Oct 19

Coffee Hour with Andrew Anderson | New Center for Immersive Experiences | Brewer to get O. M. Miller Cartographic Medal


Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center in New York (and bust of John D. Rockefeller), where Emily Rosenman was researching the history of “program-related investments,” in which foundations make investments (rather than grants) to organizations that support charitable causes. Rosenman is looking at investments in Cooperative Assistance Funds, which were a civil rights-era initiative by the Ford and other foundations making investments in urban Black-owned businesses to inform her research on geographies of contemporary investing done with a racial justice “lens.” Image: Emily Rosenman


Cynthia Brewer has been selected by The American Geographical Society to receive the O. M. Miller Cartographic Medal for outstanding contributions in the field of cartography. She will be recognized at the AGS fall symposium on November 22, 2019 at Columbia University, New York.

Emily Domanico ’19g won second place in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Graduate Poster Exhibition held Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

Jessica Whitehead ’09g has just been named as North Carolina’s first chief resilience officer, tasked to think ahead in new ways to bolster the state against the effects of climate change.

Earth Talks Seminar Series presents “The Dynamics of Deep Decarbonization,” with speaker Tom Richard on Monday, November 4, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. in 112 Walker Building. The seminar series is co-supported by the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI), Power and Energy Systems Transitions Lab (PESTL) and Center for Climate Risk Management (CLIMA).

The GIS Coalition is holding a Youth Mappers event on November 4, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., in 208 Walker Building. During the event, mappers will digitize imagery with Open Street Map ​to help relief efforts navigate and bring aid to those facing food insecurity in the Philippines. More information about the project can be found at https://tasks.hotosm.org/project/5461#bottom.

Erica Smithwick and Scott Showalter will present a seminar on NSF and NIH grantwriting for graduate students and post-docs, November 14, 2019, noon to 1:30 p.m. in 233A HUB. Register at: https://forms.gle/1MRBwcZp77agUtuq7

Federal job posting: Supervisory Geographer, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Open & closing dates: 10/21/2019 to 11/08/2019.


Coffee Hour with Andrew Anderson
The Landscapes of Oman: Nature | Culture | Place

The landscapes of Oman are at once beguiling, surprising and breathtaking. While intimately known to the people who have lived in this corner of Arabia for untold millennia, the landscapes of Oman slowly reveal their secrets – some of them, at least – to those willing to slow down, observe and experience nature, culture and place in this most fascinating of countries.

Following a brief introduction to his unique experience and expertise in the allied disciplines of landscape architecture and world heritage conservation, Senior Landscape Architect and World Heritage Advisor Andrew Anderson will guide a three-part introduction to the landscapes of Oman from the perspective of multi-disciplinary collaboration and research.

  • Friday, November 1, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom

For more information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks visit https://www.geog.psu.edu/calendar/coffee-hour-lecture-series


Center for Immersive Experiences set to debut, serving researchers and students

Penn State will be equipped to meet the needs of students, faculty, and a society at large that is progressively more reliant on immersive technology with the opening of the Center for Immersive Experiences (CIE) on the University Park campus.

The center, with physical space in Pattee Library and collaborators in 11 different academic units at the University, will feature comprehensive services around teaching, learning and research involving immersive technology by increasing access to virtual reality, augmented reality, 360-degree video, mixed reality and more.

JOB POSTINGS: Post-doctoral fellows, Ph.D. and Masters, Developer, and Intern positions

The Center for Immersive Experiences at The Pennsylvania State University (immersive.psu.edu), in collaboration with other units at Penn State (such as ChoroPhronesis, chorophronesis.psu.edu, and Teaching and Learning with Technology), is hiring two Post-Doctoral Researchers focusing on areas such as immersive analytics, immersive learning, immersive decision-making, or serious games.


Smart Festivals? Security and Freedom for Well-Being in Urban Smart Spaces

Jeremy W. Crampton ’87g’94g, Kara C. Hoover, Harrison Smith, Steve Graham & J. Colette Berbesque
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1662765

