Nov 16

Coffee Hour with Kathleen M. Carley | Holdsworth recognized | Humans influence fire


milkweedRob Brooks shares this image of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a great pollinator, releasing its seeds. This plant is also a favorite of monarch butterflies and caterpillars.


  • Geography undergraduate students, Kathy Cappelli, Haley Darr, Adelaide Kellett, and Christopher Mertz have been selected as EMS Ambassadors.
  • SWIG is collecting donations for a family through the Centre County Women’s Resource Center Holiday Sponsorship Program.  Julie Sanchez and Jamie Peeler are accepting donations through Friday, December 2.
  • Joshua Inwood’s article, “MLK in TrumpLand: America should look to Martin Luther King Jr. during this post-election chaos,” originally published on The Conversation, was picked up by Salon.com, and he was interviewed for a podcast about it.
  • Deryck Holdsworth has been named a General Education Faculty Fellow for 2016–17.
  • The League of American Bicyclists recognized Penn State with a silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award. With this designation, Penn State is one of more than 150 bicycle-friendly colleges and universities across the country. For more information about bicycling on campus, visit www.transportation.psu.edu/biking


Coffee Hour on December 2 with Kathleen M. Carley
Dynamic Network Analysis and Big Data
Our ability to understand and predict socio-cultural activity is being transformed by the exponential growth in big data available on the web – both social media data as well as open government and organizational records. Analysis of such data has the potential to create the timely and detailed information needed to improve crisis response and so save lives and goods, improve community resilience, support early identification of security threats and decrease social-cyber attacks. Across all these areas there are a set of common key methodological challenges are driven by the nature of the data: “wide” data, sampled data, and geo-temporal evolving data.

  • 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 time: January 20, 2017 with Derek Alderman

Human actions influence fire regimes in the Sierra Nevadas
While climate contributes strongly to fire activity in the Sierra Nevada mountains of the western U.S., human activity, starting well before European contact, has also played an important part in the severity, frequency and sheer numbers of forest fires occurring in the area, according to researchers.

“Initially, we did work to see if we could develop long-lead forecasts for fire in the area — six to 18 months in the future — using climate patterns such as El Niño,” said Alan H. Taylor, professor of geography, Penn State. “This would be a significant help because we could place resources in the west if forecasts indicated it would be dry and the southeast would be wet. However, the climate relationships with fire did not consistently track.”


Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE
By Alan H. Taylor, Valerie Trouet, Carl N. Skinner, and Scott Stephens
In Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 2016 113 (48) 13684-13689; doi:10.1073/pnas.1609775113
Large wildfires in California cause significant socioecological impacts, and half of the federal funds for fire suppression are spent each year in California. Future fire activity is projected to increase with climate change, but predictions are uncertain because humans can modulate or even override climatic effects on fire activity. Here we test the hypothesis that changes in socioecological systems from the Native American to the current period drove shifts in fire activity and modulated fire–climate relationships in the Sierra Nevada. We developed a 415-y record (1600–2015 CE) of fire activity by merging a tree-ring–based record of Sierra Nevada fire history with a 20th-century record based on annual area burned. Large shifts in the fire record corresponded with socioecological change, and not climate change, and socioecological conditions amplified and buffered fire response to climate.

States of Disease: Political Environments and Human Health
By Brian King
Published by Univ of California Press, Jan 24, 2017
Human health is shaped by the interactions between social and ecological systems. In States of Disease, Brian King advances a social ecology of health framework to demonstrate how historical spatial formations contribute to contemporary vulnerabilities to disease and the opportunities for health justice. He examines how expanded access to antiretroviral therapy is transforming managed HIV in South Africa. And he reveals how environmental health is shifting due to global climate change and flooding variability in northern Botswana. These case studies illustrate how the political environmental context shapes the ways in which health is embodied, experienced, and managed.

Nov 16

No Coffee Hour | GIS Day, GAW Week | Taylor video on fire



The annual GIS day event is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and the University Libraries. Read more about ongoing activities this week


  • Eun-Kyeong Kim won second place in the 2016 KOCSEA Moon-Jung Chung Scholarship Competition and received a cash prize of $600.
  • UROC projects for spring 2017 will be accepted until November 18. Submit your projects here: http://www.geog.psu.edu/uroc-project
  • Marnie Deibler received the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences November staff “Rock in Role” award.


