Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies Honored for Special Achievement in GIS

July 14th, 2020

Geographic Information System Provider Esri Awards Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies at Virtual Annual User Conference


REDLANDS, Calif.—July 13, 2020—Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, presented Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies (LSIS) with Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award on July 13, 2020, at the annual Esri User Conference, which moved to a completely virtual format this year. Selected from over 300,000 eligible candidates, LSIS received the award for its innovative application of mapping and analytics technology, as well as thought leadership in the field of GIS education.

Nicole Kong, GIS specialist and associate professor of library science. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)

The SAG Awards are meant to show appreciation for organizations using GIS to understand complex data and meet challenges around the world. Through their unique approaches to geospatial science, the users honored with awards are demonstrating groundbreaking possibilities of GIS software.

“Esri User Conference has always given our users an opportunity to share the ways they are implementing GIS and using it to improve their organizations and the world around them,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “I am inspired by the amazing work our users are doing, and I am honored to present these awards to all the organizations recognized for their commitment to technological leadership in government, business, and nonprofit work.”

LSIS supports GIS teaching and research efforts across Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. The LSIS GIS team works with all colleges and departments interested in GIS to coordinate teaching efforts, provide teaching resources, and collaborate on GIS education programming. Undergraduate and graduate students are then introduced to interdisciplinary concepts of geographic information and trained in spatial thinking, research and analytical skills through LSIS-driven GIS coursework. Through these courses, students develop skills beneficial to their disciplinary research, future careers and everyday lives. There are over 2,000 GIS users on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and LSIS engages with this broad community through annual GIS Day outreach events. These include both a high school program and a single day university-wide conference. All 2020 GIS Day activities will be held virtually for the first time during the upcoming fall semester.

The LSIS GIS team is led by Dr. Nicole Kong, associate professor. Kong has dedicated her career to improving geospatial information literacy education and adapting GIS technology for innovative use across various disciplines. She has received two National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) grants to introduce GIS to humanities scholars and secondary school teachers. She is assisted by GIS Instruction Coordinator Yue (Shirley) Li. Li helps design and coordinate teaching activities through technology support, teaching material preparation, and research data management.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by Esri for our contribution to GIS education,” said Beth McNeil, Esther Ellis Norton professor of library sciences and dean of libraries. “Dr. Kong and her team have built a thriving, interdisciplinary GIS program that benefits students, faculty, and staff across campus. With its broad applications in research and industry, GIS is a pillar of the growing information resource needs of the future. Purdue LSIS is proud to be an educational leader in this field.”

This year’s Esri User Conference was the world’s largest, virtual GIS event. Purdue University LSIS was one of over 180 organizations in areas such as commercial industry, defense, transportation, nonprofit work, telecommunications, and government to be honored {remove field if your organization referenced it above}. Recipients were recognized by Dangermond during the event.

Esri staff annually nominate hundreds of candidates from around the world for consideration, and Dangermond selects the finalists.

For more information on how Purdue University LSIS is innovating through the use of geospatial technology, visit