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Winter/Spring 2008 Newsletter (Volume 6, Issue 1)

In This Issue: Undergraduates travel to Honduras Assistant Professor Petra Tschakert explores small-scale mining in Ghana Coffee Hour turns forty, goes digital

Where in the World?

Find out where our globe-trotting geographers went in 2007

FROM THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT What is Strategic Planning in the Department?

Dr. Karl Zimmerer Head of Department

Table of Contents: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

From the Head Undergraduate Student News Graduate Student News Faculty and Staff News Faculty Research Spotlight Introduction to GEMS Board Spring Break: Honduras! Coffee Hour Turns Forty, Goes Digital Alumni News Alumni News New Laboratory, Center Started GIS in the Workplace; Calendar Where in the World? CPGIS Graduates; AAG Reception Scholarships, Endowments, and Award Funds

Contact us: The Pennsylvania State University Department of Geography 302 Walker Building University Park, PA 16802 Telephone: (814) 865-3433 Fax: (814) 863-7943 E-mail: Web site:

The textbook description is certainly applicable: the process of guiding futureoriented decisions, setting priorities, allocating resources, and providing information for the making of day-today management decisions. That’s a nice summary, as far as definitions go. But it fails to capture the spirit and specificity of Strategic Planning—in upper case— which the Department has undertaken since early fall (starting with our town hall meeting on September 19, to be exact). The Department’s Strategic Planning is a response to last summer’s call of Provost Rod Erickson, and the timetable for these plans, from all departments and campus planning units, to be completed by the early summer of 2008. Strategic Planning requires a spirit of open communication, inspired vision, and informed pragmatism. There have been ample opportunities and impressive demonstrations of this spirit. Many a Wednesday was likely a Strategic Planning meeting in the Department. A total of eight meetings were held during the fall semester on topics that ranged from undergraduate and graduate education to alumni development and diversity. Bagels and coffee there were aplenty, thanks to Jess and the other office staff. As new Head of the Department, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the showing of sustained interest (and refreshments). Faculty colleagues, students, and staff offered an abundance of thoughtful and constructive suggestions, insights, and comments. Several of the major strategic focus areas were described in my Coffee Hour talk on January 18 and subsequently discussed and evaluated further. Strategic Planning shows the strengths of a great department. The greatness of the Penn State Department of Geography has resonated throughout the process of Strategic Planning. Some of the key areas specifically within the Department’s Strategic Plan include: • setting priorities for the next quantum-leap advance in “student-centeredness”—innovating the win-win of teaching and research to make available the best possible undergraduate and graduate educations and educational experiences;

• putting together a development plan involving still closer connections within networks, formal and informal, of Department alumni, donors, and an alumni affinity group; • identifying strategic Department synergies with the dynamic strengths and exciting future of the Dutton Institute and on-line and e-Education programs; • the diversity plan involving an all-out effort to recruit and retain diverse faculty, students, and staff through a variety of opportunities and support mechanisms; • increased emphasis on accountability and assessment, especially Student Learning Outcomes Assessment (SLOA). Strategic focus areas, identified as emerging areas that build on core Department strengths, are crucial guides for the Department’s future. To date, the Strategic Plan is centered on five such guiding areas (unranked): 1. Energy, with emphasis on the environmental, social, political, and economic dynamics, including policy and management; 2. Geo-informatics and human health and disease, building on this rapidly growing field of GIScience advances; 3. Environmental justice, forging a combined perspective of human geography and nature-society geography; 4. Water-land ecosystem geography, centered on the interface of wetland and water systems, on the one hand, and terrestrial, plant, and landscape ecology, on the other; 5. Land use and cover change, integrating the use of environmental sensors, such as remote sensing, analysis, and monitoring, with environmental social science. It must be mentioned also that the Department’s Strategic Plan will be closely interconnected with those of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (and the University) in a top-down, bottomup process. In short, Strategic Planning is an exciting work-in-progress in the Department.

Congratulations to our recent graduates!

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT NEWS O’Shannon Burns spent the fall semester studying at Pontifícia Universidade Católica-São Paulo, Brazil as part of the Penn State Council on International Exchange (CIEE) program. As part of her studies O’Shannon took a course on urban climatology—emphasizing the climate of São Paulo—and conducted a research project for her Brazilian cultural class that looked at sustainable low-income housing in Brazil.

