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Center for Partnerships in GIS (CPGIS)

Homeland Security

The Urban Area Working Group, who is the governing body of the local Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), has partnered with CPGIS, requesting our assistance in building the UASI GIS program to aid in emergency response to man-made or natural disasters that may impact the tri-state (Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas) area. For this effort, CPGIS will build the key resource datasets, develop applications for accessing and querying the GIS data, and offer GIS training and exercise services.

Mississippi River Flood 2011
CPGIS was integral in developing the flood prediction maps for the recent Mississippi River flood event that hit Shelby County in May of 2011.  Flood inundation and depths were predicted 7 days in advance of the flood waters, allowing first responders to pre-plan development of personnel and assets and initiate evacuations.  CPGIS developed the public awareness maps that were updated regularly.  As the flood water receded, CPGIS used GIS to map impacted properties for code enforcement to visit and for MLGW to use for utility repair/service.  No lives were lost during this flooding event.  CPGIS has made numerous presentations with UASI partners on the utilization of GIS in this effort at the national UASI conference in San Francisco, CA, the TN Professional Engineers Conference in Franklin, TN, and the Applied Geography Conference in Redlands, CA which also resulted in a publication.

Urban Land Institute
With the construction and opening of the CSX Greenway (an abandoned rail line) this year, there has been increasing interest in recreational facilities throughout the region. Capitalizing on this interest in order to build momentum for the “greening” of the Memphis region requires public knowledge of existing infrastructure so that future connections can begin to be drawn in the minds of the general public. In order to help people in the Memphis area reconnect to their neighborhoods and explore the natural environment around the region, CPGIS is developing a resource that is accessible, easy to navigate, informative, engaging, and most importantly local. CPGIS is working with the ULI to produce a KMZ file that will be displayed using the Google Earth plugin in order to display existing greenways data, access and trailhead point data, and any supplemental stakeholder information that users can visualize as they explore the greener possibilities.

University District Community Transportation Plan
The University of Memphis’ Division of Business and Finance partnered with the City of Memphis’ Division of Housing and Community Development as well as the University Neighborhoods District Corporation to identify areas for improvement in the University District’s transportation infrastructure. Along with other faculty members from the College of Engineering, CPGIS is providing technical assistance throughout the planning process including the creation of supportive geospatial databases, network datasets, and current condition statements. In addition to collecting and migrating a variety of datasets for use in the project, CPGIS is also performing a variety of analyses that will help identify potential areas for improvement as well as focus future investments into areas of greater impact. Some examples of the work that CPGIS is performing on the study include the identification of current gaps in transit accessibility, the creation of a network-based pedestrian walkshed, and pedestrian level-of-service.  

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Business Districts
Under current Federal regulations, public utilities are required to develop an annual Distribution Integrity Management Plan that identifies areas that contain a greater potential for casualties in the event of a gas pipeline failure. As part of this management plan, utilities must field inspect all gas meters in identified Business Districts, areas in which people tend to congregate daily for business or public assembly, and incorporate each district into periodic risk analyses. Given both the geographic extent of their service area and the large volume of customers that MLGW services annually, it is crucial that they efficiently identify those areas which require the highest level of attention in order to meet federal regulations and to ensure that they continue to provide the greatest amount of security possible for their customers. MLGW partnered with CPGIS to create a Business District model that helps balance efficiency and safety, but also enables them to perform annual updates with little to no effort. Using a variety of spatial analysis methods and dozens of different datasets, CPGIS helped create a concise and accurate strategy for identifying all districts throughout the MLGW service area. As a result of our work, CPGIS was able to help MLGW reduce the number of properties requiring annual inspection by more than 11%, potentially saving them thousands of dollars in time and equipment.


Ground Water Institute


Many changes are taking place at the Ground Water Institute (GWI).  In 2011, much happened and more is to come.

