Mar 17

AAG presenters and reception info | Dowler’s election | Coffee Hour updates


AAG Reception San Francisco

Scene from the Alumni and Friends Reception during AAG in San Francisco. Cindy Brewer [center] makes sure everyone gets enough flatbread pizza. Join us April 7, 2017 for the Alumni and Friends Reception during AAG, at Dillons in Boston, Ma., 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information and to RSVP: www.geog.psu.edu/aag-reception


  • Both Karl Zimmerer and his advisee Nathan Clay had articles published in the March issue of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.
  • Alex Klippel, Roger Downs, Andrew Carleton, and Karl Zimmerer all contributed articles to The International Encyclopedia of Geography.
  • College of EMS announces a new Stellar Performance Award. Nominations due by the last day of classes for each semester (fall, spring, summer) for recognition during following semester. To learn more about the award and how to nominate a staff member, please visit: www.ems.psu.edu/stellarAward


Coffee Hour schedule announcement
Due to the AAG Annual meeting, April 5–9, 2017, there will be no Coffee Hour on March 31 or April 7. The next Coffee Hour will be April 14. Remember, if you missed a talk, you can view the archived webcast on Mediasite, linked from each talk’s webpage.

Remainder of the spring 2017 Coffee Hour schedule:

  • April 14 The Miller Lecture with Anthony Bebbington, Higgins Professor of Environment and Society and Professor of Geography, Clark University
  • April 21 Ken Keefover-Ring

Many Penn State geographers presenting at AAG 2017
More than 70 Penn Staters, including students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff are participating in the AAG annual meeting in Boston, April 5–9, 2017.

Newly elected AAG national councilor Dowler sights social justice
Penn State associate professor of geography and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, Lorraine Dowler, has been elected as a national councilor for the American Association of Geographers’ governing body. She is one of six national councilors and will begin her three-year term on July 1.

“In my new role, I will advocate for the discipline to be a leader in education and society more generally in promoting economic justice, political freedom, environmental stability and cultural acceptance,” Dowler said.


Mar 17

Coffee Hour with Antoinette WinklerPrins | NSF Workshop on DDRIs | Student awards


urban agriculture

This photo illustrating an aspect of urban agriculture is on the cover of the forthcoming book Global Urban Agriculture: Convergence of Theory and Practice between North and South, edited by Antoinette WinklerPrins. WinklerPrins, NSF program director of the Geography and Spatial Sciences DDRI, will be leading a workshop on Applying for DDRIs on March 23. She will also be the Coffee Hour speaker on March 24. Her visit is sponsored by Penn State Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG). There is still time to register for the March 23 Workshop on NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Awards, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., 319 Walker Building, Penn State, University Park campus.


  • There is still time to submit your essay about mentorship for SWIG’s Jennifer Fluri and Amy Trauger Student Essay Competition. Submissions are due March 27, 2017. For more information and to submit your work: http://www.geog.psu.edu/swig-essay-contest
  • Megan Baumann has received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • Eden Kinkaid has received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Graduate Fellowship to study advanced Hindi and conduct preliminary fieldwork this summer in India.
  • Yanan Xin, Lauren Fritzsche, Ramzi Tubbeh, Peter Ryan, Eden Kinkaid, and Renee have completed painting the PLACE Lab landscape mural.
  • Eden Kinkaid has been awarded the NSF Graduate Research Program Fellowship.
  • Jamie Peeler received an Honorable Mention for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • ChoroPhronesis members Mark Simpson and Jiayan Zhao both got their 3rd peer-reviewed paper accepted for this academic year. Simpson’s paper “Quantifying Space, Understanding Minds: A Visual Summary Approach” will be published in the Journal of Spatial Information Science. Zhao’s paper “Immersive Virtual Reality for Geosciences” will be published in the proceedings of the 2017 IEEE VR Workshop on K-12 Embodied Learning through Virtual & Augmented Reality (KELVAR)
  • Carolyn Fish won the CaGIS Doctoral Scholarship Award for demonstrated excellence in cartography or GIScience and the potential to contribute to cartography or GIScience research.
  • Liping Yang and Guido Cervone won the 2017 NCAR/CISL summer research grant titled “Experiments with TensorFlow and Apache Spark on Cheyenne and Yellowstone Supercomputers for Image Classification and Segmentation”


