Feb 18

Coffee hour with Lorraine Dowler and Jenna Christian | Google internship | Geographers get IEE grants


mystery photo

A mystery photo from Rob Brooks. Do you know what this is? If so, send your guess to geography@psu.edu by 5:00 p.m., February 20.


  • William Easterling III, professor of geography and former dean of EMS, has been elected 2018 Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
  • Eden Kinkaid has had an article accepted for publication in GeoHumanities. The title of the article is “Envisioning otherwise: Queering visuality and space in Lefebvre’s Production of Space.”
  • Eden Kinkaid and Lise Nelson have a book chapter forthcoming in The Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies. The chapter is entitled “On the subject of performativity: Judith Butler’s influence in geography.”
  • The GIS Coalition will meet—starting today— on the third Wednesday of each month, 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. in 229 Walker Building.
  • SWIG is now accepting nominations for the Nancy Brown Geography Community Service Award. The award recognizes students who are involved in service in the department and the community, particularly in ways that go unrecognized while students complete their degrees. Email nominations by Friday, March 2 to LUF7@psu.edu.


Coffee Hour with Lorraine Dowler and Jenna Christian: Landscapes of Impunity and the Deaths of LaVena Johnson and Sandra Bland
On July 19, 2005, Army Private First Class Lavena Johnson died in Balad, Iraq, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. On July 13, 2015, almost twenty years later, twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland’s life came to an abrupt end in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. Both women’s deaths were ruled suicides, and both women’s families and friends reject these judgments. Instead, the they insinuate foul play by the state, which directly governed the militarized spaces within which the women both died. At first glance, these women appear to have had very different life trajectories, one a United States soldier and the other a Black Lives Matter activist. However, in both of their cases, the ruling of the suspicious deaths as suicides illustrates the state’s attempt to render their deaths banal, and thereby diminish the state’s own culpability in producing both the shocking, immediate deadly outcomes, as well as the slower undergirding conditions of racial and gendered violence that made their deaths possible. In examining the relationship between the highly visible, rapidness of violent death and other overlooked, routine forms of state violence, this paper proposes new directions for political geography’s engagement with critical geographic insights of relationality and describes how, as feminist geographers, we can contribute to a more robust understanding of care’s political possibilities. Specifically, in understanding the unremitting acts of violence, on women’s bodies, especially women of color, this talk focuses on the interdependent nature of care and vulnerability.

  • 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.
  • Coffee Hour To Go webcast


Graduate student leverages geography, coding skills to land Google internship
Like many geography students, Xi Liu has a strong interest in mapping and using geographical data to solve problems. So when he saw an opportunity to work for Google on a project that involved geographical data analysis, he wasted no time in applying.

Liu, a doctoral student in geography, was accepted into a highly competitive software engineering internship program in Google’s Seattle office during the summer of 2017, and the experience showed him just how integral geographic data are for the industry giant’s products and services.

Interdisciplinary projects awarded seed grants from IEE
Several geographers are recipients
The 2017–18 Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) seed grant recipients have recently been awarded to 16 groups of interdisciplinary researchers at Penn State.

IEE established the Seed Grant Program in 2013 to foster basic and applied research addressing four of IEE’s five research themes: Climate and Ecosystem Change, Future Energy Supply, Smart Energy Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles. The fifth, Human Health and the Environment, has a separate call for proposals and these grants will be awarded later in the year.

from Trajectory Magazine
Individual Core Geospatial Knowledge in the U.S.
The geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) discipline has arrived at an inflection point where its teaching methods must be changed. Adaptive learning can improve the learning of core geospatial knowledge which is essential for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with the work of humans. With increasing amounts of geospatial and imagery data, organizations may leverage AI in the image and data processing environment and then rely on the cognitive capabilities of GEOINT analysts to perform geospatial analysis and problem-solving. Compared to the United Kingdom, the United States GEOINT Community contains a pool of talent with widely varied education and backgrounds. UK education focuses more on essential core geospatial knowledge, thus new prospective students may see GEOINT as a career path earlier on. In the U.S., students may not be aware of GEOINT until discovered through military service or later in their career path.

PennDOT Begins Process to Update Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, Seeks Public Feedback
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, (PennDOT) today announced that it has begun the process of updating the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and is inviting the public to weigh in through an online survey.

The plan, last updated in 2007, will outline a vision and framework for improving conditions for walking and bicycling across Pennsylvania, especially for those Pennsylvanians who walk and bicycle out of necessity rather than for leisure and recreation.

Over the next 18 months, PennDOT will use the project website to provide information on the department’s progress. The community survey also will be accessible on the site and will play a critical role in understanding the current issues and challenges facing people who walk and bike across Pennsylvania.


Against the Evils of Democracy: Fighting Forced Disappearance and Neoliberal Terror in Mexico
Melissa W. Wright
Annals of the American Association of Geographers Vol. 108, Iss. 2, 2018
Pages: 327-336 | DOI: 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.

