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

Jul 17

Online student focus | ChoroPhronesis at Arts Fest | Sustainable forestry report

IMAGE OF THE WEEKWest Campus Steam Plant

Hmm … what’s missing here? This is the view from the eastern side of Walker Building looking toward the West Campus Steam Plant.


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.

ChoroPhronesis will be featured at the Penn State Arts Festival Booth on Friday, July 14, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  They will be sharing  several augmented virtual reality experiences.

Guido Cervone sent a summer dispatch from Italy:


Online Geospatial Education Student Focus: Jim Daly
We love 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.
Jim Daly, from Huntington, New York, entered our program in Fall 2013 and is on track to complete his MGIS degree in 2018. For his capstone project, he plans to pursue developing an online subdivision and zoning web map application for local municipalities and residents. The purpose of the application would be to identify property subject to certain state and municipal subdivision and zoning laws based on proximity to environmental features and governmental jurisdictions.


HLPE Report #11: Sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition
By HLPE Project Team members: Terence Sunderland (Team Leader), Fernande Abanda , Ronnie de Camino Velozo, Patrick Matakala, Peter May, Anatoly Petrov, Bronwen Powell, Bhaskar Vira, Camilla Widmark
Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
Video conference with panel: http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/4399/icode/
Download a PDF of the report: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-11_EN.pdf
In October 2014, the CFS requested the HLPE to conduct a study on Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition. The HLPE is now launching the report in FAO. Q&A session will follow the presentation (link to agenda below). Forests and trees contribute to food security and nutrition (FSN) in multiple ways. They provide wood, energy, foods and other products, generate income and employment, delivering ecosystem services vital for FSN, including water and carbon cycle regulation and protection of biodiversity. Increasing and competing demands on land, forests and trees create new challenges and opportunities and impact FSN. This report calls for a renewed understanding of sustainable forestry in order to fully integrate the different functions of forests and trees, from farm and landscape to global levels, as well as at different timescales, for enhanced FSN and sustainable development. This requires inclusive and integrative governance mechanisms at different scales that enable the full and effective participation of concerned stakeholders, particularly of forest-dependent indigenous peoples and local communities.

Jun 17

Brooks gets SWS award | ChoroPhronesis releases app | Michael P. Murphy winners named


Brooks wetlands award
Robert Brooks (left) receives an award recognizing him as a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists at the society’s annual conference held in June 2017, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. SWS President Gillian Davies (right) presents the award. Photo by SWS.


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.

Robert J. Farnsworth, a retired US Army Reconnaissance Engineer, and Lt. Drew Cavanagh, US Coast Guard,  received the 2017 Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence. Farnsworth was presented with the award at GEOINT 2017. Cavanagh will be recognized at Penn State’s Military Appreciation Day Nov. 11, 2017.

Giselle Redila (undergraduate IST major and ChoroPhronesis intern) received a Penn State Student Engagement Network Grant. She will be working on immersive visual
analytics projects this summer.

Guoqiang Peng (incoming visiting scholar from Nanjing Normal University) received a Chinese Scholarship Council 2017 Scholarship and will be joining ChoroPhronesis this fall.

Yu Zhong (undergraduate intern at ChoroPhronesis) was accepted into the Schreyer Honors College.

Thanks to mobile app developments led by Jan Oliver Wallgrün, ChoroPhronesis has released the beta version of its first app via the google app store.


Brooks elected Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists
Robert P. Brooks was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists at the society’s annual conference held in June 2017, San Juan, Puerto Rico. A Fellow is the highest recognition of membership bestowed by the society. Nominees must be active society members who have been nominated by other active members to receive the honor, recommended by the Fellows Committee and elected by the SWS board of directors.

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

“Dr. Brooks has served in a professorial role for over 35 years, educating students of all ages. Whether through formal classroom teaching, laboratories and field trips, or numerous outreach events, he always finds ways to ignite the passion of his students. His love and dedication to the subject—wetlands, other aquatic ecosystems, and their wildlife and biota—are noteworthy, and have not faded,” said his nominator, Christopher B. Craft, the Janet Duey Professor of Rural Land Policy, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University.

