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Searching for a ‘CAUSE’ Geography students travel to Iceland to study glaciers, volcanoes and their impacts on Icelandic society

Also inside 

Dr. Lakshman Yapa’s Philadelphia Field Project awarded Magrath University Community Engagement Award

Coffee Hour 40th anniversary celebration a big hit

Penn State reception at AAG meeting in Las Vegas to be at Stratosphere Hotel

Alan Taylor on research team that links increases in tree mortality to climate change

Alumna uses GIS to inventory roads and trails in state forests and parks

Department looking for alumni help to establish affiliate program group

Updates on alumni, faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduates

Coffee Hour schedule for Spring 2009





Winter/Spring 2009 neWSletter | Volume 6, iSSue 1


Department, College of EMS benefit from synergies


eography is a highly connections are well-established integrative discipline. and ongoing, as well as new and Healthy, vibrant innovative. Take, for example, the Departments require connections of Geography to the mutually beneficial connections to Earth and Environmental Systems other fields on campus — across Institute (EESI), a research center the sciences, social sciences, and in the College. Numerous Geoghumanities. Such synergistic relaraphy faculty and students are tions are as diverse as the rich vainvolved with EESI. Alan Taylor is riety of those who make their home currently the Associate Director. in Geography. Our Department Earth Systems Ecology, including a is actively engaged in numerous wetlands emphasis, connects many wide-ranging synergies. Indeed, the geographers to EESI, and them to students, faculty, and staff of Penn us. Others specialize in the change Dr. Karl Zimmerer State Geography contribute to, and dynamics of coupled human-enviDepartment Head benefit from, a cascade of connecronment systems. These geogrations within our College, within the phers are integral to EESI, and vice University, and well beyond. versa, carrying out research, teaching, and outreach It is the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences that reflect a growing number of connections. (EMS) that creates the most immediate context for Geography also supplies the College with a vital Penn State Geography. As most readers may know, perspective on dynamic change in social and economic the College consists of four other departments (in addisystems, human conditions and cultural life, and tion to Geography, they are Geosciences, Meteorology, human-environmental relations. The emerging vision at Energy and Mineral Engineering, and Material Science the College level — sustainability and globalization are and Engineering), as well as research centers. The two foci of the new strategic plan of EMS — is already place of our Department in EMS is relatively unique offering Geography the prospect of forging specific within the discipline of Geography. In fact, only a few new synergies. A planned innovative online program other programs are characterized by a similar withinoffering an undergraduate degree in Energy, Business College context. and Policy and, also, a dual-degree graduate program Our context in the College has long been mutually in Energy, Environment, and Public Policy represent a beneficial. The synergies continue today. Challenges pair of particularly promising new connections. Another of the current budget climate are redoubling the synergy is Geography’s soon forthcoming proposal of importance of synergistic relations that are close to environmental justice as a minor concentration within our Department’s home. This note presents a timely the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Offering enen opportunity to introduce a few of the ongoing and new vironmental justice will contribute to, and benefit from, synergies connecting Geography within the College the College’s core strength of the training of geophysigeophysi of Earth and Mineral Sciences under the leadership of cal scientists and resource engineers. Dean William E. Easterling (that’s right, Bill Easterling, Opportunities for new innovations in outreach and a member of the Geography faculty!). service learning also promise to connect and benefit Geography offers a series of scientific perspective Geography within our College. Several geographers — that supply the fullest nexus of connections within faculty and students — have developed new interests the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. These and expertise in these areas (see, for example, this isis



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S t r a t o sp h e r e Hotel


Join Penn State Geography alumni, faculty and friends for the department’s reception during the AAG meeting at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 25. The reception will start at 7 p.m., and guests will be directed from the bottom floor to the reception on the 104th floor. With breathtaking views of Las Vegas and environs from the reception room and observation decks, this year’s reception is sure to be an unforgettable experience. The Stratosphere is at 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, about .8 miles from the Riviera, the site of the AAG. MonoMono rail and taxis are available for transportation. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided. If you plan to attend the reception, send an RSVP to

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Penn State AAG reception to be held at Stratosphere Hotel


From the head Penn State AAG reception Undergraduate student news Graduate student news No) Boundaries conference Faculty and staff news Alan Taylor research article Cover story: CAUSE 2008 Where in the world Department planning an APG Alumni news Alumna profile: Amanda Lewis Coffee Hour 40th anniversary Coffee Hour Spring 2009 schedule Lakshman Yapa wins Magrath Award Calendar; Who We Are; note from editor John A. Dutton e-Education Institute news Donors, July 1-Dec. 31, 2008


2 2 3 4 4 5 5 6-7 8-9 10 10-11 11 12 12 13 14 15 Back cover



sue’s story on the recognition of the Philadelphia Field Project, directed by Lucky Yapa, for the prestigious McGrath Award). Lucky’s project and field course address poverty and include issues as wide-ranging as discourse analysis and energy conservation. Numerous other field courses in Geography are generally similar — geographic expertise within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences that is reaching well out into the world beyond the confines of campus. The College, too, recognizes these activities as having an unprecedented relevance to its mission of contributing to goal of sustainability and the understanding of globalization. Many more connections could be highlighted, though not here. I can though predict a future note that introduces some of the similarly numerous and vital connections of Geography to other people and units on campus (e.g., the Women’s Studies Program). More immediately, my note in the next issue will by necessity need to introduce the Geography-led Symposium on Climate Change that will be held at the biannual GEMS Seminar (Graduates of EMS) that is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009. It will be a big event: planning has begun, and we are looking forward to publicizing it fully and to making the Geography-GEMS Seminar a huge success. More next time. Meanwhile, you can check the department’s Web site, www.geog. for updates on the GEMS Seminar and other departmental news.

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Photos courtesy of the Stratosphere Hotel/Cartography by Erin Greb



Winter/Spring 2009


Senior Abena Sandra Yeboa was a recipient of a 2008 Undergraduate Discovery Summer Grant and a National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration Young Explorer’s Grant, both for her honors thesis research on “Understanding Poverty: The Roles of Empowerment Zones and Free Trade Zones on Community in West Philadelphia and Ghana.” Sandra spent the fall semester of 2008 in Ghana conducting interviews on the role of the free trade zones on community. She is also working as a special admissions student at the University of Ghana as well as with the Regional Institute for Population Studies headed by Dr. Dodoo, the director and a Penn State professor. Sandra’s honors thesis adviser is Dr. Lakshman Yapa.

the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Microsoft Virtual Earth was also used to show a bird’s eye view of the studied neighborhood. By the end of the project, Ryan compiled 35 pages, one page for each of the 35 analyzed neighborhoods that included the features mentioned above. Ryan also graduated with distinction in the fall 2008 commencement ceremony.

Senior Matthew Popek was awarded a Young People For fellowship in 2008. Young People For is a yearlong leadership development program sponsored by People for the American Way. Matthew is a founding member and current president of Represent Penn State, a nonpartisan student voter registration organization dedicated to increasing political activism and voter turnout among students. He also spearheaded the Coalition for the 2008 general election, which helped more than Do you have a news item double on-campus student voter or story idea to share with turnout.

