WU Libraries Staff Spotlight: Bill Winston

GIS analyst Bill Winston holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in earth and planetary sciences, both from WU. Before joining WU’s GIS unit in 2009, he worked for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and in WU’s department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Winston lives in Washington, Missouri, with his wife, Barbara, who is an administrator in WU’s Environmental Studies program. They commute to the university together each day and work in the same building, Rudolph Hall.

Tell us a little bit about your job. I help students, faculty, and staff with GIS-related projects. Those projects typically include map creation, data management, and spatial analysis. I also help people access and use GIS software and teach GIS-related courses in the University College and the College of Arts and Sciences.

What do you enjoy the most about your job? I get to serve as a sort of evangelist for GIS, and it’s fun. Everybody loves maps! Plus, I learn something new every day. I get questions from faculty and students that I’ve never had before. I enjoy working with people from different departments, all across campus.

Do you have any exciting projects in the works? I’ve been working with Mollie Webb, Facilities Planning & Management, and Public Affairs on a new online map of the Danforth campus, which should be ready this month. It’s a digital map that will be up-to-date, showing buildings, parking, and other features. Users will be able to turn on symbols identifying all of the library locations, as well as other points of interest, such as dining and bus stops. The new map employs a web-based mapping tool called ArcGIS Online and includes more detailed and accurate features than are currently shown on Google Maps. It’s been a fun project.

I’ve also been working with Cindy Traub to assist an anthropology researcher who is studying apes in the Congo. We’re developing spatial statistics related to the location and proximity of the apes’ nests in order to gauge the impact of logging activities on their habits.

What do you like to do in your free time? My wife and I enjoy getting outside. We’re planning a bike trip in Oregon this July, and we also enjoy hiking and extended canoe trips. Camping along the river is a great way to enjoy the peace and quiet and get back to nature.

Have you read anything good lately? I’ve been too busy reading GIS-related material, research papers, and politically oriented articles to do much recreational reading. But I do have a stack of books that includes Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology that I plan to tackle.

—Julie Hale

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