Oct 16

Coffee Hour with James Tyner | Easterling on basic research | Forest foods



A big “thank you!” to our alumni who participated on the APG Careers Panel on Saturday, October 15. Great questions and answers about geography as a major, geography careers, and being a geographer. If you missed it, you can view the discussion online via Mediasite.


  • Lise Nelson wrote the chapter on “Soccer and the mundane politics of belonging: Latino immigrants, recreation, and spaces of exclusion in the rural US South” in Critical Geographies of Sport: Space, Power and Sport in a Global Perspective, edited by Natalie Koch. Routledge 2016
  • Alumnus Sid Pandey (B.S. ’14) was elected as Advocacy Subcommittee Chairperson for the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee (MSGIC).
  • Eun-Kyeong Kim gave an invited talk on her dissertation research, “Burst Analysis” at an online meeting of the joint research group of the GeoDa center at Arizona State, the Center for Spatial Data Science at the University of Chicago, and Carto.com.
  • Roger M. Downs will receive the 2017 AAG Presidential Achievement Award, which honors individuals for their long-term, major contributions to the discipline.


Coffee Hour on October 28 with James Tyner “Conspiratorial Geographies: Power and Paranoia under the Communist Party of Kampuchea”
The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK; also known as the ‘Khmer Rouge’) constitutes one of the most violent and inhumane apparatus of state terror in the twentieth-century. Between April 1975 and January 1979, the Khmer Rouge carried out a program of mass violence that is, in many respects, unparalleled in modern history. In just under four years, upwards of two million people and approximately one-quarter of the country’s pre-1975 population died. Many of these deaths resulted from starvation and disease. However, an untold number were executed at numerous security-centers established throughout the country. Among these, the security-center code-named “S-21” is especially notable. Located in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, S-21 was one of approximately 200 security-centers. However, unlike most security-centers, S-21 is notable because it was established as a military-political facility designed to identify, interrogate, and ultimately execute perceived enemies of the state.

Researchers receive NSF grant to study how household decisions impact climate
The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.4 million to scientists working in two suburban Illinois communities to find whether families are willing to adjust their habits to help offset the impacts of climate change.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from five universities, including Penn State, will directly ask people in the test communities if they would voluntarily make cost-effective changes in how they consume food, energy and water (FEW) in favor of more sustainable practices. The effort marks a new ground-up approach to studying the effects of human activities on climate.

Back to basics: EMS dean talks about why fundamental scientific research matters
[Geographer] William Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, recently sat down for a Q&A to discuss his keynote address at Research Penn State 2016, a showcase for the University’s five interdisciplinary research institutes. This first-of-its-kind event, held over two days in October, highlighted the breadth and depth of research in the life sciences, energy and the environment, materials science and engineering, cyber-enabled science and the social sciences.


Forest foods and healthy diets: quantifying the contributions
By Rowland, D., Ickowitz, A., Powell, B., Nasi, R. And Sunderland, T.
In Environmental Conservation
doi: 10.1017/S0376892916000151
Forested landscapes provide a source of micronutrient rich food for millions of people around the world. A growing evidence base suggests these foods may be of great importance to the dietary quality of people living in close proximity to forests – especially in communities with poor access to markets. Despite widespread evidence of the consumption of forest foods around the world, to date, few studies have attempted to quantify the nutritional contributions these foods make. In this study we tested the hypothesis that the consumption of forest foods can make important contributions to dietary quality.

How Grassroots Truth and Reconciliation Movements can Further the Fight for Social Justice in U.S. Communities
By Inwood, J. F.
In National Civic Review
Across the United States, people in communities burdened by economic injustice and political marginalization, violence, and longstanding legacies of oppression are turning toward truth and reconciliation commissions as an innovative way to address persistent inequalities. Such commissions have been organized under government auspices in other countries dealing with the aftermath of terrible civil wars and ethnic violence. In the United States, the process is driven from the grass roots rather than by government officials. How does this mechanism actually work in American communities as a form of community organizing for social justice?

Oct 16

Coffee Hour with Christelle Wauthier | Menominee and Penn State Collaborate | CAUSE trip reflections


Cappelli visits 361

Alumnus Chris Cappelli (’88), director of global sales and business development at Esri, and a member of our online Geosptial Programs advisory board, visited Cindy Brewer’s GEOG 361 “Maps and Map Construction” class, and also stopped by the GeoVISTA Center this month to talk with students about careers in geography.


