Recognition Reception on April 26 | Geographers win awards | Interactive map for Arboretum


UROC participants

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) researchers (holding their Coffee Hour mugs) and graduate student mentors after the undergraduate students gave presentations on their research at the April 12 Coffee Hour.  Front row (left to right): Nicole Rivera, Julie Sanchez, Shelby Duncan, Samantha Matthews, and Talia Potochny. Back row (left to right): Meg Taylor, Michelle Ritchie, Hunter Mitchell, Sam Black, Cameron Franz, Zachary Goldberg, Jamie Peeler, Ruchi Patel. Learn more about UROC and how to get involved.


Faculty in the Department of Geography won three post doctoral positions from the “Dean’s Fund for Postdoc-Facilitated Collaboration.”

  • Alan Taylor with Sue Brantley: “Data-Driven Models to Assess Spatio-temporal Variability of Surface Water Quality in Coupled Human and Natural Systems at the Continental Scale”
  • Jenn Baka with Zhen Lei and Sekhar Bhattacharyya: “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic in the Appalachian Coal Region”
  • Denice Wardrop with Ray Najjar and Mike Hickner: “Fate and Transport of Microplastics in Chesapeake Bay to Inform a Standard of Degradability”

The PAC Herbarium has two more workshops this spring: Thursday, April 18, “Parasitic plants of Pennsylvania” and Thursday, May 23,”Fantastic Ferns!” Workshops take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the PAC Herbarium, 10 Whitmore Lab. For more information and to register:

Spring Commencement is May 3–5, 2019. The Graduate School ceremony will be on Sunday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Penn State Online Geospatial Program will have a small reception for MGIS and HLS (GEOINT) students and families on Sunday, May 5, 3:45 to 5:15 on the 4th floor of the Earth Engineering Science (EES) Buildling. If you plan to go, let Beth King know.


The Coffee Hour lecture series has concluded for the spring semester, and will resume in fall 2019. To view archived webcasts of talks, use the calendar on our website to navigate to the date of the talk and click on the title to access the description and webcast link.


Recognition Reception will be held April 26

The annual Department of Geography Recognition Reception will be held on Friday, April 26, 2019, on the first and third floors of the Walker Building. We’ll begin the afternoon’s festivities at 3:00 p.m. in the department seminar room, 337 Walker Building, for a commemorative presentation of a plaque honoring Dr. Wilbur Zelinsky, presented to the department by his daughters Karen and Hollis.The reception and master’s poster display will be held from 3:00 to 4:00 in room 103 Walker Building, where we’ll host you with snacks and refreshments. The awards ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:00 in room 112 Walker Building. We are looking forward to seeing you.For more information and to RSVP go to:

The Arboretum at Penn State launches new interactive Plant Finder map

Visitors to The Arboretum at Penn State now can explore the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens with the Arboretum’s new, interactive Plant Finder.

The map-based program allows users to find the locations of more than 1,100 species of plants in the Arboretum’s living collections.

AAG Announces 2019 AAG Award Recipients

Awards are named for Penn State geographers; awards were won by Penn State geographers

The American Association of Geographers congratulates the individuals and entities named to receive an AAG Award. The awardees represent outstanding contributions to and accomplishments in the geographic field. Formal recognition of the awardees occurredat the 2019 AAG Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. during the AAG Awards Luncheon on Sunday, April 7, 2019.


Vegetation succession in an old-growth ponderosa pine forest following structural restoration with fire: implications for retreatment and maintenance

A Taylor, M Coppoletta, N Pawlikowski
US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station
Stand changes brought on by fire exclusion have contributed to reduced resilience to wildfire in ponderosa pine forests throughout the western US. Growing recognition of how structural attributes influence resilience has led to interest in restoring more heterogeneous conditions once common in these forests, but key information about interactions between stand and fuel development in such stands is currently incomplete or lacking. Few contemporary examples of structurally restored old-growth ponderosa pine forest exist. We re-measured plots in the Beaver Creek Pinery (BCP), a remote site in the Ishi Wilderness on the Lassen NF in California, that were installed following a 1994 wildfire, to better understand forest and fuel succession over time. The BCP experienced four wildfires since 1900 that restored the structure to one believed similar to historical ponderosa pine forest. Stand-scale change in overstory and understory vegetation were quantified in 2016 by remeasuring and remapping six one hectare plots that were initially mapped in 2000, and landscape-scale change was evaluated by remeasuring circular plots systematically arranged across the BCP in 1998. Tree recruitment, mortality, and growth were measured and changes in tree group and gap size and structure were calculated. We also examined the relative performance of California black oak, a declining but important species valued by tribes for food and wildlife for habitat, to better understand how fire interval and severity maintain the conifer and oak mixture. Using data from the re-measurement, we modeled stand and fuel development over the next 30 years using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS),in order to predict the type of fire and return interval that would be necessary to maintain the desired heterogeneous structure over time.

Environmental Perception, Sense of Place, and Residence Time in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Amelia C. Eisenhart, Kelley A. Crews Meyer, Brian King & Kenneth R. Young
The Professional Geographer
DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2018.1501709

Integral to the geographic discipline are cross-cultural analyses, many of which use languages outside of the researcher’s own. There are few analyses, however, that address issues of translation that are inherently geographic; namely, that language is understood as a manifestation of place and culture. This article argues that the results of environmental interviews must be interpreted through a lens that evaluates how the translation of a word, or even a concept, is understood differentially based on one’s sense of place. Interviews were conducted in three of the Etsha villages situated in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, comparing perceptions of changes in both the local area and the flooding regime. Findings show qualitatively and quantitatively how residents perceive environmental change in light of their residential histories and their production of place. These results highlight that environmental change in an area is perceived in the context of previous residences, including the length of time spent in residence and the environmental characterization of that place. The process of interviewing regarding such change, especially when translation is necessary, should therefore proceed by incorporating inquiries about previous residences and the environments of those areas to correctly contextualize environmental change in a particular area.

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