“Beyond formal appointments, Dr. Brooks leads by example, through diligent and sustained professional activities, setting an example for students and colleagues in wetland science and related fields.  What stands out about Rob’s career is how he seeks to integrate research, teaching, outreach, and service endeavors, as he and his students and staff add to the knowledge base about wetlands, and their place in watersheds, and communicate the importance of aquatic ecosystems to varied audiences,” Craft said.

Brooks is currently the Ruby S. and E. Willard Miller Professor of Geography and Ecology, and Director of Riparia at Penn State, a center “where science informs policy and practice.”

Researchers create virtual mobile tour of University Park campus
From the 1915 class gift of the Old Main sundial to the 2013 “We Are” structure, Penn Staters have a rich history of contributing back to the University. As new landmarks and class gifts sprout up across the University Park campus, it’s often difficult for the average visitor to keep track of each gift’s location and history.

Quantifying space, understanding minds: A visual summary approach
By Mark Simpson, Kai-Florian Richter, Jan Oliver Wallgrün and Alexander Klippel
In Journal of Spatial Information Science
Access: doi:10.5311/JOSIS.2017.14.292
This paper presents an illustrated, validated taxonomy of research that compares spatial measures to human behavior. Spatial measures quantify the spatial characteristics of environments, such as the centrality of intersections in a street network or the accessibility of a room in a building from all the other rooms. While spatial measures have been of interest to spatial sciences, they are also of importance in the behavioral sciences for use in modeling human behavior. A high correlation between values for spatial measures and specific behaviors can provide insights into an environment’s legibility, and contribute to a deeper understanding of human spatial cognition. Research in this area takes place in several domains, which makes a full understanding of existing literature difficult. To address this challenge, we adopt a visual summary approach. Literature is analyzed, and recurring topics are identified and validated with independent inter-rater agreement tasks in order to create a robust taxonomy for spatial measures and human behavior. The taxonomy is then illustrated with a visual representation that allows for at-a-glance visual access to the content of individual research papers in a corpus. A public web interface has been created that allows interested researchers to add to the database and create visual summaries for their research papers using our taxonomy.

Jun 17

New EMS dean | Summer dispatch: Fukushima | ICS updates


campers in GrenadaRachel Passmore (’14) sends this photo of campers on a river tubing trip from her Peace Corps service in Grenada (West Indies) She and her Grenadian counterpart hosted a sex education camp for 20 Grenadian youths.


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.


Penn State faculty member named College of Earth and Mineral Sciences dean
Lee Kump, a University faculty member and leading paleoclimatologist, has been named the new dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, pending approval of the Penn State Board of Trustees on July 21. Kump will serve as interim dean from June 1 to July 20.

Institute for CyberScience upgrades research cyberinfrastructure
The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) has completed a major upgrade of its Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ICS-ACI), Penn State’s high-performance research cloud. The upgrade efforts involved adding new computing capabilities and migrating computing hardware from Penn State’s 1960s-era Computer Building to a newly built, state-of-the art data center facility.

May 17

We are … at the UN | Promotions announced | Protecting plant biodiversity


we are ... at the UN

Passing notes in class?  Bronwen Powell sends this photo from the UN Forum on Forests held in May at UN Headquarters in New York. After introductions, she received a note from fellow Penn Stater Mahmoud Ablan (’07, ’16gr), a lead organizer and advisor at the UN,  “We are …”


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.

Courtney Jackson (’15), who will start her Ph.D. program in geography at Penn State this fall, received an award to participate in the 2017 National Water Center Innovators Program Summer Institute.

Rachel Passmore (’14) will finish her 27 months of Peace Corps service in August. She will begin graduate school, to obtain her master of public health, at Columbia University in New York during the same month. She would like to thank Susan Friedman and Lorraine Dowler for their support throughout the application process.

Promotions announced:
Alexander Klippel has been promoted to professor.
Stefanie Rocco has been promoted to senior lecturer/senior instructor.
Michelle Zeiders has been promoted to senior lecturer/senior instructor.


