Ph.D Sandro Makowski Giannoni, Laboratory for Climatology and Remote Sensing (LCRS), Philipps-University of Marburg, Germany.

My name is Sandro Makowski Giannoni. I am 34 years old and I come from Lima-Peru. After completing my studies in Geography at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), I obtained a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to perform my Ph.D. in the Climatology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (LCRS) at the University of Marburg, Germany, in December of 2016. My areas of expertise include Ecoclimatology, Remote Sensing, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Between May and October 2017 I will be part of the ULSA team thanks to the DAAD's short-term teaching program. Here I will offer a course on GIS and Remote Sensing with free software for students of the last years of Engineering. In addition, along with other members of the ULSA team we have organized a free GIS field school for national and international professionals. This will take place in August 2017 and will have a duration of two weeks.

GIS are powerful tools for the production, management, analysis, and visualization of geospatial data. Its capabilities surpass the applications in basic research, being also of great utility in applied research at public and private institutions, such as the monitoring of environmental processes, as well as the planning and management of the territory.

Why Free GIS? This kind of tools for the analysis of geospatial data are of particular value to Latin America, where private software licenses represent a huge cost for educational institutions, which often have low funding. Also, free does not only mean it can be installed and used by anyone. It also implies that the code is open, which stands for full control of the processes (not a black box) and the freedom to adapt and/or expand the code according to the needs of the user. In this way, it is not only more transparent, but it allows the use and distribution of geospatial technologies to a much wider public.

To conclude, I would like to express my enthusiasm for working together with the ULSA colleagues in strengthening GIS and Remote Sensing education in Nicaragua. Also, I have great expectations in the exchange of experiences and mutual learning, for the strengthening of this discipline, which can be of great benefit for the development of the country and the region.

Ph.D Giulia F. Curatola Fernández, Philipps-University of Marburg, Germany.

My name is Giulia F. Curatola Fernández, I am 32 years old, and I come from Lima. I studied Geography and Environmental Sciences at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). During my studies I did a year of exchange at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) where I took courses in the Departments of Geography, Geology, and Biology. My thesis was on the spatial distribution patterns of a tree species at the Tambopata National Park in the southern Peruvian Amazon. Then, I did my Ph.D. at the University of Marburg (Germany) on the spatio-temporal distribution patterns of an invasive fern in the tropical Andes of southern Ecuador. Therefore, my area of expertise is now plant ecology in natural and disturbed tropical ecosystems using geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing techniques. Currently, between June and October 2017, I will be part of the ULSA faculty to support the teaching of GIS and environmental remote sensing courses. This will be a great opportunity to teach and learn by exchanging knowledge with students and other professionals. I have a great expectation of being able to share my experience on a very powerful tool for environmental studies and, at the same time, to learn more about geography and environmental issues in Nicaragua.