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Student Highlight: Wenjie Xu

10 Nov 2020 10:22 AM | Sarah Coley (Administrator)

The GANS “Student Highlight” article series recognizes budding geomatics professionals and allows them the opportunity to showcase their work, their skills and their career aspirations to the greater geospatial community of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. In this newsletter we are sharing the journeys of our two new Student Representatives on the GANS Board of Directors.

Meet Wenjie Xu, a Masters of Science student at Dalhousie University.


My education and background:

Currently I am enrolled in the Master of Science at Dalhousie University (Dal). The beautiful main campus is located in the heart of Halifax, a city with extraordinary landscape and rich history. Its agricultural campus is located in the valley of Salmon River in the Truro, once a critical station town for Trans-Canada Via railway.

I am studying and working under the supervision of the director of Organic Agricultural Centre of Canada (OACC). At the same time, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Kentville) provided technical supports and critical database to support our research on assessing the landscape heterogeneity between organic and conventional quarter sections in Saskatchewan. Pairwise comparison between organic and conventional management was set up to better quantify the differences. Mapping landscape structures, geoprocessing and data conversion are important steps to digitize landscape structures and landscape into a computable format. More than 20 landscape metrics were calculated in this study to fully explain the level of landscape heterogeneity.

What interests me about geomatics:

The powerful geographic information systems is the part of geomatics that allures me the most. It integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. ​With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.  

With its extensive functions, GIS can be used to create maps to better display the spatial relationship; it can evaluate the suitability and capability, estimate and predict, interpret and understand, lend new perspective into decision-making, etc. Hundreds of thousands of organizations in virtually every field are using GIS to make maps that communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve complex problems around the world. This is changing the way the world works.

How I decided on a career in Geomatics:

While I was working as a research assistant during my undergraduate studies, my team and I focused on investigating the spatial distribution of soil heavy metal elements. By using spatial interpolation, we predicted and created maps of spatial distribution of those soil heavy metal elements. It was the powerful GIS and the thematic maps that got me thinking about the application of spatial analysis in environmental studies. As I further studied landscape ecology, spatial factors are one major factor that one cannot avoid in all ecological and environmental studies. Combining them into studies can address the real world problems.

My career goals:

I will pursue my career as a GIS spatial analyst, providing solid geoprocessing skills to solve real world problems. In addition, I would like to work as a volunteer to spread the importance of spatial analysis in all different studies and research directions.

My ideal employer:

I want to work for a company that considers not only the profits but also the benefits of the environment and sustainable development in society and is always open for new ideas.

Advice for other students:

Geomatics is a broad subject, but also a very practical tool for other studies’ directions. As a student not originally from a geomatics major but from other subjects, I recommend that other students who see geomatics as a tool is to take it seriously and try to understand the rationale behind each geoprocessing skill. That will help you comprehend each step and pick up the new skills very quickly.

Benefits of volunteering with GANS Board of Directors:

By attending or even organizing events in GANS, students can meet many professionals during all these processes. GANS would also be an ideal place for students to get to know industries, understand what happened outside campus is sometimes more important, and get themselves better prepared for their career.


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