Nov 17

Happy Geography Awareness Week!


This is Geographic Awareness Week: The theme is “The Geography of Civil Rights Movements” Several events are happening:
November 14  Penn State GIS Day —many events at the University Libraries
November 15  Central PA GIS Day—Harrisburg. Contact Jodi Vender  if interested
November 16  Mapathon for Puerto Rico, 6 p.m. in 229 Walker Building


Guido Cervone was appointed to the NCAR non-MSF proposal review panel.

• Welcome to our new department work-study, Taylor Mills. She starts on November 15 and will be in 302 Walker Building.


Coffee Hour updates
There is no Coffee Hour lecture this week or next, due to the impending Thanksgiving break. The next Coffee Hour will be December 1. The final Coffee Hour for the fall semester will be December 8. The December 8 Coffee Hour will feature short talks by Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) students about their projects. If you missed Richard Mbih’s talk on November 3, you can view the recording here: http://live-geog.psu.edu/Mediasite/Play/47c7c5f5378e407fa244fda4a9b98bc61d

Visualize the World’ program to be held at University Libraries on Nov. 14
Penn State University Libraries will celebrate GIS Day on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at an event aimed to the broad audience of the Penn State community — students, staff, faculty and community members — with interests in learning about how geospatial information is being used on campus and beyond.

From AAG
Profiles of Geographers Working in Civil Rights & Social Justice
Joshua Inwood and Melissa Wright are featured
The theme for Geography Awareness Week (GeoWeek) 2017 is “The Geography of Civil Rights Movements.” To commemorate this theme, the AAG has compiled this list of geographers who have been recognized by the AAG for their work in anti-racism, diversity, or social justice.


A comparison of daily temperature averaging methods: Spatial variability and recent change for the CONUS [Continental United States]
By Jase Bernhardt, Andrew M. Carleton, and Chris LaMagna
In Journal of Climate (in press)
Access http://journals.ametsoc.org/toc/clim/current
Traditionally, the daily average air temperature at a weather station is computed by taking the mean of two values, the maximum temperature (Tmax) and the minimum temperature (Tmin) over a 24-hour period. These values form the basis for numerous studies of long-term climatologies (e.g., 30-year normals) and recent temperature trends and changes. However, many first-order weather stations– such as those at airports– also record hourly temperature data. Using an average of the 24 hourly temperature readings to compute daily average temperature has been shown to provide a more precise and representative estimate of a given day’s temperature. This study assesses the spatial variability of the differences in these two methods of daily temperature averaging (i.e., [Tmax + Tmin]/2, average of 24 hourly temperature values) for 215 first-order weather stations across the conterminous United States (CONUS) the 30-year period 1981-2010. A statistically significant difference is shown between the two methods, as well as consistent overestimation of temperature by the traditional method ([Tmax + Tmin]/2), particularly in southern and coastal portions of the CONUS. The explanation for the long-term difference between the two methods is the underlying assumption for the twice- daily method that the diurnal curve of temperature is symmetrical. Moreover, this paper demonstrates a spatially-coherent pattern in the difference compared to the most recent part of the temperature record (2001-2015). The spatial and temporal differences shown have implications for assessments of the physical factors influencing the diurnal temperature curve, as well as the exact magnitude of contemporary climate change.

Nov 17

Coffee Hour with Joshua Inwood | UROC for spring | Environment education game-changer


Major discovery night graphicCome discover geography as a major at Discovery Night at the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, on Tuesday, November 7, 6:00 p.m in 22 Deike Building or via Zoom at https://psu.zoom.us/j/158547326

Please join current Earth and Mineral Sciences students to learn about majors and minors in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Students will share their unique experiences in majors, minors, internships, global experiences, research, and more. Refreshments available.


Megan Baumann, Eden Kinkaid, Ramzi Tubbeh, Jamie Peeler, and Julie Sanchez passed their candidacy exams.
• Alumnus Sterling Quinn and undergraduate student  Doran Tucker co-authored an article “How geopolitical conflict shapes the mass-produced online map,” appearing in the open access journal, First Monday.
Missy Weaver accepted our offer to return to Geography for the Undergraduate Administrative Assistant position and started on Monday, November 6.


Coffee Hour with Joshua Inwood
Civil Rights Geographies: Property and Whiteness
On January 2, 2016, armed anti-government protestors took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) in rural Oregon. The takeover of the MNWR is part of a larger, much longer set of movements called the Sagebrush Rebellion that has come to define contemporary white contestations about the federal regulation of lands in the American West. Specifically, we argue that the armed takeover of MNWR is revelatory of the way white supremacy intersects with place in important and consequential ways. In addition, we examine the politics of place and property to interrogate the way settler imaginaries affords settlers a perceived right to property and the land.

Time to apply for UROC for spring 2018
Now is the time to ​submit projects for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Connection (UROC). Please ​apply for your projects here for​spring 2018 ​by November 8. Thanks to those who have already submitted.  Apply now

UROC gives you the opportunity to find interested and qualified undergraduates to work with you as research assistants. This can be for thesis and dissertation projects, or other work that you wish to jump-start. Need inspiration or ideas? Check out past projects conducted through UROC.

Graduate student recognized as environmental education game-changer
Geography graduate student Elham Nasr Azadani has been selected by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as one of their “EE 30 Under 30” for 2017.

