at the geographic information systems conference as a requirement for his Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement, or FUSE, grant. 

“I knew I had to go, but I was nervous to present in front of people I didn’t know,” Uthoff said.

Despite Uthoff’s nerves, he won a scholarship from KAMP for his research on the location of high tunnels in Kentucky. 

The idea for Uthoff’s research originally came from Martin Stone, associate director of horticulture. 

Stone was curious about where high tunnels were placed in Kentucky, and when he began to research, he ran into a dead end. 

“The information was only available to the government, so I thought the idea would be dead,” Stone said. 

Instead of staying silent, Stone relayed the concept to Kevin Cary, instructor of geography and geology, and to Uthoff. 

Uthoff fleshed out the research mostly by himself and with the help of courses he had previously taken. 

“[Uthoff] came up with this all on his own … I was just there to make sure he didn’t veer off the right path,” Cary said. 

Uthoff was excited he received the scholarship. 

“It was definitely an honor to be recognized by KAMP,” Uthoff said. “It lets me know all these hard years of work have paid off.” 

Uthoff is not the only one excited about his recognition at the GIS conference; Cary and Stone feel great about his accomplishment. 

“I’m thoroughly pleased and impressed on what Uthoff was able to produce without specifically knowing where these tunnels were,” Stone said. 

Though Cary has helped a lot of students with research in geography and geology, Uthoff was the first FUSE grant recipient he has aided. 

This is the fourth year for the GIS conference, according to Cary. In each conference, a WKU student has received a scholarship from KAMP. 

“That shows how good of a GIS program we have,” Cary said. 

Cary believes all disciplines can benefit from GIS training. 

“Why aren’t people taking courses in GIS?” Cary asked. “There’s so much fertile ground in GIS for sciences and business applications,” he said. 

Uthoff began college as a meteorology  major. 

“That’s the only thing I focused on until I took my first GIS course,” Uthoff said. 

According to Uthoff, he loved the information GIS could provide, and by the fall semester of his sophomore year, he knew he’d be changing his major permanently. 

The conference was another reason for him to like GIS. 

“Just … attending this conference and viewing other presentations makes me more excited to see how GIS is being used,” Uthoff said.

The headline of this story was changed to reflect accuracy. Previously the headline read “Student wins FUSE grant at GIS conference.” The Herald regrets the error.