Praxis in the City: Care and (Re)Injury in Belfast and Orumiyeh
Lorraine Dowler & A. Marie Ranjbar
Annals of the American Association of Geographers Vol. 108, Iss. 2, 2018
Pages: 434-444 | DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1392843
This article builds on the geographic literature of nonviolence with the feminist literature of care ethics and positive security to explore the potential for a praxis that promotes relational urban social justice. We examine two cities—Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Orumiyeh, Iran—that have historically endured political struggles that continue to undermine the quality of urban life. We analyze vulnerability to political, environmental, and infrastructural violence in these two urban landscapes with an eye toward “just praxis” and “positive security,” as we outline the ways in which Belfast and Orumiyeh are reinjured by institutional practices that purportedly seek urban social justice. First, we argue for the importance of care praxis in the light of the entanglement of a murder investigation with the Boston College oral history program “The Belfast Project,” which recorded testimony from former and current members of paramilitary groups. Second, we examine an environmental justice movement in Orumiyeh, where activists navigate a contested political terrain shaped by state violence toward ethnic minorities and punitive economic sanctions from the international community.


Feb 18

Coffee hour with Dennis Whigham | ICS workshops | MGIS alum at Olympics


splinter Valentines Day

Splinter, a beaver and unofficial mascot of Riparia, and the fabulous Miss Squirrel are dressed up for Valentine’s Day to show their love of wetlands.


• MGIS student Nate Wanner published his capstone project in The Ohio Journal of Science. “Background Concentrations of Arsenic in Ohio Soils: Sources and Influencing Factors”
Angela Rogers was admitted into the doctoral program in Workforce Education and Development at Penn State starting fall 2018.


Coffee Hour: with Dennis Whigham: Linking watersheds, wetlands, headwater streams and juvenile salmon—Kenai Lowlands, Alaska
Alaska is known for salmon and the linkage between returning salmon and nutrients cycling in streams and riparian habitats has been demonstrated and is known as “marine derived nutrients.” This interdisciplinary project focusses on linkages between watersheds and first order streams that are upstream of the areas influenced by returning salmon carcasses.

  • 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.
  •  Due to a technical problem, last week’s Coffee Hour was not recorded. A Mediasite link will be shared when the problem is resolved and we can again record and webcast the lecture.


Institute for CyberScience to hold data visualization workshops
The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) will be holding a series of monthly workshops on creating static and interactive data visualizations. The first workshop will be held at 4–5:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 in 101 Althouse Laboratory.

These free workshops are open to researchers and students who wish to create their own graphics from a variety of data sources. Discussions will typically focus on making projects with D3.js, an open-source JavaScript library for data visualization, or general best practices in visualization design.

Penn State alumnus to help oversee athlete, visitor safety during Olympics
A Penn State World Campus alumnus will head to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, this month to help oversee the safety of athletes, spectators and visitors.

Parrish Henderson is the lead of the FBI’s geospatial team, which will provide real-time situation awareness using mapping and other interactive tools.


The potential contributions of geographic information science to the study of social determinants of health in Iran
Hamidreza Rabiei-Dastjerdi, Stephen A Matthews
Journal of Education and Health Promotion
DOI: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_106_17
Recent interest in the social determinants of health (SDOH) and the effects of neighborhood contexts on individual health and well-being has grown exponentially. In this brief communication, we describe recent developments in both analytical perspectives and methods that have opened up new opportunities for researchers interested in exploring neighborhoods and health research within a SDOH framework. We focus specifically on recent advances in geographic information science, statistical methods, and spatial analytical tools. We close with a discussion of how these recent developments have the potential to enhance SDOH research in Iran.

Feb 18

Coffee hour with Jacob Chakareski | Map sessions at Libraries | Baka talks frack

safecast DOE radiation maps

Carolynne Hultquist and Guideo Cervone created these maps showing the radiation measurements collected by citizens (via Safecast) and by the U. S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration after the March 2011 Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. Safecast is a volunteered geographic information (VGI) project where the lay public uses hand-held and hand-assembled sensors to collect radiation measurements. The study found that the two data sets were highly correlated, and this high correlation makes Safecast a viable data source for detecting and monitoring radiation. Read more.


  • Today—Jennifer Baka presents “Knowledge Cartographies: Evaluating Competing Knowledge Discourses in the U.S. Hydraulic Fracturing Rulemaking” at 4:00 p.m. in 022 Deike Building. A pre-talk coffee & cookies speaker reception takes place at 3:45 in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike Building.
  • Alex Klippel and Ping Li (Department of Psychology) are participating in a new project, “Language Training in a Virtual World,” funded by the Swedish Research Council. Alex is looking forward to more visits to the old world.
  • February 2 was World Wetlands Day http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/


Coffee Hour: Jacob Chakareski “Drone IoT Networks for Virtual Human Teleportation”
Cyber‐physical/human systems (CPS/CHS) are set to play an increasingly visible role in our lives, advancing research and technology across diverse disciplines. I am exploring novel synergies between three emerging CPS/CHS technologies of prospectively broad societal impact, virtual/augmented reality(VR/AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous micro‐aerial robots (UAVs). My long‐term research objective is UAV‐IoT‐deployed ubiquitous VR/AR immersive communication that can enable virtual human teleportation to any corner of the world. Thereby, we can achieve a broad range of technological and societal advances that will enhance energy conservation, quality of life, and the global economy.


