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Education is the key to a brighter future. That’s why the Manitoba GIS Users Group dedicates 2 $500 scholarship awards to students who demonstrate excellence in using geospatial technology in their fields of study.

1 – Bimal Adhikari Award in Applied GIS- demonstrates technical and/or applied use of GIS for a specific problem or task.
2 – Janos Boda Award in Research GIS- demonstrate use of GIS within a larger research project.

Every year, the Manitoba GIS Users Group grants 2 awards to students who has demonstrated excellence in the field of applied GIS and Research GIS for special projects. These awards are given to recognize the hard work and dedication put forth by students in their respective fields and to encourage them to continue their success. It is an opportunity for students to be recognized for their hard work and dedication, as well as for the impact they have made on their community.

This year’s 11 entries for the MGUG Education Awards were professional and varied comprising topics from Arctic Foxes to Solid Waste and Active Transport to Cartography. Selecting the winners of an award is never an easy task, and narrowing down submissions to just two winners can be an especially difficult process. With so many high-quality entries to consider, each with their unique strengths and merits, it can be challenging to choose just a couple of winners. The judges carefully evaluated each submission based on a variety of criteria and overall quality.

After much deliberation and thoughtful consideration, the judges finally identified two submissions that stood out from the rest as the most exceptional and deserving of recognition. Although it was a challenging decision to make, the judges are confident that these two winners represent the best of the best, and their accomplishments and contributions are truly worthy of celebration.

The Bimal Adhikari Applied GIS Award winner is Parinaz Shariat Zadeh, University of Manitoba MSc candidate for her application of GIS for her use of geospatial technology in the U of M’s Active Transportation.

In 2017 the University of Manitoba developed a six-year plan called “Moving forward: sustainable transportation strategy” that aimed to increase healthy and sustainable transportation options for students, staff and visitors. Following the development of a transportation strategy, the university organized a number of active transportation events to encourage students, staff and visitors to be active.

Despite all the efforts to make the campus more sustainable, some students still experience challenges moving around and being active on campus. This project was developed to include information regarding existing bus stops, traffic lights, bike lanes, fencing infrastructure, pathways and public spaces (public art) at the Fort Garry campus to analyze the Active Transportation situation (from a student point of view).

The Janos Boda Research GIS Award winner is Sean Johnson-Bice, University of Manitoba PhD candidate for his study “A cosmic view of ‘tundra gardens’: satellite imagery provides a landscape-scale perspective of Arctic fox ecosystem engineering”

Increasing availability of high-resolution data offers new opportunities to study how animals shape ecosystems at diverse spatial scales. We test the efficacy of using high resolution Sentinel-2 satellite imagery to quantify the effects of Arctic fox denning activity on vegetation. We compared plant productivity and plant phenology patterns on 84 Arctic fox dens vs. reference sites (points generated in preferred den habitat areas predicted from a habitat selection analysis). Using satellite imagery, we found plant productivity and the rate of green up were both greater on fox dens compared to reference sites. Productivity on reference sites was lower than average productivity, indicating foxes primarily den in low-productivity areas. We demonstrate the efficacy of using remote sensing technologies to study how predators increase landscape heterogeneity and influence ecosystem dynamics through small-scale mechanisms, and ultimately advance our understanding of animal ecosystem roles.

While there were only 2 awards, we would also like to give a shout out to some of the other outstanding submissions including Gerald Beta’s submission “Environmental Injustice in OPCN” An evaluation of health and environmental impacts of hydro dams and COVID-19 pandemic in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation ( Samin Mohammadi’s report “Flexibility, potential alternative of Unaffordable and Inadequate spaces” was also well received by reviewers.

The MGUG Board hopes that these awards serve as a way of encouraging future generations of students who are passionate about applying GIS technology and special project initiatives in order to make a difference in our world.

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