Mapping FLW | Summer speaker this week | Purple Lizard


map of Frank Lloyd Wiright locations

A map prepared by Cindy Brewer and Bill Limpisathian from “The 20th Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: Nomination to the World Heritage List by the United States of America (2016) Revised (2019).”


  • Please join us for a summer invited speaker in Geography. Mark Bonta (’90) will speak about his work on Firehawks (and maybe also on his other work) at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday, July 12, 2019, in 319 Walker Building.
  • Mark your calendar for the Geography Fall Welcome Picnic on September 14. For more information and to RSVP go to:
  • Research Alan Taylor was involved with on hydroclimate, fire and jet stream dynamics in California over the last 400 years published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was discussed in an article on Real Estate in California by the Financial Times (London).


Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture added to UNESCO World Heritage List

Geographers Cindy Brewer, Bill Limpisathian, and Emily Domanico worked for Scott Perkins on this project, creating the cartography for the nomination book.

The designs of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright are joining the ranks of revered UNESCO World Heritage sites such as The Great Wall of China, The Palace of Versailles and the Taj Mahal.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed eight of the Wright’s famed sites into the list, marking the first modern architecture designation in the United States on the World Heritage roster. They include the Fallingwater house in Mill Run, Pennsylvania; the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

No Ordinary Map: With their boots-on-the-ground detail, Purple Lizard Maps have become a staple for outdoors enthusiasts

Michael Hermann, founder of Purple Lizard Maps, is an old school mapmaker in a GPS world.

While many map companies rely on satellite technology to develop their maps, Purple Lizard takes a boots-on-the-ground approach. Hermann and his colleagues spend several months immersing themselves in an area when developing a map, intimately getting to know the trails, the terrain, and the communities.

‘Geodesigning’ solutions for the future of Yellowstone National Park

When Penn State World Campus graduate students in the Master of Professional Studies in Geodesign program registered for the Rural/Regional Geodesign Challenges studio course, GEODZ 842, last semester, they were expecting to use the techniques they’ve been learning to address land-based challenges for a particular geographic area. What they were not expecting, however, was to apply their knowledge to help develop a large-scale recovery, restoration and sustainability plan for one of the most iconic and revered sites in the United States, Yellowstone National Park.


Modeling the Importance of Within- and Between-County Effects in an Ecological Study of the Association Between Social Capital and Mental Distress

Yang, T. C., Matthews, S. A., Sun, F., & Armendariz, M.
Preventing chronic disease
Introduction: Levels of mental distress in the United States are a health policy concern. The association between social capital and mental distress is well documented, but evidence comes primarily from individual-level studies. Our objective was to examine this association at the county level with advanced spatial econometric methods and to explore the importance of between-county effects.
Methods: We used County Health Rankings and Roadmaps data for 3,106 counties of the contiguous United States. We used spatial Durbin modeling to assess the direct (within a county) and indirect (between neighboring counties) effects of social capital on mental distress. We also examined the spatial spillover effects from neighboring counties based on higher-order spatial weights matrices.
Results: Counties with the highest prevalence of mental distress were found in regional clusters where levels of social capital were low, including the Black Belt, central/southern Appalachia, on the Mississippi River, and around some Indian Reservations. Most of the association between social capital and mental distress was indirect, from the neighboring counties, although significant direct effects showed the within-county association. Models also confirmed the importance of county-level socioeconomic status.
Conclusion: We found that county social capital is negatively related to mental distress. Counties are not isolated places and are often part of wider labor and housing markets, so understanding spatial dependencies is important in addressing population-level mental distress.

Transforming Earth Science Education Through Immersive Experiences: Delivering on a Long Held Promise

Klippel, A., Zhao, J., Jackson, K. L., La Femina, P., Stubbs, C., Wetzel, R., … Oprean, D.
Journal of Educational Computing Research
The value of field trips is undisputed across disciplines. Field-site visits whether in social or physical sciences provide grounding for place- and discovery-based learning. Yet field trips have limitations that can now be overcome by the promise of immersive technologies that can improve quality and accessibility. This promise is twofold: First, we can harness advancements made in sensing technologies to create immersive experiences of places across the earth efficiently; second, we can provide detailed empirical evaluations on immersive learning and quantify educational value. We report on a study that splits an introductory geosciences course into two groups with one group experiencing a traditional field trip, while a second group visits the same site virtually, immersing the students in the site using a head-mounted device. Results show the advantages of virtual field trips (VFTs) concerning enjoyment, learning experience, and actual lab scores. We embed the discussion of these results into a more general assessment of the advantages of VFTs and a taxonomy of VFTs as a basis for future studies.

Scale – Unexplored Opportunities for Immersive Technologies in Place-based Learning

Zhao, Jiayan & Klippel, Alexander
Conference Paper, IEEE VR 2019 Osaka, Japan
Immersive technologies have the potential to overcome physical limitations and virtually deliver field site experiences, for example, into the classroom. Yet, little is known about the features of immersive technologies that contribute to successful place-based learning. Immersive technologies afford embodied experiences by mimicking natural embodied interactions through a user’s egocentric perspective. Additionally, they allow for beyond reality experiences integrating contextual information that cannot be provided at actual field sites. The current study singles out one aspect of place-based learning: Scale. In an empirical evaluation, scale was manipulated as part of two immersive virtual field trip (iVFT) experiences in order to disentangle its effect on place-based learning. Students either attended an actual field trip (AFT) or experienced one of two iVFTs using a head-mounted display. The iVFTs either mimicked the actual field trip or provided beyond reality experiences offering access to the field site from an elevated perspective using pseudo-aerial 360° imagery. Results show that students with access to the elevated perspective had significantly better scores, for example, on their spatial situation model (SSM). Our findings provide first results on how an increased (geographic) scale, which is accessible through an elevated perspective, boosts the development of SSMs. The reported study is part of a larger immersive education effort. Inspired by the positive results, we discuss our plan for a more rigorous assessment of scale effects on both self- and objectively assessed performance measures of spatial learning.

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