Page 1




Welcome What a terrific honor and pleasure to introduce our department newsletter. As many of you know, we do a weekly news post for faculty, alumni and staff and just looking back over a few months, I am convinced that we have a truly vibrant and exceptionally successful program. The signs of this vitality are all around: awards and grants to our faculty and students research presentations, terrific visiting speakers and many other accolades. The outstanding efforts by our staff to take care of every detail are greatly appreciated. Perhaps the clearest sign of a vibrant program is the success of our graduates in the world market place. The newsletter you are receiving today will summarize many of these fine accomplishments. We cannot possibly do justice to the energy and talent that all of our members bring to making this a success. Looking back over the past 12 months, it is hard to single out the most significant accomplishment, as we have had several. Among these, I am delighted at our successful recruitment of Professor Steve Quiring. Another real point of pride is the number of highly regarded dissertations written and completed since March 2016 (and more on the way).


As of today I want to pay tribute to the following: Rachel Mauk (advisor Jay Hobgood), Hyeyoung Kim (Ningchuan Xiao), Shaun Fontanella (Ola Ahlqvist), Yuxi Zhao (Darla Munroe), Calvin Tribby (Harvey Miller), Chris Hartmann (Becky Mansfield) and Ying Song (Harvey Miller). As you will notice there is an excellent cross-sectional representation from all areas of the department and we are very proud of these accomplishments. Many of these dissertations have led to recognitions and awards, and publications. They are at the heart of our efforts to produce new knowledge. Among the many faculty recognitions, let me close by calling attention to Max Woodworth, who was awarded the Larry Brown Fellowship. No version of this newsletter would be compete without another repeated and heart felt “thanks” to our dear departed colleague Larry. He blazed a trail for many, and I hope that he would be pleased with our efforts and success. We dedicate this issue to his memory.

Morton O’Kelly Professor and Chair


By the Numbers


Our Students


Our Alumni


Our Faculty


Faculty News


Our Centers


Department News


Support the Department

Cover Images and background on this page: Scenes from a week of field work at Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada, near the Utah border. Students and professors from both Ohio State and the University of Georgia, worked together to meet their shared research goals.





of our classroom-based courses are taught by faculty



Undergraduate Majors




Courses Offered


390 9 22 9

Number of undergraduates

Number of master’s students

Number of PhD students

Number of graduate awards 4

Student to Faculty Ratio

Honors Courses



Number of articles and book chapters published


Number of books published





Number of countries visited for fieldwork

17 62

Number of grants awarded

Number of faculty publications


Number of graduate student publications

OUR STUDENTS When Mary Grace Thibault was in middle school, she built her own weather balloon barometers with mason jars, made her own weather vane and kept a weather journal. Her fascination with weather continued throughout high school. When it came time to select a college with an outstanding climate program, Thibault did her homework. She chose Ohio State’s Atmospheric Sciences Program. “I did a lot of research into the program,” said Thibault. “I looked up the curriculum and discovered how comprehensive it was and visited the Department of Geography to learn more about it. What I learned was that Ohio State’s program offered an excellent introduction to the field of meteorology and climate.” Thibault, now a fourth-year honors student, is a double major in atmospheric sciences and anthropology, a member of the Ohio State Meteorology Club and a weather spotter,

having recently renewed her training with the National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN program — a volunteer network of trained severe weather spotters. “I am fascinated with how weather and climate impact people,” Thibault said. Last summer Thibault participated in a Penn State undergraduate research experience program in climate science and was assigned to a field work project in Key Largo, Florida, headed by Florida International University and the South Florida Water Management District. The 10-week project allowed Thibault the opportunity to observe firsthand the effects of sea-level rise on the Everglades with a special focus on peat collapse and carbon sequestration.

This past spring, Thibault completed an independent study with Jim DeGrand, assistant to the state climatologist of Ohio and lecturer in the Department of Geography. She also volunteered with the NWS Pittsburgh office. Thibault traveled to Great Basin National Park as part of the Department of Geography’s work with underground glaciers. “Ohio State’s Atmospheric Sciences Program is really amazing!” said Thibault. “The program is small enough to let you really get to know and work with the faculty. The people who teach in the major are very helpful, and the advisors are accessible. Both the professors and advisors work really hard to help you not just learn, but to use what you have learned.” Thibault’s on track to graduate in spring 2017.

“It was a tremendous experience, and what interested me in particular were the different types of instrumentation.”

The program is small enough to let you really get to know and work with the faculty. The people who teach in the major are very helpful, and the advisors are accessible. — Mary Grace Thibault


OUR STUDENTS continued

Nathaniel Henry’s undergraduate thesis on Boko Haram’s impact on the Logone Floodplain, will have a lasting impact on policy and research to come.

