Jun 18

ICIK and Murphy awards | Beetles to battle | New Riparia website


Tutlane climate boundary Ickesburg

Ralph W. Tutlane, Jr. (’83) shares this image showing the distinct boundary of the C Climate, with the blooming trees at the bottom of the picture, and the D Climate at the top of the picture where the trees have not yet started blooming. “I took these pictures on 5/2/18 on PA Route 17 a couple of miles east of Ickesburg, PA, in Perry County. It is the Tuscarora Mountain Range on the Perry County side of the Mountain. Juniata County is at the top of the range.”


  • Ryan Baxter was promoted to associate teaching professor.
  • Beth King was promoted to associate teaching professor.
  • The new Riparia website is up and running and is still available at the same link as the previous website (http://riparia.psu.edu).


Penn State graduate students win award in geospatial intelligence

A team of Penn State graduate students recently received the 2018 Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence, a Penn State endowed scholarship award, for work they did during a geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) course offered though the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

Conservationists introduce loosestrife beetles to battle invasive plants

[Ed. note: Rob Brooks and Peter Backhaus consulted with the nonprofit group, Wildlife for Everyone Foundation]
A small group from Wildlife For Everyone gathered to see more than 600 alien Galerucella calmariensis beetles released late last month at the Julian Wetlands — a man-made marsh adjacent to Miles Hollow Road, north of Port Matilda.

Insects accidently imported from other countries have caused big problems. The list is long — emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, hemlock wooly adelgid and, now, the spotted lanternfly. However, this alien beetle has been introduced to solve a problem, not cause one.

ICIK names 2018 Whiting Indigenous Knowledge Research Award winners

Penn State graduate students Marie Louise Ryan, Johann Strube and Megan Griffin have been recognized with the 2018 Whiting Indigenous Knowledge Research Award to help fund their research pursuits. The award, open to all full-time Penn State undergraduate and graduate students, is funded by the Marjorie Grant Whiting Endowment for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledge and supported by Penn State’s University Libraries and the Interinstitutional Center for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK).


From Census Tracts to Local Environments: An Egocentric Approach to Neighborhood Racial Change

Barrett A. Lee, Chad R. Farrell, Sean F. Reardon, Stephen A. Matthews
Spatial Demography
Most quantitative studies of neighborhood racial change rely on census tracts as the unit of analysis. However, tracts are insensitive to variation in the geographic scale of the phenomenon under investigation and to proximity among a focal tract’s residents and those in nearby territory. Tracts may also align poorly with residents’ perceptions of their own neighborhood and with the spatial reach of their daily activities. To address these limitations, we propose that changes in racial structure (i.e., in overall diversity and group-specific proportions) be examined within multiple egocentric neighborhoods, a series of nested local environments surrounding each individual that approximate meaningful domains of experience. Our egocentric approach applies GIS procedures to census block data, using race-specific population densities to redistribute block counts of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians across 50-meter by 50-meter cells. For each cell, we then compute the proximity-adjusted racial composition of four different-sized local environments based on the weighted average racial group counts in adjacent cells. The value of this approach is illustrated with 1990–2000 data from a previous study of 40 large metropolitan areas. We document exposure to increasing neighborhood racial diversity during the decade, although the magnitude of this increase in diversity—and of shifts in the particular races to which one is exposed—differs by local environment size and racial group membership. Changes in diversity exposure at the neighborhood level also depend on how diverse the metro area as a whole has become.


Jun 18

Collecting images for VR | Telly Awards | We Are The Sensors


Alan Taylor Ishi Wilderness

Here is an image from Alexander Klippel and Alan Taylor’s trip to the Ishi Wilderness. They collected 360 videos that they are editing to explain the history, role, and importance of fire in California. Here is one video that Graduate students Arif Masrur and Jiawei Huang helped editing. It is in stereo which has a very nice depth effect when viewed through a VR headset. This is automatic when someone visits YouTube on a mobile device, just put it in your favorite VR viewer: https://youtu.be/uClrPVdB-o8

Alan Taylor‘s project also has a website with 360 images: https://ishiwildfire.geog.psu.edu/


Mark Simpson passed his proposal defense and comps.

Erica Smithwick participated in two of four WPSU-TV projects that received Telly Awards:

Guido Cervone’s work was mentioned in an article in the scientific section of the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, the second most widely circulated newspaper in Italy. The article is in Italian, and its headline, “I Sensori Siamo Noi” means “We Are The Sensors,” and talks about his work on using citizen science during disasters.


EMS academic and alumni leaders create Open Doors Scholarships

Lee and Michelle Kump are both experienced educators — Lee as the dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) and professor of geosciences at Penn State, and Michelle, a 2001 Penn State alumna, as a reading specialist in the State College Area School District. As a result, they both have worked with many students who have financial need.

The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again

In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance.


Remote Studio Site Experiences: Investigating the Potential to Develop the Immersive Site Visit

Oprean, Danielle, Verniz, Debora, Zhao, Jiayan, Wallgrün, Jan Oliver, Duarte, José P. and Klippel, Alexander
Learning, Adapting and Prototyping – Proceedings of the 23rd CAADRIA Conference – Volume 1, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 17-19 May 2018, pp. 421-430
Immersive technologies are now enabling better and more affordable immersive experiences, offering the opportunity to revisit their use in the architectural and landscape studio to gain site information. Considering when travel to a site is limited or not possible, immersive experiences can help with conveying site information by overcoming issues faced in earlier virtual studios. We focused on developing three applications to understand the workflow for incorporating site information to generate an immersive site experience. The applications were implemented in a semester-long joint architecture and landscape architecture studio focused on remotely designing for the Santa Marta informal settlement in Rio, Brazil. Preliminary results of implementing the applications indicate a positive outlook towards using immersive experiences for site information particularly when a site is remote.

Beyond Inventory and Mapping: LIDAR, Landscape and Digital Landscape Architecture

Murtha, Timothy; Golden, Charles; Cyphers, Ann; Klippel, Alexander; Flohr, Travis
Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture
Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) applications have rapidly transformed remote sensing and scientific research of landscapes, especially research targeting ecological systems and cultural resources. While used in landscape architecture and landscape research by select research groups, it’s not broadly applied as a primary source of information in landscape ecological design and planning projects.

Augmented Reality and the Scenic Drive

Orland, Brian; Taylor, Micah; Mazurczyk, Tara; Welch-Devine, Meredith; Goldberg, Lacey; Candler Scales, Mary; Murtha, Timothy; Calabria, Jon
Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture
We are interested in the general question of how to augment the viewed landscape with representations of its otherwise invisible aspects and using these to prompt visitors to reveal previously unidentified aspects of that same landscape. We take a participatory, grassroots perspective, where expert and local knowledge are made available, but emphasis lies in the collection of new or explanatory information from the broadest feasible range of participants. This paper proposes a process for capturing not just individual experience of place, but collective experience built upon the individual. Crowd-sourced imagery and sound “bites” populate an augmented reality (AR) environment and prompts visitors to the AR to consider and respond to those originating experiences with their own. We provide and project additional environmental data to prompt embellishments, corrections or additions. In our prototype, the goal is to locate as-yet-unidentified valued highway landscapes, but the general approach has application in numerous other settings where understanding collective grassroots experiences in the landscape is essential for its protection and preservation.


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