SANBI GIS intern Keneilwe Hlahane wins 2017 ESRI Young Scholar Award

01 August 2017

Keneilwe Hlahane, a GIS intern with the SANBI National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) team, has won the GIS Esri South Africa Young Scholar Award 2017, for her project titled 'Monitoring Eutrophication of inland waters using GIS Techniques'.

As the winning scholar, Keneilwe presented her research at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, United States of America, July 2017. Her work was also displayed in the ESRI Map Gallery, where a special exhibition is organised at the conference for leading students from around the world who have shown excellence in research associated with using Esri GIS software.

She was formally awarded with the Young Scholar award at the Special Achievement in GIS awards ceremony.

GIS Intern (Keneilwe)GIS Intern (Keneilwe)

Keneilwe’s Top 5 experiences from the GIS ESRI International User Conference 2017

1. The Plenary message

Jack Dangermond founder of GIS ESRI software company delivered a special message for the year 2017 under the theme “Applying the science of where”. The message explained that the purpose of this GIS conference is to be together, share, learn and grow together as GIS professionals. He concluded his talk with a quote from Leonardo da Vinci saying “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do”, and do we must, for a better future.

2. GIS Education

Attending the world’s largest GIS User Conference was very exciting. This year's attendance was around 16,000 people from 130 different countries in the world. The conference had plenary sessions, paper sessions, technical workshops and Demo sessions, where live demos of new GIS applications were showcased. One of the biggest highlights presentations included a look at how Disney Imagineers developed the city of Zootopia using Esri's City-Engine software.

The live demo sessions had me bouncing in my seat with excitement. As an ArcGIS user I attended the sessions about the ArcGIS online improvements. There were exciting sessions on Esri's Drone2Map which has been very nicely integrated with ArcGIS Pro. The integration of Python and R into the ArcGIS Desktop environment, particularly ArcGIS Pro was also shown.

3. Conservation GIS

The sessions on learning about applying GIS “The science of Where” within Biodiversity studies was very informative. Dr Geoffrey West delivered a thought provoking keynote address about the growth cycles of biological organisms and their links to the development of urban areas.

Different projects were shown on how GIS is used to manage botanical gardens, natural reserves and parks. GIS technology has become a major tool for wildlife conservation. The technology has advanced to levels where it is now a critical component used in land use management and conservation planning.

4. Closing Function San Diego museum Balboa Park

A closing party was held at Balboa Park where we got to dance, enjoy great food from different cultures, awesome music performances, and see beautiful historical museums. The highlight of this party was that it included everyone who loves GIS; it was attended by all members of the family including kids.

5. The ESRI Young Scholars Network

Meeting the other Esri Young Scholars from 21 different countries in the world was a highlight for me, and also connecting with many other GIS professionals in the Esri Young Professionals Network. It was an opportunity to meet GIS thought leaders and innovators, and to build my career network. The Esri User conference was a fantastic experience. It was really inspiring to me, and it provided me with the motivation to continue developing a career in GIS.

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