No Coffee Hour on November 18 or 25 due to Thanksgiving holiday
Coffee Hour is a weekly lecture hosted by the Department of Geography celebrating interdisciplinary scholarship and collegiality. Topics range from innovations in GIScience, to food security, to land use and justice issues, among others. All members of the Geography, Penn State, and Centre County community are invited to attend.
Next time: December 2 with Kathleen Carley

Expanded GIS Day program highlights resources and experiential knowledge
An expanded GIS Day program for 2016 highlighting geospatial information includes two days of events Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 14-15, in Penn State’s Pattee and Paterno Library at University Park. Keynote presentations, a career panel, information fair, “lightning talks” and a networking reception highlight this year’s program. Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are encouraged to participate and learn more about the extensive resources available in GIS and related fields. The free program is co-sponsored by the University Libraries and the Department of Geography. The complete events schedule of GIS Day activities at Penn State is available at sites.psu.edu/gisday.

Penn State launches first Transgender Visibility Week, Nov. 14-20
Penn State will join universities and communities across the nation Nov. 14 as the University initiates its inaugural Transgender Visibility Week. The week’s events complement the University’s All In initiative.

Video: California forest fires might be influenced by human activity
Over half of the nation’s forest firefighting budget goes into fires in California. While trying to design a model that would aid in fire forecasting, Alan Taylor, professor of Geography came upon evidence that would suggest that human activity plays an even larger role.

Interested in learning more? Our spring 2014 Geography newsletter is all about pyrogeography.


Beyond white privilege: Geographies of white supremacy and settler colonialism
By Anne Bonds and Joshua Inwood
In Progress in Human Geography, December 2016; vol. 40, 6: pp. 715-733., first published on November 4, 2015
doi: 10.1177/0309132515613166
This paper builds from scholarship on whiteness and white privilege to argue for an expanded focus that includes settler colonialism and white supremacy. We argue that engaging with white supremacy and settler colonialism reveals the enduring social, economic, and political impacts of white supremacy as a materially grounded set of practices. We situate white supremacy not as an artifact of history or as an extreme position, but rather as the foundation for the continuous unfolding of practices of race and racism within settler states. We illustrate this framework through a recent example of a land dispute in the American West.

Mountain Ecology, Remoteness, and the Rise of Agrobiodiversity: Tracing the Geographic Spaces of Human–Environment Knowledge
By Karl S. Zimmerer, Hildegardo Córdova-Aguilar, Rafael Mata Olmo, Yolanda Jiménez Olivencia & Steven J. Vanek
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers
doi: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1235482
We use an original geographic framework and insights from science, technology, and society studies and the geohumanities to investigate the development of global environmental knowledge in tropical mountains. Our analysis demonstrates the significant relationship between current agrobiodiversity and the elevation of mountain agroecosystems across multiple countries. We use the results of this general statistical model to support our focus on mountain agrobiodiversity. Regimes of the agrobiodiversity knowledge of scientists, government officials, travelers, and indigenous peoples, among others, interacting in mountain landscapes have varied significantly in denoting geographic remoteness.

Ice core and climate reanalysis analogs to predict Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere climate changes.
By Mayewski, P.A., A.M. Carleton, S. Birkel, D. Dixon, A. Kurbatov, E. Korotkikh, J. McConnell, M. Curran, J. Cole-Dai, S. Jiang, C. Plummer, T. Vance, K. Maasch, S. Sneed, and M. Handley.
In Quaternary Science Reviews, accepted (in press)
A primary goal of the SCAR (Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) initiated AntClim21 (Antarctic Climate in the 21st Century) Scientific Research Programme is to develop analogs for understanding past, present and future climates for the Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere. In this contribution to AntClim21 we provide a framework for achieving this goal that includes: a description of basic climate parameters; comparison of existing climate reanalyses; and ice core sodium records as proxies for the frequencies of marine air mass intrusion spanning the past ~2000 years. The resulting analog examples include: natural variability, a continuation of the current trend in Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate characterized by some regions of warming and some cooling at the surface of the Southern Ocean, Antarctic ozone healing, a generally warming climate and separate increases in the meridional and zonal winds. We emphasize changes in atmospheric circulation because the atmosphere rapidly transports heat, moisture, momentum, and pollutants, throughout the middle to high latitudes. In addition, atmospheric circulation interacts with temporal variations (synoptic to monthly scales, inter-annual, decadal, etc.) of sea ice extent and concentration.