In this article we use the natural lab of music festivals to examine behavioral change in response to the rapid introduction of smart surveillance technology into formerly unpoliced spaces. Festivals are liminal spaces, free from the governance of everyday social norms and regulations, permitting participants to assert a desired self. Due to a number of recent festival deaths, drug confiscations, pickpockets, and a terroristic mass shooting, festivals have quickly introduced smart security measures such as drones and facial recognition technologies. Such a rapid introduction contrasts with urban spaces where surveillance is introduced gradually and unnoticeably. In this article we use some findings from an online survey of festivalgoers to reveal explicit attitudes and experiences of surveillance. We found that surveillance is often discomforting because it changes experience of place, it diminishes feelings of safety, and bottom-up measures (health tents, being in contact with friends) are preferred to top-down surveillance. We also found marked variation between men, women, and nonbinary people’s feelings toward surveillance. Men were much less affected by surveillance. Women have very mixed views on surveillance; they simultaneously have greater safety concerns (especially sexual assault in public) and are keener on surveillance than men but also feel that it is ineffective in preventing assault (but might be useful in providing evidence subsequently). Our findings have significant ramifications for the efficacy of a one-size-fits-all solution of increased surveillance and security in smart places and cities and point to the need for more bottom-up safety measures.

Oct 19

Coffee Hour with Ted Toadvine | GIS Day | Esri ArcGIS software available


geocaching GIS coalition

The undergraduate GIS Coalition recently conducted a Geo-Caching activity on campus. This picture shows Erin Arndt, GIS coalition president, Harman Singh, coalition secretary, and Clarie Byrnes, a coalition member and anthropology major looking for a hidden cache near Deike building.The Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Coalition is an organization that offers students majoring, minoring, or sharing an interest in GIS opportunities to develop supplementary knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the professional GIS industry.


Esri Education and Directions magazine are offering a two-part webinar on GIS for classrooms Oct. 23 and Nov. 6

Humphrey Fellows Fall Presentation Series, this week in 102 Chambers; noon-1:00 p.m. October 24:

  • Socio-political and economic considerations in higher education in the Anglophone Caribbean
  • Higher education challenges in Afghanistan


Coffee Hour with Ted Toadvine
Climate Change and the Apocalyptic Image of Time

The prospect of climate disruption haunts contemporary culture and political debate today in a way that no environmental threat has before, and it is commonplace to hear climate change identified as the single most important challenge facing humanity. Is this prioritization of climate destabilization as the defining threat of recorded human history justified? Here I investigate the image of time underlying this apocalyptic narrative to show that it depends upon, and attempts to manage, the explosion of our horizons of time represented by “deep” geological timescales.

  • Friday, October 25, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom

For more information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks visit https://www.geog.psu.edu/calendar/coffee-hour-lecture-series


Event explores geographic information systems Nov. 12 at University Libraries

“Exploring the World Through Geovisualization” is the theme of this year’s event

Penn State University Libraries will observe GIS Day—an annual event celebrating the technology of geographic information systems (GIS)—on Tuesday, Nov. 12, with activities designed to bring together both new and experienced users of geospatial information across disciplines.

This year’s program, “Exploring the World Through Geovisualization,” aims to foster awareness of geospatial visualization, online mapping, and geospatial data science and the ways these applications are being used on campus, in the community, and beyond. GIS use across the University is enabled through access to Esri GIS software, including ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap, along with ArcGIS Online.

Esri ArcGIS software now more easily accessible to faculty, staff, students

For a project in a geographic information systems (GIS) class in Penn State’s Department of Geography, Alexis Fisher sought to spotlight the wage gap in the United States. She had familiarity with the topic, but when she began plotting a story map using Esri’s ArcGIS online tools, the data really came to life.

Fisher, a senior majoring in cyber security analytics and operations with a focus in geopolitics, entered historical wage data broken down by counties with variables for gender and ethnicity, to create an interactive map with text, videos, and graphics.


Next Steps for Spatial Demography

Stephen A. Matthews
Spatial Demography
I would like to open my first editorial by thanking the founding editors of Spatial Demography, Frank Howell and Jeremy Porter, and their editorial board for all their contributions over the past eight years. Frank and Jeremy recognized long before anyone else the importance of a signature journal for the field of spatial demography. I greatly appreciate the foundation they set and for initiating the later partnership with Springer. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with both Frank and Jeremy on an edited book and then more recently alongside Jeremy as co-editor of the journal. This was a valuable experience and certainly eased the transition to becoming sole editor.

Oct 19

Coffee Hour with Pablo Pacheco | EarthTalks series | VR research published


Nature-Society Workshop

Members of the department attended the Nature-Society Workshop at Syracuse University, NY. The workshop, which is held annually at universities across the Northeast, included panel discussions on climate politics; intersections of fire, livelihoods, and the state in the Amazon; and environmental justice. The workshop also included a keynote lecture by Dr. Wendy Wolford titled “The Social Life of Land” and a field trip to Onondaga lake and other sites exemplifying urban environmental (in)justice and history in and around the city of Syracuse. Photo taken at Syracuse University and Onondaga Lake.


