Mar 18

Coffee hour features UROC | Holdsworth’s new book | Alumnus profiled in Science


Taylors on horseback in Acadia

For the 2017 season, Alan Taylor (and his horse Rico) were fourth overall for the 25 mile distance in Competitive Trail Riding for the Northeastern Region (Maine to Virginia). The photo shows Alan and Rico (left) and Kristin and Leo in Acadia National Park, Maine.


The Department of Geography launched a new website on March 20, 2018. The URL will be the same as before: www.geog.psu.edu, however any links to pages within the old site will no longer work. Check any links you currently have to our website, and contact geography@psu.edu if you are having trouble linking to the pages or content you seek.

  • Incoming faculty member, Emily Rosenman, won the best dissertation award from the Urban Geography Speciality Group this year.
  • Danielle Oprean, post-doc in ChoroPhronesis, has accepted a position at the University of Missouri in the School of Information and Learning Technologies. She will begin her tenure-track faculty position starting August 2018.
  • Jonathan Nelson passed his PhD proposal defense (on March 13).
  • Aparna Parikh has a chapter titled “Gendered household expectations: Neoliberal policies, graveyard shifts, and women’s responsibilities in Mumbai, India” in the recently published book, Modernity, Space, and Gender.
  • Megan Baumann and Eden Kinkaid are this year’s recipients of the Nancy Brown Community Service Award.
  • Clio Andris won the the 2017-2018 Emerging Scholar Award from the Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group of AAG.
  • Justine Blanford was selected as a member of the inaugural cohort for the TRELIS project, Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM-Geospatial Sciences


Coffee Hour: Spring 2018 UROC talks

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) offers research and professional development opportunities in the Department of Geography. Students who participated in UROC during spring semester 2018 will present short talks on their research and experiences in the program.

Speakers and their presentation titles:

  • Brit Ickes: A Look at Tolima, Columbia’s Waterways Effect on Sustainable Agriculture
  • Clara Miller: India’s Beef Ban: Scientific Expertise, Beef Detection Kits, and Differential Citizenship
  • Stephanie Keyaka: Between Tolerance and Acceptance: Sexuality and Development in the Philippines
  • Lauren Hile: Analyzing Media Coverage: Refugees in a Nontraditional Resettlement Destination
  • Hope Bodenschatz: Digital Timeline of Agricultural Extension in Uganda
  • Joseph Grosso and Ivy Wang: The Neighborhood Connectivity Survey
  • Harman Singh: Struggles of an Indian Farmer
  • Brittany Waltemate: Thematic Mapping of Sri Lanka
  • Love Popli: Three Challenges Facing Indian Farmers

Time and location:

  • 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


From Science
Meet Vaclav Smil, the man who has quietly shaped how the world thinks about energy

Alumnus Vaclav Smil (’69g) is profiled
As a teenager in the 1950s, Vaclav Smil spent a lot of time chopping wood. He lived with his family in a remote town in what was then Czechoslovakia, nestled in the mountainous Bohemian Forest. On walks he could see the Hohenbogen, a high ridge in neighboring West Germany; less visible was the minefield designed to prevent Czechs from escaping across the border. Then it was back home, splitting logs every 4 hours to stoke the three stoves in his home, one downstairs and two up. Thunk. With each stroke his body, fueled by goulash and grain, helped free the sun’s energy, transiently captured in the logs. Thunk. It was repetitive and tough work. Thunk. It was clear to Smil that this was hardly an efficient way to live.

From The Guardian
Counter-mapping: cartography that lets the powerless speak

Sara is a 32-year-old mother of four from Honduras. After leaving her children in the care of relatives, she travelled across three state borders on her way to the US, where she hoped to find work and send money home to her family. She was kidnapped in Mexico and held captive for three months, and was finally released when her family paid a ransom of $190.

