From the Head | Research traces traveling fans | Community climate forum


traveling mapThis image shows the Flow map for U.S. football game attendees who traveled to State College. The merging point in Pennsylvania represents the destination State College. Other dots represent home locations of football fans. The sequential color scheme and the size of the dots represent the number of travelers at the location. From Yanan Xin and Alan MacEachren’s article, “Characterizing traveling fans: a workflow for event-oriented travel pattern analysis using Twitter data,” published in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science.


Yanan Xin successfully passed the defense of her dissertation on Mobility-Based Anomaly Detection. Adviser Alan MacEachren noted, “I believe that this was the first ever completely virtual defense in the Department — with faculty participating from 3 continents.”

Michelle Ritchie accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at the University of Georgia’s Institute for Disaster Management and the Department of Health Policy and Management. She will finish her last year of the Ph.D. program remotely from there.

A town hall meeting for students and families about fall semester will be held on Monday, June 22 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at   This is an important meeting for you to attend.

The Esri User Conference, will be held  virtually July 13–16, 2020.  The event which will include a combination of livestreamed sessions, interactive components, and on-demand content, is offering free registration to customers with current subscriptions. For more information and to register

The American Geosciences Institute is conducting a year-long study to capture the nature and extent of impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the geoscience workforce and academic programs. This study aims to understand how geoscience employers and educational institutions are changing their workplace and instructional environments and to discover which of these changes will become permanent. For more information and to participate


From the Head: Planning for fall semester

The department is continuing our planning for fall, and we now have firmer direction with President Barron’s announcement that we will be back on campus. I know this is good news to many of you, and it also raises questions on what life on campus will be like during the upcoming semester. Here’s what we have been doing to prepare and what to look for in the next few weeks.

A safety session was held on Zoom on June 11 to prepare for being able to work in Walker Building again. Everyone who attended the session will be soon be signing forms indicating that you understand and will follow the new procedures. These include one-way stairwells and hallways and stations to wipe-down possessions brought into the building. Darlene Peletski has been lead on planning, preparing, and presenting the safety procedures for the department. She and I will hold a second version of the Zoom meeting later for those who missed it, and we’ll post that recording for others to catch up. Sooner is better than later, so you are approved for front-door swipe access to Walker Building.

Geography’s associate heads have graduate and undergraduate communications well prepared. Brian King sent out fall graduate assistant matches and useful news on the state of planning for fall classes. Lorraine Dowler is working with Jodi Vender in communicating with our undergraduate majors about fall at Penn State.

Penn State’s Town Hall meetings on Monday, June 22: Town Halls for faculty and staff will be held from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. and for students and families from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at These meetings will help us understand details not described in the initial June 14 announcement.

A next step will be for geography instructors to plan the mix of in-class, remote, synchronous, video, flipped, hybrid, online, and other inspirations that best suits the learning needs in fall their GEOG classes. I’ll be having individual conversations with each instructor about fall modes once news and plans for technology additions and social distancing in classrooms firms up. Please stay tuned and ask questions.

The geography department looks forward to welcoming you back to campus and until then please enjoy your summer best you can, listen well, and wash your hands lots.


Community forum on climate research to be held on June 17

The Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) have announced a community forum on climate research at Penn State. The online event, titled “Building Convergence in Climate Science,” will occur from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, June 17. The community is encouraged to register and attend the meeting.

Erica Smithwick, an IEE associate director and the E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Professor of Geography, is helping coordinate the event. She said the meeting is an effort to build and unify the University’s climate community to help further mitigate the climate crisis.


Shared discovery: A process to coproduce knowledge among scientists, policy makers, and stakeholders for solving nutrient pollution problems