University Libraries offer maps and geospatial information sessions in February
On Wednesdays this February, and one in March, Penn State University Libraries will offer informational sessions relating to foundational map and geospatial topics. The sessions, which do not require registration, are open to all Penn State students, staff, faculty and visitors, and remote viewing is available online using Zoom. In addition, one-on-one map and geospatial research consultations are available through the Penn State Libraries Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information.

Data driven dialogue: Scientists bring groups together on water quality concerns
It’s been a decade since the start of the Marcellus Shale gas boom in Pennsylvania, and today more than 10,000 unconventional gas wells dot the state’s hills and valleys.

The industry’s rapid development created economic opportunities for many, but also brought environmental concerns, and sometimes led to contentious conversations.


“It is the innocence which constitutes the crime”: Political geographies of white supremacy, the construction of white innocence, and the Flint water crisis.
Inwood J.F.J.
Geography Compass. 2018;e12361.
Using the Flint, Michigan water crisis as a backdrop, this review piece explores the concept of white innocence. The concept of white innocence presents us with an analytic tool to understand the frustrating endurance of white supremacy within the U.S. settler state and how white supremacy operates through a range of geographically grounded practices. This paper makes an explicit link between work on settler colonialism and white innocence outlining how the burgeoning work on settler societies opens space to a productive engagement with the concept of innocence. I contend that white innocence as a concept needs to be more fully grounded in work that engages with settler colonialism and within the United States specifically. White innocence also inculcates the agency of whites in a society that is built through the explicit exploitation of persons of color as well as the way white institutions continue to expose persons of color to a range of negative impacts. This paper begins with a review of the literature on whiteness within geographic research. The last several years has seen a series of important interventions in the literature and geographers are increasingly turning to the concept of white supremacy to explain racism in 21st century U.S. society.

Jan 18

Geographer in new FEMA job | Sea level rise in two bays


birthday balloons
Balloon mystery: In recognition of Guido Cervone’s birthday, some person or persons decorated his office over the weekend. Each balloon encloses a couple of small puzzle pieces.


  • After nearly eight years with Esri, alumnus Mark Smithgall, (’09) started a new position as a GIS Administrator for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
  • E.-K. Kim successfully defended her dissertation in fall 2017, and starts her postdoc at University of Zurich, Switzerland in spring 2018.
  • Adrienne Kramer (nee Tucker) passed her doctoral dissertation defense on December 18; she has just accepted a new job as Senior GIS Analyst at the International Association of Fire Fighters
  • Graduate student award deadline: Nominations for the department’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award are due to csfowler@psu.edu by February 1.


We’re still brewing Coffee Hour for this week.  An announcement will come soon.  In the meantime, check out the rest of the spring semester schedule: http://www.geog.psu.edu/news/coffee-hour. And remember, if you missed a talk, you can view the video on Mediasite.


Doctoral student melds passions for science, helping others in FEMA job
Geography doctoral student Adrienne Kramer has always wanted to help people, and her first job out of college is letting her do this for potentially millions of people affected by hurricanes, flooding and other disasters. As an emergency management specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), Kramer is able to apply her geography skills to build maps, analytical tools and other resources to help the agency improve its response and recovery operations.

Century of data shows sea-level rise shifting tides in Delaware, Chesapeake bays
The warming climate is expected to affect coastal regions worldwide as glaciers and ice sheets melt, raising sea level globally. For the first time, an international team has found evidence of how sea-level rise already is affecting high and low tides in both the Chesapeake and Delaware bays, two large estuaries of the eastern United States.


Enhancing the temporal resolution of satellite-based flood extent generation using crowdsourced data for disaster monitoring
Panteras, G., Cervone, G.
International Journal of Remote Sensing, Volume 39(5), 2018.

Damage assessment of the urban environment during disasters using volunteered geographic information
Hultquist, C., Sava, E., Cervone, G., Waters, N.
In: L. Shintler and Z. Chen (Eds.), Big Data for Regional Science. CRC Press, ch 18. 2017.

Quantifying methane emissions from natural gas production in north-eastern Pennsylvania
Barkley, Z.R., Lauvaux, T., Davis, K.J., Deng, A., Miles, N.L., Richardson, S.J., Cao, Y., Sweeney, C., Karion, A., Smith, M. and Kort, E.A.
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 17(22), p.13941, 2017

Analysis of errors introduced by geographic coordinate systems on weather numeric prediction modeling
Cao, Y., Cervone, G., Barkley, Z., Lauvaux, T., Deng, A., Taylor, A.
Geoscientific Model Development. Volume 10, 2017, pp. 3425–3440. https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-10-3425-2017.

