The Population Research Center consists of three operational units that provide core services to research associates and their staff as well as demography students and postdoctoral fellows. The cores include: (1) an Administrative Support Core; (2) Data and Computing Core; and (3) a Program Development Core. Together these three cores facilitate and support a large, influential, and diverse program of research. Additionally, the NORC Library provides reference services and access to bibliographic services, demographic journals and books, and other reference materials.

  • The Administrative Support Core provides grant application preparation and administration services; desktop support services; dissemination services; work space; organizes the weekly Demography Workshop;and strengthens the research community of PRC associates.
  • The Information and Computing Core provides reliable, high performance computing services and a secure data enclave for researchers to access confidential micro data not otherwise available remotely. Additionally, as the home of the GIS Collaborative (below), the Core provides consultation for GIS and spatial analysis and maintains a GIS and demographic data archive.
  • The Program Development Core consists of an active program of pilot projects and infrastructure support for new faculty research and one day conferences and workshops.
GIS Collaborative

The Information and Computing Core’s GIS Collaborative provides numerous resources for PRC associates and affiliates to successfully incorporate spatial components into their research including: access to GIS software, hardware, and data resources; training through introductory and advanced workshops for both faculty and their research assistants; and expert research consultation from the Center’s GIS Specialist, Chieko Maene.


Maene is available three days a week to support the external funding applications and research projects of PRC research associates. This assistance is available only to projects with which PRC faculty associates are directly involved, with priority given to requests supporting grant applications or grant-funded projects administered through the Center.

Tasks supported by the GIS Specialist include:

  • Proposal preparation (e.g. assistance with the technical, methodological, or approach sections)
  • Preliminary spatial/GIS data collection, cleaning, and analysis
  • Geocoding and georeferencing
  • Map creation
  • Troubleshooting GIS data questions
  • One-on-one training

Due to the number of expected requests throughout the year, associates are required to submit written requests in advance. Requests will be evaluated and queued as is appropriate, so faculty associates are encouraged to submit requests in advance of any deadlines. The GIS Specialist will respond in a timely manner to all requests, providing a timeline for completion determined by the existing queue of requests and the amount of time requested. Faculty also should note that the GIS Specialist is not a research assistant and may ask faculty to revise requests for support as is appropriate.

To make a request for GIS support, please send an email to with the following information explicitly outlined:

  1. Faculty associate’s name and contact information
  2. Name and contact information of person making request, if different from the submitting faculty associate
  3. Project title
  4. Type of work request (select one): (1) assistance preparing an external grant application (include appropriate budget code from Kathleen Parks); (2) grant-supported work (include appropriate budget code from Kathleen Parks); or (3) unsupported research consultation
  5. Timeline for work to be completed
  6. Brief description of the work requested (no more than 2 paragraphs)

Submitted requests will receive a response within 2 business days and a ticket will be issued with a project request reference number. If you have any questions, please contact or Scott W. Allard, Director of the Information and Computing Core.


During the academic year, workshops will be avialable on campus for research associates and their students to learn basic and advanced GIS data management and analysis.


Chieko Maene was hired as the PRC GIS Specialist in 2011. She is jointly appointed with the Social Sciences Computing Division (SSCD). Ms. Maene received her master’s degrees in Urban Studies and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before joining the PRC, she served as a Maps and State Documents Librarian in the Government and Geographic Information and Data Service Department at the Northwestern University Library. In addition to her expertise in GIS and spatial analytics, she has extensive experience working with large survey datasets and Census data products. As the GIS Specialist, she will assist with project analysis and custom programming for desktop and web interfaces. She advised numerous projects at her previous positions and has already lent her expertise to Core Director Scott Allard’s proposal to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Food Choices and the Great Recession: How Economic Shocks and Neighborhood Food Resource Infrastructure Shape Food Assistance, Shopping, and Security.”