Oct 18

GIScience faculty position | SWIG essay contest | Peirce Lewis event


faculty remember Peirce Lewis

Remembering Peirce Lewis

The Department of Geography honored the late Peirce Lewis on Friday, Oct. 5 with a special Coffee Hour lecture given by his advisee Richard Schein (’83g) now professor of geography at the University of Kentucky. Pictured above, Lewis’s contemporaries (left to right: Ben Marsh, Joe Wood, Jim Eisenstein, and Ron Abler) share their memories at a special reception for family, friends, colleagues and students held in the Joel M. Myers Weather Center.


Fritz Kessler is serving as president of The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) this year.

Alexander Klippel is giving the Geosciences Colloquium talk on October 23. The talk is at 4:00 p.m. in 22 Deike Building.

Bike Safety Workshop: 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, Oct. 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 117 Weston Community Center at Penn State’s White Course Apartments. For more information or to RSVP for the event, please visit www.biking.psu.edu. Spaces are limited and RSVPs must be received by end of day Wednesday, Oct. 17. This workshop is sponsored by Penn State Transportation Services.

Esri Mid-Atlantic User Conference: Esri has changed the dates of the this year’s Esri Mid-Atlantic User Conference to avoid any conflicts with Election Day. The conference will now be held on November 28–29, 2018 at the Hilton Meadowlands, East Rutherford, NJ. The agenda, registration link, and exhibitor registration are posted at www.esri.com/en-us/about/events/esri-mid-atlantic-uc/overview.


Next Coffee Hour is October 19. The speaker will be Mariana Mora, associate professor-researcher at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Mexico City. Her talk is titled, “(Un)earthing cartographies, racial necro-economics and politics of absence.” For more information, visit: www.geog.psu.edu/event/coffee-hour-mariana-mora


Tenure-Track Faculty Position in GIScience (Assistant Professor)

The Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor specializing in geographic information science (GIScience). We are interested in candidates who will strengthen the department’s research and teaching program and help build strong connections to other relevant science communities. Candidates with an emphasis in any area associated with GIScience will be considered. A PhD degree completed before August 1, 2019, is expected. Excellence in teaching, research, and service is expected of professors employed by Penn State Geography, as is development of an externally funded research program. Participation in the department`s online geospatial education programs is also expected.

SWIG Essay Contest call for submissions

The Jennifer Fluri and Amy Trauger 2019 Student Essay and Creative Works Competition is now open! This is the fifth annual competition run by Penn State’s SWIG. We invite undergraduate and graduate students from all institutions and disciplines to contribute using any of a variety of potential formats. Submissions are due March 23, 2019. Visit for more information and to submit your work, visit: sites.psu.edu/swig/the-jennifer-fluri-and-amy-trauger-student-essay-and-creative-works-competition/

Recognizing the role of gender, class, sexuality, and race in the organization of our everyday lives, Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) aims to promote and empower women and other underrepresented groups by offering a supportive network that sponsors opportunities to grow professionally, intellectually, and personally within the discipline of geography. Dr. Jennifer Fluri and Dr. Amy Trauger were instrumental in the establishment and promotion of Penn State’s SWIG organization. Their defining leadership established a long-standing culture of mentorship, support, and outreach. By hosting this award in their names, we hope to honor the spirit of their work.

Oct 18

Coffee Hour with Richard Schein in memory of Peirce Lewis


Nature-Society Panel

The Department of Geography hosted the eighth Nature-Society Workshop on September 21–22 with Syracuse, Rutgers, Clark, Cornell, West Virginia, and Temple universities. Pictured above, Panel 1, moderated by Jenn Baka, explored land and resource geographies.


Megan Baumann has received a position as a visiting student with a research internship at the Universidad National de Colombia, sede Bogotá (National University of Colombia at Bogotá) within the College of Agricultural Sciences, working with Dr. Álvaro Acevedo Osorio, agronomist and agroecologist. The UNAL is known as the country’s premier public university. Baumann will be there until early August 2019.

On October 4, Dr. Christina Hupy, Director of Education and Training at Boundless Geospatial (https://boundlessgeo.com), will give a presentation at noon EST. Students may participate in person at 413 Earth and Environmental Systems Building or online. The online zoom room is https://psu.zoom.us/j/812983558.

On October 9, Lise Nelson will give a talk on “Affluence and the Production of Illegality,” sponsored by the Humanities Institute. The talk is at noon in 124 Sparks Building. (Light lunch served at 11:45 a.m.)


Richard Schein
Aphorisms for Reading the Landscape: Lecture in Memory of Peirce Lewis

Peirce Lewis published “Axioms for Reading the Landscape” in 1979, in a small but important volume titled The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (D.W. Meinig, ed.). Lewis remarked in that essay that (f)or most Americans, cultural landscape just is, before he suggested to the contrary that all human landscape has cultural meaning. This talk posits Lewis’s “Axioms” and the Meinig volume as a watershed moment for U.S. landscape study. It moves from a brief genealogy of the landscape idea in Geography to focus on the post-empiricist landscape imperative that takes seriously Lewis’s claim by asking what is it that landscapes do. What landscapes might do will be presented through a set of aphorisms—concise statements that try to capture important critical-theoretical engagements with the idea of landscape. Some of those aphorisms for reading the landscape will be presented through case studies and examples in what Lewis so famously called the tangible, visible scene.