A cloud-enabled automatic disaster analysis system of multi-sourced data streams: An example synthesizing social media, remote sensing and Wikipedia data
Huang, Q., Cervone, G., Zhang, G. Computers,
Environment and Urban Systems, Volume 66, 2017, pp. 23-37, ISSN 0198-9715, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2017.06.004. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0198971517303216)

Jan 18

Coffee Hour with Alan Taylor | Brooks to retire | How GEOlab tackles big data


Naples at night

Naples at Night: Crew aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the city lights of Naples and the Campania region of southern Italy. The Naples region is one of the brightest in the country; roughly three million people live in and around this metropolitan area. The different colors of lights in the scene reflect some of the history of development in the area. The green lights are mercury vapor bulbs, an older variety that has been replaced in newer developments by orange sodium bulbs (yellow-orange). To the northeast, the lightless gaps between the homes and businesses are agricultural fields. The bright yellow-orange complex amidst the fields is the CIS emporium, the largest commercial retail facility in Europe. The large black circular area in the photo is Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on Europe’s mainland. Image Credit: NASA


  • Robert Brooks announced that after 38 years of service at Penn State (25 years as founder and director of Riparia, and 15 years in geography) he will be retiring from active service at the end of August.
  • Scholarships are available for geospatial students through the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) EnerGIS Conference. Applications are available via the EnerGIS Website.
  • Alumni and current Esri staffers Jena DiFrisco (’16) and Ben Levine (’14), along with geographer/recruiter Nick Kelch, will be visiting campus Feb. 5-7 for the career fair and interviews, as well as an info session and professional development discussion held in the Department of Geography.
  • Lise Nelson was selected as a Resident Fellow for the Humanities Institute at Penn State for Fall 2018 and authored “Farm labor, immigration, and race” a chapter in the textbook “Food and Place: A Critical Introduction,” just published Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Russell Hedberg accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in sustainability with the department of geography-earth sciences at Shippensburg University, where he will also be serving as the university sustainability coordinator.
  • Stephen Matthews was recently appointed Liberal Arts Professor.


Coffee Hour with Alan Taylor: Humans modulate fire regimes, forest characteristics, and fire-climate relationships in California montane forests, USA
Climate change is predicted to increase future fire activity and trigger fire regimes shifts in western USA forests but predictions are uncertain because human activity can modulate or even override climatic effects on fire activity. This talk highlights the effects of changing socio-ecological systems on fire regime characteristics and fire-climate relationships in pine dominated forests in California. Fire regimes and forest conditions are quantified for a five century period to characterize variability in human-fire-forest-climate dynamics. A study landscape burned in 2013 providing a ‘natural experiment’ to determine if fire severity would increase as predicted by the human fire exclusion-forest thickening vegetation change model for these forests. A statistical model using daily area burned, daily fire weather, and fuels and vegetation data from the pre fire exclusion and contemporary forest were used to identify controls on fire severity. Topography, tree species composition, and cover of forbs and shrubs, best explained fire severity.


Rome wins poster contest for Alaska research; library adds to prizes
During a 2017 educational-based trip to Alaska that was focused on glacial systems, Courtney Rome began studying something that wasn’t on the syllabus.

Rome, a senior majoring in geography at Penn State, noticed that natives had a much different approach to grocery shopping than she was used to. Residents facing much higher prices for produce and other items at the grocery store than residents of the lower 48 states were opting instead to take larger roles in procuring their own food outside of the grocery store.

GEOlab researchers shaping future of energy, disaster forecasting
Never has the world been better positioned to predict and respond to natural disasters. The stream of data at our fingertips is seemingly endless.

But the size of this mounting trove of information in itself poses a problem. For example, running flood calculations for a city facing heavy rains using a century of data is highly accurate. But the calculation is useless if it takes days or weeks to compute.


Agenda-Setting at the Energy-Water Nexus: Constructing and Maintaining a Policy Monopoly in US Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation
Authors, Jennifer Baka, Kate J. Neville, Karen Bakker, Erika Weinthal
Forthcoming, Review of Policy Research
Despite calls to increase federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing (HF), the US Congress has maintained a regulatory system in which environmental regulatory authority is devolved to the states. We argue that this system is characterized by a long-standing “policy monopoly”: a form of stability in policy agenda-setting in which a specific manner of framing and regulating a policy issue becomes hegemonic. Integrating theories on agenda-setting and environmental discourse analysis, we develop a nuanced conceptualization of policy monopoly that emphasizes the significance of regulatory history, public perceptions, industry-government relations and environmental “storylines”. We evaluate how a policy monopoly in US HF regulation has been constructed and maintained through a historical analysis of oil and gas regulation and a discourse analysis of 11 select congressional energy committee hearings. This research extends scholarship on agenda-setting by better illuminating the importance of political economic and geographic factors shaping regulatory agendas and outcomes.

All U.S. states are becoming more racially diverse… for now
Barrett A. Lee, Michael J.R. Martin, Stephen A. Matthews, Chad R. Farrell
Universal patterns or trends are rare in demographic research. Yet we have uncovered one: since 1980, all 50 U.S. states have become more ethnically and racially diverse (Lee et al. 2017). Such a finding may not seem surprising given that it mirrors the direction headed by the nation as a whole. Immigration, youthful age structures, and higher fertility have contributed to minority population growth, especially among Hispanics and Asians (Lichter 2013). Diversity has also been boosted by intermarriage (which produces multiracial offspring) and changes in racial self-identification. The operation of these mechanisms, coupled with a shrinking share of whites, is turning America into a rainbow-hued society. Without exception, states have followed suit.

Jan 18

Coffee Hour with Richard Schroeder | MLK Day reflections | Climate change ethics course


low severity burn

The image above is of a low severity fire, the kind that can limit the severity of subsequent fires, according to research completed by Alan Taylor and Lucas Harris. As the Coffee Hour speaker on January 26, Taylor will talk about that research.