Nathaniel Henry is a double major in geographic information science and geography with minors in economics and Chinese. Originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Henry has left his mark on the Department of Geography and Ohio State. His undergraduate thesis, which explored Boko Haram’s long-term social and economic impact on the Logone Floodplain, will have a lasting impact on policy and research to come. The study was conducted with Geography Professor Ningchuan Xiao “I believe that Nat is the best student I have ever seen in the 13 years since I joined Ohio State,” said Xiao. From 2014-2016, Henry worked for the Modeling Regime Shifts (MORSL), an interdisciplinary research group studying the changing conditions in the Logone floodplain in Cameroon. His main task was to develop an agent-based model to simulate the social and economic


dynamics of the population in the Far North Region of Cameroon. During Henry’s freshman and sophomore years, he served as a member of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO) and worked on various student consulting projects for local nonprofit groups. He also served on the organizing committee for the 2013 and 2015 Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) conferences. In 2014, Henry interned as a research assistant at the Department of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, through the NSF’s Spatiotemporal Research Center. The following summer, he participated in the Summer of Maps, a three-month fellowship for GIS analysts, performing geospatial data analysis for two nonprofit organizations, The Greening of Detroit and The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, in Philadelphia.

Henry collaborated with Geography Professor Ola Ahlqvist on a project to turn real-world landscapes into playable 3D-game levels using a kite, a camera and GIS tools. He presented his research at the 2015 AGILE conference in Lisbon, Portugal, and is publishing his results as a chapter in Ahlqvist’s forthcoming book, Geogames and Geoplay. “Nat delivered on time and his manuscript was so well-prepared and well-written that it surpassed many of the other manuscripts in terms of quality and structure,” said Ahlqvist. Henry graduated in spring 2016 summa cum laude with honors research distinction in geographic information science.

Graduate student Oliver Wigmore tracks glacier retreat with his custommade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Oliver Wigmore is a PhD candidate and a presidential fellow. His dissertation research focuses on understanding the role of soil-moisture storage within the hydrologic budget of Cordillera Blanca, Peru, using custom unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Much of Wigmore’s research is on the changes in the Llaca glacier in the Cordillera Blanca. Wigmore built his own UAVs to cope with the high altitudes and winds typical in the mountains of Peru. These drones map the land surface at a high resolution, providing a more comprehensive view of the area. The resulting maps bridge the gap between satellite views of the region and groundlevel data. An innovative approach, researchers do not typically rely on UAVs as off-the-shelf models can be expensive and any malfunction requires being shipped back to the manufacturer, causing extensive delays. Designing his own UAVs gives Wigmore the ability to make repairs on-site.

Wigmore’s UAVs have the ability to map glacier surface and volume changes over time. While previous research has tracked surface changes in the Llaca glacier, there was no way to account for the volume loss, which is significant. Data gathered by Wigmore’s UAVs show rapid glacier retreat which in turn affects the regional hydrology, particularly where it affects soil-moisture storage and the groundwater supply to downstream communities. Researchers focusing on the Himalyan glaciers can look to Wigmore’s UAVs as a new way to research water security in those parts of the world. The working title of Wigmore’s dissertation is Assessing Variability in Pro-glacial Soil Moisture: Integrating UAVs, Satellites and Field Hydrology in the Peruvian Andes.


OUR STUDENTS continued Doctoral candidate Debangana Bose researches informal land ownership and its governance in Delhi, India, as a lens for examining the relations among peri-urban governance, citizenship rights, land-property management and slum dwellers’ experiences of displacement. Since India opened up to the global investment market in 1991, thousands have been evicted from the inner city and resettled on the city’s periphery in planned resettlement colonies, to create a slum-free image of Delhi. In summer 2015, Bose conducted preliminary dissertation field work in one such resettlement colony, Savdha, located in Delhi’s western periphery. Bose discovered that the resettlement of slum dwellers in the periphery created diverse land-tenure systems and illegal settlements within planned resettlement colonies. The resettlement policy permits the resettled to live on — but not own, rent or sell — plots, and prohibits commercial activities in the resettlement colonies. The resettlement program provides a conditional land lease to the slum dwellers valid for 10 years and restricts full land rights. The conditions of the lease include cancellation of plots if the beneficiary of the plot does not build a concrete house within three months or discontinue residing in the house later to

prevent absentee-land occupancy. The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) — the Delhi government‘s wing responsible for managing resettlement plots — has cancelled around 30 percent of allotted plots in Savdha. However, it remains unclear what the DUSIB does with the cancelled and retrieved plots. Bose plans to examine this issue. The lack of job opportunities, land-tenure rights and prohibition of commercial activities has compelled 40 percent of settlers to sell their plots through illegal land markets controlled by land mafias who sell the plots to other displaced poor, creating new forms of illegal settlements. The reasons for the differential treatment by the DUSIB between the slum dwellers practicing illegal land transactions and slum dwellers leaving their plots unused is unknown; why some of the resettled engage in illegal activities, whereas others do not. Through future field research, Bose will ask what factors affect the decision to sell the plots by the beneficiaries. This line of inquiry will reveal how new subjectivities and associated practices are formed among slum dwellers in light of their differential treatment.