  • 3:30 Coffee and refreshments, 319 Walker Building
  • 4:00 Lecture, 112 Walker Building
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast
  • 5:00 Reception in the Joel M. Myers Weather Center (sixth floor, Walker Building) with hors d’oeuvres and wine/beer and time for people to share their stories and memories


‘Women in Geospatial Sciences, Building Leaders for Tomorrow’ workshop

Penn State and Syracuse University will host two 1-and-a-half-day workshops to identify challenges women currently face in U.S. universities, and provide recommendations to retain women leaders in the geospatial sciences, through active engagement and building of peer-mentorship networks within departments, and also across the university and between universities.


Urban National Politics in the United States (book chapter)

Joshua F. J. Inwood
The City as Power: Urban Space, Place, and National Identity edited by Alexander C. Diener, Joshua Hagen

Does Effectiveness of Weight Management Programs Depend on the Food Environment?

Tarlov, E. , Wing, C. , Gordon, H. S., Matthews, S. A., Jones, K. K., Powell, L. M. and Zenk, S. N.
Health Services Research
To estimate the causal effects of a population‐scale behavioral weight management program and to determine whether the program’s effectiveness depends on participants’ geographic access to places to purchase healthy and less healthy foods. Secondary data from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinical and administrative records (2008–2014), retail food environment measures from commercial databases (2008–2014), and the American Community Survey (2009–2014). We estimated the effect of the VA’s MOVE! weight management program on body mass index after 6 months using difference‐in‐difference regressions to compare participants with a propensity score‐matched control group. We estimated treatment effects overall and in subgroups with different access to supermarkets, fast‐food restaurants, and convenience stores. MOVE! reduced BMI by about 0.71 units among men and 0.70 units among women. The program was slightly less effective for men living near fast‐food restaurants or convenience stores. We found no evidence that treatment effects varied with the food environment among women. The residential food environment modestly alters MOVE! effectiveness among men. A greater understanding of environmental barriers to and facilitators of intentional weight loss is needed. This study highlights important potential intersections between health care and the community.


Sep 18

GIS Day announced | Who was Marion Frieswyk? | Human influence on landscape


Lago de CoatepequeRuchi Patel shares this photo she took while conducting fieldwork in El Salvador this summer. Lago de Coatepeque is a large crater lake in the east part of the Coatepeque Caldera.


Melissa Lucash, Department of Geography, Portland State University, will give a talk on “Forest resilience under climate change: Tales from the boreal forests of Alaska and beyond,” on Wednesday, September 26, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. in 117 EES Building. The talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Landscape Dynamics and the Center for Climate Risk Management.

Supporting Women in Geography is hosting a “Climate Change Workshop” on November 9, from noon to 3:00 p.m. in 529 Walker Building, University Park campus. Anyone with interest in the topic is invited to attend, however you must register as seating is limited.  For more information and to register visit: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/climate-change-workshop


Please join us for a special Coffee Hour in Memory of Peirce Lewis on October 5

Colleagues, friends, family, and students of the late Geographer Peirce Lewis are invited to join us as the Department of Geography pays tribute to the man and his contributions to geography. Richard Schein (’83g), Peirce Lewis’s advisee and now professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, will give the Coffee Hour lecture. For more information about the program or to RSVP by September 28 visit: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/coffee-hour-richard-schein

Penn State GIS Day: Visualizing the World: Connecting the disciplines through geospatial technologies and virtual reality

Penn State GIS Day events will be held on Tuesday, November 13. Penn State GIS Day events are co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and the University Libraries.

Penn State GIS Day events aim to create geospatial awareness of the many uses of geospatial technologies across disciplines, and serve as a way to connect others on campus who are using geospatial technologies.This year marks the fifth consecutive year we have been sponsoring GIS Day events. This year’s theme is: Visualizing the World: Connecting the disciplines through geospatial technologies and virtual reality.

See the Penn State GIS Day site for listings of speakers and additional information. https://sites.psu.edu/gisday/

Marion Frieswyk: The First Female Intelligence Cartographer

For 75 years, the CIA Cartography Center has been making vital contributions to our Nation’s security, providing policymakers with crucial insights that simply cannot be conveyed through words alone.

The Center’s roots stretch back even before the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—all the way to the OSS’ predecessor, William Donovan’s Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI).


Human Legacies on Ecological Landscapes

Mitchell J. Power, Brian F. Codding, Alan H. Taylor, Thomas W. Swetnam, Kate E. Magargal, Douglas W. Bird and James F. O’Connell
Frontiers in Earth Science
The primacy of past human activity in triggering change in earth’s ecosystems remains a contested idea. Treating human-environmental dynamics as a dichotomous phenomenon—turning “on” or “off” at some tipping point in the past—misses the broader, longer-term, and varied role humans play in creating lasting ecological legacies. To investigate these more subtle human-environmental dynamics, we propose an interdisciplinary framework, for evaluating past and predicting future landscape change focused on human-fire legacies. Linking theory and methods from behavioral and landscape ecology, we present a coupled framework capable of explaining how and why humans make subsistence decisions and interact with environmental variation through time. We review evidence using this framework that demonstrates how human behavior can influence vegetation cover and continuity, change local disturbance regimes, and create socio-ecological systems that can dampen or even override, the environmental effects of local and regional climate. Our examples emphasize how a long-term interdisciplinary perspective provides new insights for assessing the role of humans in generating persistent landscape legacies that go unrecognized using a simple natural-versus-human driver model of environmental change.

