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Undergrad is part of research field experience in Tanzania Vol. 9 Fall 2010
from the department head
Pride resonates in halls of Penn State Geography Currently in my fourth year I feel ready to write about Penn State football. Ranking of the team is my point of entry. Head Coach Joe Paterno summed it up in 1994 when he said the all-important national rankings of the Nittany Lion team can be a bit of a distraction. Penn State had defeated Michigan and jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 in the polls. “I told them let’s not lose sight of what still must be done,” Paterno said about his players. “If we’re smart, it shouldn’t affect us at all.” While it would be unwise to draw close parallels, there is some commonality with the geography department in the currency of ranking. The just-released 2010 NRC rankings put the Penn State Geography department among the top programs in U.S. colleges and universities. We are advantageously situated along with a handful of the other premier departments across the country. No doubt there will be serious sifting through the NRC information. For example, explanation of the methodology alone covers a couple hundred pages. Who knows, important postgame responses will probably continue to unfold for a while, perhaps even as long as the several years that the NRC rankings were in the works (having collected their information back in 2006). Still, per JoePa, the ranking is only part of the story. Now is the chance to draw attention to a couple of the strong sides and illustrate facts of everyday life that give our department such dynamism and distinctiveness in addition to the distinction of the NRC ranking of graduate programs. Surely one special success and a source of department pride is the typical funding of the full suite of graduate students entering the program. One hundred percent. This means that for several years running every new graduate student is provided funding through a RAship or a TAship and, also, that same funding is provided for a number of years (based on the usual criteria of satisfactory progress, etc…). As a result, our graduate students are supported to integrate their research and teaching activities fully in the department, ensuring a classic win-win in
Inside this issue
the closely entwined pursuits of inquiry and learning. Moreover, Penn State geography has enjoyed a distinguished reputation for excellence that is decades-long, thus giving graduate students entrée into top jobs in academia, government, and industry. Mention of this particular strength is timely since we are presently in the midst of prospective students applying to the department’s graduate program for next year. As usual they will be fortunate to face favorable funding support and top career opportunities in the Penn State department. Our sense of pride in our ranking is based also on knowing that the Penn State department that brings together the principal subfields of geography in graduate study in a comprehensive way. You need only to look at the header of this newsletter’s cover page to see the department’s vision of geography as “physical, nature-society, GISiences, human.” Each sub-field adheres to specific traditions and trajectories. Yet, at the same time, our intellectual culture is not confining but rather supports the kind of fertile cross-over that can occur among geographic sub-fields. The exceptional success of the geography graduate program at Penn State is stamped with the signature of this full vision and practice of geography. It means the contributions and activities of faculty and students, indeed our modes of thought and doing, are widely varied. Such is the circumstance in this country’s other leading programs as well. All members of our community are beneficiaries of this variety and regard it as a sort of special epistemological diversity that can be cherished. It’s a collective value that we actively hold and are eager to share, both locally within the department and beyond.
From the Department Head Undergraduate student news Graduate student news Faculty and staff news Anthony Williams obituary Alumni news Cover story Department news Donors
2010 November 15 New website launches December 18 Fall 2010 undergraduate commencement
2011 April 12-16 AAG Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. April 14 Annual Penn State Geography reception at the AAG meeting. 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Von’s Roasthouse, 619 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101 April 29 Miller Lecture: Pat Hayes, of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition May 13 Spring 2011 undergraduate commencement
This newsletter is a publication of the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. Contact us at: Department of Geography 302 Walker Building Penn State University University Park, PA 16802 Phone: 814-865-3433 Fax: 814-863-7943 URL: www.geog.psu.edu E-mail: email@example.com Design/editor content: Mike Dawson Additional editors: Jodi Vender, Karl Zimmerer U Ed. EMS 11-29
2 3 4 5 5 6-7 8-9 10-11 Back cover
This publication is available in alternative media. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its work force.
