Skip to main content

Will you be Canada’s 13th Esri Young Scholar?

Since the program was launched, a dozen students from across the country have earned the title of Canada’s Esri Young Scholar for their exemplary work in geospatial sciences. Will you be the 13th?

As temperatures drop across Canada, thoughts often turn to warm, sunny locations – like San Diego! After a few years of digital access, we are pleased to announce that this year’s prize for Canada’s Esri Young Scholar will once again include a trip to the Esri User Conference. The Esri Young Scholars program has been offered by Esri in cooperation with its international distributors since 2012 and provides students with the opportunity to display their work for a global audience, meet other young researchers from around the world, and hear about the latest tools for geospatial solutions.

Last year, we received 20 applications for Canada’s Esri Young Scholars Award, with the top prize going to Kailey Nichols, an environmental science student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Kailey was conducting field work in Southampton Island, Nunavut, at the time of the UC last summer. However, another EYS applicant had her paper accepted for the UC and so the opportunity arose for her to attend the UC and present her work on a subject that has been increasingly in the news: the time and distance Canadians must travel to obtain emergency healthcare.

Tomoko McGaughey is a PhD Candidate in the Spatial Determinants of Health Lab at Carleton University. She had a great time and the UC and received good feedback on her presentation. Nevertheless, one suggestion she has for students who may be interested in presenting at the UC in future years is to “ensure there is enough time to properly frame information that is of Canadian only context. Ensuring the audience has a strong understanding of the geographical spaces, corresponding government authorities and how policies for certain spaces are controlled by certain parties would be essential.”

One of the benefits of attending the Esri UC in person is being able to listen to user presentations. Tomoko attended many healthcare-focused presentations and enjoyed hearing how public health workers were applying GIS in areas such as emergency response services, substance use tracking, public health resource distribution tracking, and health behaviour program implementation; how their methodologies or processes differed from the ones she uses; and how they are making a difference in their communities. She was particularly interested in a presentation on developing a predictive model for population growth and sees a potential application in healthcare. “I would like to develop a similar predictive model for healthcare service use and/or disease or hospitalization reason status based on sociodemographic factors by census subdivisions.”

She also attended the GIS for Racial Equity and Social Justice Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting. SIG meetings at the UC give attendees the opportunity to connect with others in the same industry (e.g., health, conservation, emergency management, planning) or with the same technical or community interests (e.g., cartography, imagery and remote sensing, drones and reality mapping; global sustainable development, community engagement, racial equity and social justice, women and GIS). For Tomoko, attending the SIG meeting and visiting the SIG’s booth “was a fantastic experience where I got to network with like-minded individuals from all around and see the way other projects are presenting their work using ArcGIS StoryMaps and other resources. I have implemented these changes in my own work and it feels fantastic knowing there is a huge network of individuals who want the same positive change in this world.”

Tomoko plans to continue using GIS in her research, as well as to look for opportunities to use it post-graduation. She also plans to make the most of her access to ArcGIS while she’s a student. (And hopefully to apply again for the Esri Young Scholars Award!) “To be able to visualize information on everything from a small to large scale will be essential in moving research and policy change in the future and GIS provides the perfect opportunity to do this.”

Any full-time student or recent graduate from an undergraduate or graduate program at a Canadian college or university who has used Esri technology in a project or research is eligible to apply for the Esri Young Scholars Award. The application deadline for the 2024 competition is 5 pm ET on Monday, March 25. 

Applicants must submit:

  • A poster that highlights the objectives, methods and results of a project or research where they used Esri technology.
  • A story map that explains the work presented in the poster.
  • A personal statement describing their experience with GIS, their future plans using GIS, and why they want to attend the Esri UC.
  • Academic transcripts

For more information and the application form, visit the Esri Canada Scholars Web Portal. If you have any questions, contact us at

About the Author

Krista Amolins is a Higher Education Specialist with Esri Canada. Her career in GIS started when she came across the Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering program at the University of New Brunswick and thought it sounded interesting. She earned a PhD in Geomatics Engineering, focusing on lidar data classification, and now she supports teaching and learning with ArcGIS at colleges and universities across Canada. Krista particularly enjoys interacting with the students who receive an Esri Canada GIS Scholarship or apply for the Esri Young Scholars Award each year. She also enjoys playing with apps and doing a bit of coding when she has time.

Profile Photo of Krista Amolins