Farm-Level Agricultural Biodiversity in the Peruvian Andes Is Associated with Greater Odds of Women Achieving a Minimally Diverse and Micronutrient Adequate Diet

Andrew D Jones, Hilary Creed-Kanashiro, Karl S Zimmerer, Stef de Haan, Miluska Carrasco, Krysty Meza, Gisella S Cruz-Garcia, Milka Tello, Franklin Plasencia Amaya, R Margot Marin, Lizette Ganoza
The Journal of Nutrition
The extent to and mechanisms by which agricultural biodiversity may influence diet diversity and quality among women are not well understood. We aimed to 1) determine the association of farm-level agricultural biodiversity with diet diversity and quality among women of reproductive age in Peru and 2) determine the extent to which farm market orientation mediates or moderates this association. We surveyed 600 households with the use of stratified random sampling across 3 study landscapes in the Peruvian Andes with diverse agroecological and market conditions. Diet diversity and quality among women were assessed by using quantitative 24-h dietary recalls with repeat recalls among 100 randomly selected women. We calculated a 10-food group diet diversity score (DDS), the Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) indicator, probability of adequacy (PA) of 9 micronutrients by using a measurement-error model approach, and mean PA (MPA; mean of PAs for all nutrients). Agricultural biodiversity was defined as a count of crop species cultivated by the household during the 2016–2017 agricultural season. In regression analyses adjusting for sociodemographic and agricultural characteristics, farm-level agricultural biodiversity was associated with a higher DDS (incidence rate ratio from Poisson regression: 1.03; P < 0.05) and MPA (ordinary least-squares β-coefficient: 0.65; P < 0.1) and higher odds of achieving a minimally diverse diet (MDD-W: OR from logistic regression: 1.17; 95% CI: 1.11, 1.23) and a diet that met a minimum threshold for micronutrient adequacy (MPA >60%: OR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.10, 1.35). Farm market orientation did not consistently moderate these associations, and in path analyses we observed no consistent evidence of mediation of these associations by farm market orientation.


Sep 18

Nature-Society Keynote on Friday | Peirce Lewis event | Workshop for geospatial women


Please join us for a special Coffee Hour in Memory of Peirce Lewis on October 5

Colleagues, friends, family, and students of the late Geographer Peirce Lewis are invited to join us as the Department of Geography pays tribute to the man and his contributions to geography. Richard Schein (’83g), Peirce Lewis’s advisee and now professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, will give the Coffee Hour lecture. For more information about the program or to RSVP by September 28 visit: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/coffee-hour-richard-schein


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 Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 117 Weston Community Center at Penn State’s White Course Apartments. For more information or to RSVP for the event, please visit www.biking.psu.edu.

The 2018 Department of Geography Newsletter is in the mail. If you are not currently subscribed would like to be added to the mailing list, please send your postal address to geography@psu.edu.


 Trevor Birkenholtz
The Political Ecology of Drip Irrigation Infrastructure: Efficiency and Gendered Labor Dynamics in India

In this paper, I draw on a case from northern India to examine the material politics of drip irrigation infrastructure. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant stems or roots and has been shown to double water-use efficiency, while raising productivity, compared to conventional irrigation. It is being promoted globally by scientists, state planners and development donor agencies as a way to reduce agricultural demand for groundwater. However, while drip irrigation may enhance irrigation efficiency, it may not lead to water savings. Relying on ethnographic research conducted in India from 2015-2018, I argue that the complex interaction of subsidy policies, farmer motivations for adopting drip irrigation, and gendered labor dynamics determine whether efficiency gains in drip irrigation result in water savings. Further, I posit that feminine labor provides a subsidy to drip irrigation that underwrites both water-use efficiency and productivity, while maintaining drip irrigations’ heterogeneous material and institutional infrastructure. I conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for water conservation in agriculture and for gendering drip irrigation policy.

  • 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


Women in Geospatial Sciences, Building Leaders for Tomorrow workshop

Penn State and Syracuse University will host two day-and-a-half workshops to identify challenges women currently face in U.S. universities, and provide recommendations to retain women leaders in the geospatial sciences. The workshops are open to women who work in the geospatial sciences at all career stages, including mid- and early-career faculty, staff, post-docs and graduate students.

Program combines mobile devices and the outdoors in an unlikely pairing

Alex Klippel is a project adviser
In the age of digital technology, mobile devices are good for more than just text messaging and playing games. According to Penn State College of Education researchers, the combination of technology and the outdoors is getting children and their families outside to learn more about science and their communities.

Transforming Outdoor Places into Learning Spaces is a College of Education research and development project that takes place at the Arboretum at Penn State and at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State’s outdoor education field lab and nature center in Petersburg, Huntingdon County. It is an opportunity for people of all ages to develop understandings of deeper learning while engaging in activities on mobile devices.


Surface mapping of the Milh Kharwah salt diapir to better understand the subsurface petroleum system in the Sab’atayn Basin, onshore Yemen

Tari, G., L. Jessen, P. Kennelly, A. Salman, T. Rainer and P. Hagedorn
Arabian Journal of Geosciences
In the Sab’atayn Basin of Yemen, hydrocarbons were generated from pre-salt Upper Jurassic source rocks during the Cenozoic and the salt provides the ultimate super seal for the pre-salt and intra-salt traps. Therefore, the proper understanding of salt tectonics is critical for ongoing hydrocarbon exploration efforts targeting the fractured basement play in the Sab’atayn Basin. Based on numerous well penetrations, the presence of non-evaporitic lithologic units such as black shales, marls, carbonates, and sandstones within the Tithonian Sab’atayn Formation is quite common and quite important for the prolific Alif oil play. The internal lithologic and structural complexity of the Tithonian evaporites was addressed by analyzing a few outcropping salt diapirs east of the Habban Field area in the central part of the Sab’atayn Basin.