Her story is not uncommon. The UN estimates that there are 258 million migrants in the world. In Mexico alone, 1,600 migrants are thought to be kidnapped every month. What is unusual is that Sara’s story has been documented in a recent academic paper that includes a map of her journey that she herself drew.


Architectures of Hurry—Mobilities, Cities and Modernity

Mackintosh, P. G., Dennis, R., & Holdsworth, D. W. (Eds.). (2018). Routledge.
‘Hurry’ is an intrinsic component of modernity. It exists not only in tandem with modern constructions of mobility, speed, rhythm, and time-space compression, but also with infrastructures, technologies, practices, and emotions associated with the experience of the ‘mobilizing modern’. ‘Hurry’ is not simply speed. It may result in congestion, slowing-down or inaction in the face of over-stimulus. Speeding-up is often competitive: faster traffic on better roads made it harder for pedestrians to cross, or for horse-drawn vehicles and cyclists to share the carriageway with motorised vehicles. Focussing on the cultural and material manifestations of ‘hurry’, the book’s contributors analyse the complexities, tensions and contradictions inherent in the impulse to higher rates of circulation in modernizing cities.

The collection includes but also goes beyond accounts of new forms of mobility (bicycles, buses, underground trains) and infrastructure (street layouts and surfaces, business exchanges, and hotels) to show how modernity’s ‘architectures of hurry’ have been experienced, represented, and practised since the mid-nineteenth century. Ten case studies explore different expressions of ‘hurry’ across cities and urban regions in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, while substantial introductory and concluding chapters situate ‘hurry’ in the wider context of modernity and mobility studies and reflect on the future of ‘hurry’ in an ever-accelerating world.

This diverse collection will be relevant to researchers, scholars and practitioners in the fields of planning, cultural and historical geography, urban history and urban sociology.

Citizens as Indispensable Sensors During Disasters

Guido Cervone and Carolynne Hultquist
The release of the seminal work People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science in 1998 by the National Research Council marked an important milestone in the study of interactions and changes between the Earth and people [7]. The book was based on over 20 years of work with satellite data, primarily Landsat, and multiple observations that characterized human activities and their interaction with the environment. Since the publication, technological advances and population dynamics provided new challenges and opportunities.

Over the 20 years since then, our ability to observe the Earth and our environment has undergone tremendous advances by using multiple high resolution remote sensing instruments and dense networks of ground sensors to improve our collection of data. These observations are often used to initialize or validate numerical simulations, to reconstruct past events, and predict future outcomes at high temporal and spatial resolutions

Mar 18

Coffee hour with Kendra McSweeney | New department website | Better weather models


Inventory: Rain and Water

A photo by Tara Mazurczyk of Inventory: Rain and Water, an exhibit at the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show she and others helped artist Stacy Levy to design. If the name Stacy Levy sounds familiar, it may be because she is the artist who created the Ridge and Valley watershed map at the Arboretum, featured on the cover of our fall 2013 newsletter.


  • The Department of Geography is launching its new website today, March 20, 2018! If you are trying to use the website, you may experience a service disruption during the transition process. The URL will be the same: www.geog.psu.edu, however any links to pages within the site will no longer work after today. Starting March 21, check any links you currently have to our website, and contact geography@psu.edu if you are having trouble linking to the pages or content you seek.
  • The Penn State GIS Coalition has officially been accepted as a Youthmappers chapter.
  • Congratulations to Stacey Olson on passing her M.S. Proposal Defense.
  • Congratulations to Jamie Peeler on passing her Ph.D. Proposal Defense.
  • Megan Baumann received a Global Programs Travel Grant to present research at the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG) in May in Costa Rica. Her paper is titled: “Living a callejera methodology: grounding Lugones’ streetwalker theorizing in a feminist decolonial praxis.” She will also be organizing a panel with Kelsey Brain on “Intersectionality and coloniality in human-environment geography: Empirical contributions to feminist theory from Latin America.”


