Meet Julian Ibarra: Putting National Moth Week ‘on the map!’

If you’ve recently checked out the events map for National Moth Week 2022, you’ll notice it’s clearer and easier to navigate and find events in your state or country.

The improvements are the work of our new GIS mapping specialist, Julian Ibarra, who joined the team this spring to help with mapping NMW events around the world.

Julian tells us about himself and his NMW role:

“I graduated from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) in May 2022, majoring in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior with a minor in Environmental Geomatics. Essentially, my major taught me about human interactions with the environment and how to best manage the environment, and my minor provided me with the technical skills to analyze spatial information through geographic information systems (GIS) mapping. 

“I found out about National Moth Week in the course Environmental Communication, where each student had to write an educational blog about an environmental topic. One of my peers wrote her blog on moths and referenced the National Moth Week organization for their efforts in organizing and educating communities on night-pollinators all over the world.

“My role in NMW involves mapping out the event locations and updating the map to include new events. As NMW continues to gain global influence, the number of events continues to rise! As someone who enjoys cartography and wants to gain more experience with the different GIS products and software, this opportunity allows me to do just that. 

“GIS mapping is both a science and an art; it requires accurate analysis of information, but must also be visually and aesthetically pleasing and navigable. Cartography combines both my love for science and art, two skills I have been nurturing since I was a child. At Rutgers, my courses not only taught me about environmental issues, they also taught me how to relay this information to the public. Maps are an incredibly efficient method of relaying spatial information (when done correctly). I hope that creating this year’s NMW Events Map using an ArcGIS Online Web Map and Dashboard will provide a user-friendly experience for those interested in finding a mothing event near them. 

“When I was connected to [NMW co-founder Liti Haramaty] in her search for a cartographer for NMW, I was ecstatic! Coming to the end of my undergraduate experience, I was hoping to find an opportunity to continue creating maps, and Liti presented me with exactly that. Moths are fascinating and I hope someday I may be able to take my GIS capabilities even further, for scientific research and data analysis.

“While I take plenty of nature walks and participate in citizen science endeavors such as iNaturalist and eBird, and come across moths in my day-to-day, I have yet to participate in a mothing-specific event. Now that I know where and when these events are taking place, I plan on going this July. I am grateful to have had this opportunity and look forward to continuing learning all about moths!”

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