Witch’s Broom Disease of Lime (Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia): identifying high-risk areas by climatic mapping

Donkersely, P., Blanford, J., Queiroz, R.B., Silva, F.W.S., Carvalho, C.M., Al-Sadi, A.M. Elliot, S.
Journal of Economic Entomology
Biological invasions of vectorborne diseases can be devastating. Bioclimatic modeling provides an opportunity to assess and predict areas at risk from complex multitrophic interactions of pathogens, highlighting areas in need of increased monitoring effort. Here, we model the distribution of an economically critical vectorborne plant pathogen ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia’, the etiological agent of Witches’ Broom Disease of Lime. This disease is a significant limiting factor on acid lime production (Citrus aurantifolia, Swingle) in the Middle East and threatens its production globally. We found that temperature, humidity, and the vector populations significantly determine disease distribution. Following this, we used bioclimatic modeling to predict potential novel sites of infections. The model outputs identified potential novel sites of infection in the citrus producing regions of Brazil and China. We also used our model to explore sites in Oman where the pathogen may not be infectious, and suggest nurseries be established there. Recent major turbulence in the citrus agricultural economy has highlighted the importance of this work and the need for appropriate and targeted monitoring programs to safeguard lime production.


Sep 18

Cancer map | USGIF awards | Nature Society Workshop


Friendly Cities Lab Melbourne

Xi Liu shares this photo of members of the Friendly Cities Lab (left to right: Hanzhou Chen, Clio Andris, Xi Liu) taken in Melbourne at GIScience 2018, held August 28–31. At GIScience 2018, the lab organized a workshop, presented two workshop papers and gave an extended abstract at the main conference. The photo was taken in front of Storey Hall at RMIT University.


Christine Mares (’03g) is a new instructor this semester at Northern Arizona University. In addition, for the past 3.5 years she has been working at NAU for the Wildland Fire Education and Training Collaborative (WETC) as a script writer and editor, writing scripts for wildland fire educational videos. She will continue in this role as well as her new instructor duties. WETC videos are free and non-proprietary, said Mares, “so please feel free to use and share, plus we are working on new videos as we speak. Comments and suggestions are always helpful, and we welcome new collaborators!” The work is showcased here: worldofwildlandfire.org.

Guido Cervone won a grant from DARPA for his project: Expanded Dimensionality Imaging Spectroscopy via Deep Learning.

Anthony Robinson was interviewed about his research on viral maps by Fast Company for their article: “The next great fake news threat? Bot-designed maps”


NSF funds $3 million graduate training program focused on Food-Energy-Water

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to an interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers to create a new graduate program that will train students to find solutions to real-world problems facing Food-Energy-Water (FEW) systems.

The project, “Landscape-U, Impactful partnerships among graduate students and managers for regenerative landscape design,” focuses on societal issues around food, energy and water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and globally.

Multi-campus collaboration tells story of cancer in central Pennsylvania

Geographer Brittany Waltemate worked on the map
Penn State has launched its first cancer-related Story Map, “The Story of Cancer in Central Pennsylvania.” The interactive geospatial map illustrates the extent of the cancer problem in the region. It also highlights patient navigators who help people overcome barriers to cancer care and action steps to help address cancer in the community.

Using a browser-based software called Esri ArcGIS Online, the Story Map pairs geospatial data with text and multimedia content. It allows viewers to drill down to population and cancer data at the county and sub-county levels.

USGIF Awards Highest Amount of Annual Scholarship Funds to Date

Penn Staters Carolynne Hultquist, Scott Pezanowski, Travis Meyer among winners
USGIF recently awarded $126,000 in scholarships to individuals studying GEOINT and related topics. This is the largest annual amount USGIF has distributed to date, thanks to the contributions of USGIF Organizational Members committed to investing in GEOINT education. Since the USGIF Scholarship Program began in 2004, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.2 million to students with aspirations in GEOINT.

Nature Society Workshop opens September 21 with Keynote by Trevor Birkenholtz

Penn State is hosting the 8th Nature Society Workshop on September 21–22. This informal rotating workshop began in 2010 as a space to discuss ongoing innovative scholarship in environment and society geography and to strengthen ties between Northeastern geography departments. This year Penn State hosts scholars from Clark, Rutgers, Syracuse, Cornell, Temple, and West Virginia universities.

The keynote address, which also serves in place of our usual Coffee Hour, will be given by Dr. Trevor Birkenholtz,University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign, on “The Political Ecology of Drip Irrigation Infrastructure: Efficiency and Gendered Labor Dynamics in India.” As usual, refreshments will be offered in room 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m., with the talk beginning at 4:00 in 112 Walker Building.

The workshop will also include a series of three interactive panel discussions on Friday and Saturday on key themes in environment and society geography, along with a short field trip on Saturday morning through Central Pa. For more information see: https://sites.psu.edu/natsocworkshop/


Detection of Asphalt Pavement Potholes and Cracks Based on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Multispectral Imagery

Yifan Pan, Xianfeng Zhang, Guido Cervone, and Liping Yang
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
DOI: 10.1109/JSTARS.2018.2865528
Asphalt roads are the basic component of a landtransportation system, and the quality of asphalt roads will decrease during the use stage because of the aging and deterioration of the road surface. In the end, some road pavement distresses may appear on the road surface, such as the most common potholes and cracks. In order to improve the efficiency of pavement inspection, currently some new forms of remote sensing data without destructive effect on the pavement are widely used to detect the pavement distresses, such as digital images, light detection andmranging, and radar. Multispectral imagery presenting spatialmand spectral features of objects has been widely used in remotemsensing application. In our study, the multispectral pavement
images acquired by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were used tomdistinguish between the normal pavement and pavement damagesm(e.g., cracks and potholes) using machine learning algorithms,msuch as support vector machine, artificial neural network, and random forest. Comparison of the performance between different data types and models was conducted and is discussed in this study, and indicates that a UAV remote sensing system offers a new tool for monitoring asphalt road pavement condition, which can be used as decision support for road maintenance practice.