Jacki Slagle spent eleven weeks during the summer working on a community park project in Irwin, PA with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. Jacki’s project was one of twelve that were part of a state-wide downtown revitalization program. The Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Carolyn Fish interned with the Penn State Office of the program was partnered with Physical Plant Engineering Services Department during The Pennsylvania Horticultural Lisa Voghel (left) stands with Rodney the summer of 2007. She worked on converting CAD to Society and The Pennsylvania Erickson, Executive GIS and also made dozens of maps for clients at Penn State. Downtown Center. She also Vice President This fall and spring, Carolyn is interning for Penn State worked alongside another intern and Provost of the Library’s Pennsylvania Center for the Book where she is and her community partner, University, during the fall Schreyer Honors helping to create a better version of the interactive map The Irwin Project, to transform College medals found on their Web site. She also worked with Dr. Cindy an under-used and poorlyceremony. Lisa was Brewer during the fall semester to write a chapter titled maintained green space into a the EMS student “GIS as a Tool for Mapmaking” in the book The History of well-designed public park— marshall—the student in the college with the Cartography in the 20th Century. later renamed highest grade point “Bell Park.” average. Trieste Lockwood is currently interning The focus of with the National Geographic Society’s the park was to instill a sense of local Education and Children’s Programs heritage and school pride. The design division in Washington, D.C. centered around a historic school bell Carlo Sica recently returned from one year that sat upon stones salvaged from the with the AmeriCorps National Civilian now-demolished Irwin High School Community Corps (NCCC) where he Jacki Slagle (left) poses in newly building. The park was also outfitted worked in five locations along the Gulf renovated ‘Bell Park’ in Irwin, with a new table, benches, and exposed Pennsylvania. Jacki interned coast and in the mid-west. The mission of with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful aggregate concrete paths that connected the AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen during the summer of 2007. the newly landscaped areas of the park to communities and develop leaders through the surrounding neighborhood.  direct, team-based national and community service.

Fall B.S. Greg Ambrecht Jennifer Carr Justin Casavant Matthew Gibson Steven Liu Miles Saunders Edward Sheehe Zachary Tardivo Lisa Voghel Fall M.S. Jessica Acosta Rui Peng Summer M.GIS Yosef Bodovski Andrew Campbell Byron Gessel Erin Mutch Fall M.GIS Jim Amerault Tim Haydt Rossana Grizinic Jill Kern Cynthia May Fall Ph.D. Xiping Dai Michael Glass (see CPGIS students on page 15)

Students, Department Give to THON The annual Interfraternity/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Last year, THON helped to raise $5,240,385.17 for The Four Diamonds Fund, which aides families in combatting child cancer. This year, the Department of Geography is pleased to donate its time and services to the cause.

dancer for Lion Ambassadors; Allison Hurley, member of the OPPerations Committee; Tye Kreider, dancer; Charlotte Newell, THON chair for the Penn State Club Tennis organization; Kristyn Sullivan, member of Blue and White Society, Penn State Club Swimming, and THON, Rules & Regulations; Kaitlin Walsh, THON chair for the Penn State University Choir and dancer.

The Department of Geography and Peter R. Gould Center for Geography Education and Outreach designed a custom parking map for the families involved with THON. This onediamond level contribution should help to reduce the congestion and confusion associated with parking logistics during THON weekend.

Kevin Imafuku, undergraduate student and president of the Penn State Japanese Culture Society, is involved with THON in a unique way: making 1,000 paper cranes for THON. In Japan there is a saying that if one makes 1,000 origami cranes—together called a senbazuru—it will help one of your wishes come true. There is a famous story of a girl named Sadako who fell sick with cancer from the radiation from the atomic bomb and attempted to fold 1,000 paper cranes to get well. To this day people in Japan often give gifts of 1,000 paper cranes to those who are sick in hopes that they will recover. This spring the Japanese Culture Society will sell the origami cranes with this story and will donate all of the proceeds to THON to help with the common goal of curing childhood cancer. They will also be making 1,000 paper cranes and stringing them together to donate to THON as a sign of support. 

In addition to the department’s donation, many undergraduate students are involved with the planning—and dancing—of THON. They are: Carolyn Fish, moraler; Nicholas Giner, member of THON hospitality committee; Jarod Grim, member of special events committee and Graphic used with permission from THON Public Relations Chair

Winter/Spring 2008


GRADUATE STUDENT NEWS Brian Tomaszewski attended many conferences in 2007, including the Fourth International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) Conference in Delft, the Netherlands; the International Cartographic Association (ICA) Commission on Visualization and Virtual Environments meeting in Helsinki, Finland; the International Cartography Conference in Moscow, Russia; the Sixth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context (CONTEXT’07) at Roskilde University, Denmark; the Global Symposium +5 ‘Information for Humanitarian Action’ at the United Nations Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland; and gave a talk Jessica Hayes-Contitled “Modeling and Visually Representing Geo-historical roy works in a high Context” at Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Center for Scientific and school garden in Nova Scotia Technological Research in Povo, Italy. 