Jacklyn Weier’s first single-author research paper titled, “(Re)producing the Sexuality Binary: On Bisexual Experiences in U.S. Gay and Heterosexual Spaces,” has been accepted by Gender, Place & Culture.


Coffee Hour with Pablo Pacheco
Governing for sustainability in tropical forest landscapes

Halting deforestation and forest degradation are central in the efforts to protect forests and achieve sustainability goals in forest landscapes, particularly in the tropics. Forest sustainability has increasingly been framed within broader policy agendas of conservation, climate change and sustainable commodity supply. This has triggered disparate interventions with a growing involvement of the private sector, which have been implemented under different approaches including individual adoption of voluntary standards, sector-wide supply chain-based interventions, and mixed supply chain and territorial initiatives at jurisdictional level. This presentation will evaluate critically the progress and implementation challenges of these approaches and provide insights on what is needed to overcome those challenges.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM) program.

  • Friday, October 18, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom

For more information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks visit https://www.geog.psu.edu/calendar/coffee-hour-lecture-series


EarthTalks series brings experts to Penn State to discuss decarbonization

Reducing carbon emissions to combat rising global temperatures is a hot topic, but achieving deep decarbonization poses problems that require fundamental changes in the industrial, agricultural and energy sectors. The fall 2019 EarthTalks series, “The Dynamics of Deep Decarbonization,” brings prominent researchers to the Penn State University Park campus to discuss these changes. The series, which is free and open to the public, runs at 4 p.m. every Monday through Nov. 18, in 112 Walker Building.


For the Many, Not the One: Designing Low-Cost Joint VR Experiences for Place-Based Learning

Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Jack (Shen-Kuen) Chang, Jiayan Zhao, Pejman Sajjadi, Danielle Oprean, Thomas B. Murphy, Jennifer Baka, Alexander Klippel
In: Bourdot P., Interrante V., Nedel L., Magnenat-Thalmann N., Zachmann G. (eds) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. EuroVR 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11883. Springer, Cham.
The paper details the design and evaluation of a joint, multi-user immersive virtual field trip (iVFT). The setting for our work centers on academic disciplines that value place-based education. The reported user study is embedded into a developing research framework on place-based learning and the role immersive experiences play as supplement, proxy, or through providing experiences physically not possible. The results of this study are both practical as well as theoretical, demonstrating the feasibility of using entry level immersive technologies in regular classroom settings and showing that even low-cost VR experiences strongly relying on 360∘ imagery add value to place-based education. With quantitative analysis, we also identify potentially critical aspects in how individual differences shape the adoption of this technology. Finally, we report insights gained through two qualitative analyses on how to improve the design of future iVFTs for educational purposes.

Oct 19

Bye week for Coffee Hour | Alum blends maps and hoops | UN taps into geographers


points per shot mapKirk Goldsberry’s Points per Shot map shows that the average value for 3-point shots is significantly higher than for mid-range shots. Image: Kirk Goldsberry


Bronwen Powell has been invited by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to participate in a meeting to set Global Forest Indicators (a set of indicators on the importance of forests that all countries will report on). She was invited to contribute to efforts to set indicators for the way Forests contribute to Food and Nutrition.

Luke Trusel’s research was cited in last week’s UN IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

Humphrey Fellows Fall Presentation Series starts this week in 102 Chambers; noon-1:00 p.m. October 10 talks:

  • More than just books: The underestimated impact of academic libraries on Jordan.
  • Use it, don’t lose it: A tale of highly educated housewives in Pakistan

SWIG is convening an Undergrad/Grad Round Table Discussion for students interested in applying to graduate school on Thursday, October 17 at 6:15p.m. in 319 Walker Building.

The 2019 Esri Mid-Atlantic User Conference will be held December 10–11 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Call for Proposals: UCGIS Symposium 2020, May 28–June 1, 2020, Honolulu, Hawaii.


A bye week for Coffee Hour,  next talk is October 18

For more information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks, visit https://www.geog.psu.edu/calendar/coffee-hour-lecture-series


For the love of maps and hoops: Geography alumnus excels in basketball analytics

As a geography student, Kirk Goldsberry never needed an excuse to make maps. The trick was finding ways to combine cartography with his other love — basketball.

The Penn State geography alumnus found professional success combining his passions. He is a leader in basketball analytics, having worked as an NBA front office executive and as a writer for ESPN.