Matthew B. Royer, Robert P. Brooks, James S. Shortle, Susan Yetter
Journal of Environmental Quality
There is growing recognition of the importance of involving stakeholders in solution‐oriented multidisciplinary environmental research projects. Management of nutrients to address water pollution is a wicked problem requiring multidisciplinary research and participation of stakeholders. Here, we frame participatory research as shared discovery , a deliberative, focused engagement process that serves as a directional guide for how research unfolds during the entire span of a project. We explore its application within a 5‐yr, multidisciplinary research project seeking innovative solutions to nutrient management challenges in four agriculturally influenced small watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay basin. This process involved deliberate development of a stakeholder engagement strategy and structure, which included a specific research team dedicated to implementing shared discovery throughout. Recognizing that stakeholders involved in nutrient and watershed management engage at multiple scales, we developed a biscalar approach to engage stakeholders at both a regional or state policy level and within the local study watersheds. Early collaboration allowed stakeholders to be participatory in developing research questions and shaping research design, which made research results more applicable to the identified problems. The biscalar framework for engagement was a novel approach that allowed researchers to incorporate both broader policy concepts into research and local concerns and concepts specific to the small study watersheds, allowing solutions to be tailored to local needs. Although infusing research with stakeholder engagement and input from the outset is a time‐consuming process, it bolsters research design and products and leads to greater application of research to solve nutrient pollution—a wicked problem indeed.

Who is resilient in Africa’s Green Revolution? Sustainable intensification and Climate Smart Agriculture in Rwanda

Nathan Clay, Karl S. Zimmerer
Land Use Policy
Under the banner of a “New Green Revolution for Africa,” agricultural intensification programs aim to make smallholder agriculture more productive as well as “climate smart”. As with Green Revolutions in Asia and Mexico, agricultural innovations (hybrid seeds, agronomic engineering, market linkages,and increased use of fertilizer and pesticides) are promoted as essential catalysts of agriculture-led economic growth. Intensification programs are now frequently linked to Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), which attempts to build resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing crop yields. This article considers who and what is resilient in Africa’s Green Revolution. We report on a multi-season study of smallholder food producers’ experiences with Rwanda’s Crop Intensification Program (CIP) and related policies that aim to commercialize subsistence agriculture while implementing CSA. . We suggest that there are fundamental limits to the climate resilience afforded by CSA and development efforts rooted in Green Revolution thinking. Our findings illustrate that such efforts foreground technology and management adjustments in ways that have reduced smallholder resilience by inhibiting sovereignty over land use, decreasing livelihood flexibility, and constricting resource access. We put forth that rural development policies could better promote climate-resilient livelihoods through: 1) adaptive governance that enables smallholder land use decision-making; 2) support for smallholder food producers’ existing agro-ecological strategies of intensification; 3) participatory approaches to visualize and correct for inequalities in local processes of social-ecological resilence Such considerations are paramount for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and building climate-resilient food systems.

Participatory seed projects and agroecological landscape knowledge in Central America

Megan D. Baumann, Karl S. Zimmerer & Jacob van Etten
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2020.1775930
Participatory projects supporting the farmer-based seed management of agrobiodiverse varieties including landraces have proliferated globally in response to nutritional insecurity and climate change. This research examines the agroecological landscape knowledge of farmers in a recent participatory seed project using the tricot approach in Central America. Over 800 smallholder farmers in Nicaragua facilitated on-farm trials of diverse common bean varieties that are nutritiously valuable and potentially well-adapted to increased temperatures and variable precipitation. Our article integrates relevant research concepts in a case study of the agroecological landscape knowledge of 52 participating farmers. Participatory sketch maps, transect walks, and semi-structured interviews were used to identify key areas of farmers’ agroecological landscape knowledge in crop and seed management. Results indicate the prevalence of nine themes of farmer agroecological landscape knowledge. This landscape knowledge exerts major influence on the choice, placement, and management of common bean varieties and associated land use decisions. Our analysis reveals that farmers use this knowledge to manage their landholdings as landscapes of agroecological interactions that guide seed and variety management and affect potential sustainability. Results demonstrate that local agroecological landscape learning is strengthened through and benefits participatory seed projects.