Doctoral candidate Debangana Bose researches the differential treatment of slum dwellers in Delhi, India


OUR ALUMNI success that he has enjoyed as a developer: the applied geographer par excellence.” Former department chair Larry Brown wrote about Biel in the 2001 issue of the GeoSpectrum.

Alumnus Howard Biel Pays Forward Alumnus Howard Biel (PhD, 1976; MA, 1971; geography), senior vice president, acquisitions and development, ECHO Realty, returned to Columbus last spring to witness the dedication of the Howard & Rene Biel Geography Lecture Room, in honor of Biel and his wife, Rene.

“Howard Biel’s work epitomizes the way in which geography training can be so very important as a basis for building a successful career. Folks like me study cities to understand how they work; folks like Howard Biel already know and, in fact, are the ones who make the cities we study.” During the classroom dedication Biel surprised the crowd with the announcement that he had endowed the Howard S. Biel Graduate Student Support Fund in Geography. Biel remains a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee.

A native of Worthington, Ohio, Cohen began laying the groundwork for a career in weather forecasting in middle school, when he became friends with the science and operations officer at the NWS Tulsa office, who went on to become a mentor to Cohen. In high school, Cohen volunteered at the NWS Tulsa office during one of the most active tornado seasons of the decade.

After graduating high school, Cohen enrolled in Ohio State’s Atmospheric Sciences Program.

Classroom 1080, located on the first floor of Derby Hall, was transformed into a state-of-the-art technology space, greatly enhancing the teaching and the learning experience. Geography Professor Kevin Cox was one of Biel’s advisors and remembers him well.

“My fascination with severe thunderstorms, and meteorology in general, developed from a deep-seated fear of thunderstorms,” said Cohen. “Knowing their potentially destructive power instilled a sense of fear in me, yet also motivated me to learn more about the weather and how it can be forecast.”

“My childhood dream of reading dozens and dozens of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings live on NOAA Weather Radio came true,” Cohen said.

“It’s time to give something back to the place that gave me so much,” said Biel.

“Howard was one of an extraordinarily talented group of graduate students in the department in the first half of the 1970s, that included people like John Agnew and Pat Gober, and Howard was one of the best. The emphases of the department were very different then: spatial-quantitative analysis had a deep impact on research, including Howard’s. Perhaps we should not be surprised at the high level of

Norman, Oklahoma — doing exactly what he’s always wanted to do: forecasting weather. For the mesoscale assistant and fire weather forecaster, meteorology is an obsession.

For Alumnus Ariel Cohen, Weather Forecasting is a Dream Job Ariel Cohen (BS, atmospheric sciences, 2006) is exactly where he’s always wanted to be — at NOAA’s National Weather Service’s (NWS) Storm Prediction Center in

“Ohio State was the perfect institution for me given the quality of the Atmospheric Sciences Program,” said Cohen. “The combination of academic rigor, opportunities to foster strong relationships with outstanding faculty and the wide variety of multidisciplinary coursework made for a perfect fit.” During the summer prior to Cohen’s final year at Ohio State, he performed research at the Storm Prediction Center and NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, studying the severity of mesoscale convective systems — complexes of thunderstorms that become organized on a large scale. Cohen’s goal of working at the center was reaffirmed that summer, and he was


OUR ALUMNI continued I think that any time is probably an exciting time to be a graduate student in the geography department at Ohio State. For the special group of us who were there at the height of the Quantitative Revolution, it was extraordinary. Whether or not we knew it at the time, we were a part of something bigger than all of us. We were partners in an intellectual movement aimed at challenging the foundations of the discipline and forcing it to give birth to something that had not been seen before. The times, the place, the discipline and the department demanded nothing less than everything we had to give. Most would attribute the fervor and excitement at the time to the research program and its unflinching embrace of a new modern, scientific and analytical geography – that was difficult to challenge. After all, who could argue with an R2 of .89!

A Reflection on My Time at Ohio State Rickie Sanders, professor, geography and urban studies, Temple University

I would argue – for me at least – that much more excitement came from what went on in the classroom; being with faculty who saw the importance of teaching and mentoring. I feel confident saying that we had extraordinary teachers who were committed to shaping us into something we didn’t know we could be — who by example exposed us to habits of mind and actions that we routinely conjure up. Most of the courses I teach are seminars. A good seminar is based on engaged thinking-asking and answering questions. It was at Ohio State that I developed an appreciation for the learning that can take place in a seminar, from faculty who gave us all the support and encouragement they could muster. It was there — through observation — that I learned the art and science of teaching.

