Coffee Hour with Jenn Baka | Meckler receives Murphy Award | AI focuses on dynamic weather


Commencement at Bank of Springfield Center Saturday, May 11, 2019.

In May 2019 Hilary Anne Frost ’01g retired as a faculty member from the University of Illinois Springfield. She was named Grand Marshall for this spring’s commencement ceremonies and is now associate professor emerita. Her doctoral dissertation was turned into the monograph Cultural Districts: The Arts as a Strategy for Revitalizing Our Cities, for the Institute for Community Development and the Arts (Washington, DC) and she lectured extensively across the United States about cultural districts. At the University of Illinois Springfield, Frost served as the Director of the Community Arts Management Program and as an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration from 1997 to 2005. Since 2007 she served as associate professor and director of the Global Studies program where she developed this inaugural program and created and taught innovative introductory and capstone courses.


Mark your calendar for the Geography Fall Welcome Picnic on September 14. For more information and to RSVP go to:

WE ARE for Science and the Society for Museum Science Education (SoMuSE) are hosting a Diversity Mixer in the Earth and Mineral Science Museum (ground floor, Deike Building) on Wednesday, September 18 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Food will be provided, and ALL are welcome!

Emily Rosenman is featured in the City Road podcast on “Social Impact Investment and Cities”

Recent PhD graduates Morteza Karimzadeh ’18g and Azita Ranjbar ’17g have started new tenure track assistant professor positions in Geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Former GeoVISTA postdoc Liping Yang has accepted a tenure-track position (starting in January 2020) as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies at the University of New Mexico.


Coffee Hour with Jenn Baka: Cracking Appalachia: A Political-Industrial Ecology Perspective

A massive industrial re-development project is underway in the wet gas regions of the Marcellus and Utica shale basins of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. State governments have been coordinating and competing to establish a global petrochemicals industry using ethane by-products from hydraulically fractured shale gas. There are reportedly enough ethane reserves in the basins to support up to five ethane processing plants, known as crackers, each with a capacity to produce about a million tons of plastics components per year.

  • Friday, September 6, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


Air Force captain sees Penn State degree as pathway to working in GIS

Katherine Meckler ’14 is the recipient of the 2019 Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award

Katherine Meckler, a captain in the United States Air Force, helps pilots to navigate the skies, has completed six deployments around the world since 2017, and moved across the country for a new assignment. Despite leading such a busy life, she is pursuing her master’s degree online from Penn State and carries a 4.0 GPA.

Meckler is a Penn State World Campus student who is balancing the demands of serving in the military and working toward a master’s degree in geographic information systems. Meckler, who has a bachelor’s degree in geography, hopes her master’s degree will allow her to go back to the geographic information field once her active-duty military service ends.

Focusing computational power for more accurate, efficient weather forecasts

They say if you don’t like the weather, just wait awhile. But how long you wait may depend on your location — the weather changes much faster and more violently in some geographic areas compared to others, which can mean that current weather prediction models may be slow and inefficient.

Now, Penn State researchers are using artificial intelligence to pinpoint those swift-changing weather areas to help meteorologists produce more accurate weather forecasts without wasting valuable computational power.

Teaching teachers about the Holocaust

Alexander Klippel is part of the initiative

A team of experts, led by faculty members at Penn State, is implementing an initiative to provide K-12 teachers with the materials and skills to teach students about the Holocaust, genocide, human rights violations and other difficult topics. Presentations at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh on July 16 and 30 were the initiative’s first activities.


Ethics of Location-Based Data in Crisis Situations

Alan M. MacEachren
Abstracts of the ICA
This presentation will provide an overview of a Workshop-based effort on ethics in location-based, organized by the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights, and Law Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). More specifically, the AAAS organized three workshops during 2017 and 2018 directed to exploring the ethical implications of collecting, analysing, and acting upon location-based data in crisis situations – “Developing Ethical Guidelines and Best Practices for the Use of Volunteered Geographic Information and Remotely Sensed Imagery in Crisis Situations.”. The outcome of those workshops and follow up efforts was a document detailing principles and guidelines with the objective of empowering crisis response actors to use location-based data responsibly and ethically.

Coming Out of the Foodshed: Phosphorus Cycles and the Many Scales of Local Food

Russell C. Hedberg II
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1630248
Systems of food production and provision face a set of complex and interdependent challenges to sustainably meet current and future nutrition needs and minimize the negative social and ecological consequences of modern agriculture. Food system localization, often in the context of specific initiatives like farmers’ markets, are frequently put forth as a promising strategy for establishing more just food systems and agroecological production that relies on regional resources and in situ ecological processes rather than agrichemical inputs. Despite a significant literature on local food, there remain critical omissions in geographic inquiry, particularly analyses of scale in regard to food system localization. This article uses scale as an analytical lens to examine phosphorus fertility on farms participating in a farmers’ market network in New York City. Through a synthesis of biogeochemical analysis, semistructured interviews, and nutrient network mapping, the work charts the complex and often contradictory interactions of material and discursive scales in local food systems. The lens of scale reveals multiple narratives of sustainability, indicating both the great potential for agroecological phosphorus management and significant structural problems that undermine the project of food system localization. These findings argue for a more expansive approach to localization that acknowledges a mosaic of overlapping scalar processes in food systems and that the sustainability promise of food system localization requires interconnected sustainabilities in multiple places and at multiple scales.

“The Care and Feeding of Power Structures”: Reconceptualizing Geospatial Intelligence through the Countermapping Efforts of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Joshua F. J. Inwood & Derek H. Alderman
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1631747
This article advances three interrelated arguments. First, by focusing on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) Research Department, an undertheorized chapter in the civil rights movement, we advance an expressly spatialized understanding of the African American freedom struggle. Second, by focusing on an SNCC-produced pamphlet titled The Care and Feeding of Power Structures, we advance a larger historical geography of geospatial agency and countermapping of racial capital within black civil rights struggles. SNCC’s research praxis, which we argue constitutes a radical geospatial intelligence project, recognizes that geographical methods, information, and analytical insights are not just the purview of experts but are a set of political tools and processes deployed by a wide range of groups. Our article develops a deeper understanding of the rich spatial practices underlying black geographies and the role of geospatial intelligence in a democratic society outside the military–industrial–academic complex.

Low-Cost VR Applications to Experience Real Word Places Anytime, Anywhere, and with Anyone

Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Arif Masrur, Jiayan Zhao, Alan Taylor, Eric Knapp, Jack Shen-Kuen Chang, Alexander Klippel
2019 IEEE 5th Workshop on Everyday Virtual Reality (WEVR), Osaka, Japan, 2019
doi: 10.1109/WEVR.2019.8809593
Low-cost VR applications in our understanding are applications that run on inexpensive hardware, such as mobile solutions based on a combination of smartphone and VR viewer, and that can be created with relatively low costs, efforts, and VR expertise involved. We present our approach for creating such low-cost applications of real world places, developed with the goal of putting the content creation into the hands of the domain experts rather than of VR experts. Since the target audience of such authors often consists of groups of people, our aim, furthermore, is to go beyond typical single user experiences by incorporating a joint VR component that allows users to not only use the applications anywhere and anytime but also together with anyone they want to share it with, resulting in new design decisions and challenges that need to be addressed. While our focus is on joint educational experiences, such as the example of an application to learn about fire ecology in the Ishi Wilderness in California used throughout this article, the approach can just as well be applied in business, entertainment, or social media oriented contexts.

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