About me

I am not an expert python user. I am a plant ecologist. I started learning python during a three year post-doctoral position at the University of Queensland (2012-2015), where I was employed to improve the ecological monitoring methodologies of threatened/protected semi-alpine shrubswamp ecosystems in the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia.

In this post-doctoral position I was using ArcGIS (Esri) to generate maps of our survey footprint for research reports and journal articles. These survey designs were too complicated and laborious to draw manually. For example, from a start point (with x and y geographic coordinates) draw a line (called a transect) following a randomly derived compass direction towards an end point. At four meter intervals draw a rectangle sized 1 meter by 1 meter that is perpendicular to the transect line (we were counting the different types of plants and their abundance inside these rectangles). Finally, each transect line has a different length that was relative to the width of the swamp, which was represented as a shapefile layer in ArcGIS provided by Geo Australia. Now do all that 500 times.

Enter Python and the arcpy module. One day I stumbled upon a python window that I could open up and use inside of ArcGIS. I was initially surprised that I could accomplish many things I was doing with the R programming language. Once I got a handle on the language I started implementing python to build custom tools using the arcpy module that could be added to ArcToolbox for others to use. Now I, and others, were able to complete a complicated task using any dataset at any time. This was the start of my fascination with Python.

The topics I am interested in these days include, but not limited to, building geospatial toolkits for use in QGIS and ArcGIS, analysing sentiment in text documents and real-time image recognition from video footage coming direct from drones deployed in agricultural and conservation initiatives.

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