Aug 18

Coffee Hour starts Sept. 7 | New online maps | GIS study abroad


Four Gables John Muir WildernessWhat did you do during the summer? Alan Taylor spent time in the John Muir Wilderness area in California. He took this image showing a member of his research team at the summit of the Four Gables.


Angela Rogers wrote the article “Helping New Hires Become Part of the Local Community,” for the Association for Talent Development blog.

Eden Kinkaid had an article accepted for publication in cultural geographies. The article is entitled “Experimenting with creative geographic methods in the Critical Futures Visual Archive.” It highlights the PSU Crit Con art show and features the geographically inspired creative works of Aparna Parikh, Jenna Christian, Carolyn Fish, JiaChing Chen, and others.

The Fall Coffee Hour speaker line-up has been announced. The first Coffee Hour for the semester is September 7, with Farshid Ahrestani. See all confirmed speakers and dates on the department website events page: www.geog.psu.edu/calendar


Penn State introduces new, mobile-friendly online visitor maps

Visitors to Penn State’s locations statewide will find it easier to navigate their way around campus with the launch of new, enhanced online maps.

Well-being of ‘left behind’ children in Kyrgyzstan focus of study

Erica Smithwick is on the research team
Growing up can be hard no matter what a family’s circumstances, but it is often more so for children living in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia, one of the poorest countries in the world, known for its dry environment, high mountains, nomadic culture and animal-husbandry heritage.

GIS graduate students study abroad to advance careers at home

Brookelynn Constant was about halfway into her 10-year career as a data analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense when she enrolled in a master’s program through Penn State World Campus.


Spatial Cognition XI: 11th International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2018, Tübingen, Germany, September 5-8, 2018, Proceedings

Editors: Sarah Creem-Regehr, Johannes Schöning, Alexander Klippel
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-96385-3
This book constitutes the thoroughly refereed proceedings of the 11th International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2018, held in Tübingen, Germany, in September 2018.
The 22 revised full papers presented in this book were carefully selected and reviewed from 44 submissions. They focus on the following topics: navigating in space; talking about space; agents, actions, and space; and individuals in space.

Aug 18

New grads are here | Field dispatch | West at the top?

MGIS candidates

Four MGIS candidates presented their Capstone Projects at the 2018 Society for Conservation GIS Conference in Asilomar, Ca., July 16-18. Students in front row, left to right: Lara Bennett Hacala, Sarah Cain, April Johnson, and Josh Ferguson. Faculty in back row, left to right: Joe Bishop, Pat Kennelly, Doug Miller.


Peter Backhaus has been appointed as the Student Representative for the Society of Wetlands Scientists Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Tara Mazurczyk displayed her paintings at the 2018 Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair.

Check out the new University Libraries’ Guide to virtual reality. The guide covers what it is, how it can be incorporated into the learning process, and how it can be accessed on campus.

Welcome to the fall 2018 new resident graduate students: Connor Chapman, Bradley Hinger, Elise Quinn, Vivian Rodriguez Rocha, Isabel Taylor, Beichen Tian, Saumya Vaishnava, and Jacklyn Weier. 


Field dispatch from a tributary of the Blue Nile

Bronwen Powell
Aug. 6, It is 11:00 p.m. in Kamashi, Ethiopia. I’ve been lying in the pitch dark for two hours. It is so dark it doesn’t matter if I open or close my eyes. The town hasn’t had any electricity for five months now, at least in part because Ethiopia has just emerged from a state of emergency over political protests that ended with the resignation of the old Prime Minister. I’m listening to my stomach grumble and wondering if it is the end of the stomach bug I have had, or hunger pains from not eating for two days, or both. The dogs and donkeys on the edge of town take up a chorus of anxious calling, faintly beyond them I can hear the hyenas. I’m glad to hear the hyenas, a sign that not so much has changed since I was last here three years ago. But lots has.

When I landed in the capital Addis Ababa, I could barely perceive any impact of the political crisis on the boom the city has been experiencing for many years now. The skyline is lined with new buildings under construction, as always. The people in Addis are jubilant about the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the end of the state of emergency, they literally beam when they talk about it. All the taxis and shops are plastered with his photo and Ethiopia flags. Here in Kamashi, people are less sure. The new Prime Minister has pledged to end the regional system of administration which has allowed the Gumuz (the minority indigenous ethnic group I work with) to have a political voice after generations of marginalization. Lots has changed in Kamashi, too. The trade-offs of “development” can be seen everywhere. Most of the round traditional Gumuz houses, made from bamboo and thatch, have been replaced with square houses and tin roves purchased though the sale of sesame seeds. But the road is worse, not better, battered by the many heavy trucks that now leave the area carrying cash crops and coal from the new coal mine. And the forest has receded yet farther. The new road built through the forest while I was working here three years ago, to give access to remote communities, is now lined for many kilometers with the homes and fields of immigrants who are sharecropping with the local Gumuz community.