Coffee Hour: Kendra McSweeney on “Drug policy and environmental change: lessons from Central America”

This presentation has two aims. First, I offer an overview of recent collaborative research that identifies the ways in which global drug policies are driving unexpected changes in land use, land cover, and agrarian futures in drug transit zones. Drawing from research in rural Central America, with emphasis on Honduras, I describe the logics, patterns, and processes driving narco-led transformations, which are profoundly shaped and intensified by specific U.S.-led counterdrug approaches. I discuss the implications of those findings for how we understand illicit economies, commodity chain geographies, and frontier transformations more generally. Second, I reflect on my research team’s collective experience doing and presenting this work, including a) the challenges of researching illicit activities in general; b) presenting our mixed-method research to international and national drug policy audiences; c) the opportunities and risks associated with working with media to mobilize our findings.

  • This talk is sponsored by Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG)
  • 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.
  • No Coffee Hour To Go: This talk is available live and in-person only. There will be no webcast and no recording.


Researchers create tool to better geographic projections in atmospheric modeling

Open-source code developed by a Penn State graduate could improve weather forecasting and a range of other research endeavors that rely on pairing atmospheric models with satellite imagery.
Yanni Cao, who earned her master’s degree in geography in 2016, developed the code while a member of Penn State’s Geoinformatics and Earth Observation laboratory (GEOlab) as a way to fix errors created when satellite data is combined with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The work was done in collaboration with her adviser, Guido Cervone, head of GEOLab, associate professor of geoinformatics and associate director of the Institute for CyberScience, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Conservation and diversity: Lives, languages and land in the balance

“Linguists reckon we lose a language every two to three weeks. Species extinction rates are about 1,000 times higher than they were before people showed up. None of that is good news,” said Larry Gorenflo, professor of landscape architecture and geography at Penn State.

Gorenflo conducts research to understand how cultural and biological diversity co-occur in the hope of helping to conserve both. Gorenflo also holds the Eleanor R. Stuckeman (ERS) Chair in Design which provides him with support to further his ongoing inquiries. His research has demonstrated that places with a high number of species also feature high numbers of indigenous languages. He added, “Both are disappearing at alarming rates.”

From Portland State University News

Portland State professor helps bring forests of the future to life

Research team members include Penn Staters Erica Smithwick, Alexander Klippel, Nancy Tuana, Rebecca Bird, Klaus Keller and Robert Nicholas

What if you could see what a forest might look like 50 or 100 years from now? Imagine being able to see how a warming climate turned a dense forest into sparser woodlands.

Soon, there will be an app for that. With just a smartphone and a cardboard headset, users will be able to immerse themselves in a forest years into the future.

Portland State University researcher Melissa Lucash is part of a team that is working to visualize how a variety of factors – including climate change, wildfires, insect invasions and harvesting practices – can alter a forest and how that information can then be used by forest managers when making decisions.


Mar 18

Coffee Hour is grad lightening talks | Study abroad impacts | Geospatial intelligence careers


Coffee Hour grad lightening talks
A composite image by Tara Mazurczyk of the Coffee Hour lecture room and graduate students who gave a lightening talk last year. This Friday’s Coffee Hour will feature seven graduate students giving lightening talks about their research.


  • Meg Boyle is giving a talk on international climate policy on Wednesday March 14, at 11:15 a.m., as part of the Earth System Science Seminar brownbag lunch series, in 529 Walker Building.
  • Guido Cervone and Penn State colleagues received a seed grant for “Multi-Scale Estimates of Solar Power Water Stress by Integrating Process-Based Descriptions with Deep-Learning-Based Mapping of Solar Farms” from the Institutes of Energy and the Environment.
  • Karl Zimmerer and GeoSyntheSES Lab affiliate Steve Vanek have co-authored a new article with Eric Lambin of Stanford University. The article, “Smallholder Telecoupling and Potential Sustainability,” is published in the most recent issue of the journal Ecology and Society (see PUBLISHED section below for citation details and abstract)
  • Congratulations to Audrey Lumley-Sapanski on passing her dissertation defense.
  • SWIG is seeking new officers. Nominations are due March 21 at 5:00 p.m. to Lauren Fritzsche


