GIS Faculty

Qassim A. Abdullah, Ph.D., PLS, CP | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Photogrammetry, University of Washington, Seattle
M.S., Photogrammetry, University of Washington, Seattle
B.S., Civil Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle

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Dr. Qassim Abdullah, chief scientist at Fugro EarthData, Inc., is an accomplished scientist with more than 30 years of combined industrial, research and development, and academic experience in analytical photogrammetry, digital remote sensing, and civil and surveying engineering. Over the course of his career, Dr. Abdullah has contributed significantly toward the advancement of digital aerial imagery and LiDAR acquisition, and production processes. Among his accomplishments, Dr. Abdullah developed proprietary software applications for use in digital orthophotography and DEM production; he developed and integrated a metric digital aerial camera for rapid image acquisition; he integrated airborne GPS into conventional aerotriangulation adjustments; he refined the integration of Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) and GPS technology for sensor positioning and orientation; and he participated in the development of the first high altitude topographic LiDAR system.

A civil engineer, ASPRS certified photogrammetrist, and professional surveyor in four states, Dr. Abdullah currently serves as Fugro EarthData’s chief scientist responsible for designing and managing strategic programs to develop and implement new remote sensing technologies that allow Fugro EarthData to meet the evolving needs of geospatial users. He was instrumental in streamlining Fugro EarthData’s photogrammetric mapping processes, and most recently, has been leading the technology transfer and process integration of Fugro EarthData’s new panoramic mapping and Aerial Thermal Infrared Sensing systems.

Dr. Abdullah obtained a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree and doctorate degrees in Photogrammetry from the civil engineering department at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is affiliated with a number of national and international professional societies, is a published author of over 50 technical papers and reports, and is a sought-after professional speaker and educator. Besides publishing the monthly column “Mapping Matters”, which appears in the ASPRS journal PE&RS, he is involved in several national committees, and participates in discussions regarding the industry and technology forecast, future technologies, process improvement of LiDAR and digital photogrammetry, and accuracy standards.

View Dr. Abdullah’s public LinkedIn profile.

Luis Bermudez, Ph.D. | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Hydroinformatics, Drexel University
M.S., Hydroinformatics, Drexel University
M.S., Industrial Engineering, Andes University, Bogota, Colombia

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Dr. Bermudez is the Director of the Interoperability Certification at the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). In this position he leads the planning and execution of Compliance and Testing Program activities (, serves as system architect in interoperability program initiatives, and gives talks, tutorials and workshops worldwide about OGC technologies, geospatial interoperability, sensor networks and geo-semantics.

Before joining OGC, he was the Coastal Research Technical Manager at Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) where he directed projects that advanced information technologies helping to understand the Earth phenomena, such as climate change, inundation, coastal erosion, and harmful algae blooms. He coordinated the technology development of the Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction ( program to chain and merge information from real time data and distributed numerical models to provide faster and more accurate storm surge information in hurricane season.

Before his position at SURA, he was the Technical Lead of the Marine Metadata Interoperability Initiative, where he led multi-institutional projects related to coastal informatics, developed open source software and managed a Content Management System to advance collaboration activities with more than 300 members (

Dr. Bermudez has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Hydroinformatics from Drexel University and an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Andes University in Bogota, Colombia. He has 15 years of experience in software development, GIS, knowledge representation, and international project management.

View Dr. Bermudez’s public LinkedIn profile.

Mary Kate Cannistra | Adjunct Instructor
M.P.S., Geographic Information Systems, UMBC
B.A., Geography and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh

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Mary Kate is the Mapping Manager in the Facilities Planning Department at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park. Her current projects include creating a variety of map products for the UMD campus, maintaining the Campus Enterprise Geodatabase and working with campus and local public officials to geocode and assign street addresses to buildings on campus.

Over the past year, Mary Kate taught introductory level workshops on GIS, GIS Data Management and Spatial Analysis at UMD’s McKeldin Library.

