Originally an Angeleno, I am currently studying Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research focuses on advancing the spatial discovery of data. Previous training in Urban Planning and GIS motivated me to pursue graduate studies where I could develop usable spatial analysis tools.

Specifically, I am interested in lowering barriers to data sharing and reuse. In my work, I am committed to promoting socially useful technology that connects people to public data. I currently collaborate with the Center for Spatial Studies and UCSB Library to spatially integrate and expose interdisciplinary research.

My research interests include data curation, retrieval, and visualization; the Semantic Web; and GIS education. I have experience deploying geospatial platforms and applications, building linked data models, and visualizing the outputs of machine learning algorithms.


Self-Organizing Map of Research

Local Voice Assistant

UCSB Open Data

Core Spatial Concepts

Trajectories of Research

Damage Proxy Mapping


    Lafia, S., Last, C., and Kuhn, W. (2019). Enabling the Discovery of Thematically Related Research Objects with Systematic Spatializations. In 14th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2019). Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik. doi:10.4230/LIPIcs.COSIT.2019.18

    Lafia, S., Xiao, J., Kuhn, W., and Hervey, T. (2019). Talk of the Town: Discovering Government Data via Conversational Voice Assistants. In 14th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2019). Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik. doi:10.4230/LIPIcs.COSIT.2019.10

    Lafia, S. and Kuhn, W. (2018). Spatial Discovery of Linked Research Datasets and Documents at a Spatially Enabled Research Library. Journal of Map and Geography Libraries, 1-19. doi:10.1080/15420353.2018.1478923

    Lafia, S., Turner, A., and Kuhn, W. (2018). Improving Discovery of Open Civic Data. In 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2018). Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik. doi:10.4230/LIPIcs.GISCIENCE.2018.9

    Golubovic, N., Krintz, C., Wolski, R., Lafia, S., Hervey, T., and Kuhn, W. (2016). Extracting Spatial Information from Social Media in Support of Agricultural Management Decisions. In Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on Geographic Information Retrieval. ACM. doi:10.1145/3003464.3003468

    Allen, C., Hervey, T., Lafia, S., Phillips, D. W., Vahedi, B., and Kuhn, W. (2016). Exploring the Notion of Spatial Lenses. In International Conference on Geographic Information Science. Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-45738-3_17

    Lafia, S., Jablonski, J., Kuhn, W., Cooley, S. and Medrano, F. A. (2016). Spatial discovery and the research library. Transactions in GIS, 20: 399–412. doi:10.1111/tgis.12235


KCSB-FM Public Radio

Spatial Lightning Talk

UCSB Graduate Slam Semifinals

ESIP Raskin Scholarship

ArcUser Summer Article

SAP + Esri Spatial Hackathon


Sara Lafia

slafia at ucsb dot edu
Ellison Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA

UCSB Interactive Campus Map