School of Information Sciences

iSchool students and faculty attend inaugural PA Spatial Cognition Symposium


Researchers from multiple disciplines and universities throughout Pennsylvania gathered at Penn State University (PSU) for a weekend meeting on the topic of spatial cognition. The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (the iSchool) was well-represented at the conference with several faculty and students in attendance and presenting.

From the iSchool at Pitt, faculty members Stephen Hirtle, Konstantinos Pelechrinis, and Paul Munro supported iSchool doctoral students who presented on topics such as “An Evaluation of Features for Several Indoor Spaces” (Cristina Robles Bahm), “Geospatial Resolve in Multi-Local Tweets” (Patrick M. Dudas), and “Uncovering Correlations between Urban Road Network Centrality and Human Mobility” (Ke Zhang with Drs. Stephen C. Hirtle and Konstantinos Pelechrinis). Other Pitt students who presented were Saman Amirpour Amraiiy, a doctoral student in the Intelligent Systems Program (ISP), and Allison S. Liu, a doctoral student from the Psychology department. iSchool alum Dr. Guoray Cai (PhD’99) who teaches at PSU presented with one of his students on “Understanding Citizens’ Spatial Cognition during Participatory Planning.”

Dr. Hirtle noted that the conference was a great success, with “three fascinating keynote speeches.” Dr. Hirtle and students also appreciated the organization of the conference which provided 10 minutes for presentations followed by 10 minutes of discussion, making for “lots of informal discussion on a wide range of topics, allowing students to get useful feedback on their own projects while gaining insight into the variety of methods that can be used for the study of spatial cognition. The atmosphere was one of support and mentoring for graduate students.” Dr. Hirtle and the iSchool cohort hope to repeat the experience next year at Temple University, followed by the third symposium here at Pitt in 2016.

Collaborative, interdisciplinary research is required to better understand spatial cognition, a fundamental aspect of human cognition. According to organizers of the First Pennsylvania Spatial Cognition Symposium, “solving spatial challenges such as daily wayfinding, designing architectural spaces, or understanding visual representations, are cornerstones of success in life [and] Pennsylvania is in a unique position to foster the cross-fertilization of research through a transdisciplinary discourse because it hosts several leading research institutions that focus on human spatiality.”

Learn more about Drs. Hirtle, Pelechrinis, and Munro and their research on spatial cognition.

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