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WIU student Ian Stearns, left, was given the ILGISA Outstanding Student Award during a recent state GIS conference.
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GIS Center Director Chad Sperry
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WIU Director, Student Part of Statewide GIS Conference

November 21, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University was well represented at the recent Illinois Geographic Information Systems Association (ILGISA) meeting, where WIU GIS Center Director Chad Sperry was named the organization's new president and WIU junior meteorology major, GIS minor Ian Stearns was given the ILGISA Outstanding Student Award.

The student award is presented to an undergraduate of any major who has included GIS in their course of study and demonstrated exemplary proficiency and understanding of GIS, made potential contributions to the GIS community and has had general academic success.

Stearns is also a student worker in the GIS Center, which is housed in the WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences (EAGIS).

"While at WIU, Ian has immersed himself in working with GIS data, including collection and updating of data for multiple projects to further his knowledge in GIS," said Sperry. "He has worked at GIS Center for over one year, and he is a valuable member of our team."

Through the GIS Center at WIU, Stearns has worked on a 911 project to bring local counties up to state-mandated standards, helped the city of Macomb maintain its public utilities database and worked with the Spring 2019 flooding on the Mississippi River, where he used GIS in disaster response.

Stearns said he has benefitted in multiple ways through his GIS involvement.

"My understanding and perception of GIS has just completely exploded - my understanding of what GIS is, and what it can be used for," he said.

In addition to Sperry and Stearns, Keisuke Nozaki, Renee Buker and Jackson Walberg all attended the conference and each presented on a GIS topic. A total of six presentations were delivered, and three were co-presented with Keenan Campbell; Bureau County, Chris Helle; Fulton County and Phil McCarty, Morgan County.

For more information about the GIS Center at WIU, visit

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