Christina Cummings, who graduated in December 2008 (B.S., GIS option; minor, Watersheds the department? E-mail and Water writer-editor Mike Dawson Resources), Sophomore Tim Yuskavage at so completed was on the your news can be posted her third Penn State to the department’s Web consecutive Geography site and appear in the next summer team that newsletter. internship at won the Dewberry and Davis in Fairfax, regional Va. She interned in the Federal Programs Depart- geography bowl competiment and used GIS and Water Resources to tion at the Middle States work on hazard mitigation projects. She created Division of the Association of community outreach pamphlets concerning flood American Geographers at Millersville University zones for re-studied counties and helped work on in November 2008. Tim also placed among the hydrologic and hydraulic analyses for Technical top six individual scorers and earned a spot on Study Data Notebooks. After graduating, Christhe Middle States Division team that will defend tina is in graduate school for GIS at the University its title at the World Geography Bowl during the of North Dakota. 2009 AAG annual meeting in Las Vegas. Ryan Grube, who graduated in December 2008 (B.S., Human Geography option), worked as a planning intern during the summer of 2008 for the Lancaster County Planning Commission. He analyzed housing density throughout the county, going from neighborhood to neighborhood taking photos to illustrate different types of density. He looked at neighborhoods in Lancaster City, older boroughs, designated village areas, and newer/more recent developments. Ryan’s analysis of these sites was recorded onto an 11x17 page that showed net and gross density, average lot area, right-of-way width, degree of mixed use, amount of vegetation, amount of open space, etc. Along with these site characteristics, existing zoning ordinances for the respective municipality and neighborhood history synopses were on each page. Also, each page contained numerous GIS photos showing close-ups of the neighborhood, lot dimensions, and a GIS view of

Sophomore Zachary Zabel was the president of the Students of Barack Obama at Penn State. Zachary was quoted numerous times in The Daily Collegian and was on local TV news in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Photo of Cinque Terre, Italy, by CJ Sindler

New grad spends time ‘in the field’


ometimes it’s hard studying geography. You can only look at pictures and maps of faraway places before you wish you could actually go there. That’s how I felt after graduation, and after four years in a classroom and before I got a job, I decided to go and see some of the things I’d been learning about. I needed some time in “the field” if you will. So, over about 60 days I traveled through eight different countries in Europe and visited well over a dozen major cities. I had a smashing time in London, witnessed true natural beauty in the towns of Cinque Terre, Italy, Clinton James was completely blown away by “CJ” Sindler Sarajevo in Serbia, and even B.S. 2008, Urban and Regional made it to Istanbul, Turkey. All the while I was traveling I Development option wrote about my experiences on my Web site, Definitely check it out if you plan on doing a trip like this. It’s really not as hard as you think to travel for a long time; if I can do it anyone can! My biggest tip would be to head to the Balkans. Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia are full of amazing cities full of the nicest people you’ll meet in Europe, and it is dirt cheap as well! And just because the trip is over doesn’t mean I’ll stop updating my Web site. Keep checking it as I work on my next feat: finding a job, ugh!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEW GRADUATES Summer 2008 Yong S. Choi (B.A.) Laura A. Rogers (B.A.) David A. Barley (B.S.) Daniel E. Hellmann (B.S.) Sarah J. Hudon (B.S.) Kerry W. Kramer B.S.) Mark W. Mohney II (B.S.) Clinton J. Sindler (B.S.) Sean A. Swanepoel (B.S.)

Fall 2008 Andra Barraclough (B.S.) Christina Cummings (B.S.) Gena Goldbaum (B.S.) Ryan Grube (B.S.) Jeremy Haymaker (B.S.) Trieste Lockwood (B.S.) Rita Packard (B.S.) Jessica Rosenblum (B.S.) Andrew Young (B.S.)

Photo by Greg Grieco/Penn State Department of Public Information




Brian Tomaszewski (Ph.D.) started a tenure-track, assistant professor position in the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y, in January 2009. At RIT, Brian will teach a wide range of classes in the GIScience domain to undergraduate and graduate students and will continue his research on the use of Geovisual Analytics approaches for crisis management. At Penn State, Brian’s doctoral research involved the development of geovisual analytics approaches for contextualizing humanitarian crisis situations. Brian worked with the United Nations ReliefWeb group and the GeoVISTA Center to evaluate the theory, models, and technologies behind his research. Brian is expected to graduate in the Spring 2009 semester.

that arose out of her dissertation research. The project, titled “Practice Based Strategies for Preserving African American Neighborhoods,” explores the various innovative and creative strategies that communities of color in southern Mississippi employ to stave off encroachment, displacement and gentrification. The grant will support additional interviews and the distribution of the findings to communities of color in Mississippi and beyond.

Tom Auer (M.S.), Maureen Biermann (M.S.), Adam Naito (M.S.), Richard Nicholson (M.S.) and Chelsea Teale (Ph.D.) were on a Penn State Geography team that won the regional geography bowl competition at the Middle States Division of the AAG at Millersville University in November 2008. Thomas Sigler (Ph.D.), Chelsea Hanchett (M.S.), Chelsea Teale (Ph.D.), and Tom Auer placed among the top six individual scorers on the Middle States Division team and earned spots on the Middle States Division team that will defend its title in March at the World Geography Bowl during the 2009 AAG meeting in Las Vegas.

Kathleen Dietrich (Ph.D.) attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008 and was the only representative of research and science on a U.N.-sponsored panel on youth that focused on how actors can compromise to contribute to a collective solution for a post-2012 climate agreement. She noted that adaptation requires a collective and inclusive process and stressed that a compromise must be made on commitments required for adaptation funding.

Kate Driscoll Derickson (Ph.D.) was awarded a grant from the Africana Research Center to support a side project

CONGRATULATIONS, NEW GRADAUTES Summer 2008 Mamata K. Akella (M.S.) Destiny D. Aman (M.S.) Amber J. Bagherian (M.S.) Kathleen A. Dietrich (M.S.) Matthew A. Hartzell (M.S.) Tania D. Lopez Marrero (Ph.D) Anthony C. Robinson (Ph.D.) Andrew E. Scholl (Ph.D) Samuel A. Smith (M.S.) Wesley J. Stroh (M.S.) Kelly J. Vanderbrink (M.S.) Fall 2008 Amy Welch (M.S.) Jeremy Fisher (M.S.)



Melissa Rock, who’s doing Ph.D. research in China on a Fulbright Scholarship, is blogging for the Centre Daily Times at Seth Baum (Ph.D.) was a co-author on the paper “The ‘Hidden’ Social Costs of Forestry Offsets,” which has been accepted for publication in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. The lead author, Colin Hunt, is in the University of Queensland economics department.


No Boundaries seeking paper, poster submissions


he graduate students of the Department of Geography and the student group Supporting Women in Geography invite and graduate and undergraduate students to present their research at the fourth annual No)Boundaries graduate student conference on Saturday, Feb. 28, and Sunday, March 1, in the Walker Building on campus. Submissions are welcomed on subjects including: politics, economics and international development; urban/rural policy and planning; history, culture and society; gender, race, class and sexuality; ecology and environmental science; hazards, vulnerability and the human dimensions of global change; and GIS, spatial analysis and geovisualization Paper sessions will be organized along common themes with 20-minute timeslots: 15 minutes for presentations followed by a five-minute questionand-answer period. If you would like to present your research, e-mail a title and abstract of250 words or less to

Winter/Spring 2009

Graduates and undergraduates are invited to submit posters. Send titles and abstracts to The keynote speaker will be Janice Monk, a professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Arizona. She will speak at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 1, in 112 Walker. Alumnus Michael Solem (B.S. 1993 Earth Science, M.S. 1995 Geography), the educational affairs director for the Association of American Geographers will offer a workshop at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, on professional development in the curriculum as part of the AAG’s “Enhancing Departments and Graduate Education” (EDGE) project. SWiG will sponsor an all-day session on Sunday, March 1, that will feature workshops and panel sessions geared toward supporting women in geography programs. For more information, visit www. The deadline for submissions was Feb. 9, 2009.


Martha Bell Ph.D.

Matt Branch Ph.D.

John Clark Ph.D.

Elizabeth Crisfield Ph.D.

Chelsea Hanchett M.S.