This is our first electronic-only newsletter. Print copies will be available upon request. If you would like a print copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Charles Ferrer was a summer 2010 intern in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, of Montana. During Charles’ time there, he researched energy and agriculture issues for policy advisors. In addition, daily tasks included giving U.S. Capitol tours, performing adss : Step 3ating the cla Cre ministrative support and attending committee gh out the hi ta, fi ow el B g da hearings and briefings. This experience helped Andy Stauffer and Stephen Butzler attended the NACIS annual meeting in nainteturvraall-locledasfosrbrweaet uction at t is to e Introd calcul ons were projec ing linlife shed light on how policy affects everyday e s th gi of gn St. Petersburg, Fla., in October 2010 with professor Cindy Brewer. Stauffer’s Dry reultiplying th fect ring ef jective ional for assi The ob data breaks stream tape S The Nat ng by m oblem in Montana economically and He says e USG cl by 12. oduce for th e havi flowlines A prposter createsocially. was titled “Tapering Symbols for NHD Flowlines,” and Butzler’s was titled breaks in ud rs bols. hole r ts to pr weigh ologic laye the project measure fo set of sym ts for the w aces dr id pl ins aling line weigh ls for eanisummer ngful m pe for hy Subgoanext he hopes to visit Big Sky Country hu ap m ly and of Place Label Classification subbas :and Hierarchy for Multiscale Mapping.” Map. ks reflect a rtographical mmon set ely humid d using“Populated Step 2ing the data ea was g a ca using a co appropriat as addresse ing annual lus the br oducin ge area ta at in to experience the state’s national parks and w us Dissect draina his raw daA NHDP to Stroh was also an author on Butzler’s sample of Stauffer’s poster and pr tered was thaces looking his problem d dry areas with Wes reamposter. ea e. T ar ed T e data un pl an e upst et y ge co y. et en ulativ r each flowlinral log of th and left dr riately dr tion into w t was compl am draina y um C tr e fo tu op re cultural landscape. coun yzedat the na normal curv inappr assify the na . The projeculative upst gions. is above, and you can see both online al www.geog.psu.edu. g so an , in re ed a ta m look ) to cl d dry oduce ion da ing cu as skew Negro Hollow
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Lauren Herwehe did a research internship at the University of Kiel in Germany over the summer. She studied the landscape of the area during the late Holocene period under human influences. She used mud and soil samples to try to better understand how the climate changed in the area and how it affected early humans. Jim Cunningham had an internship with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for Research and Planning. He expanded upon a geocoding project begun in his GEOG 363 class, as well as updated archdiocesan parcel and property boundaries, and assisted in the preparation/collection for its own Census 2010 data.
Jinlong Yang, shown in the blue kayak, was in Portland, Ore., and Mount Hood over the summer to attend the 2010 International Conference on Spatial Cognition. He presented the poster “Assessing the cognitive adequacy of topological calculi in scaling movements” with assistant professor Alex Klippel. In addition to the conference, Yang, Klippel and two graduate students, Sen Xu (kayak on the left) and Rui Li (kayak on the right), took in some sightseeing and kayaking, as evidenced in the photo on the left with a gorgeous view of Mount Hood.
graduate student news
Seth Baum and William Easterling are part of a grant for the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions based at the Psychology Department at Columbia University. Baum will serve this project for two years beginning fall 2010 as a graduate research assistant and post-doctoral scholar. Baum will be extending his PhD dissertation research on space-time discounting in climate change policy to include a more robust treatment of the moral psychology of how people discount environmental costs and benefits across space and time. For this project, Baum will be based jointly at Penn State and Columbia, working with and providing connections between two of the largest interdisciplinary climate change research communities on the planet. Baum’s publications include “Value typology in cost-benefit analysis” in Environmental Values, and with Easterling, “Space-Time Discounting in Climate Change Adaptation” in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2010). Rob Roth (Ph.D.) was an author of “Value-by-alpha-Maps: An Alternative Technique to the Cartogram” in The Cartographic Journal (June 2010). Destiny Aman (Ph.D.) is doing an assistantship with the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. She’s serving as a graduate instructional consultant, leading
workshops and consultations with graduate students across the university who want to improve their teaching. Two doctoral candidates attended the 2010 International Conference on Spatial Cognition in Mount Hood, Ore., in August 2010. Sen Xu (Ph.D.) gave a talk, “Spatial knowledge from volunteered spatial language documents on the web,” and presented the poster “Exploring regional variation in spatial language – a case study on spatial orientation with spatially stratified websampled documents.” Rui Li presented the poster “The Differences of space syntax methods on explaining wayfinding behaviors: A prelimary comparision” and gave a talk titled “Using salient environmental characteristics to improve wayfinding and spatial awareness.” Kate Driscoll Derickson announces the birth of her son, Wyatt Levon Derickson, who was born on Jan. 29, 2010.