In his most recent work, The New York Times best-selling book “SprawlBall: A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA,” Goldsberry examines how the proliferation of the 3-point shot, and other trends, have helped transform the league, perhaps in unexpected ways.

“My book is just another example of a geographer noticing a change, searching for its essential causes, and trying to explain them via the mighty combination of maps, stats and prose,” Goldsberry said.


Environmental Knowledge Cartographies: Evaluating Competing Discourses in U.S. Hydraulic Fracturing Rule-Making

Jennifer Baka, Arielle Hesse, Erika Weinthal & Karen Bakker
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1574549
In this article, we evaluate competing environmental knowledge claims in U.S. hydraulic fracturing (HF) regulation. We conduct a case study of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) rule-making process over the period from 2012 to 2015, which was the first attempt to update federal oil and gas regulations in thirty years. Our study addresses a gap in the energy geographies and environmental governance literatures, which have yet to evaluate systematically HF-related decision-making processes at the policymaking scale. We mobilize theoretical insights from science and technology studies on boundary objects and critical environmental discourse analysis to conduct a “cultural cartography” of the BLM’s rule-making process. Our analysis of a subset of 1.4 million public comments submitted to the BLM, combined with fifteen stakeholder interviews, focuses on (1) who participated in the rule-making process; (2) the types of knowledge claims advanced in support or opposition of the rule; and (3) how these claims affected the rule-making process. In contrast to recent literature that finds increased “horizontality” of environmental knowledge production, we find a clear hierarchy that privileges government knowledge—including federal government–sponsored research and existing laws—above all other categories of evidence cited. As such, we argue that government knowledge—which in this case brought disparate stakeholder groups together to debate HF regulation—functions as a key boundary object in the rule-making process. We conclude with a discussion of implications for both research and policy.

Sep 19

Coffee Hour with Laura Leites | We’re hiring faculty | Undergraduate certificates

IMAGE OF THE WEEKAdviser and student

Adviser Jodi Vender helps undergraduate student Harman Singh plan which courses to take to fulfill the requirements for a certificate in geography. Image: Penn State.


Jamie Peeler was awarded a Graduate Research Innovation Award from the Joint Fire Science Program for her dissertation research in Wyoming.

The EMS Graduate Student Poster Competition and Recognition will take place on Wednesday, October 23. Emily Domanico, Ruchi Patel, and Jaiyan Zhao have been selected to represent our department in the poster competition.

Justine Blanford has a position paper accepted to the Spatial Data Science Symposium: Setting the Spatial Data Science Agenda, December 9–11, 2019

MGIS Student Brandon Green has had a paper “Estimating populations in refugee camps: a toolkit using remotely sensed data” accepted by Digital Government: Disaster Information, Technology, and Resilience Track.

Mikael Hiestand and Andrew Carleton have had a paper, “Growing Season Synoptic and Phenological Controls on Heat Fluxes over Forest and Cropland Sites in the Midwest U.S. Corn Belt,” accepted by the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.


Coffee Hour with Laura Leites
Adaptation to climate in forest tree species and implications under a changing climate

More than a century of field studies has demonstrated that forest tree species with large geographic ranges are commonly composed of populations genetically adapted to the climate they inhabit. These populations occupy only a segment of the species climatic range, but their existence allows the species to accommodate the large spatial climate variability within their vast geographic ranges. Adaptation to climate is primarily achieved by synchronizing the trees’ annual growth cycle with the frost-free period of the inhabited climate in order to avoid unfavorable conditions through dormancy. As climate warms, genotypes and climate will be misaligned with important consequences for the growth and survival of forest tree species. However, there are opportunities for management to aid in maintaining well-adapted and productive forests. In this talk I’ll synthesize our knowledge of adaptation to climate in forest tree species, discuss implications under a warming climate, and review management practices aimed at re-aligning genotypes and climate.

  • Friday, October 4, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom

For more information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks visit https://www.geog.psu.edu/calendar/coffee-hour-lecture-series



Assistant Professor of Health Geography

The Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor faculty position in Health Geography with a focus on Substance Use and Misuse. Preference will be given to candidates with a research focus in the United States and who utilize quantitative and spatial techniques to address subjects including but not limited to social determinants, population patterns, and health care delivery pertaining to substance use and misuse.