Mamata Akella received a Society of Woman Geographers (SWG) Pruitt National Minority Fellowship for 2007-2008 to assist with travel expenses associated with her masters research. Seth Baum won the economics/business section of a series of contests on climate change ethics. His project “Beyond the Ramsey model for climate change assessments” was hosted by the journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics.

Jessica Hayes-Conroy has been traveling for her dissertation research in Nova Scotia and in Berkeley, California—three months in each place. She is studying school garden and cooking programs, examining how they function as both political movements that seek change to the food system and as health-based initiatives that are attempting to combat the so-called childhood obesity epidemic. To do this, Jessica has volunteered at two schools in gardening and cooking classes, and has also conducted interviews with numerous teachers, parents, food activists, and kids. Craig McCabe received the Association of Earth Science Editors’ award for Best Map or Poster 2007 for his GIS poster, “Map of Quaternary-Active Faults in the San Francisco Bay Region.”

Research Spotlight: A look at what last year’s incoming graduate class is working on In my research I study some of the less-publicized aspects of e-waste disposal in the developing world. Although problems with massive e-waste dumping—particularly in China and India—have been documented, the majority of the developing world is affected by much different problems of transport and disposal under the guise of re-use. Consequently, I chose to study the Darrell Fuhriman social, political, and economic processes that go into this avenue of disposal. To that end, I spent the first half of the summer in Accra, Ghana interviewing shantytown residents, government officials, computer repairers, and scrap collectors. I not only show how the ultimate My current research is focused on map symbology for emergency responders. I am exploring how human factors research and testing methods can be used by cartographers to improve the design, effectiveness, and comprehension of pictographic symbol sets. In 2004, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Homeland Security Working Group (HSWG) Mamata Akella developed a set of pictographic symbols for use by emergency management and first responder communities. In 2006, the symbol set became an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. My research will examine the comprehension level of the proposed FGDC HSWG Emergency and Hazard Management Mapping Standard-point symbology using the ANSI recommended open-ended testing method. This testing method is typically used in human factors research to test the comprehension of common day hazard warning signs and symbols. Applying the open-ended



Penn State Geographers win Middle States AAG Geography Bowl

Penn State geographers won—for the second year in a row—the Middle States AAG Geography Bowl, held in Reading, Pennsylvania. Two Penn State teams, with both undergraduates and graduates, competed in the bowl. The students were tested on everything from GIS-related questions, human and cultural geography, landforms, and historical geography. The win qualifies the competition’s top scorers— graduate students Andrie Israel, Jamison Conley, and Tom Auer—to compete in the World Geography Bowl at this year’s Annual AAG meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. disposal of e-waste most negatively affects the marginalized residents of one shantytown, Old Fadama, but also that it is no accident that this is the affected community. I build on nascent theories of environmental justice to understand why e-waste is disposed in this particular place and not some other.

Accumulation of ewaste in Accra, Ghana

I hope that by placing the real-world situation of e-waste in Accra, Ghana into a multi-scalar and practical theoretical framework, that a broader understanding can be achieved. Through that broader understanding we can create policies to solve all environmental injustices, not just this one. 

testing method to emergency map symbology will be an interesting application because both emergency map symbols and common day hazard signs and symbols need to be interpreted quickly, often times under pressure, by the end user. I will conduct testing with fire fighters in both Pennsylvania and California. Recently, the FGDC HSWG symbology subgroup decided to reconvene and make improvements to the standard. I have been in contact with two members of the subgroup, and they are interested in considering both the testing method and my results as ways to improve their symbol standard.  Can you tell what events are taking place in this map?

