Anna Shynkarenko wearing a hat, half-hidden behind a bush and looking at the camera

Researching the effects of war on urban landscapes in Ukraine

October 12, 2023
Author: Eric Zimmer

Anna Shynkarenko came to VIU on a Mitacs internship

As the war in Ukraine continues, efforts are now being made to understand and analyze the extent of the damage to infrastructure.

Anna Shynkarenko is designing a method to capture the extent of the destruction using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The goal is a mapping method that helps aid in reconstruction.

Anna is from Ukraine and came to VIU this past spring on a three-month Mitacs internship to pursue this research. Her project uses aerial and satellite imagery to detect changes in the footprints of buildings that have been destroyed in Ukraine due to the war.

Post-war, says Anna, it will be important to conduct a quick and high-quality damage analysis so that reconstruction can start. To do this, she is automating the method of classifying destroyed buildings and using modern remote sensing methods. The study was conducted using specialty GIS software. It’s familiar territory for Anna, whose work experience and specialty are in the field of military cartography.

“She successfully found and acquired satellite imagery of the area under investigation, a critical tool in our efforts to identify destroyed buildings,” says Michael Govorov, a professor in VIU’s Master of GIS Applications program. “She also delved into various GIS machine learning techniques for automatic feature extraction to complete her research and successfully defended her master’s degree from Kiev University.”

Anna currently works in her industry on Vancouver Island.

“I left Nanaimo after completing the internship in March 2023 and returned to Ukraine for two months,” she says. “During that time, I received my master’s degree in natural sciences, found a job in my field in Canada and returned to Vancouver Island in June.”

Anna plans to get some work experience under her belt and master new software that is not currently available in Ukraine. She also plans to share her findings with experts in Ukraine who will be working in the reconstruction field. Looking further into the future, she says she might continue post-grad studies.

“Anna comes from a country torn by conflict, and several members of her family are active defenders of their homeland,” says Michael. “Her journey to Canada included many trials and despite her short stay at VIU, she has achieved an impressive set of accomplishments truly worthy of praise.”

Anna says she is grateful to VIU and International Education staff for their guidance and support during her time in Nanaimo, as well.

“I am very glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of VIU. It broadened my horizons and gave me an idea of the structure of education, a different approach to the presentation of educational material and the educational process.”

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