MGIS Student 2023 Awards and Recognition

Photo of award winning students Mattie, Tzu-Yu and Zain.

Congratulations to our ten students who graduated with their MGIS degrees in 2023! Six graduated in May 2023 and four in December 2023. We returned to an in-person MGIS graduation reception at the Campus Club in spring 2023 and enjoyed celebrating with friends and family. Visit the job placement page to see what lies ahead for these talented graduates.

Each year our students receive recognition including awards from Esri. Tzu-Yu Ma (pictured center) and Zain Siyal (pictured right) received 2023 Esri User Conference Student Assistantships plus MGIS professional development funds to cover the cost of their airfare to San Diego, California. Luke Zaruba was named the 2023 UMN Esri Innovation Program (EIP) Outstanding Student of the Year. He then went on to win the overall 2023 International EIP Student of the Year award presented at the Esri conference. Mattie Gisselbeck (pictured left) was selected for the competitive Esri Summer Internship program and will begin the position this summer 2024 in Redlands, California. Mattie also won a 2023 U-Spatial Mapping Prize for Best Presentation of Research in the graduate student category for her project Puerto Rico's Spontaneous Reforestation.

Luke Zaruba was also recognized as the graduate student recipient of the 2023 UMN Minnesota GIS/LIS Student Scholar Award. Peter Mitchell received the same award in the undergraduate category. Luke competed in the graduate student paper competition session at the 2023 Minnesota GIS/LIS Annual Conference in mid-October and won first place for his paper entitled, Exploring the Dynamics of Fatal and Serious Injury Accidents in Minnesota. Shana Crosson received the Minnesota GIS/LIS Distinguished Leadership Award which recognizes active educators who have demonstrated leadership, creativity, and enthusiasm for the effective use of geography and GIS to inspire, engage and prepare students for participation in the workforce and geospatial community. Finally, Zeb Thomas, (MGIS 2012) who works for State of Minnesota, MNIT DNR, received the Polaris Leadership Award that celebrates active, established leaders in the geospatial community who are inspiring and leading us through their contributions, energy, and creativity.

Our students also gain valuable professional development experience through graduate assistantships working as teaching (TA) or research assistants (RA). Several of our students were funded as teaching assistants in 2023 including Mohsen Ahmadkhani, Owen Connelly, Eric Gibson, Mattie Gisselbeck, Rob Hendrickson, Greg Kohler, Kyle Olson, Erik Sauer, and Luke Zaruba. Our students not only serve as TAs for key GIS courses, but also for other courses in biophysical and human geography when there is a need to fill open TA positions. Taylor Andersen-Beaver was a RA for U-Spatial working with her adviser Len Kne on mapping the global drug supply chain. Mattie Gisselbeck and Deepika Tamiselvan both worked as research assistants for GEM Informatics. Andrew Arlt began a RA position in Fall 2023 working with Ryan Mattke in the Borchert Map Library. Owen Connelly has worked as a RA for the Borchert Map Library since Spring 2023 working with one of our MGIS graduates, Karen Majewicz. Sebastian Brauer started a RA position in Fall 2023 with the Polar Geospatial Center. Kyle Olson and Emily Bender were both hired as RAs for U-Spatial and began their appointments in 2024.

Finally, a shout out to all our students who participated in internship opportunities in 2023. Ethan Bott continued his USGS internship with the Web Informatics and Mapping team. Mao Wang worked as a GIS intern for the City of Plymouth. Luke Zaruba and Mattie Gisselbeck both secured summer 2023 GIS internships with Travelers Insurance in their Business Insights and Analytics Leadership Development program. Zain Siyal worked as a Planning and Design GIS and Engineering intern in summer 2023 with the City of Minneapolis. Deepika Tamilselvan held a summer internship as a GIS Seasonal Analyst with Sentera in St. Paul. Carl Sones continues to work with the Hennepin County GIS unit. Greg Kohler was hired as a Student GIS Technician with MnGeo and started this position in 2024.

Congratulations to all our students and graduates for their accomplishments in 2023!

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