Graduate Student Lightening Talks
This week’s Coffee Hour will features 7 short (a.k.a. lightening) talks by graduate students in the Department of Geography. The talks will offer a glimpse of their research in progress. 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

  • Natalie Pawlikowski: Group Gap Dynamics and Implications for Fire Resilience in an Old-Growth Ponderosa Pine Forest
  • Cary Anderson: Map Happy: Emotive Color Connotations in Cartographic Design
  • Carolynne Hultquist: Comparison of Fukushima Radiation Dispersion Simulations to Government and Volunteer-Contributed Environmental Observations
  • Elham Nasr: Nature Schools and their Impacts on Empowering of Young Girls
  • Zach Goldberg: Coffee Hour Food: How can $25 change the world?
  • Weiming Hu: Unstructured Grid Adaptation with Genetic Algorithm for Numeric Weather Prediction
  • Peter Backhaus: Synthesizing Remote Wetland Functional Assessment Methods


from the Altoona Mirror
Earth Matters: Late geography professor made a lasting impact
We all need to look up from our phones long enough to see the real world — not just to keep from running into something, but to truly look at everything that surrounds us.

We would better appreciate what a marvel the planet is and how we can change it, negatively and positively.

Penn State geography professor Peirce Lewis was as influential as anyone in helping me see those details, both natural and man-made. While his passing two weeks ago saddened me, my memories of his classes, lectures, and writings also inspired me.

Students achieve personal, professional growth through study abroad in Tanzania
Andrew Patterson, a geography major, never thought he would be able to study abroad.

“When I was a sophomore,” Patterson said, “I switched majors from environmental systems engineering to geography, and so I really didn’t think I would have the ability to study abroad and also graduate in four years.”

Geospatial intelligence students boost careers with online program
Dan Steiner knows a thing or two about assessing terrain, gathering knowledge sources and weighing human interactions — all things required in the field of geospatial intelligence — on the fly.

The West Point graduate who served for seven years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including leading an engineering company in combat during Operation Desert Storm, spent his life using these skills, first in the military, then for a pharmaceutical company, and currently for Orion Mapping, a geospatial intelligence business he founded three years ago.

Liberal Arts student has research paper accepted by international conferences
Penn State Schreyer Scholar Doran Tucker has been interested in medieval armor since before he started college, so much so that he has made his own chain mail.

The Penn State geography and international politics major considered making some armor to fulfill a general education course requirement but decided to research and write about it instead.

Tucker’s independent study paper on that topic has been accepted to both the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University this May and the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, in July.


Smallholder telecoupling and potential sustainability
Zimmerer, K. S., E. F. B. Lambin, and S. J. Vanek
Ecology and Society
Smallholders are crucial for global sustainability given their importance to food and nutritional security, agriculture, and biodiversity conservation. Worldwide smallholders are subject to expanded telecoupling whereby their social-ecological systems are linked to large-scale socioeconomic and environmental drivers. The present research uses the synthesis of empirical evidence to demonstrate smallholder telecoupling through the linkages stemming from the global-level integration of markets (commodity, labor, finance), urbanization, governance, and technology. These telecoupling forces are often disadvantageous to smallholders while certain conditions can contribute to the potential sustainability of their social-ecological systems. Case studies were chosen to describe sustainability opportunities and limits involving smallholder production and consumption of high-agrobiodiversity Andean maize amid telecoupled migration (Bolivia), the role of international eco-certification in smallholder coffee-growing and agroforests (Colombia), smallholder organic dairy production in large-scale markets and technology transfer (upper Midwest, U.S.A.), and smallholders’ global niche commodity production of argan oil (Morocco). These case studies are used to identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by smallholders in telecoupling and to develop a conceptual framework.