Beyond the immigrant homes and farms, the new road, only three years old, is covered in grass, the bridge across the river is yet to be completed, so no one ever drives it. I realize that these local development trade-offs are complicated by the fact that the Gumuz territory represents a large portion of the watershed for the Blue Nile river, and the loss of the to-date relatively intact forests and ecosystems here could have long-reaching impacts. Ethiopia and Egypt have had escalating political tension over the water pouring from these forests for years now (and especially the giant new hydro electric dam under construction downstream). I wonder if anyone has thought through what would happen to the Blue Nile water flow the if the forests here disappear? My stomach complains again and I decide I am hungry and search for my flashlight.

Atlas Obscura
In Early Maps of Virginia, West Was at the Top

Captain John Smith is perhaps best known for his (possibly fictional) encounter with Pocahontas. Whatever the true nature of that meeting was, the British explorer distilled his explorations and meetings with the indigenous people of what is now Virginia into a remarkable map that defined European impressions of the region for the majority of the 1600s.


Carbon storage dynamics of temperate freshwater wetlands in Pennsylvania

Tara Mazurczyk, Robert P. Brooks
Wetlands Ecology and Management
Healthy wetlands play a significant role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming, leading to the reduction of water and food resources as well as more extreme weather phenomena. Investigating the magnitude of carbon storage potential of different freshwater wetland systems using multiple ecological indicators at varying spatial scales provides insight and justification for selective wetland restoration and conservation initiatives. We provide a holistic accounting of total carbon values for 193 wetland sites, integrating existing carbon algorithms to rapidly assess each of the following carbon pools: above-ground, below-ground, soil, woody debris, shrub cover, and herbaceous cover.

Cities as Spatial and Social Networks: Towards a Spatio-Socio-Semantic Analysis Framework

Luo W., Wang Y., Liu X., Gao S.
In: Ye X., Liu X. (eds) Cities as Spatial and Social Networks. Human Dynamics in Smart Cities. Springer, Cham
Cities have been studied as geo-social systems embedded with intricate and complicated spatial and social networks (e.g., transportation, telecommunication, and internet). In addition to the duo of spatial and social aspects, semantics, which study the logic aspects of meanings behind behaviours and phenomena, come underneath as the latent information (e.g., activity types of people) to enrich the geo-social models for spatial phenomena. For example, individual-level similarity of semantic trajectories for location-based social networks can be used to recommend potential friends or develop collaborative travels. Semantics infer the activity behind people’s spatial choices and the functions of places, transform coordinates of trajectories/spatial flows into certain types of activities, and remark locations in space with meaningful labels of functions of cities.

White supremacy, white counter-revolutionary politics, and the rise of Donald Trump

Joshua Inwood
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
To understand and contextualize Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, we must place his election in the context of a white counter-revolutionary politics that emerging from the specific geographic configurations of the US racial state. While academics and political commentators have correctly located the election of Trump in the context of white supremacy, I argue we need to coordinate our understanding of white supremacy and the electoral politics that fueled Trump’s rise in the context of anti-Black racism by examining how the US racial state turns to whiteness to prevent change. Throughout the development of the United States, whiteness has long stood as a bulwark against progressive and revolutionary change so much so that when the US racial state is in economic and political crisis, bourgeoisie capitalism appeals to the white middle and working classes to address that crisis.

Fusing Heterogeneous Data: A Case for Remote Sensing and Social Media

H. Wang, E. Skau, H. Krim and G. Cervone
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
doi: 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2846199
Data heterogeneity can pose a great challenge to process and systematically fuse low-level data from different modalities with no recourse to heuristics and manual adjustments and refinements. In this paper, a new methodology is introduced for the fusion of measured data for detecting and predicting weather-driven natural hazards. The proposed research introduces a robust theoretical and algorithmic framework for the fusion of heterogeneous data in near real time. We establish a flexible information-based fusion framework with a target optimality criterion of choice, which for illustration, is specialized to a maximum entropy principle and a least effort principle for semisupervised learning with noisy labels.

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