Recent Faculty-Student Research Projects

Ecological Footprint and Road Network Projects

Tsegaya Nega and Carleton students researched both the noise-band created by traffic around Twin Cities roadways and the changing relationship between transportation networks, urban development, and the environment in the greater Twin Cities region. In the first project, the researchers gathered data on traffic volume and composition, vehicle speed, the resistance of the land cover to noise propagation, the location and type of traffic noise barriers, the type of road surface, and slope. They pre-processed the data to make it usable for spatial analysis and experimented with different software packages to model traffic noise propagation in real landscapes. In the second project, the researchers digitized the Dakota county road network in ten-year intervals from the 1930s to 2007. Using this data, they conducted a preliminary analysis of the changing relationship between the road network and open space.

How Efficiently Did Ditch Companies Supply Water to Miners During the California Gold Rush of the 1850s?

In order to answer this question, Professor Mark Kanazawa and a student research assistant are in the process of beginning to reconstruct the decisions made by the ditch companies in locating the ditches, flumes, and tunnels, using contemporary accounts and detailed historical maps of the ditches. Once this process is completed, the reconstructed maps will be digitized using GIS. The latter will then be used to develop a theoretical least-cost ditch system that is based on geology, land cover, cost of construction, etc. Finally, the theoretical least-cost ditch systems will be compared to the historical ditch system. The extent to which there is a match or mismatch should provide some information on how rational and well-informed the ditch companies were in planning and constructing the ditch system.

The Political Economy of Land Use Change in Paraguay

Bev Nagel and her students examined the political economy of land use change in Paraguay using historical and current remotely-sensed images of Paraguay. They converted satellite images of the study area from 1986, 1989, 1990, and 1991 into a GIS file and conducted a preliminary analysis. The results suggested that in order to effectively analyze land use change in the study area, satellite images dating at least from 1970 to 2000 are needed.

To What Extent is Minority Participation in Public Life in Northern Ireland Conditioned by Geography?
Dev Gupta and her students sought to answer this question by looking at the spatial distribution of minorities, access to transportation, and proximity to the nearest political office. Professor Gupta and one of the program's research assistants also digitized polling stations in Northern Ireland.