Faculty Positions in Understanding Land-Water Systems using Data Analytics

The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences through the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, seeks to hire tenure-line faculty at the assistant or associate rank who study Earth and environmental sciences using new data-driven tools and methods. Candidates for the rank of associate professor typically will have several years of research experience and already hold tenure at another institution and/or qualify for immediate tenure at Penn State.

Geography certificates offer customized degrees for undergraduates

Penn State students who want to customize their bachelor’s degree in geography, add a specific topic in geography to their major, or enhance their career as a non-degree student can now complete undergraduate certificates in geography.

“Certificates are credentials that recognize mastery of a specific area in the discipline,” said Jodi Vender, undergraduate adviser in the Department of Geography. “Ours are 12 credits — fewer credits than a minor — so they fit more easily into a degree program. They can be used as milestones for accomplishment in a specific domain or can stand alone.”

Model helps choose wind farm locations, predicts output

The wind is always blowing somewhere, but deciding where to locate a wind farm is a bit more complicated than holding up a wet finger. Now a team of Penn State researchers have a model that can locate the best place for the wind farm and even help with 24-hour predictions of energy output.

Sep 19

Coffee Hour: a critical conversation in geography | New geog faculty | Alum in Annals of the AAG


Pictured at the Lion Shrine, left to right, the new geography faculty members: Luke Trusel, Trevor Birkenholtz, Emily Rosenman, Helen Greatrex, Manzhu Yu, and Panagiotis Giannakis. See news story below; full profiles of all six are forthcoming in the printed Geograph annual newsletter.


Gamma Theta Upsilon & GIS Coalition will hold an internship round table and resume review to talk about how to find an internship as a geographer on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6:00 p.m. in 110 Walker Building to hear other students talk about internships, from the application process to the internship experience itself.

The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ 2019 International Culture Night will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, in the Atrium of the Steidle Building on the University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public.

A free screening of the documentary film “Elephant Path / Njaia Njoku” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Freeman Auditorium on Penn State’s University Park campus. A Q&A with the director will follow.

Sara E. Cavallo will give a brownbag talk on “Navigating Compounding Uncertainty: Farmer Strategies amid Biosecurity Crises in Western Uganda,” Wednesday, October 2, from 12:30–2:00 p.m. in 133 Sparks Building.

The EMS Graduate Student Poster Competition and Recognition will take place on Wednesday, October 23, in 401/402 Steidle Building. Poster Session and Catered Reception from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Awards Presentation and Special Recognition of Graduate Excellence from 4:30 to 5:00. RSVP by Friday, October 4, 2019.

The inaugural Geospatial Technology and Spatial Data Science Symposium will be held on November 11, 2019, as part of Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day at Penn State.

Call for Papers: The African Studies Program, 7th annual conference, on April 17-18, 2020, “Africa on the Rise! 60 years after 1960,” commemorates the “Year of Africa.” Abstracts of 200 words (max) are due by Dec. 5, 2019. Submit your abstract.


Coffee Hour: Critical Conversation in Geography

On September 20 and 27, 2019, the Fridays for Future movement has called for a global climate strike to demand an end to fossil fuels. We are responding to these calls from youth across the globe by convening an open conversation about the role of geography—and geographers—in responding to the climate crisis for the September 27 Coffee Hour.

Questions that may frame the conversation include: What kind of climate research is necessary and important? What are new opportunities? What is the role of advocacy, engagement, and outreach? Can the department follow other geography departments in calculating our departmental carbon footprint— and are there ways to reduce it?

  • Friday, September 27, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom

More information about Coffee Hour and to view previously recorded Coffee Hour talks


The new geographers: Six faculty hires are driving the future of the field

Six new tenure-line geography faculty started this fall in the Department of Geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. They will conduct research on a wide variety of subjects including water, climate change, natural hazards, remote sensing, social networks, data mining, economics, and inequality and diversity.

“The new geographers are bringing in not only their scientific expertise but also experience in using multiple research methods, and a dedication to engaging livelihoods and environments,” said Cynthia Brewer, professor and head of the department. “Their expertise will also be used to create new courses for our students.”

Individual profile articles for all six new geographers are forthcoming in the printed Geograph annual newsletter.


