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GAHP intern Corena Pincham Leads Successful Training in Geospatial Technology for Pollution Monitoring

Corena Pincham, Miami University undergraduate student and GAHP Diversity in Environment and Health Fellow.

Corena Pincham, a senior undergraduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, joined the GAHP team this year as the recipient of the 2020-2021 inaugural GAHP Diversity in Environment and Health Internship Program. The program is in partnership with the Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) at Miami University, a GAHP partner.

Corena worked as a research fellow with Dr. Jessica McCarty, Assistant Professor in Geography at Miami University, and Justin Fain, professional research staff. Ms. Pincham co-planned and hosted the GAHP, Pure Earth Indonesia, and Miami University “Training of Trainers: Geospatial Applications for Pollution Monitoring” virtual training in November 2020. This event was held as part of the Indonesia Health and Pollution Action Plan (HPAP) with Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta (YTS), a development NGO in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, to raise their regional government’s capacity for air pollution and environmental monitoring.

The work performed by Ms. Pincham was hugely beneficial to YTS, GAHP, and Miami University’s Geospatial Analysis Center.

“Corena is a natural talent with the technology, the science, and the program management. Without her, this would not have been successful and she has a bright future in science, technology, and policy.”

-Dr. Jessica McCarty, Assistant Professor in Geography, Miami University

Over two days on Zoom, the GAC team trained environmental professionals from across Southeast Asia how to use open source and freely available Earth observation and geospatial tools to monitor the effects of agricultural and peat burning, mining activities, and pesticide use. The goal was to enable participants to better communicate air and water pollution impacts with policymakers and other members of their communities as well as to expand their capacity to do comprehensive pollution monitoring.

Figure 1. Corena leads a QGIS training for monitoring pesticide pollution in Central Kalimantan.

The GAC team organized the main topics of the training into 10 modules. On Day 1,  they demonstrated how to find satellite data and land cover maps through free applications operated by NASA, Copernicus Sentinel Hub, and the World Resources Institute. The participants then learned how to import satellite-derived active fire and air pollutant data downloaded from these sources to create their own visualizations and carry out emissions calculations with QGIS, an open-source geospatial software tool.

Day 2 built on the foundational knowledge of satellite monitoring and land analysis. Topics ranged from converting pesticide use databases into geospatial data to mapping gold mining locations for possible mercury runoff exposure. The GAC team held breakout sessions at the end of each module for participants  to try these technologies on their own with guidance from Jessica, Justin, and Corena.

GAC staff researcher Justin Fain mentioned the ease in working with Corena and GAHP. “These international collaborations can quickly turn into a headache but Corena kept everything moving smoothly coordinating across time zones and continents.”

“The training was designed to be open source, meaning that the data is publicly accessible to share, customize and learn from. We want to encourage the use of free and collaborative web tools in these scientific endeavors,” said Corena. All the modules were created and shared using Google Workspace, and archived for future use.

Modules contained instruction details, source links, troubleshooting information and each respective module recording from Zoom. This was helpful for later reference, particularly for those who completed the independent Take Home Assessment. This involved 3 short activities reinforcing some of the satellite data tools from the training. The GAC team graded these optional assessments to see how the participants acclimated themselves with these methods on their own.

Figure 2. Example recorded training modules for Day 1, regionally-tuned for YTS and Pure Earth Indonesia.

In January, the GAC team followed up with the participants who completed the Take Home Assessment to celebrate their work with certificates of completion, and to answer any outstanding questions. Overall, both the participants and the GAC staff hoped that GAHP would hold similar events in the future. This spring, YTS successfully held a geospatial analysis training for Central Kalimantan’s regional government staff.

“It was great to have this opportunity to help others carry out their work in pollution reduction efforts– this event demonstrated that the contributions my team and I made have been advantageous to YTS, as well as that engagement with geospatial technologies should remain a part of GAHP’s environmental solutions planning and health advocacy work.”

– Corena Pincham, GAHP Diversity in Environment and Health Fellow.

For more information on the GAHP Diversity in Environment and Health Internship program, contact Lucile Okio, HPAP manager.  

This post was written by Corena Pincham, International Studies major/Geography minor at Miami University and GAHP Diversity in Environment and Health Fellow.

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