Changes in Leadership

After many years of service to the University of Memphis and GWI, Dr. Jerry Anderson has retired from full-time work as of May.  However, his influence and knowledge are still available to students and faculty as he is teaching two classes in engineering.  
Although Dr. Anderson retired, the new leadership at GWI is not exactly new.  The existing staff and affiliated faculty migrated into new roles.  In May 2011, Dr. Brian Waldron became Interim Director and Dr. Dan Larsen became Interim Associate Director.   
Dr. Waldron is an associate professor of civil engineering in the Herff College as well as director of the Center for Partnerships in GIS. He was associate director of the GWI from 2007 to early 2011 and has been a faculty member at the U of M since 1999. As Interim Director,  Dr. Waldron will oversee the Institute’s operations, expand the its research program, work with the its funding sponsors, supporters and advisory board to advance the Institute’s mission, and raise an endowment over the next three years to hire a permanent director.

Dr. Waldron’s research focuses primarily on ground water migration and contaminant transport by means of field investigations and numerical modeling. His research is multi-disciplinary, crossing many departments and academic institutions. The numerous students who are involved in Dr. Waldron’s research have an opportunity to use the concepts they have learned in the classroom in an applied field environment. Dr. Waldron holds three degrees in civil engineering – a B.S. and M.S. from the U of M and a Ph.D. from Colorado State University.

Drs. Waldron and Larsen will work to further GWI’s mission to understand, improve, and protect current and future ground water quantity and quality through research, education, and application.  
Both Drs. Waldron and Larsen are interested in working with the community in various capacities. 
For more information or to have one of them speak at an event, please contact GWI by emailing or by calling 901-678-4135.


Research continues to be a priority at the GWI.  Current research efforts:

Conducting water sampling at the abandoned Shelby County landfill in Shelby Farms:  GWI researchers are looking to see how underground leakage from the landfill, called leachate, is leaving the site and what threat the contaminated water may pose to the Memphis aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water for Shelby County.   Watch a video about this research featuring doctoral student Scott Schoefernacker at

Creating geologic models of northern Mississippi Embayment:  Geologic models of the underlying strata within the Mississippi Embayment provide information for understanding the origins of earthquakes as well as our ground water resources in the region.  This digital format is more thorough and less time consuming to create and utilize than previous techniques.

Creating a well log database:  The well log library provides a resource of subsurface geologic and hydrologic information for the region.  The well log library continues to expand and currently has 18,000 well logs.  Additionally, images are scanned and put into a server-based GIS repository where digital versions will be accessible.

Understanding real-time water levels at the Davis well field:  Transducers are being deployed in and around the Davis well field near the Mississippi River that will allow the GWI to monitor water levels in the alluvial, Memphis, and the Fort Pillow aquifers.  The Davis well field is one of eight major MLG&W well fields and serves the southwestern part of the city.

Age-dating ground water:  Due to concern regarding the potential for contaminated or poor quality water infiltrating into the Memphis aquifer in Shelby County, a project was initiated with funding from the Shelby County Department of Health in 2000 to investigate the source of modern waters (< 60 years old) entering the Memphis aquifer.  This information is vital to understanding the areas of the Memphis aquifer most vulnerable to contamination.

Mapping the geology of the Memphis Sand:  Geologic mapping of the Memphis Sand is being done to determine where the Memphis aquifer is exposed at the surface and receives direct recharge.  This work is critical to ongoing efforts to understand the sources and rates of recharge to the Memphis aquifer.

Studying the ground water and surface water interaction:   A comprehensive assessment of the hydrologic connection between Nonconnah Creek and the Sheahan well field was done to understand how water from this urban stream enters into the Memphis aquifer.  
Learning more about the recharge of the Memphis Aquifer:  The GWI is conducting recharge research in the aquifer outcrop region where infiltration replenishes ground water to determine recharge rates quantitatively.