Crista Livecchi Ph.D.

John Morrow M.S.

Kevin Ross M.S. Regina Sagoe Ph.D.

Chelsea Teale Ph.D.

Sen Xu Ph.D.


Faculty members Alan MacEachren, Anthony Robinson, Ian Turton and grad student Michael Stryker were on the Penn State NEVAC team that won at the IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology Grand Challenge. They developed and applied a set of geographically enhanced MacEachren visual analytics tools to prototypical homeland security information analysis problem The team included former Penn State researcher Chris Weaver. Anthony Robinson, Robinson Michael Stryker and Alan MacEachren were among a group of Penn Staters who attended a National Science Foundationsupported workshop on geo-collaborative crisis management in September in LanTurton zhou, China. It was sponsored by the U.S. NSF and the Chinese NSF. At the meeting, they presented GeoVISTA research on geo-collaborative crisis management and began the Stryker process of developing an international working group on GCCM with Chinese scientists from geography and information management disciplines. Petra Tschakert, assistant professor, received a $749,000 National Science Foundation grant for a three-year project entitled “Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change and Resilience.” Research will take place in Ghana and Tanzania. The project will involve Dr. Robert Crane. Dr. Tschakert attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008 and spoke on “Ethics in Adaptation DecisionMaking : Learning Tools and Tipping Points” in a side event organized by the Penn State Rock Ethics Institute. Alex Klippel and Frank Hardisty received the Gladys Snyder Education

Taylor’s research part of study that links climate change to rise in tree mortality By Margaret Hopkins Earth and Environmental Systems Institute When Alan Taylor first set foot in Swain Mountain Experimental Forest 20 years ago, his interest was in studying the role of fire, wind and similar events in the mortality of this old-growth forest in California. What his research has shown, however, is that increasing regional temperature is taking the biggest toll on the forest’s red and white firs. By themselves, Taylor’s data in this small research forest of the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not prove that anthropogenic climate change is responsible for the tree deaths in the Swain Mountain forest. But Taylor was part of an 11-member scientific team that has been collecting data for decades on 76 forest plots throughout the western U.S. and southwestern British Columbia. The team’s conclusions: tree mortality rates have increased across elevations, across species and across small, medium and large trees. “The only thing that is big enough and extensive enough to kill trees across all of these plots is climate change,” said Taylor, professor of geography. “That is what is common to these forests.” The team’s results were recently reported in Science (Jan. 23). An upper elevation forest, Swain Mountain Experimental Forest covers about 10 square miles in a fairly remote area, Taylor said. While his association with the forest began in 1989, USDA established it in the 1930s. Because of its location and remoteness, the forest has not been considered economically viable, so there are many stands of trees that are 250 years old and older — and perfect for studying population dynamics in undisturbed conditions. Tree mortality, Taylor said, is a key determinant of forest structure and composition and an indicator of the health of a forest ecosystem. In the case of Swain Mountain’s towering firs, the diagnosis is not good. “These trees have not been logged, grazed or disturbed, but their mortality rates are up,” Taylor said. “Temperatures are up, and because of that, the snow pack is down, leading to water scarcity.” While the forest is home to some new trees, natural replacement is not keeping up with mortality, he added. Scientists have seen higher mortality in trees in tropical rainforests, but this study was the first to look at a temperate forest. Leading the study were scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey. All of the team members had at least 20-years of annual measurements in their reference forests with some having measurements as far back as 1955, Taylor said. Because few Eastern forests have been left undisturbed, replicating the study on Pennsylvania forests would be difficult, but researchers could look at whether mortality is increasing in young forests, Taylor said. “The value of this study is it demonstrates how long-term research in a geographically extensive network can make an important contribution in understanding how climate change can affect ecosystems,” Taylor said. Lucky Yapa was awarded the Ryan Faculty Fellowship for his project “Rethinking Urban Poverty: A Philadelphia Field Project.”



Grant for their project “Spatial Analysis Podcasts (SAP): Tailoring Teaching and Training through Knowledge Nuggets.”

Mike Dawson joined the Department of Geography in August as the writereditor. Mike came from the Centre Daily Times in State College, where he was a copy editor and page designer. Read his note from the editor on Page 14.

Marnie Deibler joined the Department of Geography in September as a budget secretary. Marnie came from the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), where she had worked for seven years. Faculty emeriti Ron Abler, Peirce Lewis and Wilbur Zelinsky were featured guest speakers for the 40th anniversary celebration of Coffee Hour on Oct. 31, 2008. The event is available for viewing at For photos of the event, see Page 12. Alan MacEachren was part of the team that won a Gates Foundation Grant on Infectious Disease to help evaluate which new vaccines will have the best chances of stopping the global outbreaks of infectious diseases. The project has received a $10 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Alan Taylor was named associate director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Amy Glasmeier is on leave until Dec. 31, 2009, from the department as she is the head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusettes Institute of Technology. Denice Heller Wardrop was a panelist on WPSU’s program “Common Ground” for a discussion on the science behind the decline in water quality and the loss of habitats vital to wildlife around the Penn State region, and concerns within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and possible solutions. Dr. Wardrop was also named the assistant director of the Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment. Justine Blanford joined the department in January 2009 as a research associate with Alan MacEachren in the GeoVISTA Center. Justine previously was a GIS analyst and developer with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Edinburgh, U.K.

Winter/Spring 2009




Cause 2008: Geography students study socie Story and photos by Kaitlin Walsh


ot many undergraduates are given the opportunity to actively participate in geophysical fieldwork, much less fieldwork that takes place in an international setting. In May, 14 students from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences were given the chance to travel to Iceland as part of an interdisciplinary class that studied glaciology, volcanology, and the effects of these phenomena on Icelandic society as part of the Center for Advanced Undergraduate Student Experience (CAUSE). Drs. Peter LaFemina and Sridhar Anandakrishnan from the Department of Geosciences were the two faculty members who ran this course. Representing the Department of Geography were O’Shannon Burns, Allison Hurley, Kirin Kennedy, Tye Kreider, Emma Prince, and Kaitlin Walsh. We spent two weeks traveling through the southern part of the country, stopping at places of interest that were pertinent to our class work and discussing the geophysical processes at work. For five days, we conducted fieldwork on a glacier in Skaftafell National Park, which sits along the southern edge of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. Our adventure started in January 2008 by meeting in the classroom twice a week to learn more about Iceland’s history – both geologic and political history. We were asked to develop a research question that we would explore throughout the semester, and then we would be given the opportunity collect any necessary data once we were in Iceland. Throughout the semester, we became experts on various methods of field data collection – we spent a day at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center to practice using one of the GPS receivers that we would be bringing with us to Iceland, as well as using two gravimeters. Gravimeters measure the distance from a specific point to the center of the Earth, and we would be using these instruments to measure the crust’s response to melting glaciers (the crust rebounds isostatically in response to a large weight — such as ice — being removed from it). After a semester of preparation, it was time to caravan to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to travel to Reykjavík. Despite our overnight flight and subsequent exhaustion, our field experience began immediately as we drove to the Icelandic Meteorological Office to meet with Matthew Roberts. He showed us around the facility and the various data collection units that are in place. Of an interesting note was the seismometer output that was displayed in the front lobby of the building — we had arrived in Iceland on the morning of the disastrous Sichuan earthquake in China. Seismometers in place throughout the country had detected the seismic waves from this event, and we were given the opportunity to see this data in real time. After leaving the Icelandic Meteorological Office, our day was still far from over — we traveled outside of Reykjavík to Thingvellír, the site of Iceland’s first parliament and a location where the plate boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates is visible at the surface (in the form of a lake). It was particularly exciting to see a place with such geophysical and political importance so early in our trip. We spent the next two days traveling around south-