Send your good news to geography@psu.edu to be announced during Coffee Hour and published here.


Coffee Hour on October 21 with Christelle Wauthier
“Volcanic and tectonic processes revealed by radar remote sensing”
Knowledge of the location and volume of intruded magma is key for both eruption forecasting and the interpretation of volcano structure and dynamics. Volume change and source location of magma reservoirs and pathways may be assessed through modeling of geodetically-imaged deformation sources. Modeling tools and techniques are evolving rapidly to provide much greater spatio-temporal resolution of surface deformation, as well as better insights into sub-surface processes through more mechanically robust numerical models. Volcano geodetic data are particularly valuable when combined with other independent geophysical and geochemical datasets. Here, we will show example of synergistic volcano geodetic studies at Kilauea Volcano, HI, Nyiragongo Volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as at Central America Volcanoes.

Climate change impacts on Menominee nation’s forest home focus of NSF funding
A Native American tribal nation in Wisconsin faces cultural and economic challenges as climate change impacts its forest home. A $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation will study this relationship and how it could inform decision-making about forest management. Erica Smithwick, associate professor of geography and associate in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State, is the principal investigator on the five-year project, funded from the NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program.

On the hunt for wetlands, retreating glaciers and climate-change knowledge
Clutching large research instruments, they made their way across sphagnum moss, dense sedges, low shrubs and fallen trees trunks. Deep in the temperate rainforest of southeast Alaska, 12 undergraduates from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Science, along with faculty, navigated boot-sucking muskegs to collect methane and peat samples that will provide carbon storage and emission information about wetlands in landscapes with retreating glaciers. The students were on the front lines researching climate change this summer as part of the college’s 2016 Center for Advanced Undergraduate Studies (CAUSE) course.


Grappling with Geography’s Existential Dilemma: The Legacy of William Torrey Harris
By Roger Downs
In Geographical Review
Geography’s existence as a school or college subject has never been a given. While geographers make cases for geography’s importance, acceptance of those cases rests not on impassioned rhetoric but on the social and intellectual contexts into which disciplines fit. Contexts are contested and they change. From a seemingly secure position at the beginning of the twentieth century, geography’s role in American schools has been eroded and diminished by corrosive forces. Geographers need convincing answers to the existential question lest the subject disappear entirely. Geography’s enviable position was in large measure the work of William Torrey Harris. Harris made a compelling existential case for geography and his vision, its implementation, its rejection, and its fate offer a model from which geographers can learn. Understanding how to respond to a social and intellectual context is crucial to geography’s future.

Using Social Media and Satellite Data for Damage Assessment in Urban Areas During Emergencies
By Guido Cervone, Emily Schnebele, Nigel Waters, Martina Moccaldi, Rosa Sicignano
In the Chapter “Seeing Cities Through Big Data,” Part of the series Springer Geography pp 443-457
Environmental hazards pose a significant threat to urban areas due to their potential catastrophic consequences affecting people, property and the environment. Remote sensing has become the de-facto standard for observing the Earth and its environment through the use of air-, space-, and ground-based sensors. Despite the quantity of remote sensing data available, gaps are often present due to the specific limitations of the instruments, their carrier platforms, or as a result of atmospheric interference. Massive amounts of data are generated from social media, and it is possible to mine these data to fill the gaps in remote sensing observations.

Oct 16

Coffee Hour with Timothy Murtha | Parks and People | Orphan wells



Giraffes gaze ahead in the Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa during Parks and People, a cooperative Penn State/African partnership that integrates teaching, research and service across the multiple disciplines relevant to the management of protected areas, the economic development of communities surrounding or located within those areas, and public education in ecosystem services and natural resource management. Come visit us at the Education Abroad Fair on October 12 to learn more. Applications being accepted until October 19.



Coffee Hour on October 14 with Timothy Murtha
Cultural Ecology of the Lowland Maya Revisited: Regional LIDAR and Landscapes revisited
About 50 years ago, Penn State anthropologist Bill Sanders offered a two-part synthetic view of the Ancient Maya landscape, attempting to answer fundamental questions about population, society and settlement. Sanders’ view was not only explicitly ecological, but also offered a bottom up interpretation of Maya society. Yet, in the decades that followed, an overtly urban, highly centralized and top down model of Ancient Maya civilization has overshadowed these ideas, in part fueled by early remote sensing efforts used to identify landesque features, such as terraces in the Rio Bec region. This presentation revisits some of Sanders’ ideas through the lens of a newly acquired geospatial data set covering the Maya lowlands.

