GIS Centre

Ryan Institute GIS Centre (RIGIS)

Geographical Information System (GIS) refers to both the software and methodologies used for geospatial analysis and visualisation. It is defined as a computer system designed for capturing, storing, analysing and outputting spatial data. GIS-based spatial analysis is used globally, in almost all imaginable sections of research, industry, voluntary programmes and community initiatives to help to solve sophisticated spatio-temporal issues ranging from socio-economy, government, commerce and business, and environmental management.

The Ryan Institute GIS Centre provides training in proprietary and open source GIS software applications and in accessing national and global geospatial data (licenced and openly available).

Some of the most popular everyday applications of GIS include GPS satellite navigation systems and Internet mapping services such as Google Earth/Maps, BING Maps and OpenStreetMap.


Screenshot of Flash animation showing the distribution of molluscs in Gurteen Bay and Dog’s Bay (Roundstone).

The GIS Centre of Ryan Institute provides support to the Priority Research Areas (PRAs):

  • Climate Change
  • Environment and Health
  • Marine and Coastal Processes
  • Biodiversity and Bioresources
  • Modelling and Informatics
  • Built Environment
  • Socioeconomics and Public Policy.


GIS is used throughout all five colleges in NUI Galway. Undergraduate teaching started in 2000 with the appointment of Dr. Chaosheng Zhang as lecturer in GIS. A GIS Unit was established within ECI (Environmental Change Institute), under PRTLI3 (2001-2006) funding and then extended under PRTLI4 of HEA, providing services in GIS. With the strong demand for GIS on campus, a new GIS Centre at Ryan Institute was established in 2010, providing leadership in GIS teaching and research on campus.

alcock and brown
Screenshot of 3D movie recreation of Alcock and Brown’s 1919 Transatlantic flight for Google Earth

GIS Centre Committee members:

  • Dr. Ronan Hennessy, GIS Centre, Ryan Institute (Staff Page)
  • Dr. Chaosheng Zhang, Head of GIS Centre, Ryan Institute (Staff Page)
  • Dr. Mary Cawley, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies (Staff Page)
  • Dr. John Cullinan, College of Business, Public Policy and Law (Staff Page)
  • Dr. Eve Daly, College of Science (Staff Page)
  • Dr. Stephen Nash, College of Engineering and Informatics (Staff Page)
  • Prof. Martin Cormican, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (Staff Page)
The GIS Centre is located on the ground floor of the Orbsen Building.