College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

GIS Lab: Technology in C.L.A.S.S.

Geospatial Analysis across the Disciplines

The College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences is not typically a college that gets associated with science or engineering, but that is a misconception. Hidden away in the corner of building 5 is the Center for Geographic Information Science Research (CGISR), also known as the GIS lab.

The CGISR serves as Cal Poly Pomona’s hub for geospatial analysis and is currently used by four CPP colleges (Science, Environmental Design, Engineering, and C.L.A.S.S). The collaboration from the four colleges allows for the center to host interdisciplinary instruction, research and projects in disciplines such as geography and anthropology, geology, urban and regional planning, landscape architecture, biology, computer science, civil engineering and electrical and computer engineering.

The technology in the center allows for students to analyze diverse and wide-ranging data, which helps explain why this is a rapidly growing industry. A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. For example, the data produced with this system can reveal how to design the best city networks (transportation, utilities, etc.), where to locate cities with areas of green space, where to preserve habitats for animals, and so on.

In C.L.A.S.S., geography majors can opt to graduate with a GIS option, which emphasizes the acquisition of technical skills such as remote sensing of land cover, computer cartography, and geographic information systems. In addition, CPP is one of the first universities to formally offer a GIS option for geography majors and was one of the first in the region to offer GIS courses. CPP also offers an Interdisciplinary GIS Minor and a GIS Certificate Program for non-geography majors.

The CGISR has proved to be a successful program. Knowledge of GIS technology is becoming a skill that helps students gain spatial cognition, which gives them a competitive edge. Recently, Jeffrey Nelson and Andrea Hernandez, undergraduate geography majors who competed against undergraduate and graduate students, won the President's Award for Outstanding Poster Presentation at the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers with research they produced in the CGISR.

Many GIS students have presented their work at professional conferences and had their work published.  A number have continued on to prestigious graduate programs throughout the years, such as UC Santa Barbara, UC Los Angeles, Penn State, University of Southern California, University of Redlands, and Cal State Long Beach.

Overall, the CGISR gives students the opportunity to research and solve real-world problems, while also providing technical and hands-on training that is required in the field.

To learn more, please contact Professors Michael Reibel or Lin Wu in the Department of Geography and Anthropology (, and visit the Center for Geographic Information Science Research web page.

Student Publication Examples:

Arrizon, E., Cadena, M., Casarez, C. and Le, R. (advisor Wu, L.) 2014. Correlation of High Pollution Areas and the Possible Effects on California Sea Lion Pups. ESRI Map Book 29: 28-29.

Cadena, M. (advisors Wu, L. and Reibel, M.) 2014. Got Green Space? ESRI Map Book 30: 125.

Popel, E., Munns, J., and Xie, F. (advisor Wu, L.) 2015. Modeling Cougar Corridors in Owens Valley. Won Second Place in Best Analytical category in ESRI Map Gallery Competition, July 2015, San Diego. Assessable Feb 26, 2016 at

Ventura, P., Park, P., Cadena, M., and Alvarez, J. (advisor Reibel, M. and Wu, L.) 2014. Zinc Runoff Concentration in Los Angeles.  ESRI Map Book Volume 29: 100.