FACULTY & STAFF NEWS Rob Brooks, professor, was the editor of a special section of the international journal EcoHealth, involving six papers on the next generation of wetland indicators. Rob, Senior Research Associate Denice Heller Wardrop, and graduate student Kristen Hychka were among the authors on three invited papers published in a feature issue of the international journal Wetlands. Noelle Capparelle, graduate staff assistant, accepted a job-share position in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Associate Dean’s Office for Graduate Education and Outreach. Her new position began on February 1. Current staff member Jessica Watson will replace Noelle as the graduate staff assistant. Derrick Lampkin, assistant professor, had an article published in Geotimes showcasing his mobile rovers projects—data collectors used in harsh, Antarctic climates (details at: Derrick also recently received word that NASA has awarded funds to support field campaign to Niwot Ridge, Colorado to study alpine snow melt dynamics—a collaborative effort between him and Dr. Mark Williams of INSTAAR/University of Colorado, Boulder. Finally, Derrick delivered a distinguished lecture at Elizabeth City State University—a core Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CRESIS) institution—to discuss the mobile rovers project. Alan MacEachren, professor, is on sabbatical for the 2007-2008 academic year. So far he spent the fall term at Stanford in the Department of Computer Science. While at Stanford, Alan served as a visiting professor working with Pat Hanrahan and others in the Computer Graphics Laboratory. Since Alan and Pat both direct a Department of Homeland Security-supported Regional Visualization and Analytics Center, it was an opportunity to coordinate on joint work. In addition, Alan was able to connect with geography alumnus Erik Steiner (B.S./M.S. 2001), incoming manager of the Spatial History Lab, and his colleagues on the new Stanford Spatial History Project. In the spring Alan is planning several shorter visits to research groups in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Petra Tschakert, assistant professor, and graduate student Katie Dietrich participated in the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Bali, Indonesia from December 3-15, 2007. At the poster exhibit, representing Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa (AESEDA), Petra and Katie showed ongoing work on collective learning for climate change adaptation in Ghana and results from climate modeling and downscaling for Africa. Side events provided multiple opportunities to connect and exchange with the international climate change community. Anthony Williams, professor emeritus, spent October 2007 traveling through France. Dr. Williams and his traveling companion investigated a number of aspects facing rural France such as village depopulation and resulting economic consequences 

Cindy Brewer Receives Promotion to Professor

Cindy Brewer was promoted to professor in spring 2007. She joined Penn State as an assistant professor in the fall of 1994. She is also associate head of the department—a new position starting last year that combines organization of curriculum and resident graduate students. This spring she completes two years as chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee of Penn State’s Faculty Senate. She is looking forward to sabbatical next year, working with the USGS on topographic map design at multiple scales, suited for both print and screen viewing. This project grows from her service on the National Research Council panel that produced the 2007 report, “A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey,” and also from work by Penn State students on topographic map redesign in the Applied Cartographic Design class (Geog 467, spring 2007). Students presented their map designs at the USGS headquarters in Reston Virginia last May, resulting in USGS’s seeking more design ideas. The 467 class this spring is working on map generalization in multi-scale design. In addition to course work, Cindy is a coauthor of the newly released Census Atlas of the United States. This project grew from her previous sabbatical work with the Census Bureau and a prototype atlas Mapping Census 2000: The Geography of U.S. Diversity (2001). Penn State alumna Trudy Suchan lead both Census Bureau projects. Cindy has a sequel to her book Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users (2005) coming out this spring. The new book is titled Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users, and both books are published by ESRI Press. Look for her at the authors’ panel during the ESRI User Conference this August. 

Bidding Farewell to Mark Gahegan

After nine years in the Department of Geography, Professor Mark Gahegan said goodbye to State College and Penn State. Mark and his family relocated to Auckland, New Zealand, where Mark heads up a new Centre in GeoInformatics in the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Auckland. Though Mark has enjoyed being part of “such a fantastic scholarly community,” he plans to maintain ties with the department and University. “My affiliation with Penn State will continue over the short term as I complete some research projects, my graduate students finish up, and directorship of the MGIS program is handed on. So I will visit occasionally and be ‘virtually present’ in some regular research meetings,” he says. Mark also notes that he “will miss working faceto-face with graduate students, and interacting with department staff & faculty.” Mark has contributed greatly to the intellectual environment in the department over the years and will surely be missed. We wish Mark and Mark Gahegan (left) jams with David DiBiase durhis family the best of luck as they begin this newest chapter in their lives!  ing an Arts Festival performance with their band, Breezewood Honeymoon.