Feb 18

New obelisk app | AAG presenters | Peirce Lewis


obelisk app

Pictured above, a screen shot of the Obelisk Experience Obelisk augmented-reality app from a demo video. Read the news story below. Last week’s mystery photo from Rob Brooks was out-of-focus air bubbles in a running stream, with sunlight reflecting through them from a mirror placed underwater.


Alex Klippel is co-PI on a seed grant funded by the Center for Security Research and Education. The project is titled, “The Extinction of Dominion,” and is an interdisciplinary project that combines deep anthropological scholarship on Colombia’s armed conflict and state of the art geospatial and data visualization techniques to analyze the legal category of the “extinction of dominion.” PI is Alex Fattal from the Bellisario College of Communications.

Nari Senanayake has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky.

Joshua Inwood participated in the first-ever “Rock the News” podcast about everyday ethics.

Rob Brooks and 3 geography graduate students, Bill Limpisathian, Tara Mazurczyk, and Elena Sava, plus Tim Gould from Ecology, and colleague Bill Mitsch published a paper in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, “Does the Ohio River Flow All the Way to New Orleans?” – a humorous look at naming rivers.


Coffee Hour schedule
Coffee Hour takes a brief hiatus this week and next due to spring break, March 4–10. When we return, the schedule includes the following:

  • March 16: Grad Lightening Talks
  • March 23: Kendra McSweeney
  • March 30: UROC talks
  • April 6: Randall F. Mason
  • April 20: The Miller Lecture: Ariel Anbar


Student Scholarship Opportunity for Esri-MUG Spring Meeting
The Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group (Esri-MUG) is looking for enthusiastic students or recent graduates who are seeking GIS employment to attend and present at the Esri-MUG Spring Meeting. This year, the Esri-MUG Spring Meeting will be held at The Universities at Shady Grove in Shady Grove, MD, on April 20, 2018. The general format of the meeting will include a plenary presentation in the morning with updates from Esri on the latest technology followed by breakout sessions with user presentations. We hope that representatives from your institution will participate! Registration page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mid-atlantic-user-group-meeting-tickets-43217117562

We are asking professors and department chairs of geography, GIS, and other related disciplines from various Mid-Atlantic colleges and universities to distribute the forms (MUG Scholarship Letter and Student Scholarship Application) to their colleagues and students within the applicable GIS program area to help generate awareness of this opportunity. Up to four (4) student scholarships will be awarded based on the responses on this form. The chosen students will be awarded a $100 scholarship to cover travel, lodging and food expenses! We are asking that these forms be completed and submitted no later than March 16, 2018. Students will be notified of their selection by March 30, 2018.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Sue Hoegberg at 703-849-0419 or shoegberg@dewberry.com.

Many geographers presenting at AAG 2017
More than 70 Penn Staters, including students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff are participating in the AAG annual meeting in New Orleans.
Among the highlights:
• Several online geospatial program MGIS students will be giving their capstone presentations during the meeting.
• The Penn State Geography Alumni and Friends reception is planned for Thursday, April 12, at 7:00 p.m. at Napolean House, New Orleans

Spreadsheet on Box with all Penn Staters and their sessions
Please let us know if we missed you!

More AAG program information

Augmented reality app reveals campus monument’s history as teaching tool
Augmented reality is reviving the educational focus of the oldest monument on Penn State’s University Park campus. Known as the Obelisk, the nearly 33-foot-tall, 53.4-ton stone structure was originally constructed in 1896 to showcase regional rocks and minerals. Its 281 stones, procured from sites around Pennsylvania and neighboring states, are stacked by geologic time period, from youngest at the top to oldest at the base.

Now, anyone with a new Obelisk augmented-reality app, developed by researchers in the Department of Geography, can home in on details about each stone in the historic structure.