Sep 18

Coffee Hour with Farshid Ahrestani | Viral maps | UROC


Andrew Carleton took this photo on Sedgwick Ridge, Maine, along route 172 between Blue Hill and Brooklin. It shows erratics on an old (approx. 15,000 year-old) gently-sloping glacial delta that was left as the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted/retreated from the area and the sea level rose. The surface deposits are mostly sand and gravel.


Erica Smithwick is the recipient of an National Science Foundation Research Traineeship award for her project, “Landscape-U, Impactful Partnerships among Graduate Students and Managers for Regenerative Landscape Design” to support preparation of future leaders in the STEM workforce.

Andrew Carleton has been appointed a science team member of the National Geographic’s 2019 Everest Project, which will collect environmental samples at high and lower altitudes in the Himalayas. Carleton will help plan the climatology/meteorology section. Paul Mayewski (School of Earth Sciences, University of Maine—Orono) is Science Leader.

The PAC Herbarium announces its fall workshop series.  All workshops take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the PAC Herbarium, 10 Whitmore Lab. Workshops are free to Penn State students, staff, and faculty, as well as the interested public, but registration is required. Contact Curator Sarah Chamberlain at sjm20@psu.edu to register.

  • September 13: Getting to Know the Goldenrods
  • October 11: Shady Invaders!
  • November 8: Grasses of the Mid-Atlantic
  • December 5: Evergreen trees of Pennsylvania


Coffee Hour with Farshid Ahrestani: The distribution of large herbivores over time and space in South and Southeast Asia

The large herbivores of South and Southeast Asia comprise an ancient and diverse guild with a long history of association with humans. To this day, our knowledge of the mechanisms that have shaped the distribution of these herbivores over space and time, and the ecological roles they play in ecosystems, remains largely inadequate.

  • 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


Researcher asks ‘what causes maps to go viral’ on the web

As the 2016 presidential election was heating up, the statistical news website FiveThirtyEight released a projection map asking what if only women voted.

The map, sent out in a tweet by FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver, quickly went viral on social media and was viewed millions of times. That viral cartography event, and what quickly followed, is the subject of research conducted by Anthony Robinson, assistant professor of geography at Penn State.

UROC accepting student applications now

The Department of Geography’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) program allows undergraduate students to gain valuable research experience and technical skills through collaboration on projects within the department and supervised by faculty and/or graduate students, as well as 1-3 credit hours to apply towards graduation (GEOG 494). This is a valuable resume-building experience for undergraduate students and can be beneficial for both future employment and graduate school. Information on current and past projects is available at https://sites.psu.edu/uroc/


Small-scale crisis responde mapping: Comparing user contributions to events in OpenStreetMap

Kamptner, Erika and Kessler, Fritz
doi: 10.1007/s10708-018-9912-1
In the last decade, the crowdsourced geographic information platform, OpenStreetMap (OSM), has become a critical tool for emergency response efforts during large-scale crisis events such as hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes. Events such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, have attracted massive organized relief responses on the OSM platform. During these events, new and experienced OSM contributors have helped map critical infrastructure necessary for relief efforts. While much is understood about how OSM users organized and contributed during these large-scale events, little has been researched as to how contributors respond to smaller scale events. This study investigates how OSM users contribute to the map in response to small-scale crisis events by comparing OSM user contributions from four recent building fire incidents located in Western and Non-Western countries and areas of varying degrees of map completeness.

Map Projection Education in Cartography Textbooks

Kessler, Fritz
Cartographic Perspectives
doi: 10.14714/CP90.1449
As developments in the field of map projections occur (e.g., the deriving of a new map projection), it would be reasonable to expect that those developments that are important from a teaching standpoint would be included in cartography textbooks. However, researchers have not examined whether map projection material presented in cartography textbooks is keeping pace with developments in the field and whether that material is important for cartography students to learn. To provide such an assessment, I present the results of a content analysis of projection material discussed in 24 cartography textbooks published during the 20 th and early 21 st centuries.

Aug 18

Coffee Hour starts Sept. 7 | New online maps | GIS study abroad


Four Gables John Muir WildernessWhat did you do during the summer? Alan Taylor spent time in the John Muir Wilderness area in California. He took this image showing a member of his research team at the summit of the Four Gables.


Angela Rogers wrote the article “Helping New Hires Become Part of the Local Community,” for the Association for Talent Development blog.

Eden Kinkaid had an article accepted for publication in cultural geographies. The article is entitled “Experimenting with creative geographic methods in the Critical Futures Visual Archive.” It highlights the PSU Crit Con art show and features the geographically inspired creative works of Aparna Parikh, Jenna Christian, Carolyn Fish, JiaChing Chen, and others.

The Fall Coffee Hour speaker line-up has been announced. The first Coffee Hour for the semester is September 7, with Farshid Ahrestani. See all confirmed speakers and dates on the department website events page: www.geog.psu.edu/calendar


Penn State introduces new, mobile-friendly online visitor maps

Visitors to Penn State’s locations statewide will find it easier to navigate their way around campus with the launch of new, enhanced online maps.

Well-being of ‘left behind’ children in Kyrgyzstan focus of study

Erica Smithwick is on the research team
Growing up can be hard no matter what a family’s circumstances, but it is often more so for children living in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia, one of the poorest countries in the world, known for its dry environment, high mountains, nomadic culture and animal-husbandry heritage.