Civil Rights Featured Theme of 2017 Geography Awareness Week, Nov 12–18
Established by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1987, Geography Awareness Week (GAW) is observed the third week in November every year. GAW promotes what geography is, why it is important, and the relevance of a geographic education in preparing citizens to understand and debate pressing social and environmental issues and problems. This year’s celebration is November 12-18, marking the 30th birthday of what has become an important tradition in our discipline.


When the archive sings to you: SNCC and the atmospheric politics of race
By Joshua F. J. Inwood, Derek H. Alderman
In cultural geographies, First Published November 2, 2017
Access https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474017739023
Through our engagement with the ‘Freedom Singers’, we advocate for approaching the archive through the racial politics of atmosphere to understand both the affective, emotion-laden practices of the past and the affective work carried out by contemporary researchers within the archive. This atmosphere provides an important pathway for identifying and analyzing the relationality and encounters that advance a fuller study of the black experience and define what (and who) constitutes critical actors in that story. The Freedom Singers and their politico-musical legacy, while lost to many members of the public and even many scholars, offer an important lesson in broadening our appreciation of civil rights practice, as well as the practice of archival research itself. This piece contributes to broader understandings of the archive as an affective space and the role of affect in analyzing archive materials.

Oct 17

Coffee Hour with Richard Mbih | GIS Day on Nov. 14 | 3 PSU geographers at UN climate talks


sea Level rise in NYC

A portion of a map of sea level rise in New York City created by Carolyn Fish based on research by climate scientists, including some from Penn State Meteorology, which was featured on Phys.org as well as a Penn State News story.


Carolyn Fish was awarded the Cartographic Perspectives Journal 2016 Student Paper Competition for an article co-authored with Kirby Calvert on solar energy web maps.

Three Penn State Geographers, Assistant Professor Kimberley Thomas and Ph.D. Candidates Carolyn Fish and Meg Boyle, will represent Penn State at the annual UN Climate Negotiations, hosted by Fiji and held in Bonn, Germany, November 6-17, 2017. Thomas will additionally be representing the American Association of Geographers. The meetings are intended to advance countries’ cooperative implementation of the Paris Agreement in order to avert catastrophic climate change. In their work at the Negotiations, our department’s delegates will be joining with representatives of universities and research institutions from around the world. On campus, Thomas currently studies the intersection of climate adaptation finance and water management infrastructure. Fish studies map-based communications of climate change in mass media. Boyle studies the Paris Agreement as a model of international cooperation. More information and real-time updates on the Negotiations are available at: https://cop23.unfccc.int
To reach out to our delegates during the meetings in their personal capacities, please contact:
Meg Boyle- Twitter: @mmboyle; email: mmb5966@psu.edu
Carolyn S. Fish- Twitter: @cartofish; email: fish@psu.edu
Kimberley Thomas- Twitter: @kimberleyanh; email: kimthomas@psu.edu


Coffee Hour with Richard Mbih “Pastoralism: Challenges and Perspectives in the Western Highlands of Cameroon”
Pastoralism is livestock production through extensive grazing on open access rangelands. It remains one of the oldest and main production systems in the world and is practiced mostly by semi-nomadic pastoral groups in Cameroon. Though pastoralism contributes immensely to the national revenue, food security, and employment opportunities, its future in the region is very uncertain. The government of Cameroon, like many other African governments, undermines nomadic culture through a land use policy that fails to implement adequate policies to protect pastoralism and foster sustainable agro-pastoral development. In the Western Highlands of Cameroon where this project is based, pastoralism is endangered by population growth and infrastructural development, agricultural expansion, creation of protected areas, climate change, and persistent farmer-herder conflicts between local farming communities and Fulani pastoralists competing over declining agro-pastoral resources.

‘Visualize the World’ program to be held at University Libraries on Nov. 14
Penn State University Libraries will celebrate GIS Day on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at an event aimed to the broad audience of the Penn State community — students, staff, faculty and community members — with interests in learning about how geospatial information is being used on campus and beyond.

This year’s program, “Visualize the World: GIS, Maps, Drones, Virtual Reality, Location Intelligence,” explores the pervasive nature of geospatial information across new and emerging technologies — including drones and virtual reality — and how the geospatial revolution of interrelated technologies is enabling greater interaction with geospatial information on a daily basis.


Debating Unconventional Energy: Social, Political, and Economic Implications
By Kate J. Neville, Jennifer Baka, Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, Karen Bakker, Stefan Andreasson, Avner Vengosh, Alvin Lin, Jewellord Nem Singh, Erika Weinthal
In Annual Review of Environment and Resources 2017 42:1, 241-266
Access https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-102016-061102
The extraction of unconventional oil and gas—from shale rocks, tight sand, and coalbed formations—is shifting the geographies of fossil fuel production, with complex consequences. Following Jackson et al.’s (1) natural science survey of the environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing, this review examines social science literature on unconventional energy. After an overview of the rise of unconventional energy, the review examines energy economics and geopolitics, community mobilization, and state and private regulatory responses. Unconventional energy requires different frames of analysis than conventional energy because of three characteristics: increased drilling density, low-carbon and “clean” energy narratives of natural gas, and distinct ownership and royalty structures. This review points to the need for an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing the resulting dynamic, multilevel web of relationships that implicates land, water, food, and climate. Furthermore, the review highlights how scholarship on unconventional energy informs the broader energy landscape and contested energy futures.

