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    About Me

    John Kostelnick is a professor in the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, and Director of the Institute for Geospatial Analysis and Mapping (GEOMAP) at Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA. He holds a PhD in geography from the University of Kansas. His primary research interests include multiple facets of GIScience, including crisis mapping, geovisualization, GIS integration into science and society, and cultural mapping.

  • Curriculum Vitae

    Click here for a current copy of my CV.

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  • Projects

    Examples of research projects I've worked on include:

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    Humanitarian Symbology Scorecard

    Maps for crisis response, humanitarian relief, and emergency management often require complex map symbols and innovative design solutions. The Humanitarian Symbology Scorecard is a free, online self-assessment resource that may be used to evaluate crisis maps, and offer suggestions and relevant resources to improve map symbology. A quick guide and tutorial video are available on the website to introduce you to major features of the system.

    Source: CIA, 1996

    Cultural Map Inventory

    Maps and geographic information that characterize attributes of human culture such as language, ethnicity, and religion serve a range of diverse purposes, including maps used by social scientists to visualize and understand the cultural composition of a place, maps in the media to explain the complexities of current global events to the general public, and maps produced by government intelligence agencies to support diplomatic relations or military intervention in foreign lands. Thematic maps that visualize ethnicity, language, religion, and other attributes of culture (both historic and contemporary) are prone to several cartographic design challenges. This project inventoried a range of cultural maps and assessed design challenges common to cultural mapping. Research results were presented at the 2017 International Cartographic Conference.


    Map Source (Left): CIA Cartography Center, 2008

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    ESI Map Symbology

    The Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps are produced for coastal areas in the United States by NOAA. This project provided cartographic recommendations to redesign the ESI map series. Guidelines were used to redesign ESI maps for the entire Atlantic coastline.

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    Sea Level Rise Mapping

    The objective of this research is to develop GIS methods for modeling and visualizing global sea level rise due to climate change. The project was initiated through the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) with colleagues at the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. See the sea level rise project website for project results. Ongoing work focuses on the development of improved methods for effectively visualizing sea level rise at local, regional, and global scales particularly in the context of uncertainty and level of realism.

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    Humanitarian Demining Symbology

    The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) estimates that there are currently 40-50 million landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the ground around the world today. Maps and GIS are essential to landmine removal or humanitarian demining process. The goal of this project was to develop a new set of cartographic symbols that could be used in humanitarian demining activities. The new symbol set has been implemented in the GICHD's Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), a leading GIS used in humanitarian demining. See the humanitarian demining project website at the University of Kansas for detailed information about the project as well as to download the symbol set and example maps.

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    Interactive Web Mapping for Emergency Response

    Web-mapping tools have become increasingly popular in emergency management contexts for hazard planning, mitigation, response, and recovery purposes. The goal of this project was to design and develop iMapper, a web-based mapping system for use by emergency managers in Illinois. In conjunction with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the iMapper system was developed utilizing a user-centered design approach that solicited input and feedback from emergency responders from across the state.


    Classes I regularly teach at Illinois State University include:


    An introduction to the principles and theory of cartography, the art and science of mapmaking. An emphasis on the cartographic process through the compilation of reference and thematic maps using graphic illustration, GIS, and web mapping software.

    Advanced GIS

    Advanced concepts, theory, and applications of GIS. Students gain hands on experience with current GIS software through several lab exercises, and design and complete an independent research project.

    Maps and Geographic Reasoning

    An introduction to the ongoing revolution of maps and geographic information (GIS, remote sensing, GPS) in society, and how these are used for geographic reasoning in a variety of disciplines.

    Human Geography

    An introduction to the geographic distribution of humans, human activity, and cultures on the Earth. Topics covered include population, religion, language, ethnicity, politics, agriculture, economics, development, and urbanization.

    Geography of Chicago

    A geographic and thematic study of Chicago, including topics such as historical development, economics and industrialization, transportation, demographics, and environmental issues. Course includes a Spring Break trip to Chicago and emphasizes a class project with a significant field work component.

    World Geography

    An introduction to the geography of the major regions of the world today, with an emphasis on contemporary issues and the impacts of globalization.

  • Contact me

    Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment
    Illinois State University
    Campus Box 4400
    Normal, IL 61790-4400
  • Find Me

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