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eastern Iceland, stopping at various places of interest on our way to Skaftafell National Park. We stopped at Gullfoss, which is an impressive waterfall that drains water from the Langjökull ice cap. We spent a night in the coastal town of Vík, and some people even jumped into the North Atlantic for a quick dip. Before departing Vík to head toward Skaftafell, we stopped at a beautiful beach to examine rare exposed columnar basalt joints that had been exposed by the pounding ocean. These joints are a result of cooled lavas that break at 90-degree angles,




and it was an impressive site. It was here that we first used the terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) that had been loaned to us from UNAVCO. This piece of equipment scans a feature and provides a three-dimensional data point cloud of the feature, which is an excellent tool for determining changes in feature shape and position. Upon arrival at Skaftafell National Park, we got right down to business and met with Einar and Erin, our Icelandic mountain guides who would be with us for the next five days of our trip. We were fitted for crampons


ietal impacts of volanoes, glaciers in Iceland

Skaftafell NP Cartography by Erin Greb

Above: The CAUSE group takes in the Gulfoss waterfall on one of the first stops on the first full day of the trip to Iceland. Right: Another look at Gulfoss, which means “golden falls.”

and harnesses, assigned ice axes, and soon found ourselves hiking towards Svínasfellsjökull, which is an outlet glacier extending south from Vatnajökull. We learned the basics of glacier climbing and navigation with our guides, and became familiar with our new ice equipment. In a nutshell, we conducted four major field experiments on and around Svínasfellsjökull. We conducted a seismic study of the glacier in which a 100-meter long transect was strung with a seismic cable and geophones in order to determine the thickness of the ice at that particular location. Preliminary data suggests that this ice is somewhere between 300 meters and 450 meters deep. The group also placed three stationary GPS units on the glacier at a spacing of roughly 1 kilometer between units in order to track glacier movement during the five-day

period in which field work was being conducted. The TLS was used to generate point cloud images of various rock and ice formations in southern Iceland, but most importantly, was used to generate images of the toe of Svinásfellsjökull. Two images were generated of the toe of the glacier — once at the onset of the field work, and then again five days later. Like the GPS units, the data collected by the TLS will be used to determine the velocity of the glacier during the duration of the field work. We were also fortununate to have a digital gravimeter that was used to measure gravitational acceleration of various surfaces in order to determine if there was a significant change in gravity over the two-week duration of the field experience. Because of the short time period during which the data was collected, no impressive changes in gravity were recorded, however, it would be interested to compare the data that was collected in the field at this time to data that may be collected in the future at the same locations. It was determined that glacier ice is a poor place to conduct such measurements with a gravimeter – the equipment produced enough heat so that the ice would not allow for

uncontaminated data to be collected due to melting and surface deformation directly beneath the gravimeter. However, this trip was most certainly not all work. We were given the chance to safely explore a small ice cave underneath a glacier near Svínasfellsjökull and also traveled to Jökulsarlón, which is a place where the large outlet glacier Breiðamerkujökull is calving into a large lake, creating impressive ice bergs that flow out to the Atlantic Ocean. We attempted to travel to Eldgjá, which is a fissure swarm associated with the famous Lakagígar volcano, but poor road conditions made this trip impossible. Similar road conditions were met when we tried to go to Mount Hekla, a large volcano located in southeastern Iceland. Our last night in the Icelandic countryside was spent at a small hostel at a farm in a valley next to the Myrdalsjökull ice cap. It was a true Iceland experience — a sod roof, one small bathroom for 17 people, limited electrical resources, and practically no heat. We spent the last night of our trip in Reykjavík, becoming re-acclimated to society and experiencing nightlife in Iceland’s capital. On our way to the airport on the last day of the trip, we were able to stop at the world-famous Blue Lagoon and relaxed in water heated solely by geothermal energy emanating from the ground. Given the drizzle and cold temperatures, it was a welcome end to a long trip! Our Iceland experience culminated this fall as we completed our research projects and presented our field data and research to colleagues and friends at a reception on Dec. 8. Thank you to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Deans Bill Easterling and John Hellman, Sue Lauver, Pete and Sridhar, and most importantly, CAUSE participants for making this trip and class the experience of a lifetime!

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The Department of Geography is proud to help support undergraduate and graduate learning outside of the classroom. Each year, the department helps fund students traveling to conferences, attending workshops and conducting research. The map below shows where the students who have received financial support from the department have traveled.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, Northern California Grad Andrew Pierce did fieldwork for Andrew Pierce several projects during the summer of 2008 with undergrads Teoman Korkmaz, Allison Hurley, Evan Lawley, and Carlo Sica.

Missoula, Mont. Grad Robert Roth attended and presented at the NACIS meeting in October 2008.

Dearborn, Mich. Grad Ann Myatt James gave a presentation at the National Conference on Geography Education in October 2008.

Ithaca, N.Y. Grad Tom Auer ran a focus group session with members of the Avian Knowledge Network staff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the first phase of his master’s research.

Athens, Ohio Grad Beth Bee presented at the Critical Geography Conference 2008 in October.

San Francisco, Calif. Grad Jared Oyler presented at and undergrad Kirin Kennedy attended the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Shepherdstown, W.Va. Grad Rui Li presented “A Generalization Framework for Cartographic Multirepresentation on Small Display: Building Feature Generalization” at the International Symposium on Automated Cartography in September 2008.


Los Angeles and Anaheim, Calif. Grad Marina Viola studied the cultural landscape of Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, looking specifically at represenationts of race and gender. She returned for supplementary thesis fieldwork in Anaheim and Los Angeles from Dec. 20, 2008 to Jan. 8, 2009.

Grad Ratchanok Sangpenchen, technical collaboration for thesis, October 2008.

Biloxi, Miss. Grad Kate Derickson studied the dynamics of land use in November 2008.

San Jose, Costa Rica Undergrad Robert Phillips (B.S. 2008)

Puerto Maldonado and Cuzco, Peru Undergrads Rosemary Lanzara and Sarah Knorr conducted research and fieldwork as part of GEOG 497C, “Enviromental Issues Across the Americas” with faculty members Joe Bishop and Denice Heller Wardrop. The trip took place over winter break and the course continues in the Spring 2009 semester.



Winter/Spring 2009


Durham, England Undergrad Jessica Lehman (B.S. 2008) attended “Connecting People, Participation and Place: An international Conference of participatory geographies” at Durham University on Jan. 14 and 15, 2008. She presented “Doing participatory research: an undergraduate perspective.”

Tiruninravur Village, India Undergrad Lauren Borsa volunteered at a home for destitute and orphaned girls near Chennai (Madras) as part of GEOG 293H and HOINA (Homes of the India Nation) from July 28 to Aug. 18, 2008. Lauren took the class in the Spring 2008 semester as well as a followup class in the Fall 2008 semester. The class is offered through Schreyer Honors College.

Ghana Undergrad Abena Sandra Yeboa conducted fieldwork and interviews from June 1 to Dec. 15, 2008, on the role of the free-trade zones on community as part of her honors thesis.

Arusha region, Tanzania Grad Maureen Biermann conducted fieldwork with two local livelihood and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the summer of 2008. They used participatory mapping and discussion groups to determine how the NGOs are incorporating climate change adaptation into the work they do.


We know geographers travel, so tell us about your trips for research or work in 2009! The department will compile a list to use for a similar map in next year’s Winter/Spring newsletter and will include faculty, staff, students and alumni. If you’d like to be included, send the location and a short description to Mike Dawson at

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James Zeiters (M.S. 1965) is serving on a committee of the Pennsylvania Planning Association that is writing a new proposed Municipal Planning Code for Pennsylvania. James retired as executive director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission in the Harrisburg, Pa., area in 1996.