Coffee Hour with Antoinette WinklerPrins: Global Urban Agriculture: Convergence of Theory and Practice between North and South
Urban agriculture (UA) is the practice of cultivating in cities and other non-rural places, an activity that is increasing as the world becomes more urbanized. The topic has seen growing attention as a topic of investigation by academics and practitioners, but research and writing about UA has often been partitioned between that which is practiced in the Global North (GN) and how it is practiced in the Global South (GS). The focus in the GS has typically been on the role of UA in providing food security and limited employment for the (newly) urban poor. Investigations of UA in the GN have focused on issues of social justice and community empowerment as well as grass-roots and countercultural actions, including a focus on relocalizing food sources.

  • 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: April 14 The Miller Lecture with Anthony Bebbington


Qualitative Spatial and Temporal Representation and Reasoning
By Klippel, A. and Wallgrün, J. O.
In The International Encyclopedia of Geography. 1–8.
Access DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg0940
The representation of and reasoning with spatial and temporal information are central to spatial sciences. Formalizations of both allow the design of efficient computer programs that enable artificial intelligence (AI). The area of knowledge representation, as a subfield of AI but with contributions from the spatial sciences, is playing a leading role in these developments, and a strong subfield exists that is dedicated to qualitative spatial and temporal representation and reasoning (QSTR). The focus on qualitative approaches to reasoning is inspired by an interest in understanding how humans represent, think, and reason with spatial and temporal information from a commonsense, that is, intuitive, perspective. This entry provides an overview on the motivation behind QSTR, with explanations of central concepts such as qualitative calculi and conceptual neighborhood, as well as on cognitive evaluations of proposed approaches and current trends in this area of research.

Spatial Thinking, Cognition, and Learning
By Downs, R. M.
In The International Encyclopedia of Geography. 1–10
Access DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg0700
Spatial thinking is a distinctive, universal, and powerful form of thinking used in problem solving in multiple disciplines and in real-world activities. Space, representation, and reasoning are inseparably integrated in spatial thinking and therefore it is, and has always been, central to the teaching and practice of geography in schools, academia, and occupations. Spatial thinking can be learned and should be taught at all levels in the formal education system because life in our spatial world is inconceivable without the aid of spatial thinking. After providing a definition of spatial thinking, this entry sets it into three contexts: geography, psychology, and education.

Climatic Modes and Teleconnections
By Carleton, A. M.
In The International Encyclopedia of Geography.
Access DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg0494
Recurring spatial anomaly patterns of climate variability on intraseasonal, interannual, and decadal timescales (“climatic modes”) express associations with atmospheric and oceanic circulations, modulated by land surface–atmosphere interactions. These teleconnections range in influence from global (El Niño Southern Oscillation) to hemispheric (Arctic Oscillation, Antarctic Oscillation) to continental/regional (e.g., North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific–North America pattern), and originate both in the tropics (e.g., Madden–Julian Oscillation) and extratropics (e.g., Antarctic Circumpolar Wave). Climate variables influenced by – and characterizing – teleconnections include temperature and precipitation, sea level pressure/geopotential height, winds, outgoing longwave radiation, and sea surface temperature. The opposing (i.e., extreme) phases of a teleconnection are evident as distinct patterns of heat and cold, droughts and floods, wildfires, synoptic circulation activity (tropical cyclones, frontal cyclones), and subsynoptic weather (e.g., tornadoes, “polar lows”). Contemporary climate change (“global warming”) may be altering both the internal attributes and frequencies of teleconnections.