Excerpted from the Centre Daily Times Obituary
Geography professor emeritus Peirce F. Lewis has died
Peirce F. Lewis, 90, died at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, on February 18, 2018. He was born on October 26, 1927, in Detroit, Mich., and is the son of the late Peirce and Amy Fee Lewis, of Pleasant Ridge. Mich. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Felicia L. Lewis, of State College; his son, Hugh G. Lewis and his wife, Joselyn, of Gettysburg; his three granddaughters, Gillian Desonier-Lewis and Isla and Raquel Lewis; his sister, Frances Lewis Stevenson, and her husband, John, of St. Augustine, Fla.; and his beloved nephews and niece….

… Peirce joined the faculty of Penn State University’s Geography Department where he taught from 1958 until his retirement in 1995. Peirce loved everything about geography and revelled in any opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the subject with others. His acclaim as a lecturer and essayist is widely acknowledged by students and colleagues alike. His writings have received awards from the Association of American Geographers and the International Geographical Union. In 2004, he won the J. B. Jackson Award for his book, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. He gave invited lectures for more than 100 audiences around the country, both academic and public. He was a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, and at Michigan State University. He received several awards for his vibrant and engaging approaches to teaching geography, including the Lindback Foundation Award, Penn State’s highest award for distinguished teaching, the first Penn State Provost’s award for distinguished multidisciplinary teaching, and a national award as a distinguished teacher at the college level by the National Council for Geographic Education.


U.S. highways speak: How roadside development provides a biography
Wayne Brew (’81)
in the Handbook of the Changing World Language Map edited by Stanley Brunn and Roland Kehrein and published by Springer
Not to get mixed up with the cliché, “the road is calling,” the title of this chapter is designed to declare that the highway does speak to us if you know the language. Once you know this visual language, the roadside can provide a biography. Domestic and commercial architecture are to the cultural landscape what fossils are to the geologist, namely of way of dating when structures were built. This becomes a powerful tool that allows the reader to peel back the layers and gain an understanding of sequence. When buildings are updated or repurposed it also tells a story, providing a glimpse to see the evolution of the roadside. The generally accepted term for this, adaptive reuse, documents how humans adapt their buildings to the constantly changing economic and cultural environments the road finds itself in, sometimes leaving behind ruins implying a force that biologists once referred to as survival of the fittest. In this chapter, the author will discuss how to interpret the language spoken by the cultural landscape as it relates to the first generation of interstate highways that were built from the 1920s to the early 1950s. The first-generation interstates implemented existing local (county and state) roads to create a numbered system of through roads across state lines. The advent of limited access interstate highways then relegated the first-generation interstate highways back to local roads with a new purpose. Images of domestic and commercial architecture will be the main tools used to interpret the language of the highway. Signage, adaptive reuse, along with regional and local names of the highways will also be discussed to flesh out the biography.

Visually-Enabled Active Deep Learning for (Geo) Text and Image Classification: A Review
Liping Yang, Alan M. MacEachren, Prasenjit Mitra and Teresa Onorati
International Journal of Geo-Information
This paper investigates recent research on active learning for (geo) text and image classification, with an emphasis on methods that combine visual analytics and/or deep learning. Deep learning has attracted substantial attention across many domains of science and practice, because it can find intricate patterns in big data; but successful application of the methods requires a big set of labeled data. Active learning, which has the potential to address the data labeling challenge, has already had success in geospatial applications such as trajectory classification from movement data and (geo) text and image classification. This review is intended to be particularly relevant for extension of these methods to GISience, to support work in domains such as geographic information retrieval from text and image repositories, interpretation of spatial language, and related geo-semantics challenges. Specifically, to provide a structure for leveraging recent advances, we group the relevant work into five categories: active learning, visual analytics, active learning with visual analytics, active deep learning, plus GIScience and Remote Sensing (RS) using active learning and active deep learning. Each category is exemplified by recent influential work. Based on this framing and our systematic review of key research, we then discuss some of the main challenges of integrating active learning with visual analytics and deep learning, and point out research opportunities from technical and application perspectives—for application-based opportunities, with emphasis on those that address big data with geospatial components.


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.

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