Chelsea Teale (Ph.D.) is looking at how early northeastern settlers managed wetlands for agriculture before the mid-19th century when the wetlands were replaced by European forage species as sources of hay and pasture. She focuses specifically on the Dutch in what is now New York State and use both written texts and proxy records to identify land use practices and trace vegetation change. By comparing how the Dutch and other cultural groups (e.g., English, French) managed wetlands in the northeast, we can be made more aware of how these landscapes have been impacted, she says. This information is especially important to scientists using wetland sediments to reconstruct past ecosystems and predict future environmental change. Teale received several awards that will enable her to pursue this research: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award; Cunningham-Quinn Research Residency award through NYS Library and New Netherland Institute; and Society of Women Geographers fellowship. In addition, she was appointed as a research associate in biology at the New York State Museum from August 2010 to August 2011.
Professor, grad students developing climate change action plan Kevin Hillmer-Pegram knows a lot about the ins and outs of local government in Pennsylvania. The second-year master’s student isn’t running for local office (although he says he might now), and he’s not studying urban planning. Instead, he’s been working with and attending Centre Region Council of Governments meetings as he works on a greenhouse gas pilot project that’s part of a grant through the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. Professor Brent Yarnal and Research Associate Howard Greenberg are the principal investigators on the project, and its goal is to help six local municipalities develop a formal climate change action plan. In the first phase of the project, Ph.D.
candidate Peter Howe completed an emissions inventory for Yarnal and Greenberg. In the next phase of the project, Hillmer-Pegram conducted community focus groups that came up with 107 one-line mitigation options for the largest greenhouse gas producing sectors in the Centre Region (which comprises State College Borough, College Township, Patton Township, Ferguson Township, Harris Township, and Halfmoon Township). Hillmer-Pegram then fleshed out these options, providing vital information on how each option would work and on its pros and cons. Through a second round of focus groups, local experts prioritized these expanded mitigation options. Some examples of the mitigation plans are basic: Improve winter maintenance of bike baths in the Centre Region so that people drive less in the winter. Others are more complex: Have the Centre Region create an energy cooperative through
which local consumers can pool their purchasing power to pursue renewable sources. Yarnal and Greenberg will present a formal climate change action plan to DEP on December 10. The researchers hope to push the action plan through the local legislative process and to have the Centre Region COG incorporate its provisions in its next comprehensive plan. There’s some history, too, between the geography department and emissions inventories in the area. In the late 1990s, Yarnal and his students helped create an inventory for a five-county area of central Pennsylvania as part of the Global Change in Local Places project sponsored by the Association of American Geographers. In 2002, Yarnal, Greenberg, and other members of the department published a DEPfunded inventory of Pennsylvania. Then Yarnal, Greenberg, and students developed a University Park campus emissions inventory and action plan in 2003 and one for the Borough of State College in 2006.
faculty and staff news
Rod Erickson was recognized by the Penn State Alumni Association as an honorary alumnus for his significant contributions to the University. According to Penn State Live, quality and excellence have been consistent themes during Erickson’s tenure and improving the academic stature of the university and enhancing the success of students has been his overriding “cause” as provost. Petra Tschakert was selected to be a lead author on Chapter 13: “Livelihoods and Poverty,” which will be part of Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Working Group II, Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities. “I am very excited and honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists around the world, bring my expertise on adaptation, social learning, and rural livelihoods to the IPCC, and be part of this next generation of climate scientists.” GeoVISTA research associate Justine Blanford is part of an interdisciplinary team of authors who published “Influence of climate on malaria transmission depends on
daily temperature variation” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Roger Downs gave a keynote lecture at the International Conference of Spatial Cognition 2010 in Mt. Hood, Ore., in August 2010 titled “The Refraction of Space: A Radical Reversal of Direction.” Greg Knight was one of the editors of Global Environmental Change: Challenges to Science and Society in Southeastern Europe (Springer, 2010). The book comprises selected papers presented during the international conference that has the same name as the book held in May 2008 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Knight also was honored by the Bulgarian Geographical Society as an honorary member for his contribution to the development of scientific cooperation between Bulgarian and American geographers and popularizing Bulgarian geography in the United States.
