At the end of the fall 2010 semester, Binghamton University’s Office of Research Advancement (ORA) launched a Facebook application designed to show users the global reach of the University.
The app, called Binghamton Research on the Map, uses Google Maps to pinpoint different locations around the world where professors, students and alumni are conducting research.
Each map location is attached to a link that redirects users to descriptions of the research. For the time being, these descriptions are articles that have been published over the years on the ORA’s news website, discovere.binghamton.edu.
Saurabh Bidkar, who graduated last semester with a master’s degree in computer science, was the developer and designer of the app. He worked on the project for just over four months.
“The app is meant for students of Binghamton University or anyone who is interested in the research activities of [the University],” Bidkar said. “It’s just basically to record our global presence, so faculty, students and even alumni who are involved in research can refer to that page and upload the locations of where their research is taking place.”
Rachel Coker, director of the ORA, hopes that those conducting research will add their own descriptions of their current and past work to expand the relevancy of the app.
“To start with, we’ve looked through the archives of the stories that we’ve written already about faculty research and we’ve plotted out those stories onto the map,” Coker said. “So right away, there’s something to look at and you can get an idea of what the possibilities are, and then our hope is, with this app, that people will add their own stories to it as well.”
Coker said she came up with the idea for Binghamton Research on the Map this past summer.
“It was something that I thought of after seeing Google Maps and what a couple of other institutions had done with it,” she said. “The way it works is you can create a database of locations and then have Google plot the points onto the maps.”
According to Coker, the idea for the app was partially inspired by her involvement in the Binghamton University Globalistas, a group of student and faculty volunteers dedicated to promoting internationalization on campus.
“We want the campus to be more aware of what we are doing internationally and encourage more people to make a contribution that has a global connection,” she said. “We raise awareness of what’s going on around the world and kind of nudge people to do things that are global in nature.”
The app, Coker said, is her way of contributing to the group.
“You can see from the app that we have people working on everything from Russian literature to earthquakes in Taiwan,” she said. “This is a way for people to see the reach of our institution. Now you can actually see, on the map, where we are having an impact in the world.”
Seonghek Kang, a junior majoring in history at BU, said he sees the importance of the international studies that are recorded by the app.
“At the present, international students constitute a significant part of the student body,” Kang said. “The global cultural connection Binghamton provides is one of the University’s strong points already, so it may as well expand these efforts through international research.”
Users can access the Facebook application through the site’s search bar by entering “Binghamton Research on the Map.”