A career cartographer, Mary Kate worked in New York State for the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation doing natural resource mapping. After moving to Maryland she was hired by National Geographic where she worked for 14 years creating maps for National Geographic Magazine. In 2003 she moved one block east to The Washington Post and produced maps for both print and web publication.

Mary Kate is a 2011 graduate of UMBC’s Master of Professional Studies: GIS. She received a BA in Geography and Environmental Science from State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

Jason Dalton, Ph.D. | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia
M.S., Systems Engineering, University of Virginia
B.S., Environmental Science, University of Virginia

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Jason Dalton, a GIS instructor for UMBC-Shady Grove since 2012, specializes in spatiotemporal statistics, nonparametric methods, geospatial machine learning, spatial event forecasting, and systems integration. Completing his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia, Dr. Dalton is currently the Senior Director of Applied Technology at GeoEye in Herdon, VA. His team seeks out new product and service opportunities for GeoEye,particularly around online analytics and cloud computing.

Prior to his position at GeoEye, Dr. Dalton was the Vice President of Engineering and Vice President of Research and Development at the Spatial Data Analytics Corporation where he established and led the Engineering business unit to deliver customized data anlysis software products and methods and directed all research programs for customers including the Naval Research Laboratory, Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, and commercial clients.

Dr. Dalton is a member of many professional development organizations and has been published in a variety of journals. In 2007, he was named a Rising Star by Federal Computer Week and received the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Technology Award in 2000.

View Dr. Dalton’s public LinkedIn profile.

Lee De Cola, Ph.D. | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Geography, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
M.C.P., University of California, Berkeley
B.A., Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley

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Dr. De Cola runs Data to Insight, a data visualization consulting and training enterprise. In 2010, he retired after 21 years as a research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston VA where he used GIS and applied statistics to understand landscape dynamics and the health of regions and their inhabitants. He has published on such topics as the geography of public health, analysis of land processes, spatial forecasting in epidemiology, and urbanization in Africa. Lee currently teaches at various Washington DC universities and has had full-time appointments at the Universities of Ibadan, Nigeria and Vermont. He also volunteers teaching statistics at local elementary schools, plays the clarinet and enjoys sea kayaking. Dr. De Cola received his Ph.D., Geography in 1984 from University of Ibadan, Nigeria, his Master of City Planning in 1969 from University of California, Berkeley and a B.A., Mathematics in 1967 from University of California, Berkeley.

View Dr. De Cola’s public LinkedIn profile.

Owen Evans, M.S. CE | Adjunct Instructor
M.S., Chemical Engineering, Cornell University
B.S., Chemical Engineering, Cornell University

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Owen Evans is a Solution Engineer at Esri, a leading GIS technology provider. He has worked to support of federal, state, and local government agencies in their implementation of enterprise GIS since 2004 and now manages Esri’s DC Innovation and Collaboration Studio. Mr. Evans previously worked at Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., an environmental engineering consulting firm, in the water resources group.

Mr. Evans received his Bachelor of Science (1996) and Master of Engineering (1997) degrees in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. His professional interests and expertise are in the area of enterprise GIS technology – particularly in geodata management and spatial databases, systems architecture, and cloud computing. He has also earned several certifications from Esri’s Technical Certification program, including Enterprise Geodatabase Management Professional, Enterprise System Design Associate, Enterprise Administration Associate, and Web Application Developer Associate.

Mr. Evans teaches GES 671, Spatial Database and System Design, and GES 771, Advanced Spatial Data Management, and he began working as an instructor at UMBC when the MPS of GIS program was launched in 2008.

View Mr. Evans’s public LinkedIn profile.

Richard Heimann | Adjunct Instructor

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Richard Heimann is Fellow and Chief Data Scientist at L-3 NSS. He also is an EMC Certified Data Scientist with concentrations in spatial statistics, data mining, Big Data, and pattern discovery. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he teaches Spatial Analysis and Statistical Reasoning, and an Instructor at George Mason University, where he teaches Human Terrain Analysis. Mr. Heimann recently provided data science support to customers, including DARPA, Department of Homeland Security, US Army, Counter-IED Operational Integration Center, and the Pentagon.

