The 2020 Department of Geography Recognition Reception website listing award winners, graduates and other notable accomplishments is here: https://sites.psu.edu/geogrecrec20/
Graduate Seminars in geography covering physical geography, human geography, environment–society interactions, and GISciences are being offered for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Register for fall 2020 semester by August 23.
The 2020 AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas has been published and is available for free to all users at www.aag.org/guide. It also includes an interactive map of geography programs listed within the Guide, which allows users to search and filter programs by, degree type, program specialties, regional focus, and more.
The virtual 2020 Esri Education Summit will be held from August 6 to 7. Registration is complimentary. For more information and to register.
The American Association of Geographers’ annual meeting will have both in-person and virtual aspects in 2021. Attendees including geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders will share and discuss the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. The meeting will be held from Wednesday, April 7 – Sunday, April 11, and will feature more than 6,900 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers. September 14 is the early bird deadline.
Lorraine Dowler, Penn State professor of geography and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, is the 2020 recipient of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) Feminist Geographies specialty group’s Jan Monk Service Award.
This award is named in honor of Jan Monk, a past president of AAG, and “recognizes a geographer who has made an outstanding service contribution to women in geography and/or feminist geography.”
Erica Smithwick is director of the Ecology Institute and associate director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment
The Ecology Institute has awarded 11 proposals from across the University as part of its Flower Grant program, including five projects submitted by faculty at Commonwealth Campuses.
The funds provided by the Flower Grant aim to support ecology research focused across the institute’s five core themes: resilience and adaptation; provision of ecosystem goods and services; ecology at the interface; rapid evolutionary change; and ecological foundations.
Fostering Penetrative Thinking in Geosciences Through Immersive Experiences: A Case Study in Visualizing Earthquake Locations in 3D
Mahda M. Bagher, Pejman Sajjadi, Julia Carr, Peter La Femina and Alexander Klippel
Proceedings of the 6th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN 2020)
Thinking in and understanding of three-dimensional structures is omnipresent in many sciences from chemistry to geosciences. Current visualizations, however, are still using two-dimensional media such as maps or three-dimensional representations accessible through two-dimensional interfaces (e.g., desktop computers). The emergence of immersive virtual reality environments, both accessible and of high-quality, allows for creating embodied and interactive experiences that permit for rethinking learning environments and provide access to three-dimensional information through three-dimensional interfaces. However, there is a shortage of empirical studies on immersive learning environments. In response to this shortcoming, this study examines the role of immersive VR (iVR) in improving students’ learning experience and performance in terms of penetrative thinking in a critical 3D task in geosciences education: drawing cross-sections. We developed a pilot study where students were asked to draw cross-sections of the depth and geometry of earth-quakes at two subduction zones after visualizing the earthquake locations either in iVR or 2D maps on a computer. The results of our study show that iVR creates a better learning experience; students reported significantly higher scores in terms of Spatial Situation Model and there is anecdotal evidence in favor of higher reflective thinking in iVR. In terms of learning performance, we did not find a significant difference in the graded exercise of drawing cross-sections. However, iVR seems to have a positive effect on understanding the geometry of earthquake locations in a complex tectonic environment such as Japan. Our results, therefore, add to the growing body of literature that draws a more nuanced picture of the benefits of immersive learning environments calling for larger scale and in-depth studies.
A spatial analysis of COVID-19 period prevalence in US counties through June 28, 2020: Where geography matters?
Feinuo Sun, Stephen A. Matthews, Tse-ChuanYang, Ming-Hsiao Hu
Annals of Epidemiology
Purpose: This study aims to understand how spatial structures, the interconnections between counties, matter in understanding COVID-19 period prevalence across the US.
Methods: We assemble a county-level dataset that contains COVID-19 confirmed cases through June 28, 2020 and various sociodemographic measures from multiple sources. In addition to an aspatial regression model, we conduct spatial lag, spatial error, and spatial autoregressive combined models to systematically examine the role of spatial structure in shaping geographical disparities in COVID-19 period prevalence.
Results: The aspatial ordinary least squares regression model tends to overestimate the COVID-19 period prevalence among counties with low observed rates, but this issue can be effectively addressed by spatial modeling. Spatial models can better estimate the period prevalence for counties, especially along the Atlantic coasts and through the Black Belt. Overall, the model fit among counties along both coasts is generally good with little variability evident, but in the Plain states, model fit is conspicuous in its heterogeneity across counties.
Conclusions: Spatial models can help partially explain the geographic disparities in COVID-19 period prevalence. These models reveal spatial variability in model fit including identifying regions of the country where fit is heterogeneous and worth closer attention in the immediate short term.
Seed source pattern and terrain have scale-dependent effects on post-fire tree recovery
Jamie L. Peeler & Erica A. H. Smithwick
Context: Distance to seed source is often used to estimate seed dispersal—a process needed for post-fire tree recovery. However, distance, especially in mountainous terrain, does not capture pattern or scale-dependent effects controlling seed supply and delivery. Measuring seed source pattern (area and arrangement) could provide insights on how these spatial dynamics shape recovery.
Objectives: We tested metrics and investigated how seed source pattern, tree regeneration traits, scale, and terrain interact to shape post-fire tree recovery. Our research questions were: Does seed source pattern outperform distance when modeling tree species presence and regeneration density? If yes, does seed source pattern have scale-dependent or terrain-dependent effects on regeneration density?
Methods: We measured seed source pattern at nested spatial extents around 71 plots and related measurements to local post-fire tree recovery. We used generalized linear models to test metrics and visualize scale-dependent and terrain-dependent effects on regeneration density.
Results: Distance sufficiently modeled presence, but seed source pattern outperformed distance when modeling regeneration density. Relevant spatial extents and relationships were species-dependent. For wind-dispersed species, regeneration was associated with more seed source area and more complex arrangements, but terrain mediated these relationships. For serotinous and resprouting species, regeneration was associated with less seed source area and less complex arrangements, which are consistent with high-severity burn sites that promote recovery.
Conclusions: Seed source pattern supports spatial resilience and interacts with scale and terrain to shape regeneration density. Accounting for these spatial dynamics could help steward forests facing changing fire regimes.
Informal food chains and agrobiodiversity need strengthening—not weakening—to address food security amidst the COVID-19 crisis in South America
Karl S. Zimmerer & Stef de Haan
The COVID-19 crisis is worsening food insecurity by undermining informal food chains. We focus on impacts involving the informal food chains that incorporate the resilience-enhancing biodiversity of food and agriculture known as agrobiodiversity. Our analysis addresses how informal food chains and agrobiodiversity are impacted by policies and interventions amidst COVID-19 disruptions. Our methodology relies on research in Peru with a focus on the cites and surrounding areas of Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Huancayo, and Huánuco. We extend these insights to similar challenges and opportunities across western South America and other word regions. We utilize the four-part Agrobiodiversity Knowledge Framework to guide our examination of agrobiodiversity-related processes that interconnect governance, nutrition, agroecology, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results detail three links of informal food chains that are being disrupted and yet can offer resilience. These are food retailing, logistics and transportation, and seed systems. Utilization of the Agrobiodiversity Knowledge Framework cuts through highly complex issues to elaborate key food-security difficulties facing informal systems and how they can be strengthened to provide more resilience. We identify the specific roles of agrobiodiversity in resilience-enhancing processes that need strategic policy and program support. Results identify ways to augment the resilience of informal food chains using agrobiodiversity and the empowerment of social groups and organizations in urban food systems and rural communities. We conclude that the disruptions triggered by the global COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need to use agrobiodiversity as an instrument for resilience in informal food chains.