Harnessing the Power of Many: Extensible Toolkit for Scalable Ensemble Applications
By Vivek Balasubramanian, Matteo Turilli, Weiming Hu, Matthieu Lefebvre, Wenjie Lei, Guido Cervone, Jeroen Tromp, Shantenu Jha
In arXiv:1710.08491v1 [cs.DC]
Access https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.08491
Many scientific problems require multiple distinct computational tasks to be executed in order to achieve a desired solution. We introduce the Ensemble Toolkit (EnTK) to address the challenges of scale, diversity and reliability they pose. We describe the design and implementation of EnTK, characterize its performance and integrate it with two distinct exemplar use cases: seismic inversion and adaptive analog ensembles. We perform nine experiments, characterizing EnTK overheads, strong and weak scalability, and the performance of two use case implementations, at scale and on production infrastructures. We show how EnTK meets the following general requirements: (i) implementing dedicated abstractions to support the description and execution of ensemble applications; (ii) support for execution on heterogeneous computing infrastructures; (iii) efficient scalability up to O(104) tasks; and (iv) fault tolerance. We discuss novel computational capabilities that EnTK enables and the scientific advantages arising thereof. We propose EnTK as an important and unique addition to the suite of tools in support of production scientific computing.

The “Mundane Violence” of International Water Conflicts
Kimberly Thomas
In Education About Asia Volume 22:2 (Fall 2017): Water and Asia
Access http://aas2.asian-studies.org/EAA/EAA-Archives/22/2/1485.pdf
Statistics about water resources abound. Some, like the combined length of rivers in the United States (3.5 million miles), make for interesting but forgettable trivia. Others, like the number of people who experience severe water scarcity each year (four billion), declare an issue of urgent and global concern. The staggering magnitude and profound
implications of this water crisis alone are difficult to comprehend, and yet the calamity is even further compounded by climate change and international politics.
Climate change is augmenting the variability of a resource that is already unevenly distributed seasonally and geographically. Some arid regions like Mongolia are becoming drier, and humid areas such as Myanmar are receiving more rainfall. Glaciers have been described as reservoirs of fossil water because they are not replaced once melted, and
although glacier response to climate warming is not uniform, thousands of Himalayan glaciers are on track for dramatic retreat or disappearance.


Oct 17

Critical Geography Keynote with Minelle Mahtani | Cultivating connections | Job announcement: climate scientist


peat bog Lubec, Maine

This photo shows a raised peat bog near Lubec, Maine. It started forming after the glacier retreated from the area about 15,000 years ago. Photo: Andrew Carleton. The Department of Geography invites applicants for a tenure-track assistant professor position in Climate Science. Research emphases could include: hydro-climatology, climate variability and change, paleo-climate, climatic hazards, physical climatology. We encourage applicants with facility in approaches to climate analysis such as: proxy data, field climatology and instrumentation, remote sensing, GIS, statistical and/or dynamical modeling, attribution and regional-scale information applied to climate-change scenarios. For more information and to apply


• Where is Wayne? Alumnus Wayne Brew (’81), assistant professor of geography at Montgomery County Community College, was granted a sabbatical for fall 2017. He has been on a long road trip. Follow his travels and see daily Instagram updates here: https://www.mc3.edu/academics/faculty/highlights/wayne-brew
Brian King was interviewed on “The Academic Minute” about food scarcity and the treatment of HIV.


Coffee Hour is the Critical Geography Conference Keynote with Minelle Mahtani
Toxic geographies: absences in critical race thought and practice in social and cultural geography
In this talk, I suggest that social and cultural geography as a discipline and pedagogical stream needs to pay more detailed attention to the ongoing production of what I call toxic geographies, or emotionally toxic material spaces, for geographers of colour. I use the term “toxic” deliberately. I recognize that the word is a loaded one. Toxicity is often referred to as the degree to which a substance can destroy an organism. In geography, toxicity has sustaining, long-term implications not only for the lives of scholars of colour, but it also impacts the scholarship on race and difference.

Cultivating the connections between people and their environment
Geography graduate student Megan Baumann has been spending the last few summers in Nicaragua learning from farmers how they manage their land and crops. As the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, she hopes to continue her research in this area.

Sea-level rise, not stronger storm surge, will cause future NYC flooding
Rising sea levels caused by a warming climate threaten greater future storm damage to New York City, but the paths of stronger future storms may shift offshore, changing the coastal risk for the city, according to a team of climate scientists.


Against the Evils of Democracy: Fighting Forced Disappearance and Neoliberal Terror in Mexico
By Melissa W. Wright
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2017.1365584
On 26 September 2014, Mexican police forces in Iguala, Guerrero, attacked and abducted four dozen students known as normalistas (student teachers); some were killed on the spot and the rest were never seen again. Within and beyond Mexico, rights activists immediately raised the alarm that the normalistas had joined the country’s growing population of “the disappeared,” now numbering more than 28,000 over the last decade. In this article, I draw from a growing scholarship within and beyond critical geography that explores forced disappearance as a set of governing practices that shed insight into contemporary democracies and into struggles for constructing more just worlds. Specifically, I explore how an activist representation of Mexico’s normalistas as “missing students” opens up new political possibilities and spatial strategies for fighting state terror and expanding the Mexican public within a repressive neoliberal and global order. I argue that this activism brings to life a counterpublic as protestors declare that if disappearance is “compatible” with democracy, as it appears to be within Mexico, then disappeared subjects demand new spaces of political action. They demand a countertopography where the disappeared citizens of Mexico make their voices heard. Activists demonstrate such connections as they compose countertopographies for counterpublics across the Americas landscape of mass graves, prisons, and draconian political economies, mostly constructed in the name of democracy and on behalf of securing citizens. Understanding how Mexico’s activists confront the intransigent problems of state terror, spanning from dictatorships to democracies, offers vital insights for struggles against policies for detaining and disappearing peoples there and elsewhere in these neoliberal times.

