Friday, September 14, 2018

OSCAR Student Melissa Wilson Analyzes Grocery Store and Farmers Market Locations and Public Transportation Options in Relation to Median Household Income

This summer, I have had the opportunity to continue to pursue two passions: geographic information systems (GIS) and food security.  My studies of food security began in a GIS course last fall where I identified food insecure neighborhoods within Washington, D.C. through various maps.  Intrigued by my findings, I was eager to expand my study to the Washington Metropolitan Area to better understand food availability within our community.  Ultimately, for my URSP research project, I will be analyzing the grocery store and farmers market locations, and public transportation options in relation to median household income.  By doing so, I hope to identify communities that are underserved with my produced maps and identify potential improvements. 
In a typical week, I research literature on varying topics within my scope of the study, collect data, and produce maps to illustrate my findings.  The work I have completed thus far has helped me improve my research capabilities, and enhance my technical skills with ESRI ArcGIS.  My most valuable resource for my research pursuit has been my mentor Dr. Rice of Mason’s Geography and GeoInformation Science department.  With his support, it has enabled me to achieve my goal of creating and presenting undergraduate research. 

In the future, I hope to be able to continue using GIS as a tool to solve environmental/community concerns.  The research and analysis I have created with my project is one way that I can explore the capabilities and power of technology to identify patterns within indirectly associated parameters.  I hope to be able to expand my understanding of not only the topic of food security, but the functionality and applicability of GIS in future classes at George Mason and beyond.