Making an Anthropocene Ocean: Synoptic Geographies of the International Geophysical Year (1957–1958)

Jessica Lehman ’08
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1644988
Although the notion of the Anthropocene has generated a great deal of literature across disciplines, the geographic critique of this concept is still developing. This article contributes to justice-oriented engagements with the Anthropocene by highlighting the relationships through which planetary knowledge is constructed as sites of critique. I develop an analytic of synoptic geographies, which addresses the praxis of coordinated field measurements that creates the planetary knowledge on which concepts of the Anthropocene rest. Synoptic geographies require a geographic analytic that is capable of going beyond assertions that all knowledge is local. The International Geophysical Year (IGY; 1957–1958) provides a strategic opportunity to elaborate the stakes of synoptic geographies. The IGY was arguably the first attempt to understand the Earth as a planet through a program of widespread synoptic data collection. In particular, the synoptic geographies of the IGY’s oceanography program reveal the ways in which old and new forms of imperialism were knitted together to produce the world ocean as an object of knowledge in a new era of planetary-scale environmental politics.

Sep 19

Coffee Hour with Claudia Ringler | Drawdown Scholars | Hamer mapping sessions


Coffee Hour speakers Marla Lugo-Perez (left) and Cecilio Ortiz Garcia (right) with Speakers Committee Chair Erica Smithwick (center), after the September 13 talk, “Understanding Hurricane Maria: Disaster Response as Transition Management,” which is available to view now on the new Coffee Hour Channel.


The inaugural Geospatial Technology and Spatial Data Science Symposium will be held on November 11, 2019, as part of Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day at Penn State. https://sites.google.com/view/geospatialsymposium2/home.

Esri recruiters are visiting campus this week. They will be at the Career Fair on Wednesday and Thursday, hold an info session in Walker Building on Thursday evening, and conduct interviews (pre-selected) in Walker Building on Friday for internship and full-time positions. For more information, visit https://www.esri.com/en-us/about/careers/student-jobs

Jack Dangermond, founder and president of Esri, will visit Penn State on Oct. 2 as part of the Department of Landscape Architecture’s Bracken Lecture Series. His talk — titled “Geography and Landscape: The Foundations for Geodesign” — will be held at 6 p.m. in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium.


Coffee Hour with Claudia Ringler
Achieving nutrition outcomes through improved agricultural water management: What are the options?

One out of three people in the world suffers from one or several forms of malnutrition—and every third person lives in a water-stressed environment—and both trends are worsening. It is, however, not only the magnitudes that link water and nutrition—the challenges and solutions are also closely interlinked—so interlinked, in fact, that achieving the SDG targets for water without consideration of other goals and targets could well constrain efforts to reach SDG targets on nutrition—and vice versa. This talk describes ongoing work by the International Food Policy Research Institute and partners on the linkages between water and nutrition, and provides case study and empirical results for Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Friday, September 20, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to Go on Zoom


Drawdown Scholars returning to Penn State for international conference

Whitney Ashead, geography and agricultural science double major, Nebraska Hernandez, geography and Spanish double major, are participants

Undergraduate students from across the country are returning to Penn State next week for the first international conference on the science of drawdown, the point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline. The students, participants in this past summer’s Penn State Drawdown Scholars Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, will present results from their summer research projects from Sept. 16-18.

New graduate, undergraduate student groups strive to increase museum involvement

Michelle Ritchie, Department of Geography rep., to create an exhibit on women in geography

Two new College of Earth and Mineral Science’s (EMS) student groups were recently formed to strengthen the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery’s connection to the college, the University and local communities. The graduate group, the Society for Museum Science Education (SoMuSE), and the undergraduate Museum Club envision the museum as the hub of EMS: a space to connect the community within and beyond the college and to experience the college’s diversity of research and historic collections. The clubs plan to organize events and exhibits that educate, inspire and celebrate the EMS community.

University Libraries announces fall Maps and Geospatial Informational Sessions

This fall, the Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information at the Penn State University Libraries will offer three informational sessions relating to foundational map and geospatial topics. Designed to provide an introduction to maps and geospatial resources and expertise available at the Libraries, these sessions aim to engage participants across disciplines in their use of geospatial information.

Sessions are open to all Penn State students, staff, faculty and the public. Advance registration is not required. All sessions will be held in 211A Pattee Library on the University Park campus, with remote viewing available online via Zoom.

Sep 19

Coffee Hour with Marla Lugo Perez and Cecilio Ortiz Garcia | Helping Arctic communities | Climate conference


Sunset in Lassen Volcanic National Park

August sunset near Penn State geography field team (Lucas Harris, Sam Black, Alex Nawn, Alan Taylor) campsite in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. Photo: Alan Taylor.


Plan to attend the Geography Fall Welcome Picnic on September 14. For more information and to RSVP go to: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/geography-fall-welcome-picnic-2019

Jennifer Baka was appointed to the Environmental Justice Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) starting in January 2020.