Nov 16

Coffee Hour with Barry Haack | MSAAG and PGS meet | Easterling gets USDA award


Mark Bonta PGS awardCongratulations to alumnus and assistant professor of earth sciences at Penn State Altoona, Mark Bonta (B.A. ’90),  on receiving the Pennsylvania Geographic Society  Distinguished Geographer Award. Read more below about the PGS and Middle States AAG joint meeting held recently. Photo by Eva Bonta, current geography undergaduate student and Mark’s daughter.


  • Anthony Robinson ran a wonderful North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) meeting this past month in Colorado Springs.
  • Carolyn Fish and co-organizers ran a successful Practical Cartography Day, the first day of the NACIS conference.
  • Erica Smithwick was quoted in a news story about the climate change panel and screening of “Before the Flood” last week.
  • Lise Nelson was interviewed on 98.7 the freq radio station about her article on undocumented immigration.
  • Morteza Karimzadeh won a $1000 NSF award to attend the 24th SIG SPATIAL conference in San Francisco, California.
  • Jeremy Crampton (M.S. ’87g, Ph.D. ’94g) and Reuben Rose-Redwood (M.S. ’02g, Ph.D. ’06g) were selected as new editors for the journal, Dialogues in Human Geography, starting in January 2017.


Coffee Hour on November 11
Barry Haack: Remote Sensing and Geography: International Examples
Remote sensing is a greatly expanding source of spatial information from the over 100 operational spaceborne sensors augmented by traditional airborne systems and increasingly by unmanned aerial systems. Perhaps the greatest need for information extracted from these data is in developing countries for which there is a long history of technology transfer. This presentation includes applied and basic remote sensing and geographic science international case studies.

  • 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 time: December 2 with Kathleen Carley. No Coffee Hour on November 11 or 18, due to Thanksgiving holiday.

Get a UROC research assistant for spring semester
Undergraduates can apply starting November 30
Now is the time for graduate students to submit projects for UROC (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Connection). If you would like to submit a research project, please complete the online project submission form. (www.geog.psu.edu/uroc-project) for spring 2017 by Friday, November 18. UROC gives you the opportunity to find interested and qualified undergraduate students to work with you as research assistants. This can be for thesis and dissertation projects, or other work that you wish to jump start. Learn more: http://www.geog.psu.edu/uroc

Geography groups hold joint meeting
The joint meeting of the Pennsylvania Geographical Society and the Middle States division of the American Association of Geographers took place on November 4–5, 2017 at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona, Pa. There were 135 registered participants.

Mark Bonta (B.A. ’90), assistant professor of earth sciences at Penn State Altoona, received the PGS Distinguished Geographer Award and gave an engaging talk on “Maize and other cycads: Konlif, teocintle, and the sacred geography of the Huastecan milpa.” Other Penn State geography alumni participating included: Jase Bernhardt (M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’16), Rui Li (Ph.D. ’12), Jennifer Mapes (M.S. ’05g), Kolson Schlosser (M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’07), and Daryl Wenner (B.S. ’97). Other Penn State Altoona geography faculty included: PGS president and associate professor of geography and GIScience Tim Dolney and associate professor of physical geography and environmental studies, Lisa Emili.

Event highlights:

  • Sarah W. Bednarz, past president of the AAG, gave the Saturday luncheon address, “Thriving in a Time of Disruption.” During her remarks, Bednarz cited advice from another AAG past president, Penn State professor emeritus Peirce Lewis.
  • Jodi Vender (geography staff) participated on a panel with Daryl Wenner, “Making Our Courses a ‘Spatial’ Experience: Best Practices in Teaching Geography.”

Learn more about the PGS: http://www.thepgs.org/
Learn more about the Middle States Division of the AAG: http://msaag.org/

Easterling honored with top USDA award for global food security report
William Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, was part of a team recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the Abraham Lincoln Honor Award in the category of Increasing Global Food Security Outreach. The team was recognized for their comprehensive report “Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System.”

Nov 16

Coffee Hour with Madhumita Dutta | Promoting public transportation | Immersive Virtual Reality


Clio Andris peeks out the doors of a Centre County Van dressed for Halloween as a taco.