Two post-docs join department Who: Heid Hausermann is working with assistant professor Petra Tschakert to research buruli ulcer, a flesh-eating bacterial disease. The NSF-funded project is a collaboration of American and Ghanaian professors and students who will look at relationships among illegal gold mining in western Ghana, water and soil quality and the disease. Background: Hausermann received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona in 2010, and her thesis was “Coffee Agro-ecosystems, land use, and the politics of re-regulation in Veracruz, Mexico.” Her research interests include environmental politics, cultural and political ecology, health and the environment, livelihood studies, and land-use/cover change. Who: R. Stockton Maxwell is working with professor Alan Taylor on his research on landscapes on the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada. They hope to develop spatial modeling and forest visualization tools for forest resource managers and recommend treatments like prescribed burning or cutting. Background: Maxwell received his Ph.D. in geography from West Virginia University in August 2010, and his thesis was titled “Hydroclimate reconstructions of the Potomac River basin using tree rings.” His research interests are dendrochronology, paleoclimatology, disturbance history, and forest ecology.
In memoriam: Anthony V. Williams, 1938-2010 Reprinted with permission of the family Anthony V. Williams of State College, Pa., died at home on August 24, 2010, following a courageous and determined 15-month struggle with an inoperable form of a rare cancer. He was born April 3, 1938, in Blaenrhondda, Wales, son of the late Ernest and Ida May (Tucker) Williams. With his parents, he moved to the United States in 1950 and became a U.S. citizen in 1956. After two years of training as an engineer, he became a geogra pher, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., his masters from Ohio State University, and his doctorate from Michigan State University. He also did graduate work at the University of Washington and at Penn State University. He came to Penn State as an assistant professor of geography and computer sci-
ence. Prior to joining the faculty in 1966, he held a U.S. public health service fellowship for a year. From 1980 to 1985 Dr. Williams was chairman of the university’s graduate program in operations research, and represented Penn State in the supercomputer consortia at Princeton and Pittsburgh. From 1974 through 1976 he was a visiting Rockefeller professor and reader in the geography and planning studies group at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. From 1986 to 1987 he was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Yaounde and Ecole Normal Superieure in Cameroon. In 1989–90 and again in 1996–97, he was a visiting professor at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands. Dr. Williams’ teaching abilities were recognized early in his career when he was awarded the Matthew J. and Anne C. Wilson Outstanding Teacher award in the
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State in 1973. He retired as professor emeritus of geography and operations research. He was highly regarded as an exceptional educator and mentor by his students and colleagues. He is survived by a daughter, Kathleen Pierce, and her husband David, of San Diego, Calif., and a son, Bryn Williams of State College. Also surviving are his former wife, Donna Williams Hocking, of State College; a sister, Kathleen Griffiths, of Beckenham, England, along with their families and numerous cousins in Wales, England, Australia, and various parts of the United States. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, 5526 West 13400 South, #510, Salt Lake City, Utah 84096, or to a charity of the donor’s choice. An online guestbook may be signed or condolences sent to his family at www.heintzelmanfuneralhome. com.
Joseph Glass (M.S. 1959, Ph.D. 1971) and Robert Thomas (Ph.D. 1988) were honored for the 50 years of continuous membership in the AAG during the 2010 annual meeting in Washington. Glass is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Millersville University(1961-1990). His research focused on cultural landscapes and vernacular architecture, especially barns. The Pennsylvania Culture Region: A View from the Barn, a book based on his doctoral dissertation, was published in 1986 by UMI Research Press. Thomas is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Michigan State University (1970-1993). He taught at Indiana University of Pennsylvania 1960-1969 and received IUP’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007. His research activities involve population and tourism in Latin America. Mark Monmonier (M.S. 1967, Ph.D. 1969) published No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control (University of Chicago Press, May 2010). Read more about the book at http://markmonmonier.com/no_dig__no_fly__ no_go__how_maps_restrict_and_control_98372.htm. Joel Burcat (B.S. 1976) co-edited Pennsylvania Environmental Law and Practice (Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 2010), the most comprehensive book (made up of two volumes) on Pennsylvania environmental law. In addition, Joel reports that he was selected for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Best Lawyers in America in environmental law. He also spoke at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s annual oil and gas colloquium in September 2010.
