Explore Lewis University’s Arboretum with a new app

Four Lewis University Environmental Science and Computer Science students created an Android app for nature lovers that want to learn more about the trees on the Lewis University Romeoville Campus. The 410-acre campus is an arboretum, including more than 2,400 trees in addition to wooded areas.

The app is called Understory. Visit Google Play at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.lewisu.cs.thaotle.UnderStory to download the app.

Environmental Science students Patrick Dodge of Bolingbrook and Kirsten Rothenbucher of Romeoville and Computer Science students Francisco Cano of Midlothian and Thao Le of Oswego built the app. Dodge and Rothenbucher worked on photographing and geo-locating the trees on campus and writing the content and stories about them. Cano and Le developed the database to hold the information and pictures and wrote and tested the mobile app.

The app lists the various kinds of trees on the Lewis University Romeoville campus, which is designated a Tree Campus USA.

The app presents information about each tree variety, including a picture of one specimen on campus and shows the location of that tree on a Google map.

Using Understory with a phone’s GPS, a visitor can find his or her way to the tree.

The app also includes a story about each tree to help add to the visitor’s understanding of its value and symbolism.

The mobile app features two modes. The Tree Mode shows a list of tree varieties from which a user could choose one to learn about and locate.  The Map Mode shows where all the trees in the list are located on a map of the Lewis campus. The app currently works on Android phones and tablets. A version that works with iPhones and iPads is currently in the works.

“The work of these four students reminds us that our academic disciplines aren’t silos. Some tremendous solutions come about because experts in different disciplines contribute their knowledge in complementary ways,” commented Dr. Ray Klump, chair and professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

“One of the wonderful things about Computer Science is that its tools and concepts benefit virtually every other discipline. As computer scientists, we likewise benefit, because we get an opportunity to work with and learn from people in lots of different fields. That opportunity keeps our work fresh and valuable,” he said.

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