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Anushi De Silva, a graduate student of Dr. Brad Fedy in Environment and Resource Studies was selected by The Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) for their fully accommodated annual student assistantship at the 34th ESRI International User Conference this past July in San Diego, California.
De Silva, who uses geographic information systems (GIS), to research improving wildlife connectivity and habitat prioritization for species of conservation concern, was selected as one of 60 chosen from approximately 500 applications from around the world‑ the highest number of applications in the program’s history.
“First of all, I want to say how honoured and excited I was to be selected. ESRI is the world leader in GIS modeling and mapping, and I have such a strong passion for using GIS for environmental management and species conservation. I majored in GIS with honours and my past and current GIS work experiences have provided me with a great deal of analytical techniques and problem solving skills with ArcGIS software and geospatial applications,” said De Silva.
The ESRI User Conference is the largest GIS conference in the world and it is the primary event for students interested in the use of GIS in any field of study or work. This year the conference hosted over 15,000 attendees from over 130 countries. “Being a student assistant gave me the opportunity to work alongside highly skilled ESRI staff members and get a behind the scenes look at the largest GIS event in the world; which was an unbelievable experience for me,” said De Silva.
“The conference has hundreds of workshops, technical sessions and social events for everyone from all disciplines and interests. The student assistants received the full access registration package. So it was an amazing learning experience and networking opportunity for me,” said De Silva who received generous support from Environment and Resource Studies prof. Brad Fedy and Dr. Jeff Row.
“I’ve learned about many new GIS applications, techniques and geospatial software and not only did I make some valuable contacts for my future, but also some great contacts for my current research. Having been one of the internationally selected students to receive the ESRI student assistantship is such a great honour and a great work experience to add to my resume.”