State-level changes in US racial and ethnic diversity, 1980 to 2015: A universal trend?
By Barrett A. Lee, Michael J.R. Martin, Stephen A. Matthews, Chad R. Farrell
In Demographic Research
Access DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2017.37.33
BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined long-term changes in ethnoracial diversity for US states despite the potential social, economic, and political ramifications of such changes at the state level.
OBJECTIVE: We describe shifts in diversity magnitude and structure from 1980 through 2015 to determine if states are following a universal upward path.
METHODS: Decennial census data for 1980‒2010 and American Community Survey data for 2015 are used to compute entropy index (E) and Simpson index (S) measures of diversity magnitude based on five panethnic populations. A typology characterizes the racial/ethnic structure of states.
RESULTS: While initial diversity level and subsequent pace of change vary widely, every state has increased in diversity magnitude since 1980. A dramatic decline in the number of predominantly white states has been accompanied by the rise of states with multigroup structures that include Hispanics. These diverse states are concentrated along the coasts and across the southern tier of the country. Differences in panethnic population growth (especially rapid Hispanic and Asian growth coupled with white stability) drive the

Oct 17

Coffee Hour with Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova | Pub time online | Q&A Josh Inwood


MGIS pub time 2

MGIS students from Rhode Island, New Jersey, Ohio, and New Mexico working on their MGIS capstone projects were invited to participate in an online pub time on October 10, 2017. MGIS faculty (left to right) Justine Blanford, Beth King, and Jim Detwiler gathered after work at Whisker’s pub in The Nittany Lion Inn. They exchanged tips and ideas in an informal setting and connected with their fellow students. Through Zoom, students shared glimpses of their home life, kids and pets. Another pub/tea time will be announced soon.


Gian Rocco was elected Chair of the Amphibian and Reptile Technical Committee (ARTC) of the PA Biological Survey (PABS).
Eli Nasr Azadani has been recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education as one of their “Environmental Education 30 Under 30” for 2017. The program recognizes individuals in the U.S. and internationally, 30 years of age or younger, who are game changers in their communities.
Alumnus Tony Greulich (’96) was recently promoted to the position of Planner IV in the Development Review and Design Division of the Department of Planning for Henrico County, Virginia. He credits Roger Downs with setting him on the right career path.


Coffee Hour with Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova: Cacao for Peace: From Plant Genomics to Training Farmers in Indigenous Communities
Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova co-direct a program to study the molecular biology of cacao with the long-term goal of helping cacao farmers develop sustainable farms. Their work spans the gamut of the land grant university mission of research education and extension—from genome sequencing and functional genomics, educational programs for scientists from developing countries to hands-on teaching of farmers in cacao production methods—their program integrates multiple levels of the cacao production system. This talk will give an overview of the research program and focus on a specific program, Cacao for Peace, which aims to help cacao farmers in Colombia in the post-conflict era through integration of the land grant mission strategy.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

[Editor’s note: The Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH Newsletter was published and mailed in August. We are placing the articles on the department website, and will highlight this content during the fall. Want to get your copy in the mail? Send your postal address to geography@psu.edu]

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
Q&A with Joshua Inwood
Joshua Inwood joined the Department of Geography in July 2016 as an associate professor and has a joint appointment as a senior research associate with the Rock Ethics Institute.
Q: What first inspired your scholarly interests in issues of place, social power, and inequality?
JI: I have always been interested in issues of justice and inequality, but it wasn’t until I got into graduate school and I began reading and thinking about social relations and the making of space and place that I realized how the organization of space and place is central to not only understanding inequality, but also how we might address structural inequality.

Oct 17

Coffee Hour with Frank Boscoe | Peuquet retires | New NSF fellows in geography


class visis coal mine

Kimberley Thomas took her GEOG 497 Capitalism, Labor, and the Environment class to tour the Pioneer Tunnel coal mine, in Ashland, Pa.,  located in the largest anthracite deposit in the world to learn about the working lives of miners.


Guido Cervone has been named to the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences at National Academy of Sciences. The board is  engaged in the first ever decadal survey of the social and behavioral sciences, at the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The committee conducting the decadal survey has the broad task of identifying future research opportunities likely to contribute to the intelligence community’s analytic responsibilities.  As part of its information-gathering, the committee will hold a workshop on October 11, in Washington, D.C. on Leveraging Advances in Social Network Thinking for National Security, which will explore how network thinking will evolve and transform the intelligence community in the next ten years.

Three online geospatial program students received United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) scholarships: Roxanne Ahmadi, Jace Ebben, and Travis Meyer. All three are enrolled in the Geospatial Intelligence option of the Masters of Professional Studies in Homeland Security.


Coffee Hour with Frank Boscoe (’00g): Twenty Years of Cancer Mapping
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over half a million lives annually and accounting for 22% of all deaths. Age-adjusted cancer mortality rates have dropped by a quarter from their 1991 peak, despite a wide perception that little progress has been made. Perhaps this is because we have gained relatively little new insight about what factors trigger cancer in the first place. There is a widespread belief – even a collective wish – that mapping cancer at a fine geographic scale will yield these insights. In this talk, I will describe my efforts over the past two decades to tackle this problem.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

[Editor’s note: The Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH Newsletter was published and mailed in August. We are placing the articles on the department website, and will highlight this content during the fall. Want to get your copy in the mail? Send your postal address to geography@psu.edu]

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
Peuquet, well-known for research and service in GIScience, retires
Donna Peuquet, professor of geography at Penn State since 1986, announced her retirement to emeritus status at the end of June 2017.

