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2007.02.16 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

UNO Professor to Speak at Bush Library

College Station, Texas - University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Professor John Shroder, an expert on the geography and geology of Afghanistan, will discuss his work with U.S. counterterrorism agencies to use satellite analysis and geographic information system (GIS) technology to assess the ground in Afghanistan to  help track al Qaeda operatives in that region. His lecture is set for Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the Bush Library's orientation theater as part of the 2006-2007 ICHS Lecture Series.

A reception for Shroder, Regents professor in the UNO Department of Geography and Geology, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Bush Library rotunda.  Both the reception and the lecture are free and open to the public.

To end the threat of terrorism from Afghanistan, Shroder said the United States must secure that nation against a resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban while helping to rebuild the Afghan economy. A vital tool in these efforts is GIS technology, which brings together hardware, software and data to capture, manage, analyze and display geographic information.

For more than 30 years, Shroder has applied the geosciences to the challenges facing Afghanistan. His work began in 1972 with the establishment of the Afghanistan Studies Program at UNO. Its first project, an Atlas of Afghanistan, became caught up in the Afghan-Soviet War of the 1980s.

Shroder assisted the Afghan Resistance through education projects, opium-poppy eradication and exposure of the Soviet control of natural resources. He argued against U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and warned the State Department in July 2001 about the threat of Afghanistan as a base for terrorism.

Following the 9/11 attacks, he assisted U.S. intelligence in gathering geographic and geologic information from an al Qaeda video to track down Osama bin Laden’s base camp at Tora Bora.

Today, Shroder champions the use of Afghanistan’s rich resources in oil, gas and metal ore to rebuild the economy, a position supported by a U.S. Geological Survey of the region. UNO is training 36 Afghan teachers each year, as well as assessing and mapping the glaciers and downstream melt-water resources. Publication of new geographic information about the nation, including a new Atlas of Afghanistan, is under way with Shroder’s management.

“The Afghans once very much liked Americans with our freedoms and generosity,” Shroder said. “They could again if we manage things as properly as we once did.”

The program is co-sponsored by the Integrative Center for Homeland Security (http://homelandsecurity.tamu.edu) and the Center for Geospatial Information Science and Technology, both at Texas A&M.

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