URI Professor Recognized for Special Achievement

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642 lcugini@gso.uri.edu

Narragansett, R.I. — December 9, 2003 — At the Eighteenth Annual 2003 Northeast Arc (NEARC) User Group Conference last month in Newport, URI professor Peter August was recognized for his long-time commitment to NEARC and for his role in the Geographic Information System (GIS) community in the northeast. A professor of natural resources science and the director of the Coastal Institute, August is only the third individual to be honored by the group with a Special Achievement Award.

August was one of the founding members of the NEARC organization in 1986 and served as its president and a member of the Executive Board for several years. He was instrumental in establishing the Rhode Island Geographic Information System.

The Northeast Arc Users Group (NEARC) is one of several independent regional organizations that represents users of GIS software developed by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) of Redlands, CA. Formed in 1986, NEARC includes members from New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Deleware. While NEARC works closely with ESRI in a variety of ways, it is neither affiliated with nor funded by the company.

“As a URI professor, he has taught hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds about the powers of GIS technology,” said colleague Charles Labash, a URI natural resources science researcher. “The legacy of his teaching has now reached the far corners of the globe, and people all over the world who have been touched by his teachings are doing great things in GIS.”

GIS is a system of hardware and software used for storage, retrieval, mapping, and analysis of geographic data. GIS can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, and development planning.

August is a Professor of Natural Resources Science and the Director of the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of San Diego, an M.S. in biology from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. in biology from Boston University.

August came to URI in 1981 as an Assistant Professor of Zoology. In 1985, he moved to the Department of Natural Resources Science to begin development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) database in a cooperative project involving the University and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. August started the Environmental Data Center (EDC) which serves as the Center of Technical Excellence in Rhode Island for GIS information processing.

A resident of Hope Valley, Augusts research interests are mammalogy, landscape ecology, conservation biology, and GIS. He has published more than 50 papers in journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings. Current projects include developing protocols to identify critical lands for conservation, biodiversity mapping, and developing Internet-based spatial data distribution systems. He has served on a number of standing committees for the American Society of Mammalogists, was a Councilor at Large for the United States Association of Landscape Ecologists, and serves on the Board of Directors for The Nature Conservancy Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, and the South Kingstown Land Trust. As Director of the Coastal Institute, he oversees programs to advance knowledge and solve environmental problems in coastal ecosystems locally, regionally, and internationally.