Coffee Hour: Richard Schroeder “Ode to the Extreme Huntress”
This presentation explores the emergence of trophy hunting as a new and embattled frontier in the culture wars surrounding notions of women’s rights and gender equity. The analysis centers on three specific domains: 1) video campaign materials produced by the National Rifle Association to encourage firearm use in general and hunting in particular among women (“Love at First Shot”; “Armed and Fabulous”); 2) an international hunting competition that bestows the title “Extreme Huntress” on its champion each year; and 3) a group of increasingly high profile celebrity women trophy hunters, including “Winchester Deadly Passion” reality TV star Melissa Bachman, “Extreme Huntress” winner Rebecca Francis, and Jen “The Archer” Cordero, among others. In each of these settings, I analyze the seemingly contradictory ways women have come to identify and express themselves as hunters, and how these complex modes of self-identification complicate our understanding of the act of hunting writ large.


New course to examine science, policy and ethics surrounding climate change
“Ethics of Climate Change” (Global Health/Religious Studies/Philosophy/Meteorology 133), a new interdomain course being offered at University Park this spring, seeks to introduce students to the science, policy and ethics of climate change so they can develop an understanding of its implications on the biosphere and human civilization.

Institute for CyberScience names spring 2018 distinguished visiting researchers
The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) will bring two acclaimed researchers to Penn State in spring 2018 through the ICS Distinguished Visiting Researcher Program. The program provides funding for accomplished scholars in computational science fields to visit, deliver seminars, meet students, and discuss potential collaborations with Penn State faculty.

Jan 18

Coffee Hour begins January 19 | Safe spaces at AAG | Online grads on campus


online grads at Dutton fall 2017Online Geospatial Program students and their families gathered for a reception at the Dutton Institute before attending the fall 2017 Commencement. For most, it was their first time setting foot on campus and meeting their instructors face-to-face. Graduating students are pictured. Front row left to right: Pamela Kanu, Ginger Anderson, Jaclyn Meade Cardillo, Ben Ogle, Angelo Podagrosi. Back row left to right: Jackie Silber, Tim Naegeli, Nate Roberts, Doug Sexton.


  • Anthony Robinson was featured in a College of EMS Twitter faculty video over the winter break.
  • Mallory Henig (’12) will be starting a career with Conservation International at their headquarters in Arlington, VA as a Development Coordinator. “I would also like thank Denice Wardrop and Joe Bishop for taking me to Peru and the Amazonia in 2011. Their faculty-led study abroad experience really helped me understand the importance of the natural environment around the world, and I do believe that firsthand experience assisted me and getting this new career opportunity.”
  • Weiming Hu was elected to fill the grad rep position fall and spring 2018.


The opening Coffee Hour for the spring 2018 semester will be January 19, 2018. The speaker will be Richard Schroeder. His talk is titled, “Ode to the Extreme Huntress.”


Creating Safe Spaces at AAG Meetings for All
Derek Alderman with Lorraine Dowler
Hollywood, The Hill, and the nation’s newsrooms have been exposed as spaces of sexual harassment, misconduct, and even assault. Yet, sexual harassment and discrimination are neither unique nor new to these highly public industries and this misconduct is unfortunately common to most workplaces. Indeed, conservative estimates suggest that 60% of all women have been victims of sexual harassment while a Harvard study found that number to be almost 90 percent for women ages 18 to 25.

From Coal Town to Trail Town
There’s a national story line about parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania that goes like this: as the steel and coal industries fade, small towns here are literally dying out. Young people move away because there’s a lack of jobs. But for the past twenty years, some entrepreneurs have quietly been working on a different narrative — one that harnesses the region’s natural beauty to build the economy. And their slow climb is starting to bear real fruit.


Health-environment futures: Complexity, uncertainty, and bodies
Nari Senanayake, Brian King
Progress in Human Geography
First Published December 27, 2017
The relationships between human health and the environment have captivated scholarly attention across a number of disciplinary and policy domains. This article reviews emerging health-environment research, which we categorize into three themes: complexity, uncertainty, and bodies. Although there have been robust contributions to these thematic areas from geography and the social sciences, we argue that integrating them into an analytical framework can extend geographic perspectives on scale, knowledge production, and human-environment relations, while also incorporating valuable insights from cognate fields. We conclude by reflecting on the normative contributions of this framework for research and policy.

Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in Temperate Forest Areas: New Measures of Exposure, Sensitivity, and Adaptive Capacity
Alexandra Paige Fischer & Tim G. Frazier
Annals of the American Association of Geographers Vol. 0 , Iss. 0,0
Human communities in forested areas that are expected to experience climate-related changes have received little attention in the scholarly literature on vulnerability assessment. Many communities rely on forest ecosystems to support their social and economic livelihoods. Climate change could alter these ecosystems. We developed a framework that measures social vulnerability to slow-onset climate-related changes in forest ecosystems. We focused on temperate forests because this biome is expected to experience dramatic change in the coming years, with adverse effects for humans. We advance climate change vulnerability science by making improvements to measures of exposure and sensitivity and by incorporating a measure of adaptive capacity. We improved on other methods of assessing exposure by incorporating climate change model projections and thus a temporal perspective. We improved on other methods of assessing sensitivity by incorporating a variable representing interdependency between human populations and forests. We incorporated a measure of adaptive capacity to account for ways socioeconomic conditions might mitigate exposure and sensitivity. Our geographic focus was the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We found that fifteen of the region’s seventy-five counties were highly vulnerable to climate-related changes due to some combination of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Nine counties were highly vulnerable because they ranked very high in terms of exposure and sensitivity and very low in terms of adaptive capacity. The framework we developed could be useful for investigations of vulnerability to climate change in other forested contexts and in other ecological contexts where slow-onset changes might be expected under future climate conditions.

