Oct 17

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


class visis coal mine

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 17

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


Powell interviews friend

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sep 17

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Sep 17

Coffee Hour with Don McCandless | EcoChallenge | Geospatial advisory board



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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 17

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


Online Geospatial Program advisory board

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


 Theodore Henry Baka Lewellen

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sep 17

Coffee Hour with Erica Smithwick | Urbanization search | Rec Rec recap

Martina Calovi

Martina Calovi, who is a visiting scholar with the Geoinformatics and Earth Observation (GEO) Laboratory, won the gold prize paper award in the Young Scientists Session at the Conference of the International Society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management, Reykjavik, Iceland, in August.



September 8 Coffee Hour with Erica Smithwick
Transformative Learning Spaces for an Uncertain World
Resilience is about complexity, change, and coping with uncertainty. It depends on a deep understanding of intertwined socio-ecological systems. However, uncertainty and complexity in both socio-ecological systems increasingly hinders decision-making. New knowledges and ontologies are needed to transform society for a mature Anthropocene. Using case studies from Ghana, South Africa, and the Menominee Nation (Wisconsin), Erica Smithwick will explore how biosphere stewardship can be enhanced through transformative research and education approaches that embrace interdisciplinary and cross-cultural ways of knowing.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Next week: Hari Osofsky, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs, Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of International Affairs, and Professor of Geography

Department search for assistant professor in urbanization
The Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University invites applicants for a tenure track human geography faculty position in Urbanization at the assistant professor level. We seek a candidate whose research analyzes and addresses the global challenges of urbanization, including topics such as urban social inequality, urban political mobilization and conflict, urban planning in the 21st century, or the challenges of urban sustainability. We encourage applicants who use a range of methodological approaches and scales of analysis, and who have the potential and desire to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines engaged in understanding the fundamental reshaping of physical and human environments brought by urbanization.

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
Recognition Reception celebrates new spaces, contributions, accomplishments
Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Department of Geography gathered on Friday, April 28, 2017 in Walker Building for the annual Recognition Reception. The purpose of the event was to recognize the accomplishments and contributions made throughout the year by Penn State geographers. This year, the event also celebrated lab renovations in the department.


Investigating Interactive Video Assessment Tools for Online and Blended Learning
By D Blackstock, S Edel-Malizia, K Bittner, E Smithwick
In ICEL 2017-Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on e-learning
Using digital video as a learning tool is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for instructors to convey content to students. With instructors assigning online videos from sources like Khan Academy, YouTube, TeacherTube, TEDx, PBS Learning Media, and others …

Aug 17

Best in show | Critical zone course | Damage Assessment in urban disasters


Tara Mazurczyk Best in Show BellefonteCongratulations to geography graduate student Tara Mazurczyk for winning Best in Show at the Bellefonte Arts Festival held August 12–13.


Weekly publication of DoG enews resumes. Coffee Hour speakers will be included soon. Continue to send your good news, story ideas, and photos from fieldwork and travels to geography@psu.edu.

Kimberley Thomas published an article about water sharing in South Asia in The Third Pole.
Mark Monmonier (’67g,’69g) published a new book, Patents and Cartographic Inventions: A New Perspective for Map History
Jennifer Baka was awarded the EMS Ryan Faculty Fellowship for 2017-2020

Call for papers for the Critical Geography Conference at Penn State deadline is September 15, 2017


Course introduces students to critical zone science
A new course encourages students to take a highly interdisciplinary approach to dealing with pressing environmental challenges.

The curriculum is an introduction to critical zone science, an emerging field that brings together scientists with diverse backgrounds to study the place where rock, soil, water, air and life meet.


18 Damage assessment of the urban environment during disasters using volunteered geographic information
By Hultquist, Carolynne, Elena Sava, Guido Cervone, and Nigel Waters
In Big Data for Regional Science (2017).
Cities are more vulnerable than ever due to rapid urbanization and the threats posed by
natural, manmade and technological hazards. The emergence of megacities led to the quick development of facilities needed to supply millions of people with necessary resources, including food, energy, and water.

