November 3, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Spencer Wells, a population geneticist using science to tell the story of how humankind traveled from its origins in Africa to populate the planet, will speak on “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Lecture Hall 1 of Merrill Science Center at Amherst College. Free and open to the public, the day-long Five College seminar on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in teaching and scholarship will also explore the uses of GIS in history, demography and even French culture.

An “explorer-in-residence” and a fellow at the National Geographic Society, Wells has been studying genomic diversity in indigenous populations and unraveling age-old mysteries about early human migration since 1994. His field studies began with his survey of Central Asia. Wells and his colleagues have expanded their study across the globe. His research findings have led to advances in the understanding of the male Y chromosome and its ability to trace ancestral human migration. Wells is also the project director of The Genographic Project, an ambitious effort to collect DNA samples from 100,000 people around the globe and fill in the details of the “Map of Us All.” Wells’ talk is presented in association with National Geographic Live!, a mission program of speakers and events that brings the National Geographic experience to communities worldwide.

Ian Gregory, a member of the faculty of arts and social sciences at Lancaster University, will speak on “GIS and Demography: Methods, Analysis, Results” at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the Mullins and Faerber Room in Valentine Hall at Amherst College.

Gregory is the senior lecturer in digital humanities at Lancaster University. He is the chief architect of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project, and has written extensively on applications of GIS in history and demography, including A Place in History: A Guide to using GIS in Historical Research.

Robert M. Schwartz, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, will speak on “Teaching History with Geographic Information Systems” at 12 noon on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the Mullins and Faerber Room in Valentine Hall at Amherst College.

Schwartz is the E. Nevius Rodman Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. He has recently secured funding for his GIS-based research through a two-year NEH Collaborative Research Grant.

Joel Goldfield, a professor of modern languages and literature at Fairfield University, will speak on “GIS and the Exploration of French Society and Culture” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Merrill Science Center, Lecture Hall 2 at Amherst College.

Goldfield serves as director of the Charles E. Culpeper Language Resource Center at Fairfield University. He has published numerous articles and reviews on computer-assisted language learning and methods of computer-assisted literary research. He has also published annotated hypermedia short stories from 19th-century French literature. His recent research into the transforming role of technology in the profession appears in “Technology Trends in Faculty Development, Preprofessional Training, and the Support of Language and Literature Departments” in the MLA/ADFL’s Chairing the Foreign Language and Literature Department, Part 2 (Spring 2001). He currently teaches courses on French language/culture, French/English translation, French “commercial culture,” foreign language methodology and technology.

Posters that feature GIS in scholarship and teaching will be on display from 2 until 4 p.m. in the lobby on the third floor of Merrill Science Center at Amherst College.

Five College GIS Day is supported by contributions from the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, Biology and Geology, the Information Technology Department, the Pick Environmental Studies Fund and the Dean of the Faculty’s First-Year Seminar Fund at Amherst College; the Office of Geographic Information and Analysis at the University of Massachusetts; the Department of Earth and Environment and Library, Information, and Technology Services at Mt. Holyoke College; and the Spatial Analysis Lab and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Smith College.