The geography of sentiment towards the Women’s March of 2017

Felmlee DH, Blanford JI, Matthews SA, MacEachren AM
The Women’s March of 2017 generated unprecedented levels of participation in the largest, single day, protest in history to date. The marchers protested the election of President Donald Trump and rallied in support of several civil issues such as women’s rights. “Sister marches” evolved in at least 680 locations across the United States. Both positive and negative reactions to the March found their way into social media, with criticism stemming from certain, conservative, political sources and other groups. In this study, we investigate the extent to which this notable, historic event influenced sentiment on Twitter, and the degree to which responses differed by geographic area within the continental U.S. Tweets about the event rose to an impressive peak of over 12% of all geo-located tweets by mid-day of the March, Jan. 21. Messages included in tweets associated with the March tended to be positive in sentiment, on average, with a mean of 0.34 and a median of 0.07 on a scale of -4 to +4. In fact, tweets associated with the March were more positive than all other geo-located tweets during the day of the March. Exceptions to this pattern of positive sentiment occurred only in seven metropolitan areas, most of which involved very small numbers of tweets. Little evidence surfaced of extensive patterns of negative, aggressive messages towards the event in this set of tweets. Given the widespread nature of online harassment and sexist tweets, more generally, the results are notable. In sum, online reactions to the March on this social media platform suggest that this modern arm of the Women’s Movement received considerable, virtual support across the country.

Characterizing traveling fans: a workflow for event-oriented travel pattern analysis using Twitter data

Yanan Xin & Alan M. MacEachren
International Journal of Geographical Information Science
DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2020.1770259
Characterizing event attendees’ travel patterns is key to understanding the dynamics of social events in cities. However, the scientific investigation of event travel patterns has been hindered by the difficulty in gathering travel diaries of participants. Geotagged microblogs provide new opportunities for studying event travel patterns by offering rich locational and semantic information of attendees. Here, we develop, implement, and apply a workflow to characterize travel behaviors of event attendees with geotagged Twitter data, using college football events as a case study. The workflow includes five steps: 1) filtering event attendees using real-time geotagged tweets, 2) identifying origins of the event attendees using historical timeline tweets, 3) identifying past sports-related activities at travel destinations using topic modeling, 4) computing user movement features using origin-destination travel flows, and 5) identifying atypical travel patterns to characterize event attendees. The travel patterns uncovered in the study offer insights into user interests and travel behaviors related to sporting event attendance. The findings demonstrate that our method holds promise in revealing long-term event travel patterns (not limited to sporting events) through the use of geotagged microblogs.

Multiple geometry atmospheric correction for image spectroscopy using deep learning

Xu, F., Cervone, G., Franch, G., Salvador, M.
Journal of Applied Remote Sensing
doi: 10.1117/1.JRS.14.024518
The goal of this research is to develop a general deep learning solution for atmospheric correction and target detection using multiple hyperspectral scenes. It is assumed that the scenes differ only in range and viewing angles, that they are acquired in rapid sequence using an airborne sensor orbiting a target, and that the target and the atmosphere remain invariant within the time scale of the collection. Several hundred thousand hyperspectral simulations were performed using the MODTRAN model and were used to train the deep learning solution, as well as to validate the proposed method. The input to the deep learning solution is a matrix of the simulated radiances at the sensor as function of wavelength and elevation angles. The output is atmospheric upwelling, downwelling, and transmission. This solution is repeated for all or a subset of pixels in the scene. We focus on emissive properties of targets, and simulations are performed in the longwave infrared between 7.5 and12μm. Results show that the proposed method is computationally efficient and it can characterize the atmosphere and retrieve the target spectral emissivity within one order of magnitude errors or less when compared with the original MODTRAN simulations.

Spatiotemporal event detection: a review

Yu, M., Bambacus, M., Cervone, G., Clarke, K., Duffy, D., Huang, Q., Li, J., Li, W., Li, Z., Liu, Q., Resch, B., Yang, J., Yang, C.
International Journal of Digital Earth
The advancements of sensing technologies, including remote sensing, in situ sensing, social sensing, and health sensing, have tremendously improved our capability to observe and record natural and social phenomena, such as natural disasters, presidential elections, andi nfectious diseases. The observations have provided an unprecedented opportunity to better understand and respond to the spatiotemporal dynamics of the environment, urban settings, health and disease propagation, business decisions, and crisis and crime. Spatiotemporal event detection serves as a gateway to enable a better understanding by detecting events that represent the abnormal status of relevant phenomena. This paper reviews the literature for different sensing capabilities, spatiotemporal event extraction methods, and categories of applications for the detected events. The novelty of this review is to revisit the definition and requirements of event detection and to layout the overall workflow (from sensing and event extraction methods to the operations and decision-supporting processes based on the extracted events) as an agenda for future event detection research. Guidance is presented on the current challenges to this research agenda, and future directions are discussed for conducting spatio temporal event detection in the era of big data, advanced sensing, and artificial intelligence.

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