See you at our AAG reception Who: Penn State Geography faculty, students, alumni and friends When: 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Thursday, April 14, 2011 Where: Von’s Roast House, 619 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101 Please RSVP to email@example.com The research of Jennifer Fluri (M.S. 2001, Ph.D. 2005) was highlighted by Dartmouth University in their spring magazine. Fluri researches aid work and development, geopolitics and gender in Kabul, Afghanistan. Read about it at http://now.dartmouth.edu/2010/06/round-the-girdledearth-part-2-of-4/. Justin Greco (B.S. 2001) is a GIS programmer/analyst with the city of Raleigh, N.C. His work with the city on their interactive mapping (implementation of ArcServer) resulted in the city’s nomination and award of a 2010 Special Achievement in GIS award, which was given at the 30th annual ESRI International User Conference in July. David Fyfe was the subject of an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/London-Tashkent-2/66315/?key= TmJ7cldqNSRFMXo1eyBHKXdSYHV8KUIsbyVAY3waZVlU Beth Auman (B.S. 2004) graduated from the Earle Marck School of Law at Drexel University with her J.D., cum laude, in May 2010. She is working as an associate at the law firm Hartman Shurr in Wyomissing, Pa.
Ralph Tutlane Jr. (B.S. 1983) was elected as the president of the Penn State Alumni Society of the Berks Campus in Reading, Pa., through June 2011. Ralph previously was vice president and served as the president of the Berks Society from 1995 to 1997. Michael Hermann (B.S. 1995) of Purple Lizard Maps (purplelizard.com) released the 4th edition of the Rothrock State Forest map this spring. The map is printed on HopSyn, a plastic material, and features expanded coverage of Rothrock from State College to Spruce Creek and Huntingdon, Pa. Hermann returned to State College in 2009 and is focused on expanding Purple Lizard’s retail map line, with a map of the Raystown Lake area planned for publication this fall. Hermann is working part-time as a cartographer with the University of Maine in a telecommute position from his home in State College. Matt Bekker (M.S. 1996) received promotion to Associate Professor with Continuing Faculty Status (tenure) in the Department of Geography at Brigham Young University. Mark Harrower (M.S. 1999, Ph.D. 2002) was recently interviewed on an Australian public radio program called Future Tense about the future of mapping when online services like Bing and Google Maps allow anyone to contribute to mapmaking. Listen to the segment at http://tiny. cc/xalue. He also was featured in a longer program on ABC (www.abc.net.au/rn/futuretense/stories/2010/3000607.htm) about the history of maps and tracking. Ron Santini (CPGIS 1999) received a Master of Engineering in GIS from the University of Colorado Denver in December 2009. He’s currently a senior scientist employed by Geosyntec Consultants in Charlotte, N.C. Ron will a teach a course for the new Bachelor of Arts in Energy, Sustainability and Policy through Penn State’s World Campus.
eb Straussfogel (M.S. 1983, Ph.D. 1987) returned to the department on Sept. 24, 2010, to give a coffee hour talk. In her talk, titled “There and Back Again: A Tale of Canada-U.S. Relations in the Softwood Lumber Industry,” she detailed her academic career since leaving Penn State as an economic geographer. She’s worked at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Northern British Columbia, and as her talk title hints at how her career has come full circle geographically, she’s since returned to Penn State and works as the director of academic affairs at the DuBois campus. Straussfogel is pictured with professor Deryck Holdsworth, who invited her to speak.
After four-and-a-half years, Dave Schmidt (M.S. 2005) left his fire ecologist job with The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service at the University of California in Davis. Although he thoroughly enjoyed the work and exploring California’s forests, he decided to pursue his long-term goal of returning to Iowa and becoming involved in agriculture. This fall, Dave a friend will start a grass-fed beef operation on his land in Tama County (east-central Iowa). In the meantime, he is leading a fire research field crew throughout the Sierra Nevada for U.C. Davis. Jennifer Mapes (M.S. 2005) is now a lecturer at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Carolyn Fish (B.S. 2008) completed her master’s degree in geography at Michigan State in May 2010. Her thesis title was “Change Blindness and Animated Choropleth Maps.” Ian Smith (B.S. 2009) was promoted by his employer, Standard Solar. He had been working at the Rockville, Md., headquarters but recently moved to Erie, Pa., to open the western Pennsylvania branch of the business. Standard Solar installs residential and commercial solar photovoltaic systems throughout the mid-Atlantic. Kevin Imafuku (B.S. 2009) is in the M.A. Asian Studies program at the University of Hawaii and the EastWest Center. His research interests are East Asian regionalization and international education.
Penn State geographers had a reunion at GeoCart 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand, in September 2010. Pictured, from left, are: Amy Griffin (M.S. 2000, Ph.D. 2004), Cindy Brewer (who gave a keynote talk), David O’Sullivan, Mark Gahegan, James O’Brien (Ph.D. 2004), and Tawan Banchuen (Ph.D. 2008). O’Sullivan and Gahegan are currently teaching at the University of New Zealand.
