Taylor Oshan recognized as "Outstanding Graduate"

Taylor Oshan, who graduated this week with his PhD in Geography, was recognized during the commencement ceremonies as an "Outstanding Graduate." Oshan has been a dedicated student and researcher during his time at ASU, making this distinction no surprise.

As part of this recognition, Oshan was featured in a video that played during the ceremony profiling his studies and time at ASU. You can watch his video here.

Oshan also offered more insight with this Q&A:

What was the concentration of your major? Computational spatial sciences and Spatial and Economic Analysis, but can also be described as computational social science, urban informatics, spatial analysis, spatial statistics, geographic information science

Hometown: Merrick, New York which is a town on Long Island, about 40 minutes east of New York City

What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? As an undergraduate student I was studying history and anthropology because I really enjoyed how diverse the classes could be and feared that I would inevitably have to choose a more narrow specialization. Around the third year of my undergraduate experience I discovered geography and geographic information systems and was captivated by the fact that geographical themes and tools could be used to study such a wide array of topics, scales, and time periods. I guess my “aha” moment was when I realized that by choosing to specialize in geography I would be able to pursue many interrelated applications.

What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? I learned that research requires perseverance. I was surprised and challenged by the amount of time and energy needed to conduct insightful, high-quality research but also what a valuable experience it is to engage in this kind of research.

Why did you choose ASU? For the faculty! Having good mentors is critical for graduate studies and navigating a particular field of study.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? Some of my most valuable experiences involved taking independent study/research credits to work closely with faculty on a project and has subsequently resulted in scholarly publications and highly marketable skills. If you don’t see a class you are looking for, try to see if you can “invent” your own.

What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? The fifth floor of Coor Hall – where all the geographers hang out!

What are your plans after graduation? I am planning to become a professor and hope to continue doing research. In particular, I would like to work in conjunction with partners in local governments and industry to make data and analysis methods more available and directly useful to society.

If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? I would want to work towards the issue of data accessibility. Despite having more data than ever, there is still so much of it that is inaccessible to the pubic and research institutions. If it is not accessible for research, than it is difficult for it be leveraged to improve society. In addition, this multi-faceted public policy issue also needs to be balanced with privacy concerns.