Richard is a selection committee member for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Big Data and Analytics Fellowship Program and is a member of the WashingtonExec Big Data Council. Before joining Data Tactics in 2012, Mr. Heimann provided statistical analysis support to the 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar, Afghanistan. While at the Naval Research Laboratory he aided in the development of spatial preference modeling and spatial choice theory. Mr. Heimann holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and recently co-authored Social Media Mining (ISBN: 978-1-78328-177-0) with fellow NSS data scientist, Nathan Danneman.

Susan Kalweit, M.S. | Adjunct Instructor
M.S., Marymount University
M.S., Industrial College of the Armed Forces

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Susan Kalweit, a Principal with Booz Allen Hamilton, has more than 25 years of professional experience, and has been instructing our Professional Seminar in Geospatial Intelligence for multiple semesters. At Booz Allen Hamilton, Ms. Kalweit and her team support the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency with analytic, targeting, and GIS services and solutions. She is experienced in program and technical management, cost and schedule control, intelligence analysis, budget development, and mission oversight. Additionally, she has experience drafting national strategy documents, establishing strategic partnerships, developing functional requirements, and researching and developing innovative imagery and geospatial technologies. Prior to her employment at Booz Allen Hamilton, Ms. Kalweit enjoyed a 17 year career with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and its predecessor organizations, where she was recognized for her outstanding achievements with the NIMA Outstanding Woman of the Year Award, the Meritorious Unit Citation, and the Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

With M.S. degrees from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and Marymount University, Ms. Kalweit is a member of the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Academic Advisory Committee and the Penn State University Master’s of GIS Program Advisory Board. Among her achievements with the USGIF is the establishment of a USGIF Accreditation Program for Geospatial Intelligence Certificate Programs offered by post-secondary institutions.

View Ms. Kalweit’s public LinkedIn profile.

Nora Csanyi May, Ph.D., CP | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., The Ohio State University
M.S., The Ohio State University
M.S., Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

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Dr. Nora Csanyi May is the Senior Mapping Technologist at Fugro EarthData, Inc. in Frederick, MD. Dr. May received an M.S. degree in Surveying and Geoinformatics Engineering from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary in 2001. She has also earned an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science, The Ohio State University in 2007. Dr. May has over 10 years of experience working both within research as well as in a photogrammetric production environment. Her research interests include surface extraction and modeling, sensor fusion, calibration of multi-sensor systems, including LiDAR boresight calibration, and accuracy assessment for digital imagery and LiDAR. She has been awarded several prestigious awards for her research work, such as the 2005 BAE Systems Award for the best student paper, the 2005 Leica Geosystems Internship Award, the 2006 William A. Fischer Memorial Scholarship, and the 2007 Intergraph Scholarship, presented by ASPRS. Dr. May has an extensive list of publications in both scientific journals and conference proceedings.

John Schlee, M.P.A., GISP | Adjunct Instructor
M.P.A., George Mason University
B.A., Geography, UMBC

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John Schlee has over 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors in GIS development and operations. Mr. Schlee manages the Enterprise Asset Management System for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County Planning Department as the I.T. Systems Manager. Additionally, he oversees GIS staff development and training, and is active in state and county geospatial projects.

Mr. Schlee began his career with Prince William County, Virginia as a GIS technician, and subsequently worked for a private contracting firm, developing and implementing major GIS projects for the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Schlee has taught GIS database seminars at Towson University and presented on a range of practical GIS applications and enterprise solutions.

Mr. Schlee received a B.A. in Geography from UMBC and an MPA from George Mason University. He holds the GISP certification and is a member of the American Association of Geographers.

View Mr. Schlee’s public LinkedIn profile.