Mar 17

Coffee Hour with Roger Downs | Smithwick’s COIL Conversation | PAC Herbarium


Erica Smithwick

Erica Smithwick studies the carbon stored in forests in South Africa during her 2016 Fulbright project. Smithwick talks about her research and teaching in a COIL Conversation, March 16, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. EST. 313 Location: Keller Building, University Park, PA and online at https://meeting.psu.edu/coil. Registration required at https://goo.gl/Pqewsy



Coffee Hour with Roger Downs: Incidental Learning about Geography: Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince
There are formal and informal pathways for developing geographic knowledge and skills. Each pathway is characterized by a mode of learning, with distinctions between instructed and uninstructed learning, and intentional and incidental learning. Each pathway generates different understandings of the world. The scholarly discipline of geography is defined by the formal pathway, and that pathway is well-studied. The informal pathway is neither well-recognized nor well-studied. Instead, we lament about the persistence and prevalence of geographic ignorance. Nevertheless, to function people need to know about the geographic world: weather, roads, distances and directions, seasons, cities, hazards, vegetation. People develop an understanding of geography derived from everyday experiences. How do geographic knowledge and skills develop from everyday experience? Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote about flying mail planes in Africa and South America, and wartime flying in Europe. Geography underpins his books, not the formal geography mastered from school instruction, but the informal geography hard-learned from meeting challenges of navigation, storms, night flying with few instruments and little fuel, and searching for emergency landing places.

Penn State’s Roger Downs to receive AAG 2017 Presidential Achievement Award
Roger M. Downs, the Ruby S. and E. Willard Miller Professor of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, has been selected to receive the American Association of Geographers (AAG) 2017 Presidential Achievement Award.

Pa. Agricultural College Herbarium has dappled history, deep roots
Ever wonder how you can identify a plant you’ve found in your yard or while conducting fieldwork? What about determining how plants in a particular location have adapted over time due to climate change? You can get help at the PAC (Pennsylvania Agricultural College) Herbarium, a kind of museum for plants.

“The PAC Herbarium provides a variety of services to the University and larger botanical community including research and teaching support, tours, and training workshops,” said newly appointed curator Sarah Chamberlain.

from the Centre Daily Times
Erica Smithwick sets out on a ‘grand adventure’

The title of “Globe-Trotting Adventurer” has officially passed from Indiana Jones to Erica Smithwick, an associate professor at Penn State whose research in the field of physical geography has taken her deep into the forests of South Africa. Smithwick happily balances continent hopping with a busy family life.


Geography and the Study of Human–Environment Relations
By Karl Zimmerer
In The International Encyclopedia of Geography. 1–23.
Access DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg1028
Human–environment geography is characterized by focused integration and synthesis of the in-depth analysis of both the multifaceted human conditions of interactions with the environment and the active dynamics of the biogeophysical world. The nine topical and thematic areas currently comprising human–environment geography are (i) human–environment interactions in hazards, risk, vulnerability, and resilience; (ii) land use, land systems, land change, and biodiversity; (iii) social-ecological and coupled human–environment systems; (iv) political ecology and human–environment relations; (v) human–environment relations in livelihoods and agricultural landscapes; (vi) resource political economy, management, and politics; (vii) food, health, and bodies in relation to the environment; (viii) environmental landscape history and ideas; and (ix) knowledge concepts in environmental management and policy. Finally, new trends are identified in order to understand the ongoing diversification and potential future expansion of human–environment geography.

Weight and Veterans’ Environments Study (WAVES) I and II
By Shannon N. Zenk, Elizabeth Tarlov, Lisa M. Powell, Coady Wing, Stephen A. Matthews, Sandy Slater, Howard S. Gordon, Michael Berbaum, Marian L. Fitzgibbon,
In American Journal of Health Promotion
Access 10.1177/0890117117694448
To present the rationale, methods, and cohort characteristics for 2 complementary “big data” studies of residential environment contributions to body weight, metabolic risk, and weight management program participation and effectiveness. A total of 3 261 115 veterans who received Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care in 2009 to 2014, including 169 910 weight management program participants and a propensity score–derived comparison group. Forty-four percent of men and 42.8% of women were obese, whereas 4.9% of men and 9.9% of women engaged in MOVE!. About half of the cohort had at least 1 supermarket within 1 mile of their home, whereas they averaged close to 4 convenience stores (3.6 for men, 3.9 for women) and 8 fast-food restaurants (7.9 for men, 8.2 for women). Forty-one percent of men and 38.6% of women did not have a park, and 35.5% of men and 31.3% of women did not have a commercial fitness facility within 1 mile.

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