Winter/Spring 2008


Contaminated Identities: Mercury and Marginalization in Ghana’s Mining Sector

By Petra Tschakert

Assistant Professor Petra Tschakert explores small-scale mining in Ghana


Faculty Research Profile

mall-scale mining in the Global South is a largely poverty-driven activity. It involves rudimentary techniques of mineral extraction, highly manual processes, hazardous working conditions, and frequently negative human and environmental health impacts. An estimated 80-100 million people worldwide are engaged in this industry and depend on it for their livelihood. In Ghana, approximately 300,000 to 500,000 mine for gold on a small-scale, half of them being women, representing one of the highest rates in Africa. Despite the state’s official policy to promote small-scale mining as a catalyst for poverty reduction, illegal extraction is widespread. Most gold-rich land has been demarcated for multinational companies while the remaining plots involve high transaction costs for registration. Roughly 85% of all small-scale miners operate without an official license (locally known as galamsey miners). Not surprisingly, their activities have become increasingly contested. In public and governmental discourse, these operators have been portrayed as a ‘headache,’ ‘problem,’ and ‘menace,’ involving encroachment on concession land, pilfering of gold ore and equipment, and threats to social community cohesion. The dominant environmental narrative invokes growing numbers of illegal miners who irresponsibly use mercury to extract gold, thereby wrecking the environment and endangering their own and other people’s health. Yet, miners Ghanaian women, as men organized in ‘gangs,’ do not have access to work at alluvial gold mining sites. alternative extraction techniques.While many are perceived as ‘criminals’ with no entitlement to neither distributive nor procedural justice, the state provides the mercury and purchases their gold, both through licensed agents. My research, funded through the Africana Research Center and an Earth and Mineral Sciences Wilson Research Initiation Grant, attempts to challenge the dominant anti-galamsey discourse. I propose a political ecology approach to reassess the mercury debate from a miner’s perspective. In collaboration with Penn State Geosciences Assistant Professor Dr. Kamini Singha and students from the University of Ghana (including Raymond Tutu, now a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography), the aim was to actively involve and recognize this commonly marginalized group in a non-threatening and engaging manner, drawing upon a series of participatory research methods.



Rather than condemning the miners for the human and environmental risks they cause, we attempted to first understand the hazards they face on a day-to-day basis. The most serious hazards were collapsing sediments, pits, or shafts (severity of five, meaning ‘it can kill’). Other life-threatening risks were slipping and falling into pits, fighting among gang members, and death from dynamite blasting, underground heat, or lack of oxygen. Clearly, mercury contamination was not among the miners’ worst fears. Through body health mapping, galamseyers then illustrated their individual health problems and discussed possible treatment with professional nurses who joined us at the mining sites. Here, waist pain, eye problems, foot rot, and respiratory problems emerged as most visible patterns of pain and disease. To explore whether galamsey miners were indeed oblivious to risks caused by mercury, as repeatedly suggested in the literature and the field, we invited small groups of miners Miners indicate pain and injuries during a participatory to illustrate their understanding of mercury health body mapping activity. contamination. The results from this conceptual mapping indicate that miners are well aware not only of the multiple causes of mercury contamination—burning, dispersal through water bodies, and direct contact through skin and mouth—but also of harmful impacts, ranging from skin irritation to muscular tremors and death. Despite these known dangers, mercury remains the only available technique for gold extraction. Finally, we collectively used chemical indicator strips to measure potential mercury contamination on the sites. While we do not believe that the low concentrations of mercury detected in this study implicate or exonerate galamsey miners, we found that having them actively participate in data collection provided a useful framework for discussing the environmental impacts of mercury, to which they were Miners mix gold-containing sediments with mercury. When the amalgam is burned, the mercury both receptive and inquisitive. evaporates. Overall, the research shows that parity-fostering participatory research is a useful tool for counteracting misrecognition, nourishing capabilities, and serving as proxy for silenced and disparaged voices. We are now preparing an inter-disciplinary science workshop in Ghana to further assess human and environmental health in the small-scale gold mining sector. 

Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences (GEMS) The Graduates of Earth and Mineral Sciences—or GEMS—is the alumni society for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Membership in GEMS is included in your membership with the Penn State Alumni Association. The GEMS board has a fifteen-person Board of Directors that was originally appointed by the Dean of the College. Since 1994 board members have been nominated and elected by the general GEMS membership. Board members serve a three-year minimum term of office, are committed to attending two board meetings each year at University Park, and are charged in providing active assistance in developing the society. The board president is selected by the board for a two-year term.