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Student travels to Tanzania as part of research project Some people in the village of Rau, Tanzania, can’t farm their land anymore and have turned to working other jobs to earn a living. Others have been forced to buy elsewhere food they can’t grow on their own farms. And for some who still have farms, they’ve had to install irrigation systems to water their crops. The root of the problem that’s affected this village of a couple hundred people near the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro is a 12-year drought, a weather phenomenon the locals see as a consequence of climate change. Geography major Jen Spinelli was on a team of researchers that went to Rau and three other Tanzanian villages over the summer to study what the residents know about climate change. The visit was part of a larger project, Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, or ALCCAR, led by geography assistant professor Petra Tschakert in Tanzania and Ghana. Its goal is to learn how the communities can avoid future effects of climate change by using the residents’ skills and knowledge. Spinelli, a senior from Erie, Pa., said she learned that the people she met in Tanzania are aware of climate change. They’re frustrated that they’re being affected by something they’re not causing, she says, but they are taking steps to try to offset future effects of climate change. “The people we spoke with know exactly how to adapt and survive and make the best use of what they have,” she says. “At least in Tanzania, they have a basic understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, and they seem to have a better grip on dealing with climate change than a lot of Americans do.” Spinelli was in Tanzania with Jen Shaffer, a postdoctoral scholar also working with Tschakert. They did fieldwork from the end of June to mid-August in four villages in two areas: Mlingotini and Makurunge, communities near Bagamoyo on the northeastern coast of Tanzania; and Chekereni and Rau, which are in the Kilimanjaro region near Moshi. For Spinelli, it was her first foray into fieldwork, and she learned that the pace of life and work in the United States is far different from what she found in Tanzania. “We would make appointments with groups and individuals and then usually wait an hour or two for people to show up because they got distracted talking to a neighbor, or our translator got stuck in traffic,” she says. “Even though it was very frustrating sometimes, it was a good lesson on how to slow down and appreciate the experience.” Shaffer was impressed with Spinelli’s abilities to handle herself in a foreign culture. For instance, Spinelli taught some of their community people to use a camera without using any Kiswahili, the local language. She used hand and body motions to communicate effectively, she says. “Prior to going, my expectation was that whoever we go with would be open to an experience that’s completely different, ” said Shaffer, who did her dissertation research in Mozambique. “I think Jen did a great job – she definitely has what it takes to do work in non-U.S. field
Geography undergrad Jen Spinelli shows people in C as part of the community-based enviro conditions, be it the culture or temperature or something really different from home.” The fieldwork began with asking community members to remember odd or unusual weather events. The answers would be rated on how extreme they were compared to one another to get an idea about the community’s climate variability. The most common recollections were floods, droughts and really hot or cold days, Spinelli says. And that’s when the residents in Rau told of the 12-year drought and how they’d adapted to it. “It’s amazing how flexible they can be with their livelihoods,” she says. “It really made me wonder how my life would change if my home had suffered from a 12-year drought. It was very humbling to realize that while the people had to change a lot of things to adapt, I probably wouldn’t have to make any changes at all in the same situation.” The second step, the mental model, asked the community people to define climate change and its causes. The people defined climate change and said it came from things like smoke from car exhaust and factories across the globe. “Studying climate change from a science perspective makes it easy to separate yourself from the issue, but the people we spoke with are affected by it on such a basic level that we really learned a lot from just listening to them,” she says. During that step, Spinelli and Shaffer asked the people if they saw positive and negative consequences of climate change. “They understood what causes climate change better than Americans do,” she says. “They also recognize it’s not them that is causing it – they realize it’s western culture with industrialization.” The third step, environmental monitoring, taught the residents how to
Here’s a little bit about the non-scientific stuff from Spinelli’s six weeks in Tanzania:
Chekereni, Tanzania, how to use a camera onmental monitoring project. use tools to track changes to their environment, such as measuring tree growth or using a rain gauge thermometer. They were also taught how to keep scientific records. In the fishing village of Mlingotini, Spinelli says, the people even wanted to measure the size of the fish they’d catch to see how the sizes were changing. The last part, the walking journey, consisted of six individual interviews with people from the villages who showed Spinelli and Shaffer places that had experienced an environmental change, such as land degradation or loss of biodiversity. Now, researchers at the University of Dar es Salaam are translating from Swahili to English the interviews and other data that Spinelli and Shaffer collected. Here at Penn State, Spinelli is doing data-entry work for the project during the fall 2010 semester, which is what she was doing during the spring 2010 semester and how she ended up going on the research trip. Spinelli will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in geography and the human geography option. She’s trying to decide between enrolling in a service program like Teach for America and the Peace Corps or going to graduate school for a hands-on master’s program in a field like community development or recreation/parks and tourism management. The Tanzania experience may have helped equip her for whichever path she chooses: “I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. I’ve thought about teaching English abroad and now I know I can survive in a foreign country on limited resources,” she says. Also, “I would kind of like to do something with natural resources and make better use of what Mbeya people have to help solve some of the issues they face.”
