Apr 17

Recognition Reception | An indirect approach to human rights? | Course development seed grants


Penn State Department of Geography’s graduate wetlands class spent the Earth Day weekend exploring a gradient of wetlands in southern New Jersey from freshwater Atlantic White Cedar swamps of the Pinelands to coastal salt marshes of Delaware Bay. Here, the two come together where sea level rise is forcing salt marshes to invade the low-lying cedar swamps. Rot-resistant cedar tree trunks can be seen in the background protruding from the encroaching salt marsh. Their Society of Wetland Scientists matching t-shirts display their support for the March for Science. From right to left are: Rob Brooks (instructor), Peter Backhaus, Zheng Lin, Kyle Clark, Josh Wisor, Jesus Ruiz-Plancarte, Travis Young, and Ramzi Tubbeh (not pictured: Tim Gould and Tara Mazurczyk were involved in other contributing activities over the weekend).


Meg Boyle is serving as a panelist tonight (April 25), at the “Teach-in on Climate Change and Environmental Policy in the Age of Trump,” 6:30-8:00 p.m. Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library.

The department’s annual Recognition Reception takes place Friday, April 28 in Walker Building.

Diane Felmlee (Sociology), Alan MacEachren, Stephen Mathews, and Justine Blanford received a Seed Grant from the Social Science Research Institute.

Yanan Xin and Megan Baumann have been selected as the UROC coordinators for the 2017–18 academic year.

Bronwen Powell was invited to speak at this year’s UN Forum on Forests to be held during the first week of May at UN Headquarters in New York.

Annie Taylor, Director of the Dutton e-Education Institute will become EMS Assistant Dean of Distance Learning and Director, Dutton e-Education Institute.

Liping Yang, Guido Cervone, and Alan M. MacEachren won an NVIDIA GPU Grant (NVIDIA Awarded one Titan X Pascal GPU card).


When using the phrase ‘human rights’ hinders human-rights initiatives
A. Marie Ranjbar noticed a peculiar pattern in the conversations she was having as part of her dissertation research. A doctoral candidate in geography and women’s studies at Penn State, Ranjbar was interviewing minority ethnic groups in northwest Iran for research into how certain ethnic groups view a shrinking lake in northwest Iran, Lake Urmia.

Office for General Education announces Integrative Studies Seed Grant awards
Geographers Jennifer Baka, Lorraine Dowler, Chris Fowler, Joshua Inwood, and Karl Zimmerer are among awardees
The Integrative Studies Seed Grant Program, offered through the Penn State Office for General Education, will support 71 different course development projects this summer. In response to the large volume of highly qualified proposals, the budget was generously increased by more than 50 percent by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Undergraduate Education.


Short-term photovoltaic power forecasting using Artificial Neural Networks and an Analog Ensemble
By Cervone, G., Clemente-Harding, L., Alessandrini, S., Monache, L. D.
In Renewable Energy
Access http://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2017.02.052
A methodology based on Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) and an Analog Ensemble (AnEn) is presented to generate 72 h deterministic and probabilistic forecasts of power generated by photovoltaic (PV) power plants using input from a numerical weather prediction model and computed astronomical variables. ANN and AnEn are used individually and in combination to generate forecasts for three solar power plants located in Italy. The computational scalability of the proposed solution is tested using synthetic data simulating 4450 PV power stations. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Yellowstone supercomputer is employed to test the parallel implementation of the proposed solution, ranging from one node (32 cores) to 4450 nodes (141,140 cores). Results show that a combined AnEn + ANN solution yields best results, and that the proposed solution is well suited for massive scale computation.

Source Reconstruction of Atmospheric Release with Limited Meteorological Observations Using Genetic Algorithms
By Petrozziello, A., Cervone, G., Franzese, P., Haupt, S. E., Cerulli, R.
In Applied Artificial Intelligence
Access doi: 10.1080/08839514.2017.1300005
A genetic algorithm is paired with a Lagrangian puff atmospheric model to reconstruct the source characteristics of an atmospheric release. Observed meteorological and ground concentration measurements from the real-world Dipole Pride controlled release experiment are used to test the methodology. A sensitivity study is performed to quantify the relative contribution of the number and location of sensor measurements by progressively removing them. Additionally, the importance of the meteorological measurements is tested by progressively removing surface observations and vertical profiles. It is shown that the source term reconstruction can occur also with limited meteorological observations. The proposed general methodology can be applied to reconstruct the characteristics of an unknown atmospheric release given limited ground and meteorological observations.

Apr 17

Coffee Hour with Keefover-Ring | Crane named Global Programs avp | Recognition Reception


European Beech at Walker Building eastern entrance

A springtime view of the eastern corner entrance to Walker Building, seen through the large buds on the European Beech (Fagus sylvatica). Join us here on April 28 for the annual Recognition Reception. We recognize the accomplishments of our community during this important annual event. We will also celebrate renewals to labs in the department; help us to dedicate our new learning spaces.


  • Tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the State Theatre, a public screening of “Managing Risk in a Changing Climate” followed by a panel discussion, including Erica Smithwick.
  • Russell Hedberg is on the board of the AAG Geographies of Food and Agriculture Speciality Group which published an op-ed in the Finger Lakes Times on how the current administrations proposed immigration policies will affect the food and agriculture sector in the US.
  • Tara Mazurczyk, Natalie Pawlikowski, Cary Anderson, and Lauren Fritzsche will be the SWIG officers for 2017-2018.
  • Azita Ranjbar has accepted a tenure-track position with Ohio State’s Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Morteza Karimzadeh has accepted a lecturer position with Ohio State’s Department of Geography.
  • Alumna Rachel Passmore is going to attend Columbia University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a specialization on women’s health.
  • Alumna Adrienne Cooke is going to the University of Illinois, fully funded on a fellowship.
  • Teresa Onorati arrived as a visiting scholar in GeoVISTA/Geography. She will be here collaborating with several of us through the end of summer. Onorati is visiting from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. She is currently a postdoc in the Department of Computer Science; her research is focused on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to empower social knowledge in domains of public interest like crisis management and politics.
  • Karl Zimmerer’s article on “Agrobiodiversity and a Sustainable Food Future” was referenced on the blog Roots, Tubers, and Bananas.
  • Alan MacEachren, Jenn Baka, and Prasenjit Mitra (IST), along with postdoc Liping Yang received a Seed Grant from the Institute for CyberScience for their proposal: Comment Analytics: Leveraging Big Unstructured Data to Understand Spatial and Temporal Variations in Public Response to Government Policy.


Final spring 2017 Coffee Hour with Ken Keefover-Ring: The space-thyme continuum and other tales of chemical biogeography
Plants produce a wide variety of so-called “secondary compounds” which they use for many different functions, including deterring their herbivores or attracting their pollinators. Many of these compounds are familiar to us since we have co-opted them for our own purposes, such as fragrances and flavors (essential oils) and medicines and stimulants (aspirin and caffeine). While we associate specific plants with certain compounds, in natural populations the chemistry of some plant species can be quite variable. I am interested in this variation and how secondary compound-mediated interactions between plants and other organisms can change over a plant’s range. In this talk I will discuss where the fields of chemical ecology and biogeography meet and use some of my work to illustrate the ecological and evolutionary implications of plant chemical variation over the landscape.

  • 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

Robert Crane named associate vice provost for Global Programs
After a national search for an associate vice provost for Global Programs, Robert G. Crane, director of Strategic Initiatives within Global Programs at Penn State, has been named to the post.

“Rob is a tireless advocate for international education and a strong believer in the ideals of transforming Penn State into a truly global university,” said Michael Adewumi, vice provost for Global Programs. “Recommended by the search committee, Rob is an excellent choice, given his experience and close working knowledge and leadership roles in Global Programs over the years. His ability to take on projects and tasks that not only benefit our students and the University as a whole, but also benefit the nation and other countries is longstanding and proven.”

Apr 17

Coffee Hour-Miller Lecture with Anthony Bebbington | Easterling award | Spring events


Geog undergrads at AAG poster session

Undergraduate students in the Department of Geography (from left), Kathy Cappelli, Christopher Mertz, Adelaide Kellett, Connor Klassen and Andrew Brown participated in research poster sessions at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting in Boston, Ma., April 5–9 2017.


Eva Bonta received a Penn State Erickson Discovery Grant for her project “Gastronomic Tourism in Mezcala, Mexico.”

Benjamin Carlsen’s team won “Best Visualization” at Penn State’s 2017 ASA Datafest competition

Aparna Parikh’s paper, “Ignoring perceptions, heightening risk: Examining paradoxes of urban safety policies for women working the night shift in Mumbai, India” receiving the Glenda Laws Student Paper Award from the AAG Global Perspectives On Women Specialty Group.

Ethan Davis was interviewed on “The Morning Mixtape” radio program about his new farm “Strong Roots Organic Farm” and CSAs on Friday, April 7.


Coffee Hour is the Miller Lecture with Anthony Bebbington: Mapping forest threats: the challenge of infrastructure and extractive industry
Debates over the Amazon forest in the 1970s established the adverse effects of large scale infrastructure on forest cover and forest peoples. Yet while scholars and activists in geography and related fields demonstrated the political and economic factors shaping forest conversion, the war over who in practice gets to determine the extent of forest cover continues to wage on. Forests have become increasingly disputed territories, and those disputes challenge the maintenance of forest cover and the rights of populations who live from the forest. In these disputes over forests, the expansion of extractive industry investment and investment in infrastructure play a particular role. This is the case for large and small-scale of extraction and infrastructure alike. This talk presents on-going work that attempts to assess the extent and significance of these two sectors as threats to forest cover, with a focus on the Amazon, Indonesia and Mesoamerica.

  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:00 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to go webcast
  • Next time: April 21 Ken Keefover-Ring

Easterling receives national ‘Giving Back Award’ for promoting diversity
William Easterling, dean of the College of the Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), received the 2017 Giving Back Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for his contributions to increasing diversity and promoting opportunities for students and faculty.

“Dean Easterling is very attuned to issues of power and privilege and equity, as well as to underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and actively works to make a positive difference,” said Victoria Sanchez, EMS’ associate dean for educational equity. “In his time as dean, he has made diversity, equity and inclusive excellence a priority for the College.”

Using geodesign for Major League Baseball stadium development
The best way for students to learn about geodesign is to apply their learning to real world projects, especially because many of the online students are already in the workforce.

Jim Sipes, a faculty member for the online geodesign program at Penn State and renowned designer with Sand County Studios, developed a project to investigate the new Atlanta Braves baseball stadium and neighborhood development as the challenge for the fall 2016 Geodesign II course on urban landscape change issues.


Agrobiodiversity and a sustainable food future
By K. S. Zimmerer, S. de Haan
In Nature Plants
Access doi:10.1038/nplants.2017.47
The biodiversity of food plants is vital for humanity’s capacity to meet sustainability challenges. This goal requires the rigorous integration of plant, environmental, social and health sciences. It is coalescing around four thematic cornerstones that are both interdisciplinary and policy relevant.

Traditional Sustainable Harvesting Knowledge and Distribution of a Vulnerable Wild Medicinal Root (A. pyrethrum var. pyrethrum) in Ait M’hamed Valley, Morocco
By Abderrahim Ouarghidi, Bronwen Powell, Gary J. Martin, Abdelaziz Abbad
In Economic Botany
Access 10.1007/s12231-017-9374-2
This study examined traditional harvesting knowledge and practices, paired with field-based assessment of distribution of a vulnerable wild medicinal root, Anacyclus pyrethrum var. pyrethrum, in southern Morocco. Research included focus groups, qualitative interviews, and a survey of 38 collectors. Based on local knowledge, replanting trials were conducted and transects and plot-based assessments were used to examine distribution.

An Evaluation of a Visual Analytics Prototype for Calendar-Related Spatiotemporal Periodicity Detection and Analysis
By Brian Swedberg, Donna Peuquet
In Cartographica
Access https://muse.jhu.edu/article/652031
Whether it is sunrise, the weekend, or Christmas, some form of temporal structure or periodic pattern governs our daily activities. Understanding them is essential to making sense of human activity, because they frame normality and allow us to identify abnormalities. However, cultural heterogeneity and scale greatly complicate our ability to uncover and understand human activity at a given time within a region. Current research in the field of visual analytics and geography provide methods of addressing spatiotemporal periodicity, but they fall short in providing access to multiple spatial and temporal scales via a relevant calendar. In response to these shortcomings, we developed PerSE (periodicity in spatio-temporal events), a coordinated-view Web application designed to aid users in the detection and analysis of calendar-related periodicity in spatiotemporal event data sets. Given the complexity of such a visualization tool, this paper focuses on the usability and learnability of PerSE. We evaluated the tool through a 20-participant study that consisted of training, a multiple-choice test, and the System Usability Scale. Our analysis of the results shows that the complex combination of visual tools and multi-scale, multi-calendar capability used within PerSE is effective, but still in need of usability improvements.

Planning Dissonance” and the Bases for Stably Diverse Neighborhoods: The Case of South Seattle.
By Lumley-Sapanski, Audrey and Fowler, Christopher S.
In City & Community
Access 10.1111/cico.12224
Recent scholarship has focused extensively on the rise of diverse neighborhoods in U.S. cities. Nevertheless, the theoretical frameworks we have for describing residential settlement patterns generally treat diversity as an unstable and transitory period that is the product of a unidirectional pressure towards segregation. In our analysis of six diverse neighborhoods in Southeast Seattle, we find evidence of processes at multiple scales that not only maintain diversity, but actually reinforce it. From individual decisions about property ownership to broader patterns of regional disinvestment, we find empirical evidence that indicates a need for a more complex theorization of the processes that create and sustain diverse neighborhoods. In our preliminary theorization of these conditions, we call for a conceptualization of residential settlement patterns that is explicitly multiscalar and recognizes a wider range of cultural, economic, and political relations as central to the production of observed patterns of neighborhood settlement.

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