A geospatial look at COVID-19 | Baka prioritizes connection | Geography report card


Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River cuts through the folds of the Valley-and-Ridge province of the Appalachian Mountains in this photograph taken by the crew of the International Space Station. The Valley-and-Ridge province is a section of the larger Appalachian Mountain Belt between the Appalachian Plateau and the Blue Ridge physiographic provinces. The northeast-southwest trending ridges are composed of Early Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The valleys between them were made of softer rocks (limestone and shales) that were more susceptible to erosion; they are now occupied by farms. The Susquehanna River cuts through several ridges as it flows south. The Susquehanna River flows 444 mi (714 kilometers) from upstate New York to Maryland, draining into Chesapeake Bay. Image: NASA/Expedition 61


Carolynne Hultquist, former Ph.D. student of Guido Cervone, accepted a lecturer (assistant professor) position in Geospatial Science in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Angela Rogers was elected vice president of the newly formed Workforce Education Graduate Student Association (WEGSA).

Emily Rosenman and collaborator Tom Baker (a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Auckland) was awarded a seed grant from the University of Auckland-Penn State Collaboration Seed Fund. The project is: “Invest in people. Literally”: The rise of Income Share Agreements as an alternative to student loans in US higher education.

A recording of the Women and GIS webinar is available to view for free. To celebrate the release of the second volume of Women and GIS, Esri Press, in partnership with Esri’s Women’s Enablement & Career Advancement Network, hosted a webinar focused on celebrating and highlighting the amazing women featured in the book.

2020 Virtual Citizen Lobby Day for Climate Action is June 16, 2020. PennEnvironment will be bringing together hundreds of Pennsylvanians from all across the state to hold video lobby meetings from your own home. For more information and to register.


Geographers bring expertise on geospatial data, modeling to COVID-19 research

Penn State geographers are taking part in a variety of projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Helen Greatrex, Anthony Robinson and Erica Smithwick are among those receiving grants from the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences COVID-19 multi-institute seed grant fund for projects related to social sciences and predictive modeling. Todd Bacastow is convening focus groups within the geospatial intelligence community. Alumni Siddharth Pandey and Rachel Passmore are supporting state and federal responses.

Strengthening connections in a physically distanced world

The coronavirus pandemic may leave faculty, students and colleagues physically distanced, but Jennifer Baka sees the situation as a means for reconnecting.

The “Nation’s Report Card” on Geography Reveals a World of Opportunities

Periodically since 1994, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has released its “report card” on geography education in America, providing a snapshot of student achievement. The most recent assessment was conducted in 2018 with a nationally representative sample of nearly 13,000 8th grade students.


Integration of Crowdsourced Images, USGS Networks, Remote Sensing, and a Model to Assess Flood Depth during Hurricane Florence

Hultquist, C., Cervone, G.
Remote Sensing
Crowdsourced environmental data have the potential to augment traditional data sources during disasters. Traditional sensor networks, satellite remote sensing imagery, and models are all faced with limitations in observational inputs, forecasts, and resolution. This study integrates flood depth derived from crowdsourced images with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ground-based observation networks, a remote sensing product, and a model during Hurricane Florence. The data sources are compared using cross-sections to assess flood depth in areas impacted by Hurricane Florence. Automated methods can be used for each source to classify flooded regions and fuse the dataset over common grids to identify areas of flooding. Crowdsourced data can play a major role when there are overlaps of sources that can be used for validation as well providing improved coverage and resolution.

Representation in geosocial data: grappling with uncertainty in digital traces of human activity

Hultquist, C.
International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing
Researchers from the spatial humanities can play an active role in the ongoing discussion around representation and uncertainty in geosocial data. Opportunistic geosocial data from crowdsourced and user contributions are typically available in large quantities, however, these data are generally not sampled or collected with intentionality for research purposes. Therefore, digital traces from geolocationally-enabled devices may not provide data that are directly relevant to addressing precise questions or being used in applications of societal interest. It is crucial to first understand characteristics of geosocial data prior to proceeding with interpretation. The spatial humanities could encourage realization of the role data analysts and researchers play in creating narrative in light of large opportunistic data with many facets of uncertainty. An approach is proposed that suggests directions of inquiry into data limitations based on the characteristics of the source and the properties of the data. Finally, this article notes that the digital world influences the activities of individuals in real-life so the generalizability of the behaviour of users may be limited. Integrating other forms of relevant spatial data can help to bound uncertainty and constrain the interpretation of geosocial data.

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