Anne Messner (B.S. 1989)

The Department of Geography currently has two first-term representatives on the GEMS board: Anne Messner (B.S. 1989) and Grady Meehan (M.S. 1970). Below, Anne and Grady introduce themselves and describe their experiences with the GEMS board. Jose Cowen (B.S. 1990) and Tony Hutchinson (B.S. 1990) are slated to complete their GEMS board terms in June. Jose has served on the GEMS board since 2000 and Tony since 2002.

College of earth and mineral sciences

Grady Meehan (M.S. 1970)

In the summer of 2006, I received a call from Jose Cowen to ask if I wanted to serve on the GEMS board. Following an interview and deliberations by the GEMS board, I was asked to serve a three-year term, starting in September 2006. My first board meeting was generally one of getting to know other board members and to catch up with ongoing Graduates of earth board activities. By my third meeting in September and mineral sciences 2007, workings of the board are more familiar and have prepared me to offer some educated input. In While I certainly believe that I have life experiences that can benefit addition to the two-day, on-campus meetings, the board usually schedules current students, the aforementioned average person, faculty and alumni a two hour conference call between meetings. interaction appears to be best approached through groups like GEMS. Since their mission is to serve the alumni, faculty and students of the The second meeting in the spring of 2007 was notable since each candidate College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, it seemed like a better fit to for the EMS Dean’s position was invited to make a presentation before the become a GEMS Board member than just simply being a resident of State board. The three highly qualified candidates were all Penn State faculty College. Accepting the challenge to become a GEMS board member is who were department heads or an institute director. Listening to the three providing me an additional opportunity to interact with the Penn State candidates, I realized that each offered a unique professional strength to the college in addition to a reputation for research in their respective fields. community. Having graduated with a B.S. in Geography in 1989, I left Happy Valley for quite a few years. During the summer of 2001 my husband accepted a position with the Penn State Architectural Engineering Department, which brought us back to State College. Returning as an adult to a college town is a bit eye-opening in many ways; I, an alumna, am older than the average person walking down the street.


Since GEMS is part of the broader Penn State Alumni Association, it not only has support from Penn State, but it is a great resource to keep the alumni involved and gain interest from students as to what life is like after those Penn State football games. What I find most interesting so far about this group is how interested each board member is in Penn State, State College, and their commitment to giving back to Earth and Mineral Sciences. The diversity of the GEMS board amazes me. As a planner by education and profession, such environments are not often found. Often times there is an interest group that misses out, for a variety of reasons, on part of the planning process, a common occurrence in my field. The GEMS members seem more than willing to try to recognize and embrace the differences in each board member’s perspective, creating an opportunity for all to be heard. While I have only attended one meeting of the full board, it looks like a great group. I look forward to my tenure as a GEMS board member and to working with everyone. 

For me, as one of three geographers on the board at the time, it was especially exciting to listen to a geographer, Dean Bill Easterling, since I got to know him at UNC-Chapel Hill where we were both in the geography doctoral program. The rest is history, since Bill was appointed to be the current EMS Dean by President Spanier last year. If I am correct, this is the first time a geographer has been elevated to the EMS Dean’s position, reflecting geography’s standing at Penn State and stature of its faculty.

Anne D. Messner, AICP, is a planner for the Borough of State College. Her primary duties include zoning reviews, serving as a liaison to the Borough’s Historic Resource Commission, staff member for the Borough’s First-Time Home Buyer Program, and project manager for the Borough’s 2008 contributing building inventory for structures built from 1945 through 1960.

Grady Meehan currently works as a senior geographic analyst for Terrestar Networks, Inc. in Reston, Virginia. He is involved with various aspects of satellite and ground-based wireless telecommunications technologies and their impact on the geographic service footprint enabled by these technologies.

At the September 2007 meeting, Dean Easterling emphasized the importance of the alumni in his plans for the college. With the start of a new Dean’s term of office, the GEMS board will continue its work and prepare for new initiatives we will be asked to be involved in. Already, the GEMS board reviews college-level alumni awards, provides support to EMS college programs and is represented on the Penn State Alumni Council by the president of the GEMS board. 

Winter/Spring 2008


Spring Break: Honduras!


s I learned about impoverished countries during my time in the Department of Geography, I often found myself wondering… “What can I do to effect change?” Unfortunately, far too often people say they want to do something significant but never actually follow through. Fellow undergraduate Alexa Dugan and I would often discuss global issues of concern including the potential for health, social, and economic change in developing countries. This past fall semester we finally found an opportunity where we could positively impact the well-being of humanity: by setting up a Penn State Chapter of the Global Medical Brigades (GMB). The GMB is composed of stationed doctors, nurses, and visiting university students from throughout the United States. In coordination with the GMB organization, college students travel to Central America periodically during winter, spring, and summer breaks to work in medical clinics within communities that would otherwise be without access to medicine or health care. After realizing we could create an opportunity to impact the lives of people in Honduras, the poorest country in Central America, we were most ecstatic.