1970s Edwin Butterworth (B.S. Geography, Earth Sciences 1974) retired as a physical scientist from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Topographic Engineering Center on Sept. 31, 2008, with over 31 years of government service. Joel Burcat (B.S. 1976) was the editor of Pennsylvania Environmental Law and Practice, Fifth Edition, published in the summer of 2008.

1980s Jenni (Whitnack) Hesterman (B.S. 1986) is a counterterrorism expert in Washington, D.C., after retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 2007 as a colonel. Jenni recently published her paper “Transnational Crime and the Criminal-Terrorist Nexus: Synergies and Corporate Trends.” Jenni also keeps busy with several projects: She writes for The Counter Terrorist magazine and contributes to a blog at; is an adjunct professor of terrorism studies for the American Public University; and is a senior analyst for the MASY Group, an intelligence and due-diligence firm. Jenni is working on researching concerning the life cycle of terrorist groups. Jerry Griffith (B.S. Earth Sciences 1985) was awarded tenure and promotion last spring in the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Jerry has been a faculty fellow at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Picayune, Miss., and a post-doc at the USGS Center for EROS, with a research emphasis in landscape ecology and environmental remote sensing. His recent research with a master’s student using Hymap imagery to map seagrass off the coast of Mississippi was recently published in the Journal of Coastal Research. Dr. Pangiras Michael (Ph.D. 1986), a professor teaching in Brunei, died on Sept. 14, 2008, in Malaysia. His funeral service was held Sept. 17, 2008, in Greater Kuala Lumpur, and a memorial service was held Oct. 7, 2008, in Brunei. Information was provided by Dr. John Odihi (M.S. 1985, Ph.D. 1988). Linda Higgs Wells (B.S. 1988) published “Chance Encounters,” a fanfiction book based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s available on Linda will publish a second book in a few months and has begun her first completely original novel.

1990s Martin C. Von Wyss (M.S. 1994) and his company



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Department forming Affiliate Program Group Do you have career tips you’d like to share with students? Would you like to be a mentor to an undergraduate? Would you like to become more involved with the department? If so, consider joining the Department of Geography’s Affiliate Program Group (APG). This group will be composed of alumni and friends who share a common interest in the department and will bring alumni and friends together to support the department. The Geography APG will be a separate sub-organization of the Penn State Alumni Association and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences vW Maps Inc. published the ninth edition of the official map for National Public Radio. The map shows which AM and FM stations across the country carry NPR programming. Martin’s been publishing since 2004 and has sold more than 50,000 copies. The maps are available by pledging to WPSU or other online retailers. Martin and his wife, Kath, are the proud parents of a son, Moritz, who was born on April 4, 2008. Carrie Kleinman Escritor (B.S. 1995) and her husband, Row, are the proud parents of a son, London Adir Escritor. He was born Nov. 6, 2008, and has a sister, Hannah. Brent Frakes (M.S. 1995, Ph.D. 1998) was promoted to business analyst at the Natural Park Service in Fort Collins, Colo. He’ll help re-architect some of the natural resource information systems within the NSP. In June 2008, he and his wife welcomed their second daughter, Sabina Katherine Frakes. Michael J. Herman (B.S. 1995), a senior cartographer at the Canadian American Center at the University of Maine, and his partner, Margaret Wickens Pearce, were authors of “They Would Not Take Me There: People, Places, and Stories from Champlain’s Travels in Canada, 1603-1616,” a map that sh shows the travels of Samuel de Champlain

Alumni Constituent Society, GEMS (Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences). The process to start an APG has just begun, and we want to hear from alumni how you can help us move forward. Ideas include but are not limited to mentoring, hosting field trips for students, and participating in department activities and events. If you would like to find out how you can become involved with the APG, e-mail Anne Messner (B.S. 1989) at; alumni relations coordinator Jodi Vender at; or writer-editor Mike Dawson at as he explored Canada between 1603 and 1616. The map, 40 inches by 60 inches, is in full color and has English on one side and French on the other. For more information, visit article.asp?id_no=2397. Mark Lecher (B.S. 1996) currently works for ESRI as an account manager handling Pennsylvania State Government from the Philadelphia Regional Office. Mark and his wife, Kristen, are the proud parents of twins, Austin and Addison, born on Feb. 5, 2008. They reside in Wyomissing, Pa. Gareth John (M.S. 1997), of the Department of Geography, St. Cloud State University, received ‘early promotion’ to associate professor in 2008. His paper “Yellowstone Embodied: Truman Everts’ ‘Thirty-Seven Days of Peril,” co-authored with partner and philosophy and women’s studies professor Christine Metzo, recently appeared in Gender, Place and Culture (2008, vol. 15, issue 3). During the fall 2008 he was teaching online from Cannes, France and will be in Alnwick, England during spring 2009 teaching in the St. Cloud State British Studies Program. Alys Wall (M.S. 1998) is now working at the Murray Darling Basin Authority in Canberra, Australia. She will coordinate the Vegetation and Physical Form themes in the Sustainable River Audit program. The MDBA will use remote sensing (color RGB and infrared bands, and LIDAR) with field validation to establish baseline information on river health. These data will be compared with a reference condition (pre-1750 estimates of vegetation land cover and geomorphology) and will be monitored every six years for change. They will also be used as an input for state and federal management programs across the Murray Darling River system that covers 23 river valleys across over 1 million square kilometers. Christian Boyd (B.S. 1999), of Stoystown, Pa., is working as a seventh-grade geography teacher at the North Star School District. He married Elissa (Putman)



Forest roads, trails inventoried with GIS By Amanda (Krchak) Lewis B.S. 1999 After completing my master’s degree in geography, I got a job working for the state of Massachusetts as a forestry assistant in the DCR Bureau of Forestry. Although I did not have a forestry background, the Bureau was looking for someone with GIS and GPS experience, of which I had taken coursework in graduate school and had some experience in the field when I worked for SCA as a Natural Resource Management Intern. A part of my seasonal job was to help facilitate the beginning of an ambitious project to inventory all roads and trails located on state park and forest lands in Massachusetts. This project was funded through grants to the Massachusetts Bureau of Forestry awarded to aid the process of Green Certification of all state forest land. As a part of the Green Certification, the applicant is required to inventory all roads and trails on their property. As my work on this project progressed, it became evident that the hours required to complete the work would far exceed my seasonal position term. I was subsequently hired on as a private contractor and continued my work on the project for another two years. The road and trail inventory project consisted of several separate steps required to achieve the goal. It began with the creation of a data dictionary, or a set of blank shapefiles, which could be uploaded to the GPS field unit and act as a data collection template for the field agent. The state contracted four vendors to perform the initial collection of data in the field, in various regions throughout the state. Once the vendor completed their field inventory, they differentially corrected the data and then handed it over to me. My job was to act to facilitate the project as a primary contact, troubleshooter, quality control agent, and post-processor of the data itself. In this capacity, I regularly communicated with the vendors and collected their invoices, I met up with each vendor at least once in the field, to be sure that the project was consistent among the various vendors and that the quality of the data collected acceptable. In addition, once the data was collected for each park or state forest, I would organize it and then post-process it using GIS software. This would involve reducing confusing, erroneous, or GPS-induced errors in the dataset. I would also identify on Sept. 3, 2005, and they have a son, Ayden William, who was born on Dec. 26, 2007. Amanda (Krchak) Lewis (B.S. 1999) married Matt Lewis in August 2007.