Within the Department of Geography, Peuquet taught many undergraduate and graduate courses, advised graduate students, and served as the undergraduate program director and as the associate director of the GeoVISTA Center. “Dr. Peuquet advanced my thinking and influenced my career by expecting me to learn, think and work as an independent scholar,” 4said Elizabeth Wentz (’97g), dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

Penn State hosts 15 new NSF graduate researchers
Megan Baumann and Eden Kinkaid are among the new fellows.
The Graduate School at Penn State is pleased to host 15 new National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award recipients for the 2017-18 academic year.

Climate change and extreme weather challenge communities to be resilient
Flooding in Texas and again in Louisiana, a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic hammering Caribbean islands and Florida and, of course, memories of Sandy and Katrina place extreme weather events like hurricanes and the flooding, storm surge and winds that accompany them in the minds of people in the storms’ paths, but also forefront in the minds of administrators, first responders, government officials and city planners.

“Managing Risk in a Changing Climate,” a documentary produced by Penn State’s public television station WPSU in partnership with the Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRIM), focuses on Louisiana and New Orleans and their efforts to create a master plan for future events.

Oct 17

Coffee Hour with Amy Glasmeier | Baka’s research funded | Where the wild things are


Powell interviews friend

Bronwen Powell discusses dietary diversity and life in general with friend and research participant, Zaina Housseni, in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania in 2012. Photo: Keith Powell. Read more about Powell’s research in her faculty profile below.


Carolyn Fish received the Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Doctoral Scholarship.
Alumnus John Ingram (’71) is running for mayor of Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania.
Laura Clemente-Harding’s daughter, Lana Dorothy Virginia Harding, was born on September 29.


September 29 Coffee Hour with Amy Glasmeier: How Recessions, Job Loss, Permanent Unemployment and Social Stigma Brought Us Contemporary Populism
The sociologists have it right. The average American, lacking access to the American Dream is tired of sharing the fragile benefits of a weakened economy. From the 1970s onward, American manufacturing jobs experienced a steady decline in numbers being replaced by ever cheaper imports. New jobs called for different skills and too often no skill. Shunted aside, American workers faced few opportunities to regain employment in jobs paying a living wage. Changes in public policy— taxation, trade, and labor market regulation— further contributed to economic insecurity. In the USA, progressive policies hard won during past eras of political liberalism were susceptible to interest- group influence that shaped and reshaped the direction of government practices. The 1970s were an economic watershed. The combined forces of globalization and the consequences of technological change transformed the economies of countries around the world and the local communities within them.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

Baka awarded fellowship to study impact of petrochemical plant on community
Jennifer Baka, assistant professor in the department of geography, has been at Penn State for a little more than a year but she has a lifetime of experience assessing the implications of energy.

She grew up in a coal mining region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and watching the relationship a rural community has with a global enterprise factored into her choice to become an energy geographer. It’s a field that combines political and industrial ecology to look at how energy projects impact all segments of society.

[Editor’s note: The Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH Newsletter was published and mailed in August. We are placing the articles on the department website and will highlight this content during the fall. Want to get your copy in the mail? Send your postal address to geography@psu.edu]

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
She knows where the wild things are for dinner
Bronwen Powell joined Penn State in January 2016 as an assistant professor of geography and African studies. She joined Penn State after nearly four years as a postdoctoral researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research. Powell has spent a large portion of her career living and working in Africa, where she examines the social, cultural, and environmental determinants of human diet and nutrition.

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
How my capstone MGIS project evolved into a business venture
By Sarah Linden (’13g)
When most people think of geographic information systems (GIS), they think of maps. That’s not necessarily wrong; it’s just incomplete. My professional background demonstrates many commercial applications of GIS. Individuals using current technology also apply GIS in a number of ways on a daily or momentary basis: GIS is represented in the navigation on our phones; it largely powers our cars’ computers (and the future of autonomous driving); it helps us search for that best vacation spot; it even assists us with recommendations through our Facebook profiles. GIS is now a fundamental component of everyday life decisions, whether we notice it or not. GIS will inevitably become even more intimately involved in decision making and confer many benefits for individuals.


Collaborating remotely: an evaluation of immersive capabilities on spatial experiences and team membership
By Danielle Oprean, Mark Simpson, and Alex Klippel
In International Journal of Digital Earth
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17538947.2017.1381191
Today’s workforce environments are steadily becoming more distributed across the globe, calling for improved ways of facilitating collaborations at a distance, including geo-collaborations or collaborations at critical locations. Newer technology is allowing distributed teams to move away from traditional conference rooms, taking collaborations into the field and giving remote teams more information about the environment. This idea of situating a remote collaborator’s experiences in the field, virtually, promises to enhance the understanding of geographically remote spaces. Newer technologies in virtual reality (VR) hold promise for providing mobile spatial experiences in real-time, without being tied to fixed hardware, such as systems in conference rooms. An exploratory study using VR technology on remote user experiences in a collaboration was conducted to identify the added value for remote collaborators. The findings suggest immersive capabilities improve feelings of presence in the remote locations and perceptions of being in the remote location increase feelings of team membership.