Making Space for Energy: Wasteland Development, Enclosures, and Energy Dispossessions
By Baka, Jennifer
In Antipode, 49: 977–996
doi: 10.1111/anti.12219
This paper analyzes why and how wasteland development narratives persist through an evaluation of wasteland development policies in India from 1970 to present. Integrating critical scholarship on environmental narratives and enclosures, I find that narratives of wastelands as “empty” spaces available for “improvement” continue because they are metaphors for entrenched struggles between the government’s shifting visions of “improvement” and communities whose land use practices contradict these logics. Since the 1970s, “improvement” has meant establishing different types of tree plantations on wastelands to ostensibly provide energy security. These projects have dispossessed land users by enclosing common property lands and by providing forms of energy incommensurate with local needs, a trend I term “energy dispossessions”. Factors enabling energy dispossessions include the government’s increased attempts to establish public–private partnerships to carry out “improvement” and a “field of observation” constructed to obscure local livelihoods. Unveiling these logics will help to problematize and contest future iterations of wasteland development.

Political-industrial ecology: An introduction
By Joshua P. Newell, Joshua J.Cousins, Jennifer Baka
In Geoforum
Political ecology and industrial ecology have emerged as influential, but distinct, intellectual thought traditions devoted to understanding the transformation of nature-society relations and processes. Evolving from the pioneering work by physicists and environmental engineers in the late 1960s (e.g. Ayres and Kneese, 1969), industrial ecology emerged as a distinct field in the 1990s (Graedel and Allenby, 2003). It is a largely normative project that seeks to quantify and dematerialize the resource stocks and flows of industrial ecosystems, product life cycles, and societal metabolisms. To systematically dissect production-consumption processes across cradle-to-grave phases (e.g. extraction, manufacturing, use, reuse), industrial ecology deploys material flow analysis, life cycle assessment, environmental input-output modeling, amongst other methods, and has cultivated more abstract principles and practices such as industrial symbiosis and socio-economic metabolism. As the field has matured, industrial ecology has branched out by becoming more heterogeneous, not only in terms of topical foci and methodology, but also in terms of how it understands the material basis of societal transitions (cf. Vienna School of Social Ecology; Haberl et al., 2016). Nevertheless, the overwhelming focus of industrial ecology is on the material rather than social dimensions of resource use.


Aug 17

Summer Commencement | IEE grants | Research on food, water, social media


graduate commencement Limpisathian and Brewer Summer 2017

Bill Limpisathian (left) graduated with his master of science degree in geography on Sunday, August 12, Penn State’s summer Commencement. With him is his adviser and head of the department, Cynthia Brewer. Congratulations to all our geography grads!


Weekly publication of DoG enews resumes on August 29, 2017. Continue to send your good news, story ideas, and photos from fieldwork and travels to geography@psu.edu.

Joshua Inwood and a colleague wrote an opinion piece about confronting white nationalism in The Globe Post

Welcome to visiting faculty member Nai Yang. He will be here for one year, working on GIScience research topics in collaboration with faculty and students in GeoVISTA. His past research includes a range of topics in 2D and 3D terrain representation and generalization, geovisualization, spatial analysis, and GIS applications.


Institutes of Energy and the Environment seed grant recipients announced
Geographers Erica Smithwick and Jennifer Baka among them
The 2017 Institutes for Energy and the Environment (IEE) seed grants have been awarded to a pool of interdisciplinary researchers at Penn State. Thirteen grants totaling more than $312,000 have been awarded to 42 researchers that addressed four of IEE’s five research themes: Climate and Ecosystem Change, Future Energy Supply, Smart Energy Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles.


Geographic Accessibility Of Food Outlets Not Associated With Body Mass Index Change Among Veterans, 2009–14
By Shannon N. Zenk, Elizabeth Tarlov, Coady Wing, Stephen A. Matthews, Kelly Jones, Hao Tong and Lisa M. Powell
In Health Affairs
Access http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/8/1433.full
In recent years, various levels of government in the United States have adopted or discussed subsidies, tax breaks, zoning laws, and other public policies that promote geographic access to healthy food. However, there is little evidence from large-scale longitudinal or quasi-experimental research to suggest that the local mix of food outlets actually affects body mass index (BMI). We used a longitudinal design to examine whether the proximity of food outlets, by type, was associated with BMI changes between 2009 and 2014 among 1.7 million veterans in 382 metropolitan areas. We found no evidence that either absolute or relative geographic accessibility of supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, or mass merchandisers was associated with changes in an individual’s BMI over time. While policies that alter only geographic access to food outlets may promote equitable access to healthy food and improve nutrition, our findings suggest they will do little to combat obesity in adults.

