Summer student marshal | Nepal research awarded | Submit UROC projects


milan liuMilan Liu was selected to represent the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences as the student marshal for Penn State’s summer 2020 commencement. Liu graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade-point average with a double major in geography and international politics, a minor in Chinese and a certificate in geographic information science. Her faculty marshal was Roger Downs, professor of geography. Image: Courtesy of Milan Liu


Graduate Seminars in geography covering physical geography, human geography, environment–society interactions, and GISciences are being offered for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Register for fall 2020 semester by August 23.

The 2020 AAG Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas has been published and is available for free to all users at It also includes an interactive map of geography programs listed within the Guide, which allows users to search and filter programs by, degree type, program specialties, regional focus, and more.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection (UROC) is now accepting applications for research and professional development projects for Fall 2020. 


Milan Liu selected Earth and Mineral Sciences 2020 summer student marshal

Milan Liu was selected to represent the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences as the student marshal for Penn State’s summer commencement, which was held virtually on  Aug. 15.

Liu is graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade-point average with a double major in geography and international politics, a minor in Chinese and a certificate in geographic information science. Her faculty marshal is Roger Downs, professor of geography.

Doctoral candidate’s research explores human, agricultural interactions in Nepal

Marie Louis Ryan, doctoral candidate in Penn State’s Department of Geography, received the Graduate Student International Research Award from the Graduate School for her research exploring human and agricultural interactions in Nepal.

Specifically, Ryan examines how the labor force outmigration of working age men in Nepal’s midhills impacts labor, land use, and the agricultural biodiversity of rice and finger millet — two key crops in the region.

Open education website connects teachers, learners with quality resources

A parent in Philadelphia needs information to help her daughter with a class project on wet weather pollution control in the school yard rain garden.

Elsewhere in the U.S., a furloughed government worker seeks professional development during a shutdown. In Brazil, a woman is interested in learning more about the changing climate, and in Zimbabwe, a GIS technician wants a reliable source of professional information.

They all turned to OPEN.ED, a website hosting high-quality learning materials written by faculty in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The content, created though the Open Education Resources (OER) initiative launched in 2007 by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) at Penn State, is free for educators and learners under a creative commons license.


Space-Time Patterns, Change, and Propagation of COVID-19 Risk Relative to the Intervention Scenarios in Bangladesh

Masrur, Arif; Yu, Manzhu; Luo, Wei; Dewan, Ashraf
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be a significant public health threat worldwide, particularly in densely populated countries such as Bangladesh with inadequate health care facilities. While early detection and isolation were identified as important non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) measures for containing the disease spread, this may not have been pragmatically implementable in developing countries due to social and economic reasons (i.e., poor education, less public awareness, massive unemployment). Hence, to elucidate COVID-19 transmission dynamics with respect to the NPI status—e.g., social distancing—this study conducted spatio-temporal analysis using the prospective scanning statistic at district and sub-district levels in Bangladesh and its capital, Dhaka city, respectively. Dhaka megacity has remained the highest-risk “active” cluster since early April. Lately, the central and south eastern regions in Bangladesh have been exhibiting a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. The detected space-time progression of COVID-19 infection suggests that Bangladesh has experienced a community-level transmission at the early phase (i.e., March, 2020), primarily introduced by Bangladeshi citizens returning from coronavirus epicenters in Europe and the Middle East. Potential linkages exist between the violation of NPIs and the emergence of new higher-risk clusters over the post-incubation periods around Bangladesh. Novel insights into the COVID-19 transmission dynamics derived in this study on Bangladesh provide important policy guidelines for early preparations and pragmatic NPI measures to effectively deal with infectious diseases in resource-scarce countries worldwide.

Can Social Media Anti-abuse Policies Work? A Quasi-experimental Study of Online Sexist and Racist Slurs

Diane Felmlee, Daniel DellaPosta, Paulina d. C. Inara Rodis, and Stephen A. Matthews
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World
DOI: 10.1177/2378023120948711
The authors use the timing of a change in Twitter’s rules regarding abusive content to test the effectiveness of organizational policies aimed at stemming online harassment. Institutionalist theories of social control suggest that such interventions can be efficacious if they are perceived as legitimate, whereas theories of psychological reactance suggest that users may instead ratchet up aggressive behavior in response to the sanctioning authority. In a sample of 3.6 million tweets spanning one month before and one month after Twitter’s policy change, the authors find evidence of a modest positive shift in the average sentiment of tweets with slurs targeting women and/or African Americans. The authors further illustrate this trend by tracking the network spread of specific tweets and individual users. Retweeted messages are more negative than those not forwarded. These patterns suggest that organizational “anti-abuse” policies can play a role in stemming hateful speech on social media without inflaming further abuse.

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