Investigating ground water of the Mississippi Embayment:  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided funding to investigate the sustainability of ground-water system within the Mississippi embayment.  The publication from this study is at

Community Involvement

As part of its mission, the GWI continues to be active in the community, providing information to various audiences.  Recent community activities include:

Participating in a sustainability awareness event:  The annual Tiger Blue Goes Green UOM event is designed to increase awareness about sustainable technologies. In early October, the GWI hosted a table with educational displays and information, and answered questions about the Memphis aquifer system, groundwater, and GWI research. 


Mentoring high school interns:  Buckeye Technologies made it possible for the GWI to mentor three local high school students as interns during June and July of 2011.  Buckeye Technologies wants to encourage students to consider engineering and water science careers by exposing school students to academic research and seeing its application to real world issues. 


Working with Girls Experiencing Engineering (GEE):  In June, the GWI led two days of GEE on water resources for high school students.  Activities included short talks, video clips, hands-on activities, group projects, student presentations, and guest speakers who were female engineers.

Collaborating to create a water science trail:  The Pink Palace Museum collaborated with the GWI to create educational panels for the newly named Mertie’s Lake Lichterman Nature Center. 
Contributing water science lesson plans:  The GWI helped local teachers to create activities and lessons on how to test, treat and filter contaminated water.  These activities and lesson plans were used by 250 students in June 2011 on the U of M campus during the annual Shelby County Schools Summer Scholars Institute.


Participating in Earth Week:  The GWI participated in Earth Week by hosting a booth with educational displays on ground water at the Down to Earth Festival held at Shelby Farms in April.  The annual event attracted thousands of visitors with many visits made to our booth. 



Mentoring a U of M Green Intern:  During the 2011 spring semester, the GWI mentored a Green Intern as part of new internship program through the University’s Office of Academic Internships. 

Participating in Herff’s EDAY open house:  The GWI demonstrated a model that illustrates surface water and groundwater interaction by showing a stream gaining and losing water and the effects it could have on its environment.  Nearly 1,000 middle and high school students participated in the annual open house event that celebrates engineering education and the engineering profession.

If you have a request for GWI’s Education and Outreach program, please contact Michelle Dry by emailing or calling 901-678-4229.



Students come and students go, which is as it should be in a university setting.  The GWI is fortunate to have three undergraduate students this year to help with its many efforts, including Darren Beal, Sarah Girdner and Todd Tigner.  Without their contributions, the GWI’s efforts would be limited. 



New Beginnings

As 2012 begins, the GWI continues to grow and change.  To read more about the GWI’s current research, community involvement, students and more, please refer to the newly updated GWI web site to read about new developments.


Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI)

The Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI) continues to establish itself as one of the nation’s premier freight transportation research center. Here are just a few things that the Civil Engineering students in IFTI are getting to do:

Our students …

  • Hear from the best in the industry. This fall we hosted David Wedaman, CEO and President of ReTrans, for an executive-in-residence. The IFTI conference featured world-class presentations from Congressman Stephen Cohen, FedEx Chief Economist and a Vice President Gene Huang, and Cargill Commercial Operations manager Jeff Rott.

  • Take classes relevant to the transportation industry. This semester Curt Heaslet, Engineering Manager of FedEx Express, offered a class in simulation modeling and analysis. The course included an in-depth application of simulation software, a review of case studies, and a course project where students solved a business need in the industry.
  • Intern while taking classes. This fall our students were working as paid interns SSR, Inc. and Cummins Inc.
  • Conduct research within the freight industry. With almost 10 projects being conducted over the fall semester, our students were able to work beside our faculty in developing, conducting and reporting research.
  • Gain recognition. Each year a student from the University of Memphis is selected to receive the Student of the Year award from the University Transportation Program. The student receives a trip to Washington DC to attend the Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting and is awarded $1,000.  

  • Receive financial support of their education.
    IFTI currently supports six Masters and PhD students, three research associates and one post-doctoral researcher. Two of our students also received funding from outside sources. Stephen Edwards was awarded the 2011 Trucking Industry Defense Fund Scholarship and Ethan Skaggs received a scholarship from the Traffic Club of Memphis.