Coffee Hour with Marla Lugo Perez and Cecilio Ortiz Garcia

Understanding Hurricane Maria: Disaster Response as Transition Management

The generalized claims about the inadequacies of the governmental response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, at both the local and federal levels, highlight a simple but often overlooked fact: disasters do not occur in a vacuum, neither societies that experience them are “blank canvases” or “clean slates” from which the reconstruction starts from scratch. From macro level abstractions such as the governance limbo brought by PROMESA, to the very concrete experience of uncommunicated communities that were required by the FederalEmergency Management Agency (FEMA) to file claims online, disaster response and recovery in Puerto Rico reveals the multilevel complexities of disasters that transcend the organizational misalignments often documented in the disaster literature. We suggests that disaster response still suffers, to this day, from a myopic view of disasters. Disasters are still being treated as discrete events to which societal institutions must respond to and recover from by reinstating equilibrium, often understood as pre-event conditions. We propose that disaster response and recovery should be understood as transition management tools to reach a new resilient and more sustainable state. Models such as the multilevel perspective (MLP) and the sustainable transitions often used to examine socio-technical and socio-ecological transformations, can help us better understand the alignment or misalignment of preparedness, response,recovery and mitigation related policies and activities. These models can also help us visualize much needed policy interventions that mitigate vulnerabilities and decrease disaster. In fact, this paradigmatic change invites us to redefine the very concepts of vulnerability and resilience understanding the value judgments that these often carry.

  • Friday, September 13, 2019
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • Lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


Helping Alaskan coastal communities adjust to global warming

Bronwen Powell is on the team

Alaskan coastal Indigenous communities are facing severe environmental changes that threaten to irrevocably damage their way of life. A $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow Penn State researchers to assist local communities with foreseeable environmental challenges and work towards building more resilient communities.

The project, “Pursuing Opportunities for Long-term Arctic Resilience for Infrastructure and Society,” or POLARIS, is funded through NSF’s new “Navigating the New Arctic” program, which will establish a network of platforms and tools across the Arctic to document and understand the Arctic’s rapid biological, physical, chemical and social changes.

Climate conference to feature Penn State researchers Sept. 16-18

Erica Smithwick is participating

More than 20 Penn State researchers are participating in the upcoming climate solutions conference Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown. Overall, more than 70 speakers will be presenting at the event, which will take place Sept. 16-18 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.


Visualizing Natural Environments from Data in Virtual Reality: Combining Realism and Uncertainty

J. Huang, M. S. Lucash, M. B. Simpson, C. Helgeson and A. Klippel
2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), Osaka, Japan, 2019
doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8797996
Understanding complex scientific data visualizations in 2D can be challenging. Virtual Reality (VR) provides an alternative, combining realistic 3D representations with intuitive, natural interactions with data through embodied experiences. However, realistic 3D representations and associated immersive experiences are prone to misrepresentations as they are selectively representative and often leave little room for abstraction. This is particularly challenging for topics such as modeling natural environments where users value realism. We discuss the causes and categories of potential misrepresentations in VR with a particular focus on scientific visualization. We contextualize our discussion by presenting an application prototype that translates ecological model output data into a high-fidelity VR experience that allows users to walk through forests of the future. We also designed and implemented two methods to display uncertainties in high-fidelity VR environments: A multi-scenarios approach to provide users access to alternative scenarios, and a slide-and-show approach to view the environment within the confidence interval.

Visualizing Ecological Data in Virtual Reality

J. Huang, M. S. Lucash, R. M. Scheller and A. Klippel
2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), Osaka, Japan, 2019
doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8797771
Visualizing complex scientific data and models in 2D can be challenging. The result can be hard to interpret and understand for the general audience, and the model accuracy hard to evaluate even for the experts. To address these problems, we created a workflow that translates data of an ecological model, LANDIS-II, into a high-fidelity 3D model in virtual reality (VR). We combined ecological modeling, analytical modeling, procedural modeling, and VR, to allow users to experience a forest in northern Wisconsin (WI), United States, under two climate scenarios. Users can explore and interact with the forest under different climate scenarios, explore the impacts of climate change on different tree species, and retrieve information from a 3D tree database. The VR application can be used as an educational tool for the general public, and as a model checking tool by researchers.