The Ganges water treaty: 20 years of cooperation, on India’s terms
By Kimberley Anh Thomas
In Water Policy
Access http://wp.iwaponline.com/content/19/4/724
International cooperation has become a universal mandate for governing transboundary waterbodies. Diverse stakeholders promote cooperation as a desirable, if not indispensable, approach to achieving sustainable and equitable benefits from and for transboundary waterbodies. However, calls for international water cooperation operate from the presupposition that cooperation is an unambiguous concept. While cooperation appears self-evident and unproblematic, cases of formal cooperation reveal points of contestation about cooperation itself. For example, India and Bangladesh disagree about the extent to which cooperation is occurring over the Ganges River despite having penned a bilateral treaty that has been in force for 20 years. I analyze qualitative interviews and previously unpublished hydrological data to evaluate assertions that hydrological hazards in Southwestern Bangladesh result from India’s activities and that India is failing to uphold the 1996 agreement. The analysis indicates that these assertions are true and false: India is broadly adhering to the Ganges Treaty but unilaterally withdraws water during a critical period of the dry season when regional livelihoods are most vulnerable. The study concludes that transboundary water cooperation as an abstract ideal overlooks the fact that cooperation as a practice emerges from and operates within specific historical, political, cultural, and economic contexts.

A cloud-enabled automatic disaster analysis system of multi-sourced data streams: An example synthesizing social media, remote sensing and Wikipedia data
By Qunying Huang, Guido Cervone, Guiming Zhang
In Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
Access https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2017.06.004
Social media streams and remote sensing data have emerged as new sources for tracking disaster events, and assessing their damages. Previous studies focus on a case-by-case approach, where a specific event was first chosen and filtering criteria (e.g., keywords, spatiotemporal information) are manually designed and used to retrieve relevant data for disaster analysis. This paper presents a framework that synthesizes multi-sourced data (e.g., social media, remote sensing, Wikipedia, and Web), spatial data mining and text mining technologies to build an architecturally resilient and elastic solution to support disaster analysis of historical and future events. Within the proposed framework, Wikipedia is used as a primary source of different historical disaster events, which are extracted to build an event database. Such a database characterizes the salient spatiotemporal patterns and characteristics of each type of disaster. Additionally, it can provide basic semantics, such as event name (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) and type (e.g., flooding) and spatiotemporal scopes, which are then tuned by the proposed procedures to extract additional information (e.g., hashtags for searching tweets), to query and retrieve relevant social media and remote sensing data for a specific disaster. Besides historical event analysis and pattern mining, the cloud-based framework can also support real-time event tracking and monitoring by providing on-demand and elastic computing power and storage capabilities. A prototype is implemented and tested with data relative to the 2011 Hurricane Sandy and the 2013 Colorado flooding.

Aug 17

PASDA changes | Brooks on WOTUS | Civil rights through a geospatial lens


GEO Lab at NCARMembers of the Geoinformatics and Earth Observation (GEO) Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research where they are conducting research this summer.


For the summer, DoG news will be published every other week. Continue to send your good news, story ideas, and photos from fieldwork and travels to geography@psu.edu.

Travis Young successfully completed his comprehensive exams and defended his proposal on July 24, 2017.

William Easterling will be named an American Meteorological Society Fellow at the January 2018 Meeting.

Rob Brooks was quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article about the Clean Water Rule, also known as the “Waters of the US” rule, or WOTUS.

Guerrilla Cartography, a cartographic arts organization and creator of Food: An Atlas, has announced a Kickstarter campaign for its sister project, Water: An Atlas. A collection of more than 80 maps, Water: An Atlas is a crowdsourced atlas that portrays water trends, usage issues and global events all created by volunteer cartographers from around the world. For inquiries, please contact: Darin Jensen (djensen@guerrillacartography.org)

Weiming Hu was featured in an EMS Summer Dispatch.