Starting a new organization on campus and planning for a trip to Central America is no easy task. The first step, which made the planning of the trip possible, was a brief discussion with our geography professor Brent Yarnal, who not only encouraged us, but agreed to become our advisor in this adventure set to take place during spring break. As the planning progresses, we look forward to leading thirty-three students on this trip to work with other students and doctors in medical brigades. Alexa and I are proud to share this opportunity with Penn State students to not only learn about the existing health care issues of Honduras, but also to provide relief to a country where 70% of the population lives in poverty. Given the exposure to the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental conditions of rural Honduras, this experience will be an invaluable addition to our geographic perspective.

The geographers on this trip will be accompanied by students with very diverse academic backgrounds including students of biology, biobehavioral health, education, economics, and Spanish. Despite our different backgrounds and How did this come about? Last summer, strengths, we will undergo group training upon geography graduate student Thomas Sigler arrival and proceed to set up small clinics where mentioned that GMB was an international patients will be diagnosed and treated at no cost. organization dedicated to providing free health The Penn State brigade will function as a mobile care in rural communities throughout Central medical unit and will provide medical relief America.Thomas enthusiastically explained how and health education to Hondurans. We will GMB provides medical aid to Central America interact with people of all ages, including a local and how there was a need for help in Tegucigalpa, orphanage of children who have AIDS. The GMB Honduras (Thomas work in conjunction is currently spending with the Santa Rosa this academic year with clinic, located in GMB’s sister organization, Nuevo Paraiso, a rural Global Business Brigades, village found outside which helps implement of the capital city sustainable growth Tegucigalpa in central strategies in rural microHonduras. The Santa enterprises). After Rosa Clinic specializes Thomas shed light in Emergency on this influential Medicine, OB/GYN, organization, Alexa and opthamology, internal I sat silently and stared Penn State Chapter of Global Medical Brigades to medicine, and the at each other and knew Honduras cofounders and geography undergraduates distribution of we were thinking the Alexa Dugan and Trieste Lockwood pharmaceuticals. In same thing; “We can 2006, the clinic treated do this!” That afternoon, we decided to extend more than 30,000 patients with the help of the university student network by founding the student volunteers from organizations like the Penn State University Chapter of Global Medical GMB. Brigades.



By Trieste Lockwood Currently, individual and collective fund-raising is taking place. All donations are directly

Graphic used with permission from Global Medical Brigades

contributed to medical supplies for our trip to Tegucigalpa. Our Penn State brigade has held successful spaghetti dinners and hosted a benefit concert to arouse public awareness and to help fund our trip. It is through the public awareness, support, and donations that this philanthropic expedition will be possible. Although this is Penn State’s first year joining the GMB, we hope the club will continue with an annual commitment of Penn State students to volunteer in medical clinics throughout Central America. Alexa and I look forward to experiencing and understanding public healthcare issues within Central America through hands-on involvement. Furthermore, we plan to apply our geographic perspectives to understand how healthcare is interconnected with the social and physical landscape of this region. It is our knowledge of the multifaceted human and environment relationships that has inspired us, as geographers, to lead this brigade. Most importantly, we are eager for Penn State students to have a real impact in the lives of many villagers and orphans in a country where disease and high malnutrition rates are commonplace. We are currently looking for a medical professional to accompany us on this trip, and any help in this search would be greatly appreciated. Please view the Web site: and feel free to contact either myself, Trieste Lockwood ( or Alexa Dugan ( to learn more about our trip or to donate to our cause as the first annual Penn State Chapter of Global Medical Brigades to Honduras undergoes its maiden voyage. A special thanks to the Penn State Geography Department for their generous financial support in our embarkation to Honduras. 

Coffee Hour Turns Forty, Goes Digital Forty years after its inception, the Department of Geography Coffee Hour remains a Friday afternoon staple


he academic landscape is ever-changing. New students come and go like a revolving door. Ideas are theorized, challenged, and reformulated. Faculty members routinely trot the globe conducting research, attending conferences, and collaborating with colleagues. Yet, amidst these ephemeral qualities, there is at least one custom in the Department of Geography that is marked with relative endurance: Coffee Hour.