GIS graduate students study abroad to advance careers at home

Brookelynn Constant was about halfway into her 10-year career as a data analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense when she enrolled in a master’s program through Penn State World Campus.


Spatial Cognition XI: 11th International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2018, Tübingen, Germany, September 5-8, 2018, Proceedings

Editors: Sarah Creem-Regehr, Johannes Schöning, Alexander Klippel
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-96385-3
This book constitutes the thoroughly refereed proceedings of the 11th International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2018, held in Tübingen, Germany, in September 2018.
The 22 revised full papers presented in this book were carefully selected and reviewed from 44 submissions. They focus on the following topics: navigating in space; talking about space; agents, actions, and space; and individuals in space.

Aug 18

New grads are here | Field dispatch | West at the top?

MGIS candidates

Four MGIS candidates presented their Capstone Projects at the 2018 Society for Conservation GIS Conference in Asilomar, Ca., July 16-18. Students in front row, left to right: Lara Bennett Hacala, Sarah Cain, April Johnson, and Josh Ferguson. Faculty in back row, left to right: Joe Bishop, Pat Kennelly, Doug Miller.


Peter Backhaus has been appointed as the Student Representative for the Society of Wetlands Scientists Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Tara Mazurczyk displayed her paintings at the 2018 Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair.

Check out the new University Libraries’ Guide to virtual reality. The guide covers what it is, how it can be incorporated into the learning process, and how it can be accessed on campus.

Welcome to the fall 2018 new resident graduate students: Connor Chapman, Bradley Hinger, Elise Quinn, Vivian Rodriguez Rocha, Isabel Taylor, Beichen Tian, Saumya Vaishnava, and Jacklyn Weier. 


Field dispatch from a tributary of the Blue Nile

Bronwen Powell
Aug. 6, It is 11:00 p.m. in Kamashi, Ethiopia. I’ve been lying in the pitch dark for two hours. It is so dark it doesn’t matter if I open or close my eyes. The town hasn’t had any electricity for five months now, at least in part because Ethiopia has just emerged from a state of emergency over political protests that ended with the resignation of the old Prime Minister. I’m listening to my stomach grumble and wondering if it is the end of the stomach bug I have had, or hunger pains from not eating for two days, or both. The dogs and donkeys on the edge of town take up a chorus of anxious calling, faintly beyond them I can hear the hyenas. I’m glad to hear the hyenas, a sign that not so much has changed since I was last here three years ago. But lots has.

When I landed in the capital Addis Ababa, I could barely perceive any impact of the political crisis on the boom the city has been experiencing for many years now. The skyline is lined with new buildings under construction, as always. The people in Addis are jubilant about the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the end of the state of emergency, they literally beam when they talk about it. All the taxis and shops are plastered with his photo and Ethiopia flags. Here in Kamashi, people are less sure. The new Prime Minister has pledged to end the regional system of administration which has allowed the Gumuz (the minority indigenous ethnic group I work with) to have a political voice after generations of marginalization. Lots has changed in Kamashi, too. The trade-offs of “development” can be seen everywhere. Most of the round traditional Gumuz houses, made from bamboo and thatch, have been replaced with square houses and tin roves purchased though the sale of sesame seeds. But the road is worse, not better, battered by the many heavy trucks that now leave the area carrying cash crops and coal from the new coal mine. And the forest has receded yet farther. The new road built through the forest while I was working here three years ago, to give access to remote communities, is now lined for many kilometers with the homes and fields of immigrants who are sharecropping with the local Gumuz community.

Beyond the immigrant homes and farms, the new road, only three years old, is covered in grass, the bridge across the river is yet to be completed, so no one ever drives it. I realize that these local development trade-offs are complicated by the fact that the Gumuz territory represents a large portion of the watershed for the Blue Nile river, and the loss of the to-date relatively intact forests and ecosystems here could have long-reaching impacts. Ethiopia and Egypt have had escalating political tension over the water pouring from these forests for years now (and especially the giant new hydro electric dam under construction downstream). I wonder if anyone has thought through what would happen to the Blue Nile water flow the if the forests here disappear? My stomach complains again and I decide I am hungry and search for my flashlight.

Atlas Obscura
In Early Maps of Virginia, West Was at the Top

Captain John Smith is perhaps best known for his (possibly fictional) encounter with Pocahontas. Whatever the true nature of that meeting was, the British explorer distilled his explorations and meetings with the indigenous people of what is now Virginia into a remarkable map that defined European impressions of the region for the majority of the 1600s.


Carbon storage dynamics of temperate freshwater wetlands in Pennsylvania

Tara Mazurczyk, Robert P. Brooks
Wetlands Ecology and Management
Healthy wetlands play a significant role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming, leading to the reduction of water and food resources as well as more extreme weather phenomena. Investigating the magnitude of carbon storage potential of different freshwater wetland systems using multiple ecological indicators at varying spatial scales provides insight and justification for selective wetland restoration and conservation initiatives. We provide a holistic accounting of total carbon values for 193 wetland sites, integrating existing carbon algorithms to rapidly assess each of the following carbon pools: above-ground, below-ground, soil, woody debris, shrub cover, and herbaceous cover.

Cities as Spatial and Social Networks: Towards a Spatio-Socio-Semantic Analysis Framework

Luo W., Wang Y., Liu X., Gao S.
In: Ye X., Liu X. (eds) Cities as Spatial and Social Networks. Human Dynamics in Smart Cities. Springer, Cham
Cities have been studied as geo-social systems embedded with intricate and complicated spatial and social networks (e.g., transportation, telecommunication, and internet). In addition to the duo of spatial and social aspects, semantics, which study the logic aspects of meanings behind behaviours and phenomena, come underneath as the latent information (e.g., activity types of people) to enrich the geo-social models for spatial phenomena. For example, individual-level similarity of semantic trajectories for location-based social networks can be used to recommend potential friends or develop collaborative travels. Semantics infer the activity behind people’s spatial choices and the functions of places, transform coordinates of trajectories/spatial flows into certain types of activities, and remark locations in space with meaningful labels of functions of cities.

