Dec 14

Fall newsletter is out | UROC talks| Recently published | Dog of the week is back


Carolyn Fish presents

Are you blind to change?

Carolyn Fish presents her  award-winning poster “Are You Blind to Change? Evaluating the Influence of Change Blindness in Animated Choropleth Maps”  at the Pennsylvania Geographic Society meeting. Photo by Kathy Cappelli.


Cynthia Brewer gave a talk for GIS day: “Advanced Federal Map Design using GIS” at the Sixth Annual USACE Agency-Wide Global Virtual GIS Day for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Brian Tomaszewski (Ph.D. ’09) published a book: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Disaster Management

Azita Ranjbar has been awarded a two-year Ph.D. fellowship through the ZEIT-Stiftung Foundation’s Trajectories of Change programme.

Ann Myatt James successfully defended her dissertation “Feeding Hungry People: An Investigation of US Food Assistance Programs,” and she will be working at Bucknell University as a visiting assistant professor teaching economic geography for the spring 2015 semester.


UROC lightening talks

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) program end-of-semester celebration is Tuesday, December 9 at 6:00 p.m. in 319 Walker Building. UROC students will give 5-minute lightning talks on their research projects.

Tschakert participates in COP20 side event: Climate Change Science Update: The Challenges for Robust Decision Making
Moderated by Leo Hickman, Met Office Hadley Centre, this event explored the challenges of making climate projections and linking damages from extreme weather events to changing emissions; risk management in the face of uncertainty; and the ethics of loss and damage.
Petra Tschakert noted that the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) considers multidimensional vulnerability, explaining that this is linked to social frameworks where the more vulnerable have less capacity and fewer opportunities to adapt. She highlighted new qualitative modelling based on quantitative data, as well as value judgments, to demonstrate scenarios where adaptation is possible.

December 12 Facilitated discussion with Petra Tschakert and Chris Forest about the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and the current Lima Climate Change Convention, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. in 112 Walker Building

Nancy Tuana, Penn State Rock Ethics Institute, explained that as different countries set standards on dealing with climate risk, they should consider that there are value judgments embedded in both the science and the politics of climate change. She underscored gathering information on what the wider community values, and then engaging with the decision makers to model various scenarios that should be considered when creating strategies to manage risk.

PGS meeting honors faculty achievements, student research, geography community
The Pennsylvania Geographical Society (PGS) annual meeting, held in State College on November 7, 2014, brought together students, professors, and professionals in the field of geography to discuss their research. Featuring a poster contest, a paper contest, various sessions, and two guest speakers, this year’s conference honored four geographers for their work as educators or scholars in the field.

Fall GEOGRAPHY newsletter now available
The Fall 2014 issue of Penn State GEOGRAPHY is now available via mail, a digital version (PDF) or as html pages. Access the format of your choice here: http://www.geog.psu.edu/news/penn-state-geography-newsletter/fall-2014-newsletter

Recently (or soon to be) Published

“14 Exploring the Nature and Development of Expertise in Geography.” Space in Mind: Concepts for Spatial Learning and Education (2014): 281.
By Roger M. Downs

Ice storms generate spatially heterogeneous damage patterns at the watershed scale in forested landscapes
By Rachel E. Isaacs, Kirk M. Stueve, Charles W. Lafon, and Alan H. Taylor
In Ecosphere 2014 5:11, art141
The effects of large-scale disturbances play a pivotal role in shaping ecosystem structure and function. Interactions between disturbances and a multitude of biophysical factors at different scales generate spatially heterogeneous patterns of damage on vegetated landscapes. However, research on large-scale disturbances is often conducted at one spatial extent because of the challenges associated with quantifying patterns of damage in vegetation across multiple spatial extents. Consequently, the literature has identified many different and often conflicting biophysical controls of vegetation damage, which is likely a consequence of the historical and spatial contingency of particular geographic locations. We investigated the influence of biophysical factors and spatial extent of ice storm damage patterns across the entire Ouachita National Forest and in 65 individual watersheds.



Who is this dog? Who is his human?

Send your answer and/or a photo of your dog to geography@psu.edu for our mystery dog of the week!

Dec 14

Coffee Hour with Gabeba Baderoon | Fall GEOGRAPHY newsletter | New calls for papers


Zelinsky book offering

Zelinsky book offering

Graduate student Paulo Raposo finds a treasure among the late Emeritus Professor Wilbur Zelinsky’s books offered to the community by the University Libraries and  Zellinsky’s daughters, Hollis Zelinsky and Karen Kite, at the GIS Day Reception on November 19, 2014.


The bad news: this is Joshua Steven’s last semester in State College. The great news: In January, he will be starting work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as lead data visualizer for the Earth Observatory.
Pennsylvania Geographical Society awards recap:

  • First Place, Graduate student poster/map contest: Carolynne Hultquist, “Machine Learning for Post-fire Burn Severity Assessment in Diseased Forests”
  • Second Place, Graduate student poster/map contest: Carolyn Fish, “Are You Blind to Change? Evaluating the Influence of Change Blindness in Animated Choropleth Maps”
  • Second place, Undergraduate poster contest: Jack Swab, “Whose Hand is on the Tap? Examining the Political Structure of Water Providers in Harford County, Maryland”
  • Distinguished Geographer Award: Petra Tschakert


December 5 Coffee Hour
Gabeba Baderoon “Slavery, Islam, and the Making of a South African Landscape“
Slavery was the founding social and political institution in the Cape Colony and operated for 176 years in the first and largest of the colonies that would eventually constitute South Africa. Enslaved people, many of whom were Muslim, were brought from territories around the Indian Ocean, including East Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and eventually constituted the majority of the population of the colony. Standing on Signal Hill above Cape Town, one looks down at the city along neat grids of streets and buildings that stretch to the curve of Table Bay. Since the colonial period, the vantage point on Signal Hill has been a site from which many nineteenth century landscapes of Cape Town were painted, and these portrayed the city as a settled, urbane and aesthetically pleasing space.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour To Go

Fall GEOGRAPHY newsletter now available
The Fall 2014 issue of Penn State GEOGRAPHY is now available via mail, a digital version (PDF) or as html pages. Access the format of your choice here: http://www.geog.psu.edu/news/penn-state-geography-newsletter/fall-2014-newsletter

The Top Five Skills You Need for a Successful Career in GIS
What are the five most important skills that a successful professional in GIS should have? I have recorded a three-part video series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) wherein I address this important issue. I begin the video series by presenting two ways of thinking about GIS in your career:  (1) As a toolset that you use in your career as a biologist, public safety officer, marketing analyst, or in another career where GIS is listed only as a required or advised set of skills;  and (2) As a GIS manager, technician, analyst, or another career where GIS or a variant is a part of the title and primary job duties.

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