Dec 17

Previous burns and fire severity | Assessing water quality on Susquehanna



Undergraduate students who participated in fall 2017 UROC projects answer audience questions at the end of the final fall 2017 semester Coffee Hour.


This is the last DoG enews for fall semester 2017. DoG enews will return January 9, 2018. Send your good news, updates, publications, and photos from field work and travel to geography@psu.edu.
• Online Geospatial alumnus Loren Pfau (’13g) and Justine Blanford have published, “Use of geospatial data and technology for wilderness search and rescue by non-profit organizations in The Professional Geographer.
Carolynne Hultquist successfully passed her doctoral comprehensive exams.
• A multi-disciplinary research team, led by Alexander Klippel received one of ten seed grants to pilot programs that support Penn State’s 2016–2020 Strategic Plan for his proposal, “Digital Innovation through Immersive Technologies: Establishing New Paradigms for Environmental Decision Support.”
Zach Goldberg received a research grant from the Africana Research Center for his project, “Organic Certification of Fig Production in Ouezzane Province, Morocco: Assessing Social and Cultural Impact.”
• The PAC Herbarium is looking for two interns during spring 2018. Interns will assist the Curator with imaging and databasing plant specimens as part of the Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis Project (MAM). Interested students should contact Sarah Chamberlain, Curator, at sjm20@psu.edu. What is the PAC Herbarium


Controlled burns limited severity of Rim Fire
Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California’s largest wildfires, according to Penn State geographers.

The researchers studying the Rim Fire, which in 2013 burned nearly 400 square miles of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, found the blaze was less severe in areas recently treated with controlled burns. See the research paper below.

Citizen scientists to help researchers gauge Susquehanna water quality
Using a network of up to 60 citizen scientists, a team of Penn State researchers will assess the levels of endocrine-disrupting compounds in the Susquehanna River next year, and in turn empower those volunteers to become part of the solution to water-quality problems related to emerging contaminants.


Previous burns and topography limit and reinforce fire severity in a large wildfire
By Harris, L., and A. H. Taylor
In Ecosphere 8(11)
Access DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2019
In fire-prone forests, self-reinforcing fire behavior may generate a mosaic of vegetation types and structures. In forests long subject to fire exclusion, such feedbacks may result in forest loss when surface and canopy fuel accumulations lead to unusually severe fires. We examined drivers of fire severity in one large (>1000 km2) wildfire in the western United States, the Rim Fire in the Sierra Nevada, California, and how it was influenced by severity of 21 previous fires to examine the influences on (1) the severity of the first fire since 1984 and (2) reburn severity. The random forest machine-learning statistical model was used to predict satellite-derived fire severity classes from geospatial datasets of fire history, topographic setting, weather, and vegetation type. Topography and inferred weather were the most important variables influencing the previous burn. Previous fire severity was the most important factor influencing reburn severity, and areas tended to reburn at the same severity class as the previous burn.

The political and social ecologies of energy, chapter
By Karl S. Zimmerer
In Handbook on the Geographies of Energy. eds. Barry D. Solomon and Kirby E. Calvert
Access: https://books.google.com/books?id=LupBDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Political-industrial ecologies of energy, chapter
By Jennifer E. Baka
In Handbook on the Geographies of Energy. eds. Barry D. Solomon and Kirby E. Calvert
Access: https://books.google.com/books?id=LupBDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Dec 17

Coffee Hour features UROC lightening talks | Apply now for spring 2018 UROC projects


5 dimentions of food acquisitionA portion of Courtney Rome’s research poster, “Food for Thought: Differences of Geographic Food Habits between Alaska and the Lower 48,” which won first place at the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences Undergraduate Poster Exhibition, held November 29, 2017.


Jiayan Zhao, Jiawei Huang, and Mark Simpson passed their candidacy exams.
Brian King published op-ed “Ending HIV While Isolation and Stigma Endure” in recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2017, in HIVPlusmag.com
Courtney Rome won first place in the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences Undergraduate Poster Exhibition with her poster, “Food for Thought: Differences of Geographic Food Habits between Alaska and the Lower 48” —Project advisers: Michael Nassry and Denice Wardrop
Luba Hristova, Danielle Ruffe, and Sabrina Yu Zhong won third place in the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences Undergraduate Poster Exhibition with their poster, “Fresno, California: Drought Impacts on Agriculture” —Project adviser: Guido Cervone
Karl Zimmerer published an article in The Conversation, “Fewer crops are feeding more people worldwide – and that’s not good.”


Coffee Hour: UROC Lightening Talks
The final Coffee Hour for the fall 2017 semester will feature lightening talks from 10 undergraduate students on their Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) projects. UROC gives undergraduate students an opportunity to work on research projects for academic credit under the guidance of graduate students in the Department of Geography. Giving a presentation on their work is a requirement of the program. Projects include cartography, data analysis, and translation. Topics range from flood assessment to
agricultural change and rural livelihoods to international development.