PASDA Map URLs changing
Some of the URLs at Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA) are going to change on August 7, 2017. This only affects FTP and Map Services; the website is unchanged and is still at www.pasda.psu.edu.

PASDA is Pennsylvania’s official public access geospatial information clearinghouse. PASDA was developed in 1996 by Penn State and has served as the clearinghouse for Pennsylvania for over twenty years.

All FTP traffic should be redirected to the following new FTP URL paths:
ftp://ftp.pasda.psu.edu/pub/pasda —replaces ftp://www.pasda.psu.edu/pub/pasda)
ftp://ftp.pasda.psu.edu/pub/pasda/pamap/ — (replaces ftp://pamap.pasda.psu.edu)

Vector and raster map services have been separated onto different servers:
Vector — http://maps.pasda.psu.edu/arcgis/rest/services
Raster — http://imagery.pasda.psu.edu/arcgis/rest/services

Links to these new URLs are up-to-date on the website. If you have bookmarks, code, or MXDs that consume PASDA map services, you may need to update your local content to reflect the changes. Questions may be directed to Ryan Baxter.

NSF grant supports research into geospatial intelligence during civil rights era
During the civil rights movement, activist groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) used geography and geospatial intelligence to identify protest sites and to plan civil rights protests. A new $373,000 National Science Foundation grant is letting researchers dig into those geospatial tactics to see what can be learned about patterns of racial inequality and how the SNCC collected and leveraged geospatial intelligence data to bolster its activist efforts.

“Geospatial intelligence has become a burgeoning field in geography,” said Joshua Inwood, associate professor of geography and senior research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. “For us to understand this area fully, we need to consider how a range of different groups of people are engaged with the collection and understanding of geographic information and its potential to effect change. SNCC was a great collector of geography during its time.”

Farnsworth receives 2017 Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence
Robert J. Farnsworth, a retired U.S. Army reconnaissance engineer and Penn State alumnus, was selected to receive the 2017 Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence. He was honored during the 2017 United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) Symposium in San Antonio on June 5.

Farnsworth was presented with the award by Keith J. Masback, CEO of USGIF; Nancy S. Coleman, vice president of corporate communications at DigitalGlobe; and Todd S. Bacastow, geospatial intelligence faculty member with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

Researchers receive USDA grant to study new riparian buffer strategy
Rob Brooks and Riparia staff are participating in the project
A team led by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has received a nearly $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a three-year study of a new flexible strategy to ramp up installation of riparian buffers.


Looking through a different lens: Examining the inequality-mortality association in U.S. counties using spatial panel models.
By TC Yang, SA Matthews, K Park (2017)
In Applied Geography 86, 139-151
Access: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0143622816306397
Two areas still need further examination in the ecological study of inequality and mortality. First, the evidence for the relationship between income inequality and mortality remains inconclusive, particularly when the analytic unit is small (e.g., county in the U.S.). Second, most previous studies are cross-sectional and are unable to address the recent diverging patterns whereby mortality has decreased and income inequality increased. This study aims to contribute to both topic areas by studying the relationship between inequality and mortality via a spatiotemporal approach that simultaneously considers the spatial structure and the temporal trends of inequality and mortality using county panel data between 1990 and 2010 for the conterminous U.S. Using both spatial panel random effect and spatial panel fixed effect models, we found that (a) income inequality was not a significant factor for mortality after taking into account the spatiotemporal structure and the most salient factors for mortality (e.g., socioeconomic status); (b) the spatial panel fixed effect model indicated that income inequality was negatively associated with mortality over the time, a relationship mirroring the diverging patterns; and (c) the significant spatial and temporal fixed effects suggested that both dimensions are critical factors in understanding the inequality-mortality relationship in the U.S. Our findings lend support to the argument that income inequality does not affect mortality and suggest that the cross-sectional findings may be a consequence of ignoring the temporal trends.