Warping Space and Time-Reviving Educational Tools of the 19th Century

A. Klippel, J. O. Wallgrün, A. Masrur, J. Zhao and P. LaFemina
2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), Osaka, Japan, 2019
doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8797897
xR has the potential to warp both space and time. We demonstrate this potential by designing a mixed reality application for mobile devices for the Penn State’s Obelisk, a historic landmark on the main Penn State campus that artistically reveals the geological history of Pennsylvania. Our AR application allows for placing a model of the Obelisk on any surface, interacting with the individual stones to reveal their geological characteristics and location of excavation, and changing to an immersive VR experience of this location based on 360° imagery. Originally conceptualized as a teaching tool for the School of Mines, our xR application revives the Obelisk’s long forgotten mission and allows educators to integrate it once more into the curriculum as well as creatively expand its potential.

Research Framework for Immersive Virtual Field Trips

A. Klippel, J. Zhao, D. Oprean, J. O. Wallgrün and J. S. Chang
2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), Osaka, Japan, 2019
doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8798153
Virtual field trips have been thought of and implemented for several decades. For the most part, these field trips were delivered through desktop computers and often as interactive but strictly two-dimensional experiences. The advent of immersive technologies for both creating content and experiencing places in three dimensions provides ample opportunities to move beyond the restrictions of two dimensional media. We propose here a framework we developed to assess immersive learning experiences, specifically immersive virtual field trips (iVFTs). We detail the foundations and provide insights into associated empirical evaluations.

Sep 19

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: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/geography-fall-welcome-picnic-2019

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.

Aug 19

Alumnus publishes novel | Forests keep carbon | King named to Faculty Academy


You are here campus map

Penn State has been updating the you-are-here maps around campus. Here is a new one located in the West Campus area.


Thomas Potteiger ’81 retired from Lockheed Martin in May 2019 after 21 years. Potteiger worked in the Flight Operations Department in Avionics Test and Aircrew Instruction of Aeronautical subjects including navigation solutions (GPS/INS/EGI) and digital map display. He also served in the U S Air Force for 25 years as a C-130 Navigator from 1983 to 2007.

Mark your calendar for the Geography Fall Welcome Picnic on September 14. For more information and to RSVP go to: https://www.geog.psu.edu/event/geography-fall-welcome-picnic-2019

The International Society for Landscape, Place, and Material Culture (ISLPMC) is holding their annual meeting in Detroit, Michigan, October 9 to 12. The conference will include a day of paper sessions, along with two days of walking and bus tours. For more information, visit: http://www.pioneeramerica.org/annualmeeting2019.html

Save the date for the Penn State GIS Day events held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.


Writing with your eyes closed

Geography alumnus Joel Burcat ’76 has published a novel

Joel Burcat’s debut novel, “Drink to Every Beast,” isn’t climbing best-seller lists or getting attention from prominent critics. But it’s remarkable for a different reason.

He finished it after he became legally blind.

An environmental lawyer in Harrisburg, Pa., Burcat, 64, had been writing in his spare time for many years and had cranked out several novels, including an early version of this one. But none had found a publisher and gone out into the world.

Forest carbon still plentiful post-wildfire after century of fire exclusion

Forests in Yosemite National Park hold more carbon today than they did 120 years ago despite burning in a severe wildfire in 2013, according to a Penn State-led team of researchers.

Five added to Student Engagement Network’s Faculty Academy

Beth King was named as a fellow

Five faculty were added to the Faculty Academy program through the Student Engagement Network at Penn State.

The goal of the Faculty Academy is to advance engaged scholarship at Penn State. Faculty apply to the academy with a proposal to deepen the campus-wide discourse, practice and recognition of engaged scholarship at the University. Selection to the academy can be for one- or two-year appointments.

Global climate solution leaders to participate in Drawdown conference

A group of international leaders on solutions to climate change have advised the creation of an upcoming conference, “Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown.” The event will take place Sept. 16-18 at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center on Penn State’s University Park campus.


Nonpharmacologic Approaches to Pain Management with IUD Insertion

Passmore R.C., Gold M.A.
In: Coles M., Mays A. (eds) Optimizing IUD Delivery for Adolescents and Young Adults
There are a number of nonpharmacologic approaches one can offer to help adolescent and young adults (AYAs) manage anxiety, discomfort, and pain related to bimanual and speculum exams and intrauterine device (IUD) insertions. These may include diaphragmatic breathing, hypnotic language, music, heat packs, social support (“IUD doula”), aromatherapy, acupressure, and acupuncture. Given the clear and direct relationship between anxiety and pain perception [], any nonpharmacologic approaches that reduce anxiety have the potential to reduce pain associated with IUD insertions.

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