Nate Smith, M.S. | Adjunct Instructor
M.S., Urban and Regional Planning, Virginia Tech
B.A., Geography, UMBC

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Nate Smith, has worked at the confluence of geospatial information and disaster management in both the domestic (U.S.) and international domains since 1992. His background includes deployments to disaster locations around the world in support of operations and coordination efforts on events ranging from insect infestation to armed conflicts. He led the development and daily operations of the Geographic Information Unit within the U.S Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, was a Project Manager for the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters and worked to advance the use of geospatial information within USAID and the international humanitarian community. Previously he has worked within FEMA’s GIS Solutions Branch and as a consultant evaluating FEMA’s HAZUS-MH and Map Modernization programs. Mr. Smith is currently a consultant with ArdentMC where he is supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s Geospatial Management Office with geospatial project management.

Mr. Smith received his M.S. from Virginia Tech in Urban and Regional Planning and his B.A. in Geography from UMBC where he also played varsity lacrosse. He was a volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with Montgomery County Maryland and an American Red Cross Volunteer acting as a disaster action team leader, disaster services volunteer and a shopper. He is an active volunteer and board member of the Falls Church Youth Lacrosse Club where he often coaches one or more teams.

View Mr. Smith’s public LinkedIn profile.

Ron Wilson, M.A. | Adjunct Instructor
M.A., Geography, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Geology, Thiel College

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Ronald Wilson has been an instructor for the GIS program since 2008. Currently Mr. Wilson serves as a Social Science Analyst in the Office of Policy Development and Research with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a Social Science Analyst, he conducts spatial data analysis and research on crime and urban development issues, advises on the implementation of spatial statistical research methods and techniques, regularly publishes in various journals, and writes two recurring sections of the Cityscape journal on spatial analysis techniques. Previously, Mr. Wilson directed the Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) program at the National Institute of Justice that led the field of criminology to conduct more reasearch with spatial analysis and other geographical methods.

Mr. Wilson received his B.A. in Geology from Thiel College and his M.A. in Geography from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Earlier in his career, he developed spatial statistics software for crime analysis for several police departments. Throughout his career, Mr. Wilson has applied his education and skills in the area of criminology. He has been invited to numerous conferences and panel sessions and has presented and written on a variety of specialities to advance geographical analysis and thinking. He has also participated on a number of federal committees to bring geographical perspective to solving urban problems. Most notably, he was a member of the White House Urban Policy Neighborhood Revitalization Working Group while at the National Institute of Justice.

Mr. Wilson is currently leading several studies with the UMBC Psychology Department and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) in using spatial data analysis to explore the impacts of neighborhood violence on aging in Baltimore City. Mr. Wilson has additionally taught at the University of Maryland College Park and Summer Quantitative Program at the University of Michigan.

Xiuzhu Yang, Ph.D. (ABA) | Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., University of South Carolina
M.S., East China Normal University
B.S., East China Normal University

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Wells (Xiuzhu) was a Ph.D. candidate at University of South Carolina with a focus on remote sensing and GIS. He received his M.S. and B.S. from the Department of Geography, East China Normal University. His interest in GIS & remote sensing started in his college years and his career path remains in this area for more than 24 years.

Currently, Dr. Yang is the chief GIS architect of Lockheed Martin’s ITS-ESE program. Before joining Lockheed, he served as senior GIS professionals for several GIS consulting firms. He has led technical teams to design, develop, and deliver multi-million GIS projects for both federal and local governments. His 19 years of GIS programming experience witnessed a variety of dynamics in the GIS world.

Dr. Yang’s projects have hit CNN Headlines and other main media. One of his web site designs featured the “Web Site of the Day” of Transportation Communications Newsletter. His other application was showcased at a government press conference. One public work GIS project won URISA Exemplary Systems in Government. Wells was acknowledged as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability by US government.

View Dr. Yang’s public LinkedIn profile.