Coffee Hour on November 4 with Madhumita Dutta “Telling life stories: Reflections on researching everyday lived experiences of work-life of women workers in Tamil Nadu, India”
This is a story about lives of young women who had come to work as factory workers in a small industrial town in southern Indian state of Tamilnadu. Traveling up and down to the factory everyday, donning their white aprons, swiping their IDs cards they entered the shop floor to become part of a global workforce. The trials and tribulations of the shop floor were part of their daily experiences. The assembly lines became sites of solidarities and friendships, submissions and subversions, discipline and rebellion. At end of the work shift, these bodies carried their world of work outside the factory into the homes and rented rooms. Their lives outside the factory deeply connected to the shop floor—materially, socially and emotionally. Through a process of conversations and narration of life stories, the young women reflect upon the social and economic conditions and processes that they experience and negotiate everyday at different spaces that they occupy as women and workers, waged and unwaged. This enables them in telling their stories with “an intimacy, complexity and force” (Pratt, 2000: 640), offering multiple views of factory workers’ experiences and dispelling stereotypes. I reflect on the process of doing research that evolved through this dialogic approach and a commitment towards “co-production of knowledge”(Nagar, 2013, 2016) and the challenges on the way.

Centre County vans dress up for Halloween
On Tuesday, October 25, the Centre County Board of Commissioners recognized Penn State Assistant Professor Clio Andris, director of the Friendly Cities Lab, and the Penn State student group STEMComm for winning a $5,000 Emerging Cities Champions grant from 880 Cities & the Knight Foundation for their proposal to promote local public transit by dressing up five Centre County Transportation vans for Halloween.

Students at several State College Area School District elementary schools submitted the designs for the mini-bus costumes, and winners from each school were chosen. The County and project participants also intend to enter one of the buses in the State College Halloween parade on October 30, 2016. The five vans drove around on Monday, October 31, 2016 dressed in their costumes.

Search underway for Earth Systems Ecology or Ecohydrology faculty position
The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University invites applicants for a Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Earth Systems Ecology or Ecohydrology. This position could include the study of interactions among terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, climate/environmental change, the water cycle, humans, land use/land cover change, energy-related processes and biogeochemical cycling at landscape, regional, or global scales in the contemporary, prehistoric, or deep time periods. The successful candidate would have strengths in areas such as Earth system modeling, spatially explicit vegetation modeling, remote sensing, networked observations, model-data synthesis, biogeochemical cycles (e.g., C, N, and water), and coupled natural and human systems. Exemplary candidates at a higher rank will be considered.

Project explores how virtual reality can help students learn
Any trekkie knows what the fictional holodeck is; a virtual reality space where people can experience artificial real or imaginary environments and situations for recreation, training, or solving problems.  At Penn State, researchers will be offering prototype versions of immersive Virtual Reality (iVR) lessons in three courses this fall and spring to engage students in the advantages and promises that such experiential learning offers.

A multi-disciplinary research team, led by Alexander Klippel, associate professor of geography, including members from the departments of Geography and Geosciences, the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, and the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute received a Research Initiation Grant from Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL). Their proposal is titled “Immersive Virtual Reality (iVR): The Printing Press of the 21st Century and How Learning About Place and Space will Never be the Same.”


The Contributions of Places to Metropolitan Ethnoracial Diversity and Segregation: Decomposing Change Across Space and Time
By Fowler, Christopher S. and Lee, Barrett A. and Matthews, Stephen A.
In Demography
doi: 10.1007/s13524-016-0517-3
Although the trend toward greater ethnoracial diversity in the United States has been documented at a variety of geographic scales, most research tracks diversity one scale at a time. Our study bridges scales, asking how the diversity and segregation patterns of metropolitan areas are influenced by shifts in the racial/ethnic composition of their constituent places. Drawing on 1980–2010 decennial census data, we use a new visual tool to compare the distributions of place diversity for 50 U.S. metro areas over three decades. We also undertake a decomposition analysis of segregation within these areas to evaluate hypotheses about the roles of different types of places in ethnoracial change. The decomposition indicates that although principal cities continue to shape the overall diversity of metro areas, their relative impact has declined since 1980. Inner suburbs have experienced substantial increases in diversity during the same period. Places with large white majorities now contribute more to overall metropolitan diversity than in the past. In contrast, majority black and majority Hispanic places contribute less to metropolitan diversity than in the past. The complexity of the patterns we observe is underscored through an inspection of two featured metropolises: Chicago and Dallas.

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