The research being conducted by IFTI is what is often reported about both local and nationally, but it is the opportunities given to our students that sometimes get overlooked. Dr. Martin Lipinski, IFTI Director says, “We believe that we are building a research institute that our students, alumni and community can be proud of.”

To find out more about the research being conducted or how you can support the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute, please visit our web site at or contact Sean Ellis at 901-678-2837 or


IFTI Researchers Maintain Strong Presence at TRB

The faculty and students associated with IFTI attended the Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington D.C. at the end of January. Dr. Martin Lipinski, Dr. Mihalis Golias and Dr. Stephanie Ivey were selected to present multiple research projects via lecture and poster presentations. Dr. Golias also presided over two presentation sessions. IFTI Research Associate, Ethan Skaggs, was honored at the Council of Universities Transportation Centers (CUTC) banquet as the IFTI Student of the Year!

Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute Is Recognized as Tier 1 Center
IFTI, in a consortia partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, competed for and was awarded the coveted designation as a Tier 1 University Transportation Center (UTC).  Forty-six applicants competed to be one of the 10 Tier 1 Centers.  The University of Memphis/University of Wisconsin-Madison consortium is called CFIRE (National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education) and is composed of 10 universities. The consortium encompasses a geographical area that serves the majority of freight traffic in the United States. The University of Memphis will coordinate the “southern hub,” which includes Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama-Huntsville, and the University of Southern Mississippi. The University of Wisconsin-Madison will serve as the lead institute of CFIRE and will lead the “northern hub,” which includes the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Toledo, the University of Illinois-Chicago, and Michigan Technological University. For more information, visit

The NEW Freight Transportation Leadership Academy Begins March 2012
The Freight Transportation Leadership Academy is a four-part certification program targeted for mid-upper level executive positions. Participants will interact with industry experts and business professionals, learn from UofM professors and take “field trips” to see each mode in action. By understanding the interaction between the four modes of transportation, participants can become successful employees and experts in their respective fields. A few of the industry experts associated with this program are, former CEO of CN Railroad, Hunter Harrison, former COO of “K” Line Ocean Carrier, Ted Prince and president of Intermodal Cartage, Joel Henry. For more information, visit

Students Earn EIT Credentials
Two IFTI Research Associates, Ethan Skaggs and Najmeh Jami, recently earned their EIT letters!  An "Engineer-In-Training" is a professional designation from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying used in to designate a person certified by the State as having 1)graduated from an ABET-accredited engineering program, or related science curriculum approved by the Board and 2) passed the NCEES 8-hour Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination.  Receiving an EIT designation is one step along the path toward Professional Engineer (PE) licensure.

Student Wins First Place

Hisham Gnedy,
IFTI doctoral student, won the 1st place award in the map gallery completion that took place in the 11th annual Memphis Area Geographic Information Council Conference. The Map Gallery Competition provides an opportunity for students to showcase their creative talents in presenting geographic information. Conference attendees voted for Gnedy’s GIS Map Poster, “Compatibility of Freight Facilities and Land Use in Memphis Aerotropolis: Zoning and Housing Assessment Study”. The purpose of the project was to conduct land zoning analysis to show the relationship between freight facilities and the existing zoning plan for Memphis Aerotropolis Region. It also illustrated housings infrastructure assessment and demographics in the study area.



Change takes many forms. As of the end of June, Dr. Richard Warder will step down as dean of the Herff College of Engineering. During the time he have served as the Dean, we have encountered many challenges and successes. Yet, people remain the core of our institution, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

In many ways it feels like only yesterday that he moved into the dean's office, but 18 years is long enough to look back and take stock. Probably the most dramatic changes have been in endowments for scholarships and professorships ($666,000 to $2,671,000) funded by faculty, staff, alumni and friends, in research expenditures ($1.6M to $6.1M) and further recognition of our faculty, staff and students for their teaching, research and scholarship, and advising, locally, regionally and nationally. In addition, during the time he has been dean, 29 of the current 45 faculty members have joined Herff.