(Arial Cohn continued)

distribution centers in central Ohio.

encouraged to go on to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned an MS and PhD in meteorology.

In 2010, Sharpe endowed the Gary L. Sharpe Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduates in Geography, with preference given to students from the state of Ohio. Students who receive this award are chosen based on their excellence in the classroom and their professional goals and achievement. To date, nearly 30 undergraduate students have received this award and benefited from Sharpe’s generosity.

He has been at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center since 2011, where he is responsible for preparing mesoscale convective discussions as well as general thunderstorm, enhanced thunderstorm, fire weather and convective outlooks. “The opportunity to merge my passion in meteorology with my desire to help protect people makes my job exciting,” Cohen said. “Performing scienceadvancing research has tremendous meaning to me, as being a pioneer in science, while also collaborating with other meteorologists is what allows our knowledge of meteorology to grow.”


Gary Sharpe’s Geography Degree Drives His Company’s Logistics Alumnus Gary L. Sharpe received is BA in geography in 1970. Founder of Health Care Logistics (healthcarelogistics. com), an industry leader, specializing in manufacturing, packaging and distribution of hard to find products, Sharpe uses his geography degree to maximize logistics distribution throughout the company’s four

As a returning alumnus and an active member of the geography community, Sharpe participated in the department’s 2015 Geographic Awareness Week Alumni panel, “Careers in Geography/ GIS: Success Stories from Ohio State Graduates.” Sharpe discussed the factors that go into success after graduation. To thank him for his dedication to geography, department chair Morton O’Kelly presented him with his company’s trademark mascot, a rubber chicken. This small token was signed by former Ohio State great Archie Griffin.


Elizabeth Dowling Root The newest member of the department faculty, Associate Professor Elisabeth Dowling Root, is also associate professor of epidemiology in Ohio State’s College of Public Health and a research affiliate with Ohio State’s Institute for Population Research. Her research is situated at the intersection of geography and public health. “My work relies on spatial statistical analysis, geographic information systems and remote sensing to explore the dynamic human-environment interactions that affect people’s health,” said Root. Root’s research focuses on two broad topics: the socioenvironmental drivers of communicable diseases (e.g., pneumonia and cholera) and evaluating health programs and interventions in the U.S. and in developing countries. “I study the ways in which big data can be used to improve children’s health around the world,” said Root. To date, Root has been involved with several major international health projects (Bangladesh, Honduras, Philippines and Indonesia) and two research initiatives in the United States. Her work evaluates the short- and long-term impacts of public health interventions — including vaccination campaigns, maternal and child health and family planning programs, and health systems changes — in low-income countries. She is also interested in the long-term effects of neighborhood social and structural environments on child and adolescent health.

The way I think about the world is based in geography. — Elizabeth Dowling Root

Root didn’t start out as a geographer. She graduated with a BA in anthropology and public policy analysis from Pomona College in 1999 and “discovered” geography while working on a community health assessment which included mapping for a Washington D.C. think-tank. “I fell for it, hook, line and sinker,” Root said. “Geography is an extraordinary and versatile discipline.” Root went on to earn an MA in geography from the University of Maryland and a PhD in geography from the University of North Carolina., where she made yet another discovery. (continued next page)


(Elisabeth Dowling Root continued) “I love teaching. The students ask interesting questions. They challenge me to think and to help them think. There is something very fulfilling in that.” Root teaches GEOG 3704, Life and Death Geographies: Global Population Dynamics, GEOG 5229, Special Topics in GIS and GEOG 8104, Spatial Methods for Health & Population Research. She uses a problem based learning (PBL) approach, encouraging student collaboration. Classes begin with the introduction of a problem based on complex real-world situations and students work in groups to identify, find and use appropriate resources to “solve” the problem. “The way I think about the world is based in geography.” Root is co-author of the forthcoming publication, Health and Medical Geography (Fourth Edition, Guilford Press, 2017).


Kenneth Madsen (left, Newark) was promoted to associate professor and both Bryan Mark (middle) and Ningchuan Xiao (right) were promoted to professor, effective 2015. Kenneth Madsen’s research interests include political and cultural geography, borders and bordering, geography of film and fiction and conflict between scales. Bryan Mark specializes in Earth-water-atmosphere interactions and tropical glaciers. His current research focuses on climate-glacier-hydrologic dynamics over different time scales, with a particular focus on the coupled human-natural systems of water resources of the tropical Andes. Ningchuan Xiao specializes in spatial-decision support systems, cartography, environmental and ecological modeling and Web-based GIS. His current research uses computational approaches to solve geographical problems.