Tastiest food: the mandazi. Spinelli describes the mandazi as a pastry that tastes like a funnel cake but in donut form. Spinelli said she had a couple of them for her first meal in Mlingotini, when she was really hungry. Spinelli’s host took that show of appetite to mean she loved them, and as a result, her host kept serving them to her. Spinelli didn’t mind. Song you never thought you’d hear in Africa: “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow. The elders of Mlingotini put on a concert of, as Spinelli says, “goofy songs” that included the song about the beach in Rio de Janeiro. The elders also sang in English, but their Swahili accents made it a little hard to understand. Nevertheless, Spinelli says she appreciated the gesture. Animal you’d most want to see on a safari: Spinelli saw several elephants on a three-day safari that stopped for a day each in Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara National Park. As for the elephants, Spinelli says she likes them most because they function like a human family. For instance, they move as one unit, protect each other, play together, bug the elderly, tease their siblings, and encourage the young ones to learn and grow. They can even use their trunks to hug each other. “I read it about it National Geographic, I watched it on Planet Earth, and I actually witnessed it in person,” she says. Nickname: It’s probably no surprise that Spinelli and her travel mate, Jen Shaffer, got nicknames so people could differentiate between the two of them. Spinelli was “Jen Kidogo,” or “little Jen” and conversely, Shaffer became known as “Jen Kubwa,” or “big Jen.” Won’t soon forget: Spinelli had a brush with red ants on the walking journey of one of the village visits. One of the villagers was showing Spinelli and Shaffer elephant tracks, when, “all of a sudden, he starts brushing off my ankles.” Spinelli didn’t know what was happening: “Lots of red ants were going up my legs,” she says. She ran to their vehicle to LakeLuckily, she had no swelling or physical reacbrush them off. Natron tion to the bites.
# Mt. Kilimanjaro
Lake Manyara National Park
Tarangire National Park
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Dodoma Uga n da Bukoba
Tan za nia Dodoma
Za mb ia Malawi
Dar es Salaam
Visitation Sites of Jen Spinelli
Dar es Salaam
a ah Tabora
Mo za mbi qu e
120,000 - 850,000 >850,000
Cartography by Andy Stauffer, Gould Center intern r w
Check out our new website! www.geog.psu.edu
Geographers attend climate change institute in Panama
Thomas Sigler, Tim Frazier, Brent Yarnal, Peter Howe, and USGS Research Scientist Nathan Wood atop Ancon Hill in the former Panama Canal Zone, with Panama City in the background.
Brent Yarnal, Ph.D. candidate Peter Howe, and alumnus Tim Frazier (M.S. 2005, Ph.D. 2009) were invited to attend the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute on Integrating Climate Change and Natural Hazards in Panama City, Panama. The two-week institute, held in June 2010, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and organized by the Association of American Geographers, in coordination with the United Nations Environment Programme, the National Communication Association, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Technological University of Panama. Yarnal served as one of 12 lead instructors, and Howe and Frazier were among 40 graduate students and early career faculty from North and South America funded to attend the workshop. Howe and Frazier co-authored a paper titled â€œVisualization of Slow-Developing Hazards: Influencing Perceptions and Behaviors to Facilitate Adaptation Planning,â€? (read it online at http://bit.ly/9UQZE5) which is one of a set of white papers produced during the workshop on emerging themes in natural hazards and climate change research. Ph.D. candidate Thomas Sigler, currently living in Panama City, also presented the results of his dissertation research on urban growth in Panama City.
Meet the 2010-2011 graduate class You can read more about their research, as well as the research projects of all of our masterâ€™s and doctoral students at www.geog.psu.edu/ research/current-student-research.
