MSUToday
Published: April 7, 2011

Faculty conversations: Kirk Goldsberry

Contact(s): Erica Shekell Office of Communications and Brand Strategy erica.shekell@cabs.msu.edu

“A picture is worth a thousand words, but maybe a map is worth 10,000,” said Kirk Goldsberry, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography.

Goldsberry uses GIS, which stands for Geographic Information Systems or Geographic Information Science, to create informational graphics and maps to easily convey information that may be difficult to explain simply through text.

“It takes database technologies and visualization technologies and blends them to create a really powerful tool,” he said. “I like to think of GIS, actually, as a graphing calculator for geographers, environmental scientists and urban geographers.”

Goldsberry recently finished a map that shows food environments — sometimes called food deserts in popular culture — of the Greater Lansing area. The maps revealed that there are many areas in which residents cannot reach fresh produce within a 10-minute walk. However, automobile drivers have many more choices when it comes to fresh produce, because many of the area’s supermarkets are within a 10-minute drive.

“If you want broccoli in this town, chances are you’re going to have to have a car,” Goldsberry said.

Goldsberry has also created a map that shows the geographic distribution of 19 different health care services in Michigan, such as emergency rooms, neonatal intensive care and cardiac catheterization services.

“Some people in the state live over two hours from a hospital, and that could be a pretty serious situation,” he said. “So we’re using GIS to really evaluate the efficiency of the state’s health care apparatus as it pertains to serving the population of the state.”

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Kirk Goldsberry, assistant professor in the Department of Geography, talks about creating informational graphics and maps to help convey information. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

Kirk Goldsberry, assistant professor in the Department of Geography, talks about creating informational graphics and maps to help convey information. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

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