MCSWEENEY APPOINTED PRESIDENT OF CLAG Kendra McSweeney, professor of geography, was appointed to the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG), which is independent of AAG, and was established to “foster geographic education and research on Latin America.” Her appointment began July 1, 2016 and will last two years.

FACULTY GRANTS AND AWARDS David Bromwich, senior research scientist and affiliated faculty, was awarded two NASA grants. The first was for his research in Antarctic mass budget from high-resolution atmospheric modeling combined with GRACE. This research aims to reduce the uncertainties inherent in the knowledge base of the Antarctic surface mass. The second, Accurate meteorology over Antarctica based on GPS RO profiles for GRACE mass balance determination, is attempting to develop a methodology for


improved surface pressure fields and 3D atmospheric mass distribution in Antarctica. A third grant from NSF was awarded to Bromwich for his work of Collaborative Research: First scientific priorities from the ARM West Antarctic radiation experiment. As part of his research, Bromwich plans to use instrumentation to collect observational data to produce a polar data set that could impact the Atmospheric Sciences community for years, if not decades, to come. Bromwich has a long history working with both NASA and NSF and has received multiple awards over the years from both institutions. Darla Munroe, professor, was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, for her work, Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the socioeconomic sustainability of rural forest-based communities. The goal of this research is to evaluate relationships between ecosystems and community sustainability in rural forest-based areas. Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Distinguished University Professor and professor of geography, was awarded an NSF grant for her work on P2C2: Climate and environmental variability over the last glacial cycle from ice cores in the Western Kunlun Mountains (Tibetan Plateau). This grant furthers her research into one of the least studied places on the planet. Pulling four ice cores from the Guliya ice cap, Mosley-Thompson and her team plan to document climate variations, establish timescales for atmospheric activity, and determine the climatological dynamics that allowed Guliya ice cap to survive, where others have not. Desheng Liu, associate professor, was awarded an NSF grant to study Hazards SEES: Social and physical sensing enabled decision support for disaster management and response. This project aims to radically reform decision support systems for managing rapidly changing disaster situations by the integration of social, physical and hazard models.

Harvey Miller and Morton O’Kelly were awarded a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation, Estimating external travel using purchased third-party data. The study will determine if new methods of data-mining can replace traditional sample-based external travel study methods. This is exciting new research and may have an impact on future policy at both the state and municipality levels for years to come. Daniel Sui, professor of geography, was awarded a Wilson Center Fellowship. This fellowship enabled Sui to live in Washington D.C. and engage his peers in research focused solely on the internet. The resulting policy brief, The Deep Web and the Darknet: A Look Inside the Internet’s Massive Black Box, has brought attention to aspects of the internet that are making headlines today. In addition, Sui was selected to serve as the division director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. He will spend the 2016-17 academic year in Washington, D.C. As part of his role, Sui will impact the awarding of NSF grants and the research done across the country.

FACULTY PUBLICATIONS Ola Ahlqvist’s new book, Land Use and Land Cover Semantics: Principles, Best Practices, and Prospects (CRC Press, 2015), presents a comprehensive overview of fundamental theories and best practices for applying semantics in LULC. The book includes work on conceptual and technological semantic practices, as well as cases from applicable semantics in searches, LULC classification, spatial analysis and visualization, issues of big data, knowledge infrastructures and their organization. Ahlqvist’s current research revolves around semantic uncertainty and formal ontology in analysis of land-cover change, landscape history and visualization. He also conducts research in how online maps, social media


FACUTY NEWS continued and games form a nexus for spatial collaboration, socialenvironmental simulation and decision making. Daniel Sui’s research report, The Deep Web and the Darknet: A Look Inside the Internet’s Massive Black Box, sheds light on the growing policy issues with the expansion of these areas of the internet and how these ideas impact civil liberties, national security and the global economy. Sui’s current research focuses on GIS-based spatial analysis and synthesis for urban, environmental and public-health applications. In addition, he focuses on volunteered geographic information and the use of social media as a new data source for geographic research, legal and ethical issues of using geospatial technologies in society, and coupling of human and natural systems and security implications of climate change.

Ningchuan Xiao, associate professor, has published a new book, GIS Algorithms (SAGE Publications, 2016). Xiao addresses problems of understanding and teaching the difficult but critical algorithms used in GIS by combining rigorous formal language with example-case studies and student exercises. Using Python code, the subject is broken down into three fundamental areas: Geometric Algorithms, Spatial Indexing, and Spatial Analysis and Modelling, GIS Algorithms is a key new textbook in this complex and critical area of geography. Xiao’s current research revolves around the use of computational approaches to solving geographical problems, such as spatial decision support systems; cartography; environmental and ecological modeling; and web-based GIS.

Meteorology students throw up an O-H-I-O in front of some serious Kansas weather.