Time to apply for spring 2018 UROC projects
Undergraduate students looking for a way to gain research experience as well as 1 to 3 credits, can apply for spring 2018 undergraduate research projects supervised by graduate students in the Department of Geography.

To view the new projects and apply, go to: https://sites.psu.edu/uroc/undergrads-apply-for-a-project/

Previous tasks have involved map making, GIS analysis, coding transcripts, programming, wrangling spreadsheets, or reviewing literature. It may not be glamorous, but it is a real research project to supplement your coursework, said Undergraduate Adviser and Gould Center Director Jodi Vender. “This is a valuable resume-building experience for undergraduate students and can be beneficial for both future employment and graduate school.”


Spatial-temporal analysis of prostate cancer incidence from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry, 2000-2011
By Ming Wang, Stephen A. Matthews, Khaled Iskandarani, Yimei Li, Zheng Li, Vernon M. Chinchilli, Lijun Zhang
In Geospatial Health
Access DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2017.611
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among males, and the incidence in Pennsylvania, USA is considerably higher than nationally. Knowledge of regional differences and time trends in prostate cancer incidence may contribute to a better understanding of aetiologic factors and racial disparities in outcomes, and to improvements in preventive intervention and screening efforts. We used Pennsylvania Cancer Registry data on reported prostate cancer diagnoses between 2000 and 2011 to study the regional distribution and temporal trends of prostate cancer incidence in both Pennsylvania White males and Philadelphia metropolitan area Black males. For White males, we generated and mapped county-specific age-adjusted incidence and standardised incidence ratios by period cohort, and identified spatial autocorrelation and local clusters. In addition, we fitted Bayesian hierarchical generalised linear Poisson models to describe the temporal and aging effects separately in Whites state-wide and metropolitan Philadelphia blacks. Incidences of prostate cancer among white males declined from 2000-2002 to 2009-2011 with an increasing trend to some extent in the period 2006-2008 and significant variation across geographic regions, but less variation exists for metropolitan Philadelphia including majority of Black patients. No significant aging effect was detected for White and Black men, and the peak age group for prostate cancer risk varied by race. Future research should seek to identify potential social and environmental risk factors associated with geographical/racial disparities in prostate cancer. As such, there is a need for more effective surveillance so as to detect, reduce and control the cancer burden associated with prostate cancer.

U.S. Interstate Route 9; A Journey Through The ‘News’
By Wayne Brew (’81)
In PAST (Volume 40, 2017), p.35
Access https://indd.adobe.com/view/9ace40e5-d537-4207-9ef5-b7dd253bf26d
“Let’s begin again, begin the begin”
The road continues to call and speak to me. U.S. Interstate Route 9 runs from the intersection of Route 13 in Laurel, Delaware north to Champlain, New York where it ends with the intersection with Interstate 87 near the Canadian Border. Web sources do not agree on the total mileage for Route 9, but when Route 9W is included it is over 600 miles. According to correspondence with Richard F. Weingroff , historian at the Federal Highway Administration, Route 9W was created simultaneously in the late 1920s on the west side of the Hudson River paralleling 9 (sometimes referred to 9E) on the east side. Figure
1 shows Route 9 in red. The history of Route 9 shares a similar story with other first generation interstates where existing local and state roads were connected with improvements based on federal standards.

Territorial Ordering: A “new” mode of land use planning and a multi-scale idea for urban-rural integration and their implications for next-generation conservation
By Zimmerer, K. S.
In The Urban and the Territorial: Housing in Mérida, eds. D.E. Davis, J. Castillo, and R. Segovia

Bridging new sustainable development goals, global agendas, and landscape stewardship: The roles of politics, ethics, and sustainability practice
By Zimmerer, K. S.
In The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship, eds. Bieling, C., and T. Plieninger
Access https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316499016.031

Nov 17

Coffee Hour with Peter La Femina | ChoroPhronesis open house | Baka and the ethane cracker plant


view across the Rhine River

Meg Boyle sent this view back across the Rhine River to the venue on a typically gray, rainy day at the UN Climate Negotiations in Bonn (“COP23”). She says, “In general, the landscape and weather remind me a lot of State College, but I thought I would send an especially watery update home to landlocked friends! The responsibility of the shipping industry and the coal industry for climate action have both been big topics of discussion here over the past two weeks, emphasized by the coal barges that periodically float right by the conference center. On this particular day I was taking a brief break from the negotiations action to head across the river to a meeting hosted by a new platform for funders (The so-called”F20″ or “Foundations 20,” a catchy reference to the G20) convened in support of sustainable development.

Other links of interest:


TODAY ChroroPhronesis Open House on the second floor of Walker Building, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., with roughly a dozen immersive demos. Free event, no registration necessary.

November 29  informal networking session with alumna Kaitlin Walsh (’09) who is visiting campus as a judge for the EMS Poster Competition. Event is 3:45-4:30 p.m. in 229 Walker Building. Light refreshments will be served.

