Jul 18

Investigating diet changes | Travel grants | Dept. earns safety certification


Rachel Passmore alumna videoRachel Passmore, a 2014 Penn State geography alumna, studies human geography. She’s worked in India and Grenada and is now enrolled in graduate school at Columbia University. She is featured on the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Youtube Channel.


  • The Department of Geography has been recognized by Penn State Environmental Health and Safety as “certified” in meeting the Integrated Safety Plan Phase I requirements.
  • Save the date for the Penn State GIS Day on Tuesday, November 13. As more information becomes available, the Penn State GIS Day site will be updated.
  • Karen Cox was the April Rock In Role Award winner, selected by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Staff Advisory Committee (SAC). Karen stepped up to assist during renovations that were occurring in the Walker Building. She volunteered to help while a co-worker was on vacation and her help made it possible to meet renovation deadlines in multiple rooms. This allowed a new faculty member to move into their new office on time.
    If there is an outstanding staff member you would like to nominate for upcoming Rock In Role awards, submit your nomination by the end of the month. All entries are reviewed and voted on by the SAC at their next meeting.
  • Missy Weaver has been selected for the Smart Track to Success program at Penn State World Campus, receiving a scholarship, mentoring, and other resources to help her be successful as a new student.


Researcher tackling loss of healthy traditional diets in Morocco

Morocco’s food landscape has been undergoing a major shift: Obesity is on the rise while traditional, healthy food is becoming more scarce.

Penn State geography researcher Bronwen Powell wants to know what’s driving these trends. To do that, she and her team are on the ground in Morocco investigating how different foods end up in markets and how community members view those foods.

Global Programs announces spring 2018 Travel Grant recipients

Geographers receiving grants include Denice Wardrop, Megan Baumann, Meg Boyle, and Xi Liu.

Twice a year, Global Programs seeks travel grant applications from faculty and graduate students. The Travel Grant program supports faculty travel related to developing global awareness, global literacy and global competency among our undergraduate population. Graduate students may apply for the grants for assistance with travel to international conferences with the goal of promoting and supporting global leadership in scholarship and international engagements.


Commentary II: New postcolonial insights on gender, indigeneity, and development, and refractions to environment and health issues

Karl S. Zimmerer
Progress in Human Geography
Postcolonialism is at once a vigorous knowledge network, a wide-ranging coalescence of theoretical analysis, a powerful critique of policy, and a practical toolkit used to dissemble and connect ideas and concepts. For the past few decades it has been extensively and productively engaged in rethinking ideas of nature and culture and applying these insights to environment and health issues. The postcolonial perspective on nature and culture has framed understandings of the powerful dynamics of gender, race, and ethnicity that permeate policy and management in these other fields. This perspective has offered major insight into the asymmetrical power relations of persistent social groups (women, indigenous people, Afro-descendants, urban and rural poor) and the entwining of their politically and policy-mediated relation to resource access and certain spaces. In the case of environmental issues, for example, these spaces have included the territories designated as parks, nature reserves, and protected areas.

A Large-Scale Location-based Social Network to Understanding the Impact of Human Geo-Social Interaction Patterns on Vaccination Strategies in an Urbanized Area

Luo W, Gao P, and Cassels S.
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
Cities play an important role in fostering and amplifying the transmission of airborne diseases (e.g., influenza) because of dense human contacts. Before an outbreak of airborne diseases within a city, how to determine an appropriate containment area for effective vaccination strategies is unknown. This research treats airborne disease spreads as geo-social interaction patterns, because viruses transmit among different groups of people over geographical locations through human interactions and population movement. Previous research argued that an appropriate scale identified through human geo-social interaction patterns can provide great potential for effective vaccination. However, little work has been done to examine the effectiveness of such vaccination at large scales (e.g., city) that are characterized by spatially heterogeneous population distribution and movement. This article therefore aims to understand the impact of geo-social interaction patterns on effective vaccination in the urbanized area of Portland, Oregon. To achieve this goal, we simulate influenza transmission on a large-scale location-based social network to 1) identify human geo-social interaction patterns for designing effective vaccination strategies, and 2) and evaluate the efficacy of different vaccination strategies according to the identified geo-social patterns. The simulation results illustrate the effectiveness of vaccination strategies based on geo-social interaction patterns in containing the epidemic outbreak at the source. This research can provide evidence to inform public health approaches to determine effective scales in the design of disease control strategies.