2000s Jimmy Adegoke (Ph.D. 2000) was appointed in August 2008 to a three-year term as chair of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jimmy was invited to testify as part of a panel of experts at a July 10, 2008, hearing of

external projects. McMahon Associates bid on a job to upgrade and maintain a signal management system for PennDOT’s District 6 in southeastern Pennsylvania, and the firm won its first software development project. Subsequently, PennDOT awarded the firm a contract to do the needs analysis for a statewide system. Brian says the firm now is diving into the development of web-based GIS systems for municipalities and has multiple developers and GIS technicians on staff. The applications are developed using, SQL Server, Mapguide OpenSource and ArcGIS Server. Ryan Bowers (B.S. 2000) is now a GIS specialist in the planning division of EDAW in Alexandria, Va.

This map of Mt. Greylock State Reservation shows the inventory data that Amanda Lewis did.

any possible missed trails and delete duplicate trails or points. After this first phase was complete, I created large maps and met with state park supervisors and staff, state foresters, state trail coordinators, and the vendors themselves to go over the dataset and identify any additional errors or inconsistencies. After the data collection and analysis phase was complete, I was required to return to the field to collect any missed data and resolve any other questions that were generated. This was my favorite part of the process, as I have been able to spend countless hours in beautiful, remote and often unknown but remarkable spots on state lands throughout Massachusetts. The data that has been collected and completed will have many useful purposes, such as providing new, updated trails maps but also will provide a wealth of information for land managers and park supervisors to better manage the state properties, often with the aid of GIS analysis capabilities. The inventory is not yet complete, but I have moved on to a full-time position with the state as the recreational trails program coordinator. The work that I did with the trail inventory was rewarding, satisfying, and just plain fun at times, and clearly set me up for my new excellent opportunity. I continue to consult with the team that is conducting the inventory. I am also working to develop an online warehouse of all trails on both public and private land in Massachussetts. the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming on the topic of “Global Warming Effects on Extreme Weather.” Brian Berdel (B.S. 2000) was promoted to applications development manager at McMahon Associates Inc., a business that focuses on transportation engineering and planning. Brian interned with the firm while at Penn State and started work full-time after graduation. After developing some internal applications, Brian was able to combine his skills as a developer with the GIS knowledge he learned at Penn State to try to win

Samuel Dennis Jr. (M.S. 1996, Ph.D. 2000) received tenure with promotion to associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His recent research has focused on people’s experience of health and place in urban, Native American, and rural Honduran communities. Heejun Chang (Ph.D. 2001), a professor at Portland State University in Oregon, and his student Jon Franczyk published “Climate Change, Land-Use Change and Floods: Toward an Integrated Assessment” (Geography Compass, 2008 volume 2 issue 5, 1549-1579). Jason Kiak (B.S. 2001) is working at McCormick Taylor in Philadelphia, Pa., as a GIS analyst He’s worked on land use/planning projects that help determine how land is developed as well as transportation mapping and environmental mapping. Reuben Rose-Redwood (M.S. 2002 , Ph.D. 2006) was featured on The History Channel’s “Super City: New York” in September. The program retraced the environmental history of Manhattan, showing RoseRedwood’s search in Manhattan for old survey monuments from the grid plan of 1811. Reuben is now on the faculty at the Department of Geography at Texas A&M. Karen (Kay) Adams Manion (CPGIS 2001) was appointed vice president of Information Management Solutions for URS Corp. Kyle Dornich (B.A. 2008) and his younger brother completed the third year of owning their business, A+ Collegiate Workforce. They had 12 employees, most of whom were Penn State students, and did house painting, landscaping and hardscaping. Kyle is now devoting most of his time to his band, Atlas’ Soundtrack. Their sound is a unique blend of reggae, hip hop and funk. They have been playing many of the bars in downtown State College in 2008 and hope to begin playing shows in other towns and cities in the near future. Their music can be heard at www., where you will also find show dates, photos, and info about the band. Alexa Dugan (B.S. 2008) took a seasonal position with the Colorado State Forest Service after graduating in May 2008. In November 2008, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the U.S. Census Bureau as a geographer in the geography division.

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Spring 2009 schedule

Professor Andrew Carleton welcomes the 40th anniversary crowd.

Jan. 16: Tom Richard, director of Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment; “After Abundance: Multi-functional Agriculture for a Carbon-Constrained World” Jan. 23: Kamini Singha, professor, Department of Geosciences, Penn State; “Lies my hydrogeology teachers told me: Quantifying anomalous solute transport behavior in heterogeneous environments” Jan. 30: Ben Marsh, professor, Environmental Geography/Mapping, Bucknell University; “Revealing cryptic municipal discrimination: applications in research and law” Feb. 6: Andrew Carleton, professor, Department of Geography, Penn State; “Refurb Climatology: Polar laws, reanalyses, et la teleconnexion française” Feb. 13: Ken Tamminga, professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Penn State; “Off-road and engaged: participatory research for resilient Himalayan communities” Feb. 20: Diane Austin, assistant research professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona; “Community-Based Participatory Research: Linking Study to Action” Feb. 27: David Schlosberg, professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University; “Environmental Justice, Capabilities, and Community Functioning” March 6: Anthony Robinson, GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, Penn State; “Research and Reflection on Synthesizing Geographic Information”

Professor and anniversary organizer Petra Tschakert gives a commemorative mug to Professor EmeriEmeri tus Peirce Lewis, who spoke during the celebration.

Professors Emeriti Wilbur Zelinksy, above, and Ron Abler, front right in the top photo, also spoke during the celebration.

Watch, interact online with Coffee Hour to Go If you can’t make it to 112 Walker every Friday at 4 p.m. for Coffee Hour, join us online each week for the decadesold department tradition. Called “Coffee Hour To Go,” the talks are webcast live each Friday at 4 p.m. during the semester from the Web site http://e-education.mediasite. com. The Spring 2009 semester is the fifth for Coffee Hour To Go, which began in 2007 as a podcast from the generous endowment by Dr. Cindy Brewer, a professor in the Department of Geography, and David DiBiase, director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. The spring semester is the third that the talks are webcast live. Online users can even interact live. At the end of each



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talk, visitors can participate in the question-andanswer period by clicking on “Ask a question.” For those who can’t watch live, the talks are archived on the site for later viewing. If you’d like to be sent the link to each Coffee Hour To Go lecture, please e-mail Mike Dawson at Coffee Hour To Go requires a high-speed Internet connection. For technical questions, e-mail Eric Spielvogel at

March 20: Ruth DeFries, Denning Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University; “Changing Dynamics of Tropical Deforestation and Implications for Atmospheric Carbon” April 10: Erica Smithwick, assistant professor, Department of Geography, Penn State; “Influence of disturbance and pattern on landscape C storage: consequences for ecosystem model” April 17: Chris Uhl, professor, Department of Biology, Penn State; “Teaching as if Life Matters” April 24: Miller Lecture featuring Paul Longley, professor of Geographic Information Science, Department of Geography University College London; title TBA May 1: Lorraine Dowler, associate professor, Departments of Geography and Women’s Studies, Penn State; “Frontlines: Gendered Traditions of War” Note: There will be no Coffee Hour on March 13, March 27 or April 3.