The legacy of slavery and contemporary declines in heart disease mortality in the US South
By MR Kramer, NC Black, SA Matthews, SA James (2017)
In SSM-Population Health 3, 609-617
Access: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352827317300460
Nearly 50 years of declining heart disease mortality is a major public health success, but one marked by uneven progress by place and race. At the county level, progress in heart disease mortality reduction among Blacks is associated with place-based historical legacy of slavery. Effective and equitable public health prevention efforts should consider the historical context of place and the social and economic institutions that may play a role in facilitating or impeding diffusion of prevention efforts thereby producing heart healthy places and populations.

Jul 17

ChoroPhronesis | UROC projects due | More news on summer activities


Arts FestPenn State highlighted the art of science and the science of art at a booth during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Alex Klippel demonstrates how his lab enables one take a virtual 360-degree field trip to Brazil, Belize, Iceland, and historic University Park campus with virtual reality headsets.


For the summer, DoG news will be published every other week. Continue to send your good news, story ideas, and photos from fieldwork and travels to geography@psu.edu.

Yanan Xin was featured in an EMS Summer Dispatch.

Now is the time to submit projects for Undergraduate Research Opportunity Connection (UROC) for fall 2017. Projects due by Sunday, July 30. To learn more and submit projects visit: www.geog.psu.edu/uroc

Welcome to visiting Ph.D. student, Ekaterina Chuprikova, who is joining us from the Technische Universität München. Her dissertation is focused on “validation of global land cover data, predictive analysis and spatial-temporal uncertainty estimation and visualisation.”  Over the next couple of months, she will be exchanging ideas with faculty and students in GeoVISTA and the department about these and related topics. Her desk is in 206A Walker Building.

Joshua Inwood was featured on a podcast on NPR about the Confederate Memorial Debates in St. Louis. www.npr.org/podcasts/404742561/we-live-here

Alex Klippel has been named an Associate in the Institute for Cyber Science

A visualization to show forest development under climate change led by ChoroPhronesis member Jiawei Huang in collaboration with Melissa Lucasch, Robert Scheller, and Alexander Klippel, won third prize in the VISTAS contest. Our VIFF (viff.psu.edu) group tested a workflow of translating LANDIS-II output into virtual reality for the very first time, creating this video of the Willow Creek LTER:


Street naming and the politics of belonging [book chapter]
By Derek Alderman, Joshua Inwood
In The Political Life of Urban Streetscapes: Naming, Politics, and Place
By Reuben Rose-Redwood (’02g,’06g), Derek Alderman, Maoz Azaryahu
Access: https://books.google.com/books?id=QkYrDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PT313&ots=cY6JWRaNMe&lr&pg=PT313#v=onepage&q&f=false
Streetscapes are part of the taken-for-granted spaces of everyday urban life, yet they are also contested arenas in which struggles over identity, memory, and place shape the social production of urban space. This book examines the role that street naming has played in the political life of urban streetscapes in both historical and contemporary cities. The renaming of streets and remaking of urban commemorative landscapes have long been key strategies that different political regimes have employed to legitimize spatial assertions of sovereign authority, ideological hegemony, and symbolic power. Over the past few decades, a rich body of critical scholarship has explored the politics of urban toponymy, and the present collection brings together the works of geographers, anthropologists, historians, linguists, planners, and political scientists to examine the power of street naming as an urban place-making practice. Covering a wide range of case studies from cities in Europe, North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, the contributions to this volume illustrate how the naming of streets has been instrumental to the reshaping of urban spatial imaginaries and the cultural politics of place.

Archaeological site exploration and analysis
By Wallgrün, J. O., Huang, J., Zhao, J., Ebert, C., Roddy, P., Awe, Jaime, J.,. . . Klippel, A.
In P. Fogliaroni, A. Ballatore, & E. Clementini (Eds.), Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017). Springer: Berlin.
Access: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319639451

Developing and evaluating VR field trips
By Oprean, D., Wallgrün, J. O., Duarte, J., Pereira, D., Zhao, J., & Klippel, A. (2017).  In P. Fogliaroni, A. Ballatore, & E. Clementini (Eds.), Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017). Springer: Berlin.
Access: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319639451

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