A&S alumnus fondly remembers his undergraduate research experience with mentor

By Jordan Rogers

A&S alumnus fondly remembers his undergraduate research experience with mentor

By Jordan Rogers

Harrison Gale, Class of ’22, never expected to fall in love with geography. Initially, Gale had his sights set on a major in International Business with a focus on South America, but when the major was no longer offered at the University of Miami, he was forced to turn his attention elsewhere.

"I was looking for a major that was both business-related and worldly, and I struck gold when I enrolled in my first geography class as a sophomore,” Gale said. “I originally took the first class to supplement my finance major, but I liked it so much that I took more and more geography classes."

The combination of finance and geography proved to have a natural synergy for the undergrad and his intellectual interests. Gale began learning how to use geographic information system (GIS) software for research on the U.S. real estate market, which enabled him to identify and map “hot” and “cold” spots in national housing sales.

He also used the data to figure out when and where to buy real estate. This question has a variety of useful applications, given the role of COVID-19 in spurring rapidly changing market conditions. As he progressed in the major, Gale began conducting research under professors in the College of Arts & Sciences Department of Geography and Sustainable Development.

His mentor, Professor Shouraseni Sen Roy, saw potential in his research and offered to help Gale publish the findings from his senior capstone project. After applying to a few journals together, their article "Optimization of United States Residential Real Estate Investment through Geospatial Analysis and Market Timing," was quickly accepted in Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy.

"The paper is a culmination of the years of work that Harrison has put in. He had lots of passion for the topic, which made it easy to complete this publication with him,” said Professor Sen Roy.

The success of their joint publication also underscores the importance of research experience at the undergraduate level. Impressed with the quality of students she sees enrolling in the College of Arts & Sciences, Sen Roy stated, "I find myself publishing more and more with undergraduate students. They come with fresh minds and fresh ideas. They think outside of the box and don't restrict themselves to how things have been done in the past."

Gale never expected to co-author a paper with a professor at the University of Miami, but he has found the experience to be invaluable in his transition to his professional work life.

Gale now works as a project manager for Epic, a healthcare software company. When asked about pursuing further education, and the possibility of conducting more research in the future, he was hopeful.

"I look forward to getting a master's degree at some point, maybe in business analytics—with a geographical focus,” he said.