RETIREMENTS Kevin Cox began his 50 years in the Department of Geography in 1965 as an assistant professor, studying political geography, geographic thought and Karl Marx. He retired in 2015 as a Distinguished University Professor and a Guggenheim Fellow. Cox is an internationally recognized scholar in three distinct areas: the geography of voting, behavioral geography and the politics of urbanization and local-global influences. His scholarship spans issues not only of geography but of political science and sociology. In 2012, Cox received the Honors Award of the Association of American Geographers, in recognition of his superlative achievements that have led, defined and transformed multiple fields within the discipline of geography and in honor of a career marked by a generosity of spirit in the training of generations of intellectual leadership


Jeff Rogers served both students and the Department of Geography from 1979 until his retirement in 2015. During his tenure at Ohio State, Rogers also served as the State Climatologist for the state of Ohio, from 1986 to 2015. Rogers is internationally recognized as a leading synoptic climatologist, being the first to observe and report the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a key component of the global atmospheric circulation regime that controls climate variability over most of the northern hemisphere. His current research focuses on U.S. and Arctic climate variability of the last century. In 2009, Rogers received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Climate Specialty Group from the Association of American Geographers (AAG). In 2013, he received the Francois Matthes Award for Lifetime Achievements in Cryospheric Sciences given by the Cryosphere Specialty Group of the AAG. Both awards recognize outstanding achievement and service in the field.

OUR CENTERS Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center GEOGRAPHY FACULTY AFFILIATES: Ellen MosleyThompson uses the chemical and physical properties of ice cores collected from polar ice sheets and mountain ice fields to reconstruct Earth’s climate history. The Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC) is recognized internationally as a leader in polar and alpine research. Founded in 1960, its mission is to conduct interdisciplinary research focusing on climatic reconstruction of glacial and post-glacial times; polar ice-sheets; high-latitude landform evolution, soils and hydrology; geologic evolution of Antarctica; ocean dynamics and environmental-chemical processes; and the history of polar exploration. The center is best known for groundbreaking research collecting unique ice core records from Earth’s highest and most remote ice fields and modeling polar climate variability. 

Programs The center has an archival program which is a collaborative effort with The Ohio State University Libraries/Archives. The center’s Educational Outreach program provides publicly-accessible information about research to schools in the local area and around the world, public interaction with scientists, and hosts group tours, public events and sponsorships. The center also sponsors a weekly seminar that is open to the public.

Tours Public tours can be arranged by contacting by phone (614) 292-6531 or by email, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center The Ohio State University 108 Scott Hall 1090 Carmack Road Columbus, OH 43210

Follow us on twitter, at @ByrdPolar, or on Facebook, at

Bryan Mark focuses on climate-glacierhydrologic dynamics over different time scales, focusing on water resources of the tropical Andes. His research group addresses physical and human dimensions of environmental change in glacierized landscapes in sites all along the American Cordillera. David Bromwich focuses on global climate change in high latitudes resulting from local and tropical influences as it is studied using climate models and atmospheric reanalysis. His research also, delves into the Arctic System Reanalysis project that concentrates on the behavior of the coupled atmosphere-land-ocean-sea ice system of the greater Arctic. Finally, Bromwich is aiding in the development of the polar version of the regional WRF model, which will be applied to climate variability and change problems in both Polar Regions. Alvaro Montenegro’s research encompasses various aspects of climate change and climate variability, particularly physical and biogeochemical processes occurring at the global and continental spatial scales.


Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) Founded in 2001, the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) has been working with partners to solve complex geographic problems. CURA boasts a strong interdisciplinary nature and works with multiple departments, schools and colleges across campus. From analyzing market potential for commercial developers to mapping the trees on the Oval, CURA engages in a breadth of research and applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS). During the academic year, CURA sponsored a total of seven formal-speaker series events. CURA programs encompass a variety of areas that touch on urban life and reflect its diversity of specializations. Speakers and events ranged from a Swedish time-geographer developing a method to reduce household energy consumption to the director of data science initiatives at Microsoft Research Outreach. In February 2016, CURA hosted a diverse panel of academics and practitioners to discuss the “Future of Suburbs,” exemplifying CURA’s mission to bridge academia and industry. In addition to hosting speakers, CURA provides $1,000 grants for conference travel to graduate students to participate in conferences related to urban and regional analysis. For a complete list of grant recipients, visit

CURA The Ohio State University 0126 Derby Hall 154 North Oval Mall Columbus, Ohio 43210 (614) 688-0527


Follow us on twitter, at @OSUCURA and on Facebook, search for OSUCURA.