Sep 17

Coffee Hour with Guido Cervone | New ENVI minor | GEOGRAPH highlights


dunes erosion and stable
The photo on the left shows the rapidly eroding sand dunes—essentially glacial till—near Eastham, Cape Cod, Mass. The houses are in an increasingly precarious position! On the right is a view of the coastal sand dunes near Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass, taken from the National Park visitor center. They are partly vegetated, and so are relatively stable (unlike the Eastham dunes). Photos: Andrew Carleton.


Penn State students, faculty and staff, as well as local community members (ages 18 and older) are encouraged to attend a free bike safety workshop on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 117 Weston Community Center at Penn State’s White Course Apartments.All participants must bring a bike and helmet to participate. Participants will receive a free pair of Penn State bike lights.

The AAG is currently seeking panelists, workshop facilitators, career mentors, and presenters encompassing a wide range of professional backgrounds, interests, and experiences to participate in careers and professional development outreach during the 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. To present in one of these sessions, please submit your abstract at annualmeeting.aag.org. When you receive confirmation of a successful abstract submission, please then forward this confirmation to: careers@aag.org. The abstract deadline is October 25, 2017.


September 29 Coffee Hour with Guido Cervone: Citizen Science During Nuclear Emergency: Analysis of The Fukushima-Dahichi Nuclear Accident
The 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident resulted in a series of controlled and accidental releases of radioactive Cesium in the environment. The citizen science Safecast project was started immediately after the accident to map radiation using off the shelf instruments, and generated over 60 million observations since April 2011. A robust methodology is presented to calibrate contributed Safecast radiation measurements acquired between 2011 and 2016 in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan. The Safecast data are calibrated using official observations acquired by the U.S. Department of Energy at the time of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant nuclear accident.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

Environmental Inquiry minor encourages environmental curiosity, literacy
Addressing environmental concerns, enriching a wide range of majors and making an impact in the community — those are some of the benefits the Environmental Inquiry (ENVI) minor offers, according to Larry Gorenflo, faculty-in-charge of ENVI and professor of landscape architecture and geography at Penn State. The minor recently launched a new website.

[Editor’s note: The Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH Newsletter was published and mailed in August. We are placed the articles on the department website and will highlight this content during the fall. Want to get your copy in the mail? Send your postal address to geography@psu.edu]

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
SWIG chapter promotes equity through outreach
Penn State’s chapter of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) recognizes the role of gender, sexuality, race, and class in the organization of our everyday lives and aims to promote and empower individuals within geography by offering a supportive network and opportunities to grow professionally, intellectually, and personally.

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
Community updates, departures and arrivals


Applying Critical Race And Memory Studies To University Place Naming Controversies: Toward A Responsible Landscape Policy
By Jordan Brasher, Derek H. Alderman, Joshua Inwood
Forthcoming in Papers In Applied Geography
Access http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpag20/current
A number of U.S. universities are embroiled in debates over the long-time commemoration and valorization of white supremacy through the campus landscape. Recognizing place naming as a legitimate political arena, activists have called for—and in some instances succeeded—in removing from university buildings the names of historical figures shrouded in racial controversy. However, for the broader public and even sympathetic higher education officials, there is a lack of understanding about why these demands are important and even less recognition about the violence that racially insensitive place naming inflicts on the belonging of marginalized groups. Instead, the renaming of campus landscapes is understood as merely an act of political correctness and thus campus authorities have offered uneven and incomplete solutions in the name of progressive reform. Applying recent innovations in race and memory studies, specifically the ideas of “wounded” places and “memory-work,” we situate ongoing university place naming controversies in a critical context. Specifically, we build upon the recent work of law scholar Stephen Clowney and discuss the opportunities and challenges of developing a policy of landscape fairness that recognizes the power of place to transmit ideas about racial power across generations and the right of critics to challenge dominant historical narratives.

Analysis of errors introduced by geographic coordinate systems on
weather numeric prediction modeling
By Yanni Cao, Guido Cervone, Zachary Barkley, Thomas Lauvaux, Aijun Deng, and Alan Taylor
In Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 3425–3440, 2017
Access https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-10-3425-2017
Most atmospheric models, including the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, use a spherical geographic coordinate system to internally represent input data and perform computations. However, most geographic information system (GIS) input data used by the models are based on a spheroid datum because it better represents the actual geometry of the earth. WRF and other atmospheric models use these GIS input layers as if they were in a spherical coordinate system without accounting for the difference in datum. When GIS layers are not properly reprojected, latitudinal errors of up to 21 km in the midlatitudes are introduced. Recent studies have suggested that for very high-resolution applications, the difference in datum in the GIS input data (e.g., terrain land use, orography) should be taken into account. However, the magnitude of errors introduced by the difference in coordinate systems remains unclear. This research quantifies the effect of using a spherical vs. a spheroid datum for the input GIS layers used by WRF to study greenhouse gas transport and dispersion in northeast Pennsylvania.

Developing and Evaluating VR Field Trips
By Oprean D., Wallgrün J.O., Pinto Duarte J.M., Verniz D., Zhao J., Klippel A.
In Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at the 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017)
Access https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63946-8_22
We present our work on creating and assessing virtual field trip experiences using different VR and AR setups. In comparative studies, we address the question of how different settings and technologies compare regarding their ability to convey different kinds of spatial information and to foster spatial learning. We focus on a case study on an informal settlement in Rio, Brazil, in which we used an informal assessment to help inform and improve the design of different VR site experiences.

