New grads arrive | Human Factors summer papers summary | Defining boundaries in research

Summer hallway in Walker Building

Map drawers line the third floor hallway in Walker Building over the summer


Faculty and staff moved offices this summer, and several offices were updated. Old built-in map drawers and cabinets were removed, walls were painted, and lots of old paper journals were recycled.  Some of the map drawers from third floor offices found a new home in the Vegetation Dynamics lab.


Guido Cervone has been named the associate director of the Institute for CyberScience at Penn State.

Welcome new graduate students!
The new graduate students have arrived.  They are: Kevin Berstein, Yanni Cao, Elizabeth Dzwonczyk,  John Dzwonczyk,  Carolyn Fish,  Laura Hardine,  Karen Paiva Henrique,  Carolynne Hultquist,  Mario Machado,  Elena Sava, Narmadha Senanayake,  Mark Simpson.

Fall Coffee Hour
Coffee Hour resumes on August 29 with our first speaker of the semester, Kirby Calvert. For the schedule and confirmed speakers go to:


Human Factors Research Summer Summary
The Human Factors in GIScience Lab had a very productive summer: Over half a dozen peer-reviewed scientific contributions were accepted at international journals (Spatial Cognition and Computation, Environment and Behavior, Cartography and Geographic Information Science) and leading conferences (Spatial Cognition, GIScience). Topics addressed in these papers span central research themes in the spatial and cognitive sciences such as crowdsourcing, space syntax, how humans understand geographic space, the commonsense ontology of geographic concepts, land cover classifications, the validation of cluster algorithms, route directions, uncertainty, map design and more.

School is out but research continues with hands-on summer program
Dangling over the side of a 4-foot hole on a forest floor, Penn State undergraduate Kim Schmid spent the better part of a recent day digging in the dirt — or collecting soil samples, to be technical.
The end goal: a better understanding of the seasonal ponds known as vernal pools, how they form on shale landscapes and the best way to manage them. That meant Schmid and fellow student John Schneider took turns with a shovel and a post hole-digger — mosquitos and gnats notwithstanding. Then, starting from the top and inching down they collected samples from each layer of soil. The next step was a ground-penetrating radar survey to unravel the subsurface layers and measure the depth to solid rock beneath them.
The work is part of a larger project White is collaborating on with colleagues from Riparia at Penn State: Rob Brooks, professor of geography and ecology; Sarah Chamberlain, botanist; and undergraduate intern Dylan Kubina. Riparia’s contribution is to characterize the plant communities of three clusters of vernal pools in similar geologic settings.

Recently Published

Boundary-making in feminist research: new methodologies for “intimate insiders”
By Dana Cuomo & Vanessa A. Massaro
In Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography
In the past 20 years, feminist geographers have gone to great lengths to complicate notions of ‘the field’ and make clear that the field is not an easily bounded space. This body of work has demonstrated the complexity of field spaces, explored ways to destabilize boundaries, and traced the power relations between researchers and participants. Ultimately, this work takes the breaking down of boundaries as an inherent good in field research, and, subsequently, little work has focused explicitly on the utility of physical and emotional boundaries that develop in field research. Our experiences as feminist geographers who reside in our fields show there is much left to understand and subsequently disrupt regarding the boundaries of ‘the field.’ In this article, we build on the concept of ‘intimate insiders’ to discuss the complex negotiation of doing research in the places where we have created personal lives and our sense of community. We often found ourselves struggling to define the physical and emotional boundaries of ‘the field’ on the outside for the sake of our participants and ourselves. In this article, we reflect on boundary-making as a specific feminist methodological practice for addressing the complexity of fieldwork.


Last week’s mystery dog, was, as many guessed, Tux, 1/3 of Cindy Brewer’s canine trio.  Paulo Raposo was the first to respond with the correct answer


Who is this mystery dog? Who is his human?


Send your answer to along with a photo of your dog for our mystery dog of the week!

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