December 2 is the “Thinking Within Symposium” with keynote speakers from Penn State, Vanderbilt, and Johns Hopkins. It will be in Stuckeman, Jury Space, starting at 9 am. Registration is required: http://sites.psu.edu/thinkingwithin2017/

Jenn Baka spoke on a panel at a League of Women Voters event in Pittsburgh on November 13. The topic was on her work on the Pittsburgh ethane cracker plant, which is sponsored by PSIEE and Ryan Faculty Fellow research grants. The panel has gotten a bit of press coverage as well, additional news links:

Call for grad rep nominations
As the semester comes to an end, so does Lauren Fritsche’s time as a grad rep. We are soliciting nominations for her replacement. The new grad rep will join Megan, Eden, and Carolynne. The position runs from Jan – Dec 2018. Send nominations to Lauren Fritsche  by December 1.


Coffee Hour: Peter La Femina
Up, Up, and Away: Interactions between Magmatism, Tectonics, and Climate in Iceland
Iceland provides a unique and dynamic environment to investigate the geodynamics of a mid-ocean ridge, including ridge-transform and magma-tectonic interactions and the role of central volcano – fissure swarm systems in accommodating divergent plate motion. We have been studying the deformation of the Hekla central volcano to investigate magmatic processes and the interaction between central volcanoes and the mid-ocean ridge system. In addition to magmatic and tectonic systems, Iceland is home to Europe’s largest icecap, Vatnajökull, as well as several smaller ice caps. Significant historical mass loss from these ice caps has resulted in extensive uplift across Iceland. We present a new horizontal and vertical velocity field based on GPS data from 1994 to the present. This velocity field indicates, 1) North America – Eurasia plate motion dominates the horizontal signal; 2) broad uplift across all of Iceland, except in the northwest fjords where there is subsidence; 3) up to 3 cm/yr, but on average 2 cm/yr, uplift west and southwest of Vatnajökull; and 4) a decrease in uplift with distance away from Vatnajökull.

SWIG sponsors a CCWRC Family
For the last few years, the Penn State chapter of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) has committed to sponsoring a family through the Centre County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC) Holiday Sponsorship Program. The program provides gift baskets to women and children who have experienced domestic violence. These families are often living in the shelter or temporary housing in Centre County. Our responsibility is to purchase gift cards for each family member and a small basket of gift items for the holidays!

This year SWIG is sponsoring a family of five, and will need to raise $250 to fulfill our commitment to CCWRC. Last year we raised over $300! Cary Anderson will collect money through Tues, December 5. Her office is in 210 Walker Building, or feel free to also leave donations in the envelope in her mailbox in 304 Walker Building.

Centred Outdoors, interdisciplinary project benefits environment, community
Rob Brooks is a project collaborator
This past summer, nine outdoor locations around Centre County were teeming with residents ready to experience nature firsthand. Responsible for this increased activity in Centre County parks and natural areas was Centred Outdoors, a project implemented by Clearwater Conservancy and the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) and funded by a Centre Foundation grant.


Politics of presence: women’s safety and respectability at night in Mumbai, India
By Aparna Parikh
In Gender, Place and Culture
Access http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/jUwATNVUi5iGDTvCfJv5/full
This article focuses on women’s mobility in urban public space in Mumbai, India while working night shifts in outsourced call centres. The outsourced call centre industry is heralded as the beacon of modernity, and its entry was facilitated under a neoliberal political economy. This industry disproportionately employs women relative to India’s broader Information Technology sector, resulting in high numbers of women commuting at night. The state has reworked safety-centred policies for women working night shifts in call centres, which have been differentially implemented by companies. Expanding on this variegation, I sketch out the nightscape of transportation and mobility around outsourced call centres. This article analyses how women conceive of safety, as well as its interplay with convenience and considerations of respectability while making decisions about navigating urban public space at night. Women working in call centres find themselves in the crosshairs of narratives that demonize them as ‘bad women’ for being out on the street at night, while working in industries that specifically seek women willing to work in night shifts. Their navigation of this paradox exposes contradictions within the neoliberal modernization of Mumbai and the meaning of public safety for women who make this modernization possible through their labour.

Visualizing a country without a future: Posters for Ayotzinapa, Mexico and struggles against state terror
By Melissa W. Wright
In Geoforum
Access https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.10.009
On September 26, 2014, Mexico police forces ambushed several student buses from a rural teachers college in southwestern Mexico, killed several and abducted forty-three others. These forty-three have not been seen since and now pertain to the country’s bulging numbers of the forcibly disappeared. All of the students were young men studying at a rural teaching college, called a Normal School, and they are typically referred to as “normalistas” (student-teachers). Within a week of this massacre/disappearance, protests erupted across the country to demand their “live return” and to inspire international support of a growing social justice movement. In support of the activism, Mexican artist-activists organized an exhibition and catalog of political posters submitted from around the world. In this paper, I use a critical geographic lens to frame a discussion of these posters, and of the political poster as an activist artform more generally, as I examine these them within the many paradoxes that activists navigate in their struggles at the nexus of racism, misogyny, and neoliberal terror.

A Comparison of Daily Temperature Averaging Methods: Spatial Variability and Recent Change for the CONUS
By Bernhardt, J., A.M. Carleton, and C. LaMagna
In Journal of Climate. Published Online: 20 November 2017
Access https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0089.1
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.

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