Research One of the center’s largest projects is a mobile data research grant with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This research supports a PhD student (Young Jaegal) and offers the possibility of multiple publications, as well as additional research opportunities upon completion. One of CURA’s continuing projects is the Blanchard Collection photography map. A 1922 thesis by Forest Ira Blanchard contains a wealth of panoramic photographs covering much of the city of Columbus. The photographs provide a vital source of information about the urban form of Columbus, its neighborhoods and development. CURA has taken those photos to digitally display the photographs across space in the Blanchard photo map. One of CURA’s most notable activities has been the development of the Columbus Urban Information Observatory (CURIO), a website that will feature an interactive dashboard of select Columbus metrics. Focusing on socio-economic, environmental and mobility data, the goal is to provide the public and policymakers with insight into the complex relationships among various urban processes. A project funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation, The ODOT Mobility Analysis, investigates new methods of evaluating origin/destination flows in Ohio. If successful, the state could save millions of dollars by implementing innovative technology. CURA also works with OSU Extension to conduct retail-market analyses of rural counties and smaller communities across the state. We provide mapping and demographic data in order to evaluate economic surplus and leakage for the surrounding areas.

DEPARTMENT NEWS O’KELLY APPOINTED DEPARTMENT CHAIR Morton O’Kelly, professor of geography, was appointed chair of the department, effective July 1, 2015. He previously served as department chair, 2003-2011. He also served as director of CURA, 2012 through July 2015. He has been working diligently to grow the department through the Discovery Themes Initiatives hiring and getting the best in their fields to Ohio State. MILLER APPOINTED CURA DIRECTOR Harvey Miller, Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Sciences, was appointed director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA), effective July 1, 2015.

Miller has streamlined operations and broadened CURA’s interdisciplinary reach across campus and to local, state and federal government. He has grown CURA’s reach with the introduction of service rates for research needs across campus and increased grant activity. Miller was key to the Columbus Smart City Award. CURA’s role in the College of Engineering’s proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation will benefit the city in the amount of $140 million dollars in grant dollars and local investments. Miller earned his PhD in geography at Ohio State in 1991. His research interests include GIS, sustainable transportation, livable cities, and the relationships among human mobility, health and social equity.

JOB PLACEMENTS Young Rae Choi, assistant professor, global and sociocultural studies, Florida International University Dissertation: Towards Geography of Social Coasts: Transformations in Sea Governance of East Asia Advisor: Becky Mansfield Chris Hartmann, assistant professor, Department of Public Health, SUNY Old Westbury Dissertation: Public Health, Environment, & Development in Nicaragua and Latin America: A Post/neo/liberal Perspective Advisor: Becky Mansfield Peixuan Jiang, software product engineer, ArcGIS Advisor: Ningchuan Xiao

Zoe Pearson, assistant professor, global and area studies, University of Wyoming Dissertation: Coca Sí, Cocaína No? The Intimate Politics of International Drug Control Policy and Reform in Bolivia Advisor: Kendra McSweeney Calvin Tribby, postdoctoral fellowship, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health Dissertation: Activity Spaces, Route Choices, and Neighborhoods: Assessing the Built Environment Associations with Walking Trips Advisor: Harvey Miller Bo Zhao, assistant professor, Earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences, Oregon State University Dissertation: Detecting Location Spoofing in Social Media: Initial Investigations of an Emerging Issue in Geospatial Big Data Advisor: Daniel Sui Nicholas Crane, assistant professor, geography, University of Wyoming Dissertation: Between Repression and Heroism: Young People’s Politics in Mexico City After 1968. Advisor: Matt Coleman

GRADUATE STUDENT AWARDS The Fenburr Travel Scholarship for Outstanding Graduate Students offsets the costs of travel associated with professional development activities related to the conduct or dissemination of research, such as training workshops, conferences, or field work. This year’s award recipients: Emelie Bailey, MA, for her research on examining women’s access to healthcare in Honduras Zack Paganini, MA, for his research on race, housing security, and resilience in Brooklyn Hui Kong, PhD, for her research on quantitative methods for urban planning in China Ashley Toenjes, PhD, for her research on Palestinian women and everyday resistance in the West Bank The T.R. Lakshmanan & Lata Chaterjee Award recognizes a distinguished PhD student in the department who is either from the Global South (Asia, Africa, or Latin America) or conducting research on the Global South. The student should be professionally focused on issues of benefit to humanity and have demonstrated professional promise. This year’s recipients: Sam Kay, PhD, for his research on environmental cleanup and forced migration in urban China


Nora Sylvander, PhD, for her research on ethnic territorial conflicts in Nicaragua’s Boswas Biosphere Reserve


The Rayner Scholarship for Graduate Fieldwork was awarded to Minkyung Koh, PhD, for her research on immigration of foreign brides and making a multicultural society in South Korea

Cara Gregg, Atmospheric Sciences

The E. Willard & Ruby S. Miller Fellowship Award is the highest recognition the department bestows on a graduate student. It is given in recognition of potential to make a major contribution to geography particularly through scholarship and scholarly writing. There are two awardees this year: Yongha Park, PhD, for his work on fuel/energy use in aviation. In his nomination, Yongha’s advisor Morton O’Kelly wrote, “Yongha is capable of, and delivers, extremely high-quality empirical work, and has absorbed all the related literature for his review. He is also a trusted colleague with whom I consult on a regular basis.”