David DiBiase sits with Media Site Live equipment. The equipment, which allows for the recording and live-streaming of talks and presentations, was graciously funded by Cindy Brewer and David.

Coffee Hour has remained a staple on the University Park campus and in the Department of Geography since 1968. On Friday afternoons, when most people are gearing up for the weekend, one often finds a lingering, conscientious group intently listening to an invited speaker share his or her research. From biologists to historians, lawyers to kinesiologists, architects to sociologists, it is not just geographic knowledge that is shared with the audience. In fact, one of the most well-preserved virtues of the Coffee Hour custom is how other disciplines can help aid in the understanding of geography and how geography can help better understand other disciplines, a veritable academic quid-proquo exchange.

Coffee Hour is not original or unique to the geography department. In fact, the notion and essence of Coffee Hour is oft repeated across universities and even right here in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences where other departments realize the merits in hosting a weekly academic colloquium. One might think that forty years of lectures week after week, on a Friday afternoon no less, might prove insipid. When attending a lecture, it is clear that the opposite is true. How refreshing it is to see and hear students, faculty, and friends gather as a result of their own volition. As Professor Emeriti Peirce Lewis and Wilbur Zelinsky so eloquently penned in the 1987 Professional Geographer, “an institution like the Coffee Hour, however simple it may seem, is in fact a rare and valuable thing. Not surprisingly, both faculty and students are proud of the Coffee Hour, and

Send us your business cards! The Department of Geography is in the process of collecting business cards in an effort to better network our alumni. Send your business card to: Jodi Vender Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising and Alumni Relations Department of Geography The Pennsylvania State University 302 Walker Building Office: 814.863.5730 University Park, PA 16202 Fax: 814.863.7943

Jodi Vender Penn State Department of Geography 302 Walker Building University Park, PA 16802 Or, send your digital business cards to

what it represents: a visible enthusiasm for the world of ideas— enthusiasm for learning beyond the narrow confines of one’s academic specialty—enthusiasm for sharing ideas with others.” So, as the aroma of coffee and the chatter of conversation permeates the halls of the geography department, one sees the gathering of a faithful group of people prepared for lively discussion and friendly debate. A group of people that continue to carry on the esteemed tradition set forth forty years before them.  Coffee Hour talks take place almost every Friday at 4:00 p.m., usually in 112 Walker Building. Refreshments precede the talk, starting at 3:30 in 319 Walker. If you cannot attend the lectures, please visit for instructions on how to view the lectures online and for a complete schedule. To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Coffee Hour, an official celebration is planned for the fall of 2008. If you have memories of Coffee Hour that you would like to share, please send them to

Coffee Hour Talks Now Available Online Reading that 1987 of the Professional Geography article, one is struck with a feeling that not much has changed during forty years since the inception of Coffee Hour. Of course that is not entirely true—much as changed in the department since 1968—but the customs of and surrounding Coffee Hour remain relatively static. Coffee Hour is still held on a Friday. Refreshments are still at 3:30. The talk still begins promptly at 4:00. Good news is still disseminated. Many “geography faculty are” still “expected to give a Coffee Hour every two years or so.” A lively question and answer session still follows the talk. Aside from changes in fashion and changing faces, one would be hardpressed to discern a 1968 Coffee Hour from a 1987 version or from a 2007 rendition. As we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Coffee Hour, there is one noticeable difference: Coffee Hour talks are now available online. In an effort to reach a wider audience, Professor Cindy Brewer and Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute David DiBiase have generously pledged support for a ‘Coffee Hour to Go!’ initiative. This initiative aims to record Coffee Hour speakers and broadcast them live to anyone with a high-speed internet connection. If you are unable to follow the talk live, fear not, the talks will be archived on the Mediasite web page and linked from the Department of Geography Web site ( As our alumni base increases exponentially quarter after quarter from students completing resident and online programs, this initiative surely is a welcome addition to the Coffee Hour tradition. Sorry, coffee brewed separately.

Winter/Spring 2008


ALUMNI NEWS Joe Scarpaci (M.S. 1978) recently completed

five weeks of field research in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as part of a grant carried out with the American Geographical Society, Bowman Expedition. The project, “Linking Geographical Scales of Analysis in Haiti and the Dominican Republic Using GIS and Community Participation,” focused on financing potable water in tourist enclaves that are surrounded by shanties. Joe partnered with Engineers without