Roepke Research Experience: Zimo Xiao, Class of 2022

During the Spring 2021 semester, I continued my research with Professor Shaowen Wang and Professor Anand Padmanabhan to design a scientific middleware for high-performance and data-intensive geospatial research and education on CyberGISX. The CyberGIS-Compute project is part of the CyberGISX geospatial cyberinfrastructure ecosystem that aims to simplify the process of working with large-scale computing resources such as supercomputers in a research setting.

I am fortunate to lead the project in design and development. As a Computer Science + Geography & GIS (CS+GGIS) major, the project provided me with a unique opportunity to learn how different GIS research projects are conducted by working closely with scientific computing engineers and geologists from organizations and programs such as Hydroshare, Geospatial Fellows, and the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital & Spatial Studies.

With their assistance, I walked through the research process of projects ranging from hydrology to artificial intelligence, learning the techniques that technologically skilled researchers apply when working with large-scale research. From them, I also got to understand the technological barriers that GIS and geography researchers face when trying to scale their projects to work with more extensive datasets. With the help of my community and professors, I designed a software architecture that allows geospatial research to scale with a few lines of code. With revisions and prototyping, the newest version of CyberGIS-Compute is now gradually being used in geospatial research and education in different labs.

The Roepke research experience helped me discover a research path involving my computer engineering background and my passion for GIS research, giving me a unique opportunity to explore different research directions that apply technologies such as big data, AI, the internet of things (IoT), and parallel computing into GIS research. A Roepke scholarship expanded my horizon in GIS research and encouraged me to pursue GIS research as a future career.