Lakshman Yapa’s Philadelphia Field Project receives Magrath University Community Engagement Award

Department of Geography photo/Mike Dawson

Visit for more information on the Philadelphia Field Project. To see a video of Yapa and his students in action, visit The DoG is on Facebook and LinkedIn Are you a member of the Department of Geography’s Facebook group? Find us online at and get connected to more than 400 alumni and friends instantly! We’re also online at LinkedIn. Join the network today at

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Geography professor Dr. Lakshman Yapa’s Rethinking Urban Poverty: The Philadelphia Field Project and Penn State were recognized as the 2008 recipients of the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award presented by NASULGC, a public university association, at its annual meeting. Yapa was honored Wednesday, Dec. 17, with a reception in the EMS Museum. Yapa said the project represents a new way universities can work with the communities and students they serve. “According to my understanding, the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award was given to the Rethinking Urban Poverty: Philadelphia Field Project this year to recognize the proposition that effective community engagement requires a ‘rethinking of the university’ and a simultaneous transformation of the university itself as a place of teaching and research,” Yapa said. The project, an outreach program of Penn State, is a unique servicelearning course that has generated more than 60 student-run projects addressing critical needs in areas as diverse as credit cooperatives, transportation and nutrition. Bill Easterling, the dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Science, was ecstatic upon hearing about Yapa’s award. “It does not get any better than this, I am so proud! Congratulations, Lucky,” Easterling said. Since 1998, Penn State students involved in the Rethinking Urban Poverty project have lived and worked in a low-income neighborhood of Philadelphia. By engaging in dialogue and creating partnerships with local community organizations, students identify the links between poverty and community development, and, through their research, become a resource for the community. Students move away from the standard poverty discourse and focus instead on quality of life by employing the three community-identified needs: health, dignity and community. Through the project, they undertake research activities to improve health through diet, nutrition, exercise, urban gardens, communitysupported agriculture and education for preventive health care, targeting specific challenges such as Type II diabetes, atherosclerosis and hypertension. Engaging communities and improving the lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth are key components of Penn State’s mission. “I congratulate Professor Yapa, the students and community partners who made the Philadelphia Field Project such a great example of the transformative power a university can have within a community,” Penn State President Graham B. Spanier said. “This project represents the University’s legacy of engagement.” Robert Bruininks, chair of the NASULGC Board of Directors and president of the University of Minnesota, said the Philadelphia Field Project could serve as an outreach model for other universities. “Penn State Professor Lakshman Yapa’s program in the City of Philadelphia should serve as a model of engagement and outreach for public institutions,” said Bruininks. “Public universities, like Penn State and the other four regional winners, exemplify the spirit and vision of university engagement championed by Peter Magrath, and we salute their fine work.” “This is a wonderful recognition for the great work of Dr. Yapa and his students,” said Craig Weidemann, vice president of Outreach. “His Philadelphia Field Project is a great example of the impact of engaged scholarship and the power of universities in working with communities to address critical societal issues and learning from each other in the process.”

Winter/Spring 2009




Penn State Department of Geography DEPARTMENT HEAD Karl Zimmerer

CONTACT US: 302 Walker University Park, PA 16802 Phone: 814-865-3433 Fax: 814-865-7943

ASSOCIATE HEAD Brent Yarnal Faculty (tenure track) Cynthia Brewer Robert Brooks Andrew Carleton Robert Crane Lorraine Dowler Roger Downs William Easterling (Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences) Rodney Erickson (Executive Vice President and Provost of Penn State) Deryck Holdsworth Brian King Alex Klippel C. Gregory Knight Derrick Lampkin B. Ikubolajeh Logan Alan M. MacEachren James McCarthy Donna J. Peuquet Erica Smithwick Alan H. Taylor Petra Tschakert Melissa Wright Lakshman Yapa

Faculty in teaching, research and director positions; affiliated and visiting faculty with additional appointments; and adjunct faculty Todd Bacastow Joseph Bishop Justine Blanford Ipsita Chatterjee Jin Chen Stephen Crawford Jim Detwiler David DiBiase (Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute) Mary Easterling Susan W. Friedman Brian Gareau Frank Hardisty Hannah Ingram Stephen Matthews Douglas A. Miller Sarah Miller Scott Pezanowski Anthony Robinson

Gian Rocco Karen Schuckman Marieta Staneva Ian Turton Denice Heller Wardrop Susan Yetter Staff Kary Blaschak Mike Dawson Marnie Deibler Bob Hibbert Krista Kahler Denise Kloehr Rosie Long Pam Stauffer Jodi Vender Jessica Watson LABS AND INSTITUTES Landscape Ecology at Penn State (LEAPS). Director: Erica Smithwick Cooperative Wetlands Center Director: Rob Brooks Vegetation Dynamics Lab Director: Alan Taylor Peter R. Gould Center for Geography Education and Outreach Director: Deryck Holdsworth GeoVISTA Center Director: Alan MacEachren

A note from the newsletter editor You’ve all probably received e-mails from me by now soliciting news or telling you about events – well, allow me to introduce myself formally. I’m Mike (OK, formally it’s Michael) Dawson, and I started as the writer-editor for the department in August 2008 when the previous alum and writer-editor, John Murphy (B.S. 2005), left for Seattle. I came here after two years as a copy editor for the Centre Daily Times here in State College. Altogether, I have more than five years experience in newspapers since I graduated in 2002 from Penn State with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish (and took Colin Flint’s GEOG 128 during my sophomore year). So, what’s a journalist doing in a geography department? Well, I’ve been fascinated by maps since I was a kid growing up in Uniontown, Pa. In third grade, I drew a map of the U.S. from memory, and in fifth grade, my



map-drawing of the U.S. was voted best in my class. A few years later, I got the original Civilization computer game for Christmas, and for the next 12 or so years and three versions later, I’ve been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing the game – checking maps to see which location best matched where I wanted to build my cities and reloading if I was skeptical about the site I chose. At the Centre Daily Times, my cubicle was attached to the map shelf, and I could have spent hours reading the maps of Pennsylvania and Centre County that were there. (Well, finding what township or county a small community was in often led me on other exploratory searches on those maps.) I spent a semester in Seville,

Winter/Spring 2009

Spain, while I was an undergrad, and ever since, I’ve been fascinated (OK, obsessed) with Seville and Andalusia, maps included. As anyone who’s been on the second and third floors of the Walker Building knows, the halls are covered with maps, and a map of Western Europe is right outside my door and another is down the hall. I always steal a glance when passing by. Maps aside, I’m excited to combine my communications skills with my interest in geography and put them to use in the country’s most renowned geography department. My first large project is this newsletter, and I’m excited to share the news and accomplishments of the people affiliated with this great department. I encourage you to send your news to me at for publication in future newsletters or for use on our Web site. – Mike Dawson

Winter/Spring 2009 calendar JANUARY 12 Classes begin 19 No classes FEBRUARY 5 ESRI recruiting visit to Penn State campus, University Park, Pa. 28 No)Boundaries annual graduate student conference, University Park, Pa. 28 EMEX, Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., University Park, Pa. MARCH 1 No)Boundaries annual graduate student conference, Penn State, University Park, Pa. 9-13 Spring break 22-27 AAG annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. 24 World Geography Bowl, Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nev. 25 AAG Penn State reception, Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas, Nev. APRIL 3 Pennsylvania Geographic Bee, Penn State, University Park, Pa. 16-18 Geographical Association, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K. 24 Miller Lecture, Professor Paul Longley of the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, London, U.K. MAY 1 Spring semester classes end 6 Geography recognition reception at Nittany Lion Inn, University Park, Pa. 15 EMS commencement, 8 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park, Pa. 17 The Graduate School commencement, 5 p.m., Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa. 18 First summer session classes begin 19-20 Pennsylvania GIS Conference, Holiday Inn Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel, Grantville, Pa. 25 Memorial Day, no classes JUNE 5-6 Penn State Alumni Association’s Traditional Reunion Weekend 26 First summer session classes end JULY 1 Second summer session classes begin 3 Independence Day holiday (observed), no classes 9-12 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, State College, Pa. 11 GEMS breakfast in Deike Building 13-17 ESRI User Conference, San Diego, Calif.