White supremacy, white counter-revolutionary politics, and the rise of Donald Trump

Joshua Inwood
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
To understand and contextualize Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, we must place his election in the context of a white counter-revolutionary politics that emerging from the specific geographic configurations of the US racial state. While academics and political commentators have correctly located the election of Trump in the context of white supremacy, I argue we need to coordinate our understanding of white supremacy and the electoral politics that fueled Trump’s rise in the context of anti-Black racism by examining how the US racial state turns to whiteness to prevent change. Throughout the development of the United States, whiteness has long stood as a bulwark against progressive and revolutionary change so much so that when the US racial state is in economic and political crisis, bourgeoisie capitalism appeals to the white middle and working classes to address that crisis.

Fusing Heterogeneous Data: A Case for Remote Sensing and Social Media

H. Wang, E. Skau, H. Krim and G. Cervone
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
doi: 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2846199
Data heterogeneity can pose a great challenge to process and systematically fuse low-level data from different modalities with no recourse to heuristics and manual adjustments and refinements. In this paper, a new methodology is introduced for the fusion of measured data for detecting and predicting weather-driven natural hazards. The proposed research introduces a robust theoretical and algorithmic framework for the fusion of heterogeneous data in near real time. We establish a flexible information-based fusion framework with a target optimality criterion of choice, which for illustration, is specialized to a maximum entropy principle and a least effort principle for semisupervised learning with noisy labels.

Jul 18

Investigating diet changes | Travel grants | Dept. earns safety certification


Rachel Passmore alumna videoRachel Passmore, a 2014 Penn State geography alumna, studies human geography. She’s worked in India and Grenada and is now enrolled in graduate school at Columbia University. She is featured on the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Youtube Channel.


  • The Department of Geography has been recognized by Penn State Environmental Health and Safety as “certified” in meeting the Integrated Safety Plan Phase I requirements.
  • Save the date for the Penn State GIS Day on Tuesday, November 13. As more information becomes available, the Penn State GIS Day site will be updated.
  • Karen Cox was the April Rock In Role Award winner, selected by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Staff Advisory Committee (SAC). Karen stepped up to assist during renovations that were occurring in the Walker Building. She volunteered to help while a co-worker was on vacation and her help made it possible to meet renovation deadlines in multiple rooms. This allowed a new faculty member to move into their new office on time.
    If there is an outstanding staff member you would like to nominate for upcoming Rock In Role awards, submit your nomination by the end of the month. All entries are reviewed and voted on by the SAC at their next meeting.
  • Missy Weaver has been selected for the Smart Track to Success program at Penn State World Campus, receiving a scholarship, mentoring, and other resources to help her be successful as a new student.


Researcher tackling loss of healthy traditional diets in Morocco

Morocco’s food landscape has been undergoing a major shift: Obesity is on the rise while traditional, healthy food is becoming more scarce.

Penn State geography researcher Bronwen Powell wants to know what’s driving these trends. To do that, she and her team are on the ground in Morocco investigating how different foods end up in markets and how community members view those foods.

Global Programs announces spring 2018 Travel Grant recipients

Geographers receiving grants include Denice Wardrop, Megan Baumann, Meg Boyle, and Xi Liu.

Twice a year, Global Programs seeks travel grant applications from faculty and graduate students. The Travel Grant program supports faculty travel related to developing global awareness, global literacy and global competency among our undergraduate population. Graduate students may apply for the grants for assistance with travel to international conferences with the goal of promoting and supporting global leadership in scholarship and international engagements.


Commentary II: New postcolonial insights on gender, indigeneity, and development, and refractions to environment and health issues

Karl S. Zimmerer
Progress in Human Geography
Postcolonialism is at once a vigorous knowledge network, a wide-ranging coalescence of theoretical analysis, a powerful critique of policy, and a practical toolkit used to dissemble and connect ideas and concepts. For the past few decades it has been extensively and productively engaged in rethinking ideas of nature and culture and applying these insights to environment and health issues. The postcolonial perspective on nature and culture has framed understandings of the powerful dynamics of gender, race, and ethnicity that permeate policy and management in these other fields. This perspective has offered major insight into the asymmetrical power relations of persistent social groups (women, indigenous people, Afro-descendants, urban and rural poor) and the entwining of their politically and policy-mediated relation to resource access and certain spaces. In the case of environmental issues, for example, these spaces have included the territories designated as parks, nature reserves, and protected areas.

A Large-Scale Location-based Social Network to Understanding the Impact of Human Geo-Social Interaction Patterns on Vaccination Strategies in an Urbanized Area

Luo W, Gao P, and Cassels S.
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
Cities play an important role in fostering and amplifying the transmission of airborne diseases (e.g., influenza) because of dense human contacts. Before an outbreak of airborne diseases within a city, how to determine an appropriate containment area for effective vaccination strategies is unknown. This research treats airborne disease spreads as geo-social interaction patterns, because viruses transmit among different groups of people over geographical locations through human interactions and population movement. Previous research argued that an appropriate scale identified through human geo-social interaction patterns can provide great potential for effective vaccination. However, little work has been done to examine the effectiveness of such vaccination at large scales (e.g., city) that are characterized by spatially heterogeneous population distribution and movement. This article therefore aims to understand the impact of geo-social interaction patterns on effective vaccination in the urbanized area of Portland, Oregon. To achieve this goal, we simulate influenza transmission on a large-scale location-based social network to 1) identify human geo-social interaction patterns for designing effective vaccination strategies, and 2) and evaluate the efficacy of different vaccination strategies according to the identified geo-social patterns. The simulation results illustrate the effectiveness of vaccination strategies based on geo-social interaction patterns in containing the epidemic outbreak at the source. This research can provide evidence to inform public health approaches to determine effective scales in the design of disease control strategies.