UNDERGRADUATE AWARD WINNERS, SP 2016 FENBURR SCHOLARSHIP FOR WOMEN AND UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS Rebecca Rose Martin Geography (URGS) and International Studies; German and History minors Megan Russell, Geography (URGS) and Journalism Mary Grace Thibault, Atmospheric Sciences and Anthropology SHARPE SCHOLARSHIP FOR OUTSTANDING UNDERGRADUATES Rachel Beery, Geography (E&S) and International Studies; Spanish minor Nathan On, GIS Alyssa Reynolds, Atmospheric Sciences Luke Scharfenberger, Air Transportation Anne Smith, Geography (URGS) Joshua Steiner, Atmospheric Sciences and Math (Applied Math) Mary Grace Thibault, Atmospheric Sciences and Anthropology Seth Tribby, Geography (URGS), GIS minor Derek Witt, Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Engineering minor Courtney Zimmer, Geography (E&S), Society & Environmental Issues minor


Eliza Alpter, Atmospheric Sciences

Ellyse Ridgway, Atmospheric Sciences

Dennis Check, magna cum laude; with honors in Arts and Sciences; Geography (URGS), City and Regional Planning minor Lainie Rini, magna cum laude; with Honors Research Distinction in Geography; Geography (URGS) and WGSST DENMAN UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FORUM PARTICIPANTS Michelle Hablitzel, Geography major Gentrification in Over-the-Rhine: a targeted removal of social service providers Advisor: Matt Coleman Kevin Inks, Geography major The political ecology of insurgent violence and hydropower in the northeast region of India Advisor: Kendra McSweeney Rebecca Miller Atmospheric Sciences major Developing a precipitation climatology to determine seasonal bias in a southeast Alaska ice core Advisor: Ellen Mosley-Thompson

ADDITIONAL AWARDS Emily Scolaro received a summer 2016 undergraduate research award from the Undergraduate Research Office and an ASC Honors Committee International Research Grant for her research in Indonesia, “Nationalism and the Construction of Contemporary Cultural Heritage in Indonesia: Narratives of a World Heritage Site.” Ruoran Cheng received a summer 2016 undergraduate research award from the Undergraduate Research Office. Ruoran’s research focuses on connecting a detailed digital biographical database constructed by researchers at Harvard University with mapping and visualization capabilities of GIS to analyze the geographical distribution of reformers and conservatives of the Wang Anshi’s reform during the Song Dynasty in China.

SUPPORT THE DEPARTMENT Dear Alumni and Friends, Please consider making a gift or donation to the Department of Geography. Each and every gift makes a tangible difference in the lives of our students and faculty. All gifts are tax deductible as permitted by law.

Mail to:

Diane Carducci Department of Geography The Ohio State University 1036 Derby Hall 154 North Oval Mall Columbus, OH 43210-1208

YES, I WANT TO SUPPORT DONOR FUNDS: Geography Discretionary Fund - 303607: Provides support for undergraduate and faculty recruiting and to supplement endowments in the department The Edward J. Taaffe Memorial Fund in Geography - 607104: To support the Edward J. Taaffe Colloquium Series The John E. Nelson Colloquium Endowed Fund 645130: To support the visiting speakers program in Department of Geography

THE DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY fund # through an annual pledge of: $2,500* $1,000 *presidents club Other $

Bill me: Monthly






This is a one time gift of $ Enclosed is my payment in full

STUDENT FUNDS: Geography Graduate Student Support - 312979: To provide support for graduate students

I would like more information about naming opportunities.

John N. Rayner Alumni, Faculty and Friends of Geography Fund -602493: To provide scholarship and prizes in the Department of Geography

I would like more information about estate and planned giving. Please phone me at: (


Charles Clifford Huntington Memorial Fund - 603342: To award an outstanding student in geography Payment Options: To make a gift or pledge return this form or complete an online form at FACULTY FUNDS: The Lawrence A. Brown Faculty Fellow Fund - 642475: To provide an assistant or associate professor with a oneyear designation as a Lawrence A. Brown Faculty Fellow The Bob and Mary ReuschĂŠ Chair in Geography 666036: To support a chair position in the Department of Geography

Check payable to The Ohio State University Credit card payment

Exp. date Signature My employer will match my gift. Name of Employer Phone (


Non-Profit Org. U. S. Postage PAID Columbus, OH Permit No. 711

DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY 1036 Derby Hall 154 N. Oval Mall Columbus, Ohio 43210


Profile for College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State

Geography Department News 2016  

Geography Department News 2016