Geographers attend 2008 ESRI User Conference 2009 reception planned for ‘The Beach’ again By Wesley Stroh


lumni and faculty members of the Department of Geography’s World Campus GIS Certificate and master’s degree programs enjoyed a remarkable setting for their summer 2008 get-together in San Diego: as evening fell at the end of a sunny August day, they gathered around beach firepits or lounged in cabanas for conversation, appetizers and drinks. Particularly remarkable was the urban panorama, since “The Beach” is perched on the rooftop of the W Hotel, a short trolley or bicycle rickshaw ride from San Diego’s Convention Center and Gaslamp District. The Department of Geography and Dutton e-Education Institute co-sponsored the event. The alumni reception coincided with the annual User Conference of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), a leading provider of geographic information systems (GIS) software and services. More than 13,000 GIS users attended the 2008 User Conference, including nine instructors and graduate advisers from the department’s World Campus programs. Instructors and advisers met hundreds of former, current, and prospective students who visited the Penn State booth in the conference exhibition hall. According to program manager David DiBiase, visits to conferences like ESRI are important not just for recruiting future students, but especially for cultivating relationships with the more than 1,000 alumni who serve as enthusiastic program “ambassadors.” Professional conferences also serve as venues for the capstone project presentations of students in the Master of GIS (MGIS) program. Two MGIS students presented at the 2008 ESRI User Conference, including Will Allender (“GIS/Hydrologic Model Integration”) and Larry Szarek (“Using a Utility Geodatabase to Store and Edit Drainage Plat Maps”), both of whom earned MGIS degrees in 2008. Penn State advisers and instructors attended the talks. 2009 is the 10th anniversary of the launch of the department’s certificate program in GIS. Despite budget constraints that will limit the number of Geography faculty who can travel to San Diego next year, we hope to celebrate the milestone with many current and former students on Wednesday evening, July 15, again at The Beach. Information about the 2009 User Conference is published at For more information about the department’s World Campus programs through the Dutton Institute, visit

David DiBiase, left, the director the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, and Wes Stroh, right, chat with friends during the 2008 ESRI User Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Congratulations to online master’s and certificate GIS program graduates 2008 3RD QUARTER MGIS Mark Guttman Susan Ose Larry Szare CPGIS Mansour Arab Matthew Beckley Nathan Blakemore Timothy Bourdage Brian Buchanan Anne Chazal Jean Conlan Eric Cromwell Lucinda DeMaria Jeffrey Edwards Leslie Gallea Gregory Garthe Patricia Hansen Bahana Harake John Haynes Megan Heckert Susan Hulsey James Hunkele Andrew Hupp Frances Jones Jesse Kucenic Nicole Kyger Corey Laverdiere

Chelsea Lipp Garth Llewellyn W. Llewellyn John Max Matthew McCullough Shelley McKeague Matt Merrill Jennifer Mulhall Alison Muratore Michal Piasecki Jeffrey Reichman Kelly Riley Patricia Rossmaier Frederick Seitz Amanda Shafer Regis Shogan Amy Taylor Robert Thomas Matthew Tisdale David Treat Joseph Wilde Scott Willie Eric Wing FOURTH QUARTER MGIS James Bond Jason Czachor Jessica Gould John Horton Justin Klos David Watkins

CPGIS Stephanie Aitchison Lydia Ambrose Michael Askew Ryan Atienza Mark Aurit John Bambrick John Barretta Ryan Butler Mark Butterfield Sachin Chand Gilman Coryell Thong Dang Francis Dicicco Patrick Didier William Dietze George Dynnik Timothy Eby Briana Eddy John Ericson Rachael Farrington Brandon Gartrell Christy Graves Glenn Hammer Jane Hansen Karen Howes Gregory Hudson Beth Hunsberger Marlene Jeffries Erik Johansen Francis Kartey Marcus Klem Brian Kraft Thomas Lechtenberg

Jessica Longshore Janice Lynch Dana Magusiak Shawna Matthews Susannah McClendon Christine McCord Barbara McKay Archibald Richard McNamara Brittany Meagher John Mellon Josh Mohler Gary Montgomery Teddy Morgan Gregory Murrell Karen Noyes William Ostrander Bryan Pardoe John Parrish Kimberly Pettit Carolyn Prentice Iris Prophet Sarah Ramowski Michael Reil Thomas Rubino Jason Searle John Segars Gregory Snelling Todd Spangler David Till Tony Van Der Wielen Jeffrey Vu James Whitehorne Jennifer Wootsick

Winter/Spring 2009





The Pennsylvania State University Department of Geography 302 Walker Building University Park, PA 16802-5011


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WE ARE ... GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT! Dr. Joseph W. Bencloski Ms. Holly Everett Bieniawski Mr. Stefan R. Bieniawski Ms. Sarah E. Bontrager Dr. Cynthia Brewer Dr. Robert P. Brooks Mr. Jason Brown Mr. Benjamin J. De Angelo Mr. David DiBiase Ms. Emily E. Dux Dr. Rodney A. Erickson Mrs. Sharon L. Erickson Mr. Jerome A. Fabanich Mrs. Michele Fabanich Ms. Amy L. Fischer Mr. Mark A. Fried Mrs. Patricia Smith Fried Dr. Joseph W. Glass Mrs. Susan Fulton Glass Mr. John H. Kelly Mrs. Audrey A. Kirtland Dr. David A. Kirtland Mr. Jonathan M. Korus LCDR Robert W. Kraft Dr. Karl K. Leiker Mrs. Anne Dempski Messner Dr. John I. Messner Ms. Rosalyn G. Millman

We extend our deepest gratitude to all alumni and friends who have given financial support to the Department during the past six decades. Without these generous contributions, many scholarships, research experiences, and awards would not be available to our students and faculty. We especially wish to recognize those who contributed to the department between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2008. If you would like to donate, please consider giving to one of the funds listed below. For more information, please contact or Balmat Family Scholarship in Geography Balmat Family Fund in Geography for Honors Scholars C. Gregory Knight Endowment in Geography Coffee Hour to Go Endowment Department of Geography Enrichment Fund E. Willard Miller Award in Geography Erickson Fund in Geography G.D. Richardson Scholarship in Geography Geography Alumni Scholars Award

Geography Student Scholarship Fund Glenda Laws Memorial Fund Jeff Gockley Memorial Award Peter R. Gould Memorial Fund Philadelphia Field Project Robert P. and Rebecca P. Brooks Cooperative Wetlands Center Ronald F. Abler Award in Geography Ruby S. Miller Endowment for Geographic Excellence Supporting Women in Geography Fund

Mr. Jay M. Mohney Dr. Charles B. Monroe Ms. Laura B. Monroe

This publication is available in alternative media upon request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. Published by the Department of Geography. U. Ed. EMS 09-72

Mr. Louis M. Mosurak Mr. Benjamin Mutzabaugh Mr. Jason R. Nolan

Ms. Lee A. Nolan Ohio State University Mr. Scott W. Rhubright Dr. G. D. Richardson Mr. Kevin Roberts Mr. Bret W. Rodgers Mrs. Denise G. Rodgers Mr. Jeffrey M. Rote Ms. Kristen L. Saacke-Blunk Mrs. Sarah Szalankiewicz-Brown Mr. Debra Vincer Sipe Mr. Ronald Lee Sipe Mrs. Andrea Barbara Smith Mr. Steven A. Smith Mr. Erik B. Steiner Mrs. Helen Stolinas Mr. Raymond J. Stolinas Jr. Dr. Robert N. Thomas Mr. Joseph M. Watts Dr. Brenton M. Yarnal Dr. Careen M. Yarnal Mr. Brian Zabela Mrs. Rose Marie Zabela Mr. James R. Zeiters Mrs. Claire M. Zeiters Background photo by Annemarie Mountz/ Penn State Department of Public Information