Evan Lawley, M.S. Interest: Dendroecology
Eleanor Andrews, M.S. Interests: Human dimensions of global environmental change, political ecology, social environmental justice
James Metz, M.S. Interests: Ecosystems ecology, biogeography, climatology
Raechel Bianchetti, Ph.D. Interests: Spatial cognition, remote sensing, GIS
Christine Rosenfeld, M.S. Interests: historical geography, cultural geography, globalization
Jenna Christian, M.S. Interests: Developing world, political geography, social environmental justice
Sasha Savelyev, Ph.D. Interests: Geovisualization, GIS, cartography
Dana Cuomo, Ph.D. Interests: Gender, political and social geography, rural geography
Jamie Shinn, Ph.D. Interests: Political ecology, social environmental justice, environmental conservation
Elaine Guidero, M.S. Interests: Cartography, geovisualization, spatial cognition
Whitney Smith, M.S. Interests: Social geography, economic geography, landscape
Patrick Hammons, M.S. Interests: Political ecology, social environmental justice, gender
Jennifer Titanski, Ph.D. Interests: Economic geography, political geography, globalization
Rachel Isaacs, Ph.D. Interests: Biogeography, vegetation dynamics, climate change
Chanda Turner, Ph.D. Interests: Developing world, political geography, natural resources/ diplomacy
New online B.A. program focuses on energy, sustainability and policy A new program offered through the Dutton Institute aims to prepare people for a role in shaping the policy and communications for cleaner, renewable energy technologies. The new program, a Bachelor of Arts degree in energy and sustainability policy, is offered through the Dutton Institute, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. It was launched at the start of the fall 2010 semester. The program is interdisciplinary in nature, consisting of required courses in geography, energy business and finance (EBF), energy and mineral engineering (EME), energy and geo-environmental engineering (EGEE), engineering, meteorology, and political science. Specific to geography, a webversion of GEOG 30 (geographic perspectives on sustainability) was developed for the program by faculty members Karl Zimmerer, Petra Tschakert and Brian King. Ph.D. candidate Seth Baum is teaching the course. Department alumni are among the programâ€™s faculty and instructors, too. Brandi Robinson (2005) is the author of GEOG / EME 423 (energy policy) and will teach GEOG 438W. Ron Santini (CPGIS 1999) is developing GEOG 469 (energy applications GIS). Sue Spaugh, who once worked in the geography department as a staff assistant and works in the Dutton Institute, is the program assistant for ESP. Energy and sustainability policy is considered a degree completion program, said David DiBiase, the director of the Dutton Institute. Students generally need 40 credits to enter the program. Through their degree, students can develop energy industry knowledge, a sustainability ethic, analytical and communication skills and a global perspective. The program focuses on client-stakeholder relations, integrative design and decision making for energy solutions, market and nonmarket business strategies in the energy field, and data visualization techniques. For more information about the program, go to http://esp.e-education.psu.edu.
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WE ARE ... GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT! We extend our deepest gratitude to all alumni and friends who have given financial support to the Department of Geography during past six decades. Without these generous contributions, many scholarhips, 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 Jan. 1 and June 30, 2010. Their names are listed below. If you would like to donate to the department, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Mr. Bruce M. Balmat Mrs. Ruth Kohut Balmat Dr. Cynthia Brewer Mrs. Caroline S. Carbaugh Mr. Larry W. Carbaugh Mr. David DiBiase Mrs. Marguerite Suarez Dunn Mr. Jon W. Eich Mrs. Kathleen A. Eich Dr. Rodney A. Erickson Mrs. Sharon L. Erickson Mr. Fred Gockley Mrs. Marianne Gockley Mr. Maury H. Hendler Jr. Mr. Terry L. Hess Dr. David C. Hodge Mrs. Carol Y. Kennedy
Donors Marianne and Fred Gockley are pictured with undergraduate Jinlong Yang, the recipient of the 2010 Jeff Gockley Memorial Award.
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Mr. Benjamin R. Mutzabaugh Dr. Timothy J. O’Connell Ms. Tracy D. O’Connell Mr. Ronald S. Pristas Mr. Zach N. Richards Mr. Bret W. Rodgers Mrs. Denise G. Rodgers Ms. Jennifer M. Rubbo Mr. Patrick W. Ryan Mrs. Samantha Ryan Mrs. Debra Vincer Sipe Mr. Ronald L. Sipe
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