Immersive Technologies and Experiences for Archaeological Site Exploration and Analysis
By Wallgrün J.O., Jiawei Huang, Jiayan Zhao, Claire Ebert, Paul Roddy, Jaime Awe, Tim Murtha, Alexander Klippel
In Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at the 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017)
Access  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-63946-8_48
Immersive technologies have the potential to significantly improve and disruptively change the future of education and research. The representational opportunities and characteristics of immersive technologies are so unique that only the recent development in mass access fostered by heavy industry investments will allow for a large-scale assessment of the prospects. To further our understanding, this paper describes a project that aims at creating a comprehensive suite of immersive applications for archeological sites, including 360∘ immersive tours, skywalks, and self-guided explorations for education, and immersive workbenches for researchers.


Sep 17

Coffee Hour with Don McCandless | EcoChallenge | Geospatial advisory board



The Sustainability Institute at Penn State is piloting a new program called EcoChallenge to choose actions to reduce your impact. You pick your own challenge and set a goal that stretches your comfort zone and makes a difference for you, your community, and the planet. Challenges encompass a variety of eco-issues such as waste, food, health, transportation, energy, water, and nature, and range in difficulty. For example, one challenge could be using a reusable water bottle each day, while another challenge could be carrying your trash that you accumulate throughout the duration of the challenge.


Azita Ranjbar successfully defended her dissertation on August 11, and has started a new faculty position as assistant professor of women gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State University

Lorraine Dowler and Azita Ranjbar just had an article accepted to the Annals of the Association of American Geographers titled, “Just Praxis in the City: Positive Security in Belfast and Orumiyeh.”

Kelsey Brain has been awarded a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship for her dissertation research in Costa Rica.

Mikael Hiestand and Andrew Yoder passed their FAA Section 107 Pilots exam this week and are now able to legally fly small unmanned systems under Section 107 rules.

The Penn State Critical Geographies Conference abstract deadline has been extended to Monday, September 25.


September 22 Coffee Hour with Don McCandless: Research to Start-Up: Initial steps to technology commercialization for Penn Staters
The thought of translating fundamental research into a commercial product can appear mysterious and daunting to many in the research and academic community. However, there is a process, with multiple pathways, that can be followed to increase the chances of success. These paths are lumpy, not linear. But by creating and investigating “Business Models” (not a “Business Plan”), researchers can get a better idea on whether there is actually a commercial need for their proposed product/service. This process is currently being implemented at the national level thru I-Corps programming at NSF and NIH, as well as by the 68 teams in the past five years in our TechCelerator@StateCollege Entrepreneurial boot camps. Today’s talk will outline several ways to get started, including an overview of licensing, funding options, prototyping, team formation, and customer discovery techniques.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

GEOGRAPH SU17: From the Department Head
(Your name here): Building community, supporting international travel, and celebrating excellence
A few times during the year, our college development folks email me about upcoming visits with alumni, and they ask me what our department funding priorities are. They might also ask what specific opportunities exist for someone with a special focus on x-y-z. So, as head, I need to think about our development priorities from two different points of view; first, what will strengthen and position the department overall for success, and second, what unique projects will appeal most to particular donors. I currently have four things on my general department funding wish list:

Penn State Online Geospatial Education advisory board meets
On Monday, August 28, the advisory board for the Penn State Online Geospatial Education program held its annual meeting. Each year, the board evaluates the MGIS degree and GIS, GEOINT, and Remote Sensing certificate programs. Members provide advice and insight on how we can continually refine our classes and programs to anticipate the needs of geospatial professionals and society. Members of the Advisory Board include senior leaders from Esri, CARTO, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, eMap International, 18F, and Azavea, as well as from academic units within and outside of Penn State. Several board members are alumni of the Department of Geography and our online programs, ensuring that we have the voices of our students as well as their potential employers in mind.

At the 2017 meeting, board members reviewed course content with faculty and made suggestions on how to build upon the program’s strengths. Engagement with the board enhances our ability to respond to continuing changes in the geospatial professional landscape. In the year ahead we will be redesigning our core GIS Certificate courses based in part on Advisory Board recommendations.


SensePlace3: a geovisual framework to analyze place–time–attribute information in social media
By Scott Pezanowski, Alan M MacEachren, Alexander Savelyev & Anthony C Robinson
In Cartography and Geographic Information Science
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15230406.2017.1370391
SensePlace3 (SP3) is a geovisual analytics framework and web application that supports overview + detail analysis of social media, focusing on extracting meaningful information from the Twitterverse. SP3 leverages social media related to crisis events. It differs from most existing systems by enabling an analyst to obtain place-relevant information from tweets that have implicit as well as explicit geography. Specifically, SP3 includes not just the ability to utilize the explicit geography of geolocated tweets but also analyze implicit geography by recognizing and geolocating references in both tweet text, which indicates locations tweeted about, and in Twitter profiles, which indicates locations affiliated with users. Key features of SP3 reported here include flexible search and filtering capabilities to support information foraging; an ingest, processing, and indexing pipeline that produces near real-time access for big streaming data; and a novel strategy for implementing a web-based multi-view visual interface with dynamic linking of entities across views. The SP3 system architecture was designed to support crisis management applications, but its design flexibility makes it easily adaptable to other domains. We also report on a user study that provided input to SP3 interface design and suggests next steps for effective spatiotemporal analytics using social media sources.