  • 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 Webcast
  • Next week: Christelle Wauthier on Volcanic and tectonic processes revealed by radar remote sensing

Why so much blatant racism is bubbling to the surface
Joshua Inwood interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor
The firing of a teacher’s aide in Forsyth County, Ga., the censuring of a small-town mayor in Pennsylvania, the arrest of an East Tennessee State University student – all three after comparing black people to apes. These recent examples of blatant racism have been met by swift public condemnation. Americans, on the whole, remain firmly intolerant of intolerance.

Interactive video quizzes prove successful for student engagement
Students who do not have the opportunity to travel can still experience the geography of other countries through the use of interactive video.

Last spring, Erica Smithwick, an associate professor of geography at Penn State University Park, used HapYak to create interactive video quizzes for students in an online course (GEOG 001 (GS) Global Parks and Sustainability) as part of a Research Initiation Grant funded by Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL). Next semester, she has plans to modify her approach a little, as the course will go from an online offering to a hybrid one.

Conference takes aim at state’s orphan well problem
More than 150 years after the first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania, decades of energy exploration have resulted in hundreds of thousands of abandoned, lost and forgotten oil and gas wells scattered across the state.


Brown, Daniel G., Kim, Eun-Kyeong, Perez, Liliana, and Sengupta, Raja (Eds.) “Proceedings of GIScience 2016 Workshop on Rethinking the ABCs: Agent-Based Models and Complexity Science in the age of Big Data, CyberGIS, and Sensor Networks,” Montreal, Canada, September 27, 2016. https://sites.psu.edu/bigcomplexitygisci/publications/.


Last week’s feline companion was “Baby,” companion to Missy Weaver. There were no correct guesses to her identity.  Send your photos and/or your guesses to geography@psu.edu. The identity of the mystery animal will be revealed the following week.

Oct 16

Coffee Hour with Lakshman Yapa | Ask an ethicist | ‘DoG’ of the week


Acadia Granite BubblesAndrew Carleton shares a beautiful photo from Maine this past summer. Acadia National Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. The photo shows the view from one of the two Bubbles, pink granite bedrock landforms, on Mt. Desert Island in Acadia, with Jordan Pond (a glacial lake) in the foreground, and the Cranberry Islands and Gulf of Maine beyond.


  • Register for the October 15 Affiliate Program Group meeting and networking event
  • Alumus Doug Baldwin and colleagues have had their paper “Combined soil-terrain stratification for characterizing catchment-scale soil moisture variation” accepted by the journal Geoderma.
  • Chris Fowler received a grant as part of the Family Life Project, funded through the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Initiative.


Coffee Hour on September 30 with Lucky Yapa
“How development causes poverty: travel notes from Cuba, Haiti, South Africa, and Sri Lanka”
Abject poverty amidst great wealth has persisted throughout history in rich and poor countries, in good and bad times—a paradox that attracted the attention of people such as Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, Henry George, Mahatma Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Ivan Illich, Nelson Mandela, and now it appears, even of Donald Trump. It is universally believed that poverty can be eradicated thorough economic growth and development. This notion widely accepted by economists, adhered to by politicians, and promoted by The World Bank and the IMF does have a few notable skeptics among whom were Gandhi and Illich.

  • 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 Webcast
  • Next week: Tim Murtha

Ask an Ethicist: To stand or to sit for the national anthem
Joshua Inwood, associate professor of geography with joint appointment with the Rock Ethics Institute, responds to this week’s question
Across the United States athletes and spectators are choosing to engage in forms of silent protest to draw attention to the killing of black men and women by police agencies and departments during the playing of the national anthem before games. These protests are controversial and some athletes have received negative publicity and even death threats for their actions. So, should I stand for the national anthem and show respect for the nation, or should I take a seat and support protesting athletes?

Oct. 6 marks kick-off for University’s ongoing diversity, inclusion initiative
‘All In at Penn State’ aims to foster open-minded community, respectful discussions
On Oct. 6 the Penn State community will come together to kick off an ongoing University-wide initiative that brings students, faculty and staff together to show their commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment — respectful of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, abilities, background, veteran’s status, political beliefs, and all the ways we differ.


Last week’s dog was Bonzer, companion to Andrew Carleton. There were no correct guesses to his identity.


Who is this cat? Who is her human?

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

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