Development of an Agent-based Model to Investigate the Impact of HIV Self-testing Programs for Men Who Have Sex with Men in Atlanta and Seattle

Luo W, Katz D, Hamilton D, McKennie J, Jenness S, Goodreau S, Stekler J, Rosenberg E, Sullivan P., and Cassels S.
JMIR Public Health Surveillance
DOI: 10.2196/publichealth.9357
In the United States HIV epidemic, men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the most profoundly affected group. Prevention science is increasingly being organized around HIV testing as a launch point into an HIV prevention continuum for MSM who are not living with HIV and into an HIV care continuum for MSM who are living with HIV. An increasing HIV testing frequency among MSM might decrease future HIV infections by linking men who are living with HIV to antiretroviral care, resulting in viral suppression. Distributing HIV self-test (HIVST) kits is a strategy aimed at increasing HIV testing. Our previous modeling work suggests that the impact of HIV self-tests on transmission dynamics will depend not only on the frequency of tests and testers’ behaviors but also on the epidemiological and testing characteristics of the population.

While we dialogue, others die: A response to ‘The possibilities and limits to dialogue’

Derek Alderman, Joshua FJ Inwood
Dialogues in Human Geography
We revisit Martin Luther King Jr’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail (2013 [1963]), using his words to frame our thinking about the promise, limits, and efficacy of dialogue. The life and death politics of everyday oppressed people should directly inform any consideration of the merits of scholars engaging in (or disengaging from) dialogue, what they ultimately say, and with whom they engage in dialogue and political action. The stakes are too high—for the academy, broader society, and especially for those groups who bear the direct burden of injustice—not to engage in scholarly dialogue and debate. It is also important for scholars to communicate in resonant ways and enhance the value of their academic dialogue to oppressed groups. The most significant threat to scholarly dialogue is not necessarily from extremists; rather, the challenge lies in creating consequential dialogue with those who remain silent and indifferent in the face of what King called ‘the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed’.

Jul 18

Geographers at Arts Fest | New course GEOG 397 | Pulling in diversity in athletics


Alex Klippel demonstrates the use of VR googles at the Penn State Art of Discovery tent during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 2017. He returns this year to share his research on immersive technologies. Visit him on Saturday, July 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.. And don’t forget to visit with another geographer, Denice Wardrop, who will explore mankind’s relationship with plastics, also on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to noon. The Art of Discovery booth is next to Willard Building.



Explore the impacts of plastics through art at Arts Festival

Plastic bottles. Kitchen bags. Toys. Medical devices. Each year, mankind produces more than 320 million tons of plastic — roughly the same weight as all of humanity itself put together.

“Think about that,” said Denice Wardrop, professor of ecology and geography at Penn State. “Every year we recreate humanity in plastic.”

New course puts Penn State students in control of transformational technology

GEOG 397 will convene for the first time at University Park in fall 2018
In his decade of teaching at Penn State, Professor of Geography Alex Klippel has seen immersive technologies disrupt everything at the University from education to research to outreach. His belief in the power of this machinery to improve the learning process guided his creation of GEOG 397: Immersive Technologies – Transforming Society through Digital Innovation.

Penn State launches new graduate certificate for geospatial software developers

Certificate in geospatial programming and web map development being offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus

Penn State has launched a new graduate certificate aimed at helping geospatial professionals working in the GIS and web mapping industries to expand their software development and coding skills.

Athletic ‘pull’ increases campus diversity

The next time you see your favorite collegiate athlete on the field or court, think again about their road to getting there.

That is something Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography at Penn State, has spent the past several years piecing together. Her findings were published in The Professional Geographer.


Social Cyber-Security

Carley K.M., Cervone G., Agarwal N., Liu H.
In: Thomson R., Dancy C., Hyder A., Bisgin H. (eds) Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling.
Social Cyber-Security is an emerging scientific discipline. Its methodological and scientific foundation, key challenges, and scientific direction are described. The multi-disciplinary nature of this field and its emphasis on dynamic information strategies is considered.

Coupling Traffic and Gas Dispersion Simulation for Atmospheric Pollution Estimation

Cervone G., Dallmeyer J., Lattner A.D., Franzese P., Waters N.
In: Wang S., Goodchild M. (eds) CyberGIS for Geospatial Discovery and Innovation.
A CyberGIS approach is presented in this chapter where microscopic traffic simulation and gas dispersion simulation systems are combined in order to estimate atmospheric pollution for different scenarios. The combination of these two simulation models allows for detailed investigations of different situations such as the investigation of pollution impacts of different traffic infrastructure variants, as well as for prediction of expected pollution and whether pollutant thresholds will be exceeded. For different case studies, real data about traffic movements provided by the state government, a digital terrain model of the area as well as real measurements of atmospheric data have been used. The evaluation of the approach shows that variations in the settings, regarding traffic or atmospheric conditions, lead to different patterns of observed pollution. The CyberGIS environment described is used to run multiple simulations on a distributed cyberinfrastructure, where the high-end computational resources are available on servers in Europe and in North America.

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