GeoCorpora: building a corpus to test and train microblog geoparsers
By Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Morteza Karimzadeh, Alan M. MacEachren & Scott Pezanowski
In International Journal of Geographical Information Science
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13658816.2017.1368523
In this article, we present the GeoCorpora corpus building framework and software tools as well as a geo-annotated Twitter corpus built with these tools to foster research and development in the areas of microblog/Twitter geoparsing and geographic information retrieval. The developed framework employs crowdsourcing and geovisual analytics to support the construction of large corpora of text in which the mentioned location entities are identified and geolocated to toponyms in existing geographical gazetteers. We describe how the approach has been applied to build a corpus of geo-annotated tweets that will be made freely available to the research community alongside this article to support the evaluation, comparison and training of geoparsers. Additionally, we report lessons learned related to corpus construction for geoparsing as well as insights about the notions of place and natural spatial language that we derive from application of the framework to building this corpus.

ChoroPhronesis papers accepted to the Immersive Analytics 2017 workshop at IEEE VIS conference

Two ChoroPhronesis papers have been accepted to the Immersive Analytics 2017 workshop at IEEE VIS conference in Phoenix, Arizona on October 1st! These are peer-reviewed conference papers, and we will update with the DOI’s once they are assigned.

The first paper is “Take a Walk: Evaluating Movement Types for Data Visualization in Immersive Virtual Reality” by Mark Simpson, Jiayan Zhao, and Alexander Klippel, which concerns a pilot experiment testing the effect different types of movement in virtual environments on interpreting 3D data visualizations. Mark will be presenting the paper at the workshop in person.

The second paper, “Immersive Applications for Informal and Interactive Learning
for Earth Sciences” by Arif Marsur, Jiayan Zhao, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Peter LaFemina, and Alexander Klippel discusses their work on an iVR tool which lets users explore databases by interacting with 3D models and 360 images in a virtual or augmented reality environment. They were accepted into the poster presentation track

Sep 17

Coffee Hour with Hari Osofsky | Geospatial student profile | Using VR to explore favela solutions


Online Geospatial Program advisory board

Penn State’s Online Geospatial Education Advisory Board met at The Nittany Lion Inn on August 28. The board provides an annual evaluation of the MGIS degree and our geospatial education certificate programs. The Advisory Board also provides strategic advice on how the programs can best respond to the needs of geospatial professionals and society.


 Theodore Henry Baka Lewellen

  • Jennifer Baka’s son, Theodore Henry Baka Lewellen, pictured at right, was born on September 7.
  • Sam Stehle successfully defended his dissertation on August 17. He started his post-doc at Maynooth University near Dublin, Ireland.
  • Alumnus Mark Read assumed duties as the Head of the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, one of the 13 academic departments here at the U.S. Military Academy.
  • Cindy Zook will be at Pop Up Ave on Saturday, September 23, selling her handmade Goat’s Milk Soap, Super Concentrated Body Butter, and a few Fair Trade African Baskets.
  • DigitalGlobe, is providing free before/after satellite imagery of areas affected by Hurricane Irma/Jose, from the eastern Caribbean through South Carolina. They have posted the before imagery already, and you can get updates here: https://www.digitalglobe.com/opendata/hurricane-irma/pre-event. Digital Globe is also sponsoring a crowdsourcing imagery analysis and mapping effort to support recovery from Hurricane Harvey. You can access that program here: http://www.tomnod.com/


September 8 Coffee Hour with Hari Osofsky, Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs, Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of International Affairs, and Professor of Geography

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Next week: Don McCandless, Director, Business Development, Ben Franklin Transformation Services

Online Geospatial Education Student Focus: Augustus Wright
We enjoy hearing from our talented students in the Penn State Online Geospatial Program, especially about what they have learned from our classes and how they plan to apply their certificate/degree.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Augustus Wright, from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, entered our program in 2015 and just earned his MGIS degree this past Spring. For his capstone project, he studied machine learning algorithms and their applications to geospatial technology (a more detailed summary of his project is at the end of this note).
Chief Wright has served three combat deployments to Iraq and earned two Bronze Star Medals, among several other awards. We are proud of him and all of the veteran and current military students in our program.

Flying down to Rio
Students use digital technology to explore design solutions for Brazilian favela
As the world’s population grows, so does the problem of affordable housing. In some rapidly growing urban areas, particularly in developing countries, the only recourse is to build your own.

The informal settlements that pop up on the edges of many modern cities are often derided as problem areas or slums, ramshackle neighborhoods beset with sanitation issues and crime. To Jose Duarte, however, they are “not a problem to be solved, but a solution that has some problems.”

Brooks elected Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists
Robert Brooks, Ruby S. and E. Willard Miller Professor of Geography and Ecology and director of Riparia, was elected a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists, the society’s highest honor, during a ceremony in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in June.

Brooks is a nationally recognized leader in wetland science and policy with more than 35 years of experience in education and research related to inland freshwater wetlands and riverine ecosystems.


A regional assessment of white-tailed deer effects on plant invasion
By KM Averill, DA Mortensen, EAH Smithwick, S Kalisz, and others
In Annals of Botany Plants, 2017
Access: doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plx047
Herbivores can profoundly influence plant species assembly, including plant invasion, and resulting community composition. Population increases of native herbivores, e.g., white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), combined with burgeoning plant invasions raise concerns for native plant diversity and forest regeneration. While individual researchers typically test for the impact of deer on plant invasion at a few sites, the overarching influence of deer on plant invasion across regional scales is unclear. We tested the effects of deer on the abundance and diversity of introduced and native herbaceous and woody plants across 23 white-tailed deer research sites distributed across the east central and northeastern United States and representing a wide range of deer densities and invasive plant abundance and identity.

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