Alumni mentoring program underscores dedication to improving student experiences
Looking back at when he began his first job as a geoscientist, Penn State alumnus Enrique Perez said he saw how a formal alumni mentoring program could have benefited him.

“I’m from a low-income family in Georgia and I didn’t have any relatives in the sort of career I was pursuing,” he said.

Integrative approach needed to protect crop biodiversity, researcher says
While studying ways to protect and strengthen the biodiversity and social accessibility of food plants, Karl Zimmerer, professor of geography, often finds simple solutions.

Sometimes growers have simply run out of seed for a unique strain of crop or garden plant. That food source could be gone forever, or quickly replenished if a seed bank is operating in the region.

May 17

Congratulations to grads | MOOC on FutureLearn | Scholarly publications


undergraduates at commencementGeography undergraduate students, from left (rear) to right (front): McQuillin Murphy, Jack Swab, Grant Smith, Anna Blyth, Yuhao Wang, Kathy Cappelli, Max Rudner, Judy Smith, Paul Yost, Torie Herdt, Jordan Qualtieri-Tyrrell at the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Commencement Ceremonies at the Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, May 5, 2017.


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

Alumnus Patrick Stephens, has just had a map published as part of a scientific article.  Stephens generated this map while working on an independent study with Andrew Carleton in fall 2015.

Megan Baumann, Eden Kinkaid, and Carolynne Hultquist were elected at the new grad reps for 2017–18  Lauren Fritzsche will continue to serve during the fall semester.

Erica Smithwick was a panelist on Conversations LIVE: Climate Change with host Patty Satalia on Thursday, April 27.


Penn State opens mapping course on FutureLearn MOOC platform
Penn State’s massive open online course “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” will open May 8 on FutureLearn, the United Kingdom’s leading MOOC platform.

Record 83 undergraduates receive 2017 Erickson Discovery Grants
Geography undergrad Eva Bonta is a recipient
At Penn State, an increasing amount of students are forgoing their usual summer routines and participating in research in the field, lab, or studio. For some, this means staying close to campus while others travel thousands of miles away to research topics in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and arts fields.

Army captain balanced military training, deployment while completing his degree
Duhon graduated with a master’s degree in homeland security
Army Capt. Andy Duhon has been busy the past four years. He attained his current rank and position after completing Army courses and trainings. He took language immersion classes before serving overseas. He deployed to West Africa for six months, and he and his wife had two kids.


Leveraging Big (Geo) Data with (Geo) Visual Analytics: Place as the Next Frontier [book chapter]
By Alan M. MacEachren
In Spatial Data Handling in Big Data Era
Access DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-4424-3_10
A tension exists in the discipline of Geography between the concepts of space and place. Most research and development in Geographical Information Science (GIScience) has been focused on the former, through methods to formally structure data about the world and to systematically model and analyze aspects of the world as represented through those structured data. People, however, live and behave in socially constructed places; what they care about happens in those places rather than in some abstract, modeled ‘space’. Study of place, by human geographers (and other social scientists and humanist scholars), typically using qualitative methods and seldom relying on digital data, has proceeded largely independently of GIScience research focused on space. There have been calls within GIScience to formalize place to enable application of Geographical Information Systems methods to place-based problems, and some progress in this direction has been made. Here, however, a complementary view is offered for treating ‘place’ as a first class object of attention by capitalizing on the combination of “big data” and new human-centered visual analytical methods to enable understanding of the complexity inherent in place as both a concept and a context for human behavior.

A decade of colonization: the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito in Pennsylvania and implications for disease risk
By Taber, Eric D.; Hutchinson, Michael L.; Smithwick, Erica A. H.; Blanford, Justine I.
In Journal of Vector Ecology  Jun 2017, Vol. 42 Issue 1, p3-12. 10p.
In recent decades, the Asian tiger mosquito expanded its geographic range throughout the northeastern United States, including Pennsylvania. The establishment of Aedes albopictus in novel areas raises significant public health concerns, since this species is a highly competent vector of several arboviruses, including chikungunya, West Nile, and dengue. In this study, we used geographic information systems (GIS) to examine a decade of colonization by Ae. albopictus throughout Pennsylvania between 2001 and 2010. We examined the spatial and temporal distribution of Ae. albopictus using spatial statistical analysis and examined the risk of dengue virus transmission using a model that captures the probability of transmission. Our findings show that since 2001, the Ae. albopictus population in Pennsylvania has increased, becoming established and expanding in range throughout much of the state. Since 2010, imported cases of dengue fever have been recorded in Pennsylvania. Imported cases of dengue, in combination with summer temperatures conducive for virus transmission, raise the risk of local disease transmission.

Constructing landscapes: Healthcare contexts in rural South Africa
By Margaret Winchester and Brian King
In Medicine Anthropology Theory 4, no. 1: 151–176
Access http://www.medanthrotheory.org/read/7212/constructing-landscapes
The concept of therapeutic landscapes has been adopted from geography by anthropologists with a similar commitment to addressing the intersections between the construction of place and the multifaceted and symbolic dimensions of health. Drawing from health geography and medical anthropology, we take up the challenge from these fields to approach health broadly in order to understand how health decision making is connected to intersecting political, economic, social, and cultural processes that shape what options are available to people. This article presents findings from an ongoing study of the political ecology of health in northeastern South Africa. We consider how therapeutic landscapes are produced by physical infrastructure, social dynamics, and the use of
natural resources for livelihoods and health management. While each of these dimensions is critical in shaping human health, we argue that it is through their interaction that therapeutic landscapes are produced. Landscapes of care are thus complicated and shifting, with rural households making strategic decisions to leverage government support, social support, and resources for health management. We conclude by emphasizing the need for further integration of anthropological and geographic frameworks in studying human health.

The determinants of dietary diversity and nutrition: ethnonutrition knowledge of local people in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania
By Bronwen Powell, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Sera L. Young and Timothy Johns
In Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Access DOI: 10.1186/s13002-017-0150-2
Diet and nutrition-related behaviours are embedded in cultural and environmental contexts: adoption of new knowledge depends on how easily it can be integrated into existing knowledge systems. As dietary diversity promotion becomes an increasingly common component of nutrition education, understanding local nutrition knowledge systems and local concepts about dietary diversity is essential to formulate efficient messages.
Methods. This paper draws on in-depth qualitative ethnographic research conducted in small-scale agricultural communities in Tanzania. Data were collected using interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation in the East Usambara Mountains, an area that is home primarily to the Shambaa and Bondei ethnic groups, but has a long history of ethnic diversity and ethnic intermixing.
Results. The data showed a high degree of consensus among participants who reported that dietary diversity is important because it maintains and enhances appetite across days, months and seasons. Local people reported that sufficient cash resources, agrobiodiversity, heterogeneity within the landscape, and livelihood diversity all supported their ability to consume a varied diet and achieve good nutritional status. Other variables affecting diet and dietary diversity included seasonality, household size, and gender. The results suggest that dietary diversity was perceived as something all people, both rich and poor, could achieve. There was significant overlap between local and scientific understandings of dietary diversity, suggesting that novel information on the importance of dietary diversity promoted through education will likely be easily integrated into the existing knowledge systems.

Map Projections and the Internet [book chapter]
By Kessler, Fritz, C., Sarah E. Battersby, Michael P. Finn, and Keith C. Clarke
In Choosing a Map Projection
Access DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-51835-0_4
The field of map projections can be described as mathematical, static, and challenging. However, this description is evolving in concert with the development of the Internet. The Internet has enabled new outlets for software applications, learning, and interaction with and about map projections . This chapter examines specific ways in which the Internet has moved map projections from a relatively obscure paper-based setting to a more engaging and accessible online environment. After a brief overview of map projections, this chapter discusses four perspectives on how map projections have been integrated into the Internet. First, map projections and their role in web maps and mapping services is examined. Second, an overview of online atlases and the map projections chosen for their maps is presented. Third, new programming languages and code libraries that enable map projections to be included in mapping applications are reviewed. Fourth, the Internet has facilitated map projection education and research especially with the map reader’s comprehension and understanding of complex topics like map projection distortion is discussed.

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