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Department of Earth Environmental and Geospatial Sciences

Ragnar Heidar Thrastarson (or with Icelandic characters: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson

Current location

  • City of Reykjavik, Iceland.

Date of Graduation from Lehman

  • May 2015.

Type of degree/major/specialization/certificate

  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Science (MS-GISc).

Subsequent degrees earned or in progress:

  • None at the moment.

Title of MS-GISc capstone project

  • Bikes for Hire
  • Estimating the Share of New York City Cyclists Using Citi Bike.

Positions held since graduating

  • Specialist in avalanche hazard assessment at the Icelandic Meteorology Office (IMO).

Type of work you do there

The work at the IMO is very diverse, but most of my work revolves around avalanche or landslide hazard assessment in Iceland. This includes preparing and gathering geographic data (elevation, slope, infrastructure etc.), running models and drawing iso-risk lines based on the results. I also work on other projects that are based on spatial information of some sort. This includes mapping the potential effects of volcanic eruptions in glaciated areas, causing melting of ice and floods that need to be estimated for risk mitigation strategies.

Specific accomplishments of which you are most proud

  • I am a very proud Lehman graduate first of all. It’s not every day that a person from Iceland moves to New York City to study GISc. I believe I’m one of 4 persons in Iceland that have a specific master’s degree in GISc.
  • Being made a CartoDB Ambassador after creating an earthquake map using their product.
  • Being selected in a student panel at NYC GISMO´s 25th anniversary event and getting to represent Lehman College.
  • Presenting my work at the IMO on the ArcticDEM project at an annual GIS conference in Iceland. The presentation immediately followed a speech given by the President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, about Iceland’s role in arctic research and the importance of responding to global climate change.

Geography or GISc activities and/or accomplishments, awards, internships, publications

I did an internship with NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) as part of the MS-GISc program. The work at DCP was focused on address verification, making sure that city officials have the most reliable information when it comes to locating addresses around the city.

Overall assessment of how Lehman’s EEGS Program prepared you for your current life:

The time I spent at Lehman College in the EEGS Program will benefit me for a long time. The program offered challenging courses on many topics and a lot of the labs and projects used real-world data and focused on realistic problem solving. Gaining experience in this way helped me prepare for the work I do now at the IMO and in the future.

Comments on the EEGS Dept Program you were enrolled in

The MS-GISc program was an excellent stepping-stone for me to further hone my GIS and mapping skills. Even though the MS-GISc degree is quite specific, the field of spatial sciences is very broad and touches many fields in both natural and social sciences. I think the MS-GISc program does a great job covering these different aspects and how you can apply spatial thinking to solve a very vast set of problems.

What else have you been up to?

Before I moved to NYC to get my masters, I was very much involved in mountain search and rescue. In Iceland almost all search and rescue work is done by volunteers. Since I moved back home I have been getting back into the mountain rescue work. This includes taking refresher courses, training with members of my rescue team, and working closely with the Icelandic Coast Guard Helicopter squads. I have also been looking into the possibility of doing GISc and mapping for humanitarian efforts. Hopefully I will be able to contribute to the amazing work done by NGOs like MapAction and other crowd mapping projects.