Development of an Agent-based Model to Investigate the Impact of HIV Self-testing Programs for Men Who Have Sex with Men in Atlanta and Seattle

Luo W, Katz D, Hamilton D, McKennie J, Jenness S, Goodreau S, Stekler J, Rosenberg E, Sullivan P., and Cassels S.
JMIR Public Health Surveillance
DOI: 10.2196/publichealth.9357
In the United States HIV epidemic, men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the most profoundly affected group. Prevention science is increasingly being organized around HIV testing as a launch point into an HIV prevention continuum for MSM who are not living with HIV and into an HIV care continuum for MSM who are living with HIV. An increasing HIV testing frequency among MSM might decrease future HIV infections by linking men who are living with HIV to antiretroviral care, resulting in viral suppression. Distributing HIV self-test (HIVST) kits is a strategy aimed at increasing HIV testing. Our previous modeling work suggests that the impact of HIV self-tests on transmission dynamics will depend not only on the frequency of tests and testers’ behaviors but also on the epidemiological and testing characteristics of the population.

While we dialogue, others die: A response to ‘The possibilities and limits to dialogue’

Derek Alderman, Joshua FJ Inwood
Dialogues in Human Geography
We revisit Martin Luther King Jr’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail (2013 [1963]), using his words to frame our thinking about the promise, limits, and efficacy of dialogue. The life and death politics of everyday oppressed people should directly inform any consideration of the merits of scholars engaging in (or disengaging from) dialogue, what they ultimately say, and with whom they engage in dialogue and political action. The stakes are too high—for the academy, broader society, and especially for those groups who bear the direct burden of injustice—not to engage in scholarly dialogue and debate. It is also important for scholars to communicate in resonant ways and enhance the value of their academic dialogue to oppressed groups. The most significant threat to scholarly dialogue is not necessarily from extremists; rather, the challenge lies in creating consequential dialogue with those who remain silent and indifferent in the face of what King called ‘the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed’.

Jul 18

Geographers at Arts Fest | New course GEOG 397 | Pulling in diversity in athletics


Alex Klippel demonstrates the use of VR googles at the Penn State Art of Discovery tent during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 2017. He returns this year to share his research on immersive technologies. Visit him on Saturday, July 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.. And don’t forget to visit with another geographer, Denice Wardrop, who will explore mankind’s relationship with plastics, also on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to noon. The Art of Discovery booth is next to Willard Building.



Explore the impacts of plastics through art at Arts Festival

Plastic bottles. Kitchen bags. Toys. Medical devices. Each year, mankind produces more than 320 million tons of plastic — roughly the same weight as all of humanity itself put together.

“Think about that,” said Denice Wardrop, professor of ecology and geography at Penn State. “Every year we recreate humanity in plastic.”

New course puts Penn State students in control of transformational technology

GEOG 397 will convene for the first time at University Park in fall 2018
In his decade of teaching at Penn State, Professor of Geography Alex Klippel has seen immersive technologies disrupt everything at the University from education to research to outreach. His belief in the power of this machinery to improve the learning process guided his creation of GEOG 397: Immersive Technologies – Transforming Society through Digital Innovation.

Penn State launches new graduate certificate for geospatial software developers

Certificate in geospatial programming and web map development being offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus

Penn State has launched a new graduate certificate aimed at helping geospatial professionals working in the GIS and web mapping industries to expand their software development and coding skills.

Athletic ‘pull’ increases campus diversity

The next time you see your favorite collegiate athlete on the field or court, think again about their road to getting there.

That is something Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography at Penn State, has spent the past several years piecing together. Her findings were published in The Professional Geographer.


Social Cyber-Security

Carley K.M., Cervone G., Agarwal N., Liu H.
In: Thomson R., Dancy C., Hyder A., Bisgin H. (eds) Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling.
Social Cyber-Security is an emerging scientific discipline. Its methodological and scientific foundation, key challenges, and scientific direction are described. The multi-disciplinary nature of this field and its emphasis on dynamic information strategies is considered.

Coupling Traffic and Gas Dispersion Simulation for Atmospheric Pollution Estimation

Cervone G., Dallmeyer J., Lattner A.D., Franzese P., Waters N.
In: Wang S., Goodchild M. (eds) CyberGIS for Geospatial Discovery and Innovation.
A CyberGIS approach is presented in this chapter where microscopic traffic simulation and gas dispersion simulation systems are combined in order to estimate atmospheric pollution for different scenarios. The combination of these two simulation models allows for detailed investigations of different situations such as the investigation of pollution impacts of different traffic infrastructure variants, as well as for prediction of expected pollution and whether pollutant thresholds will be exceeded. For different case studies, real data about traffic movements provided by the state government, a digital terrain model of the area as well as real measurements of atmospheric data have been used. The evaluation of the approach shows that variations in the settings, regarding traffic or atmospheric conditions, lead to different patterns of observed pollution. The CyberGIS environment described is used to run multiple simulations on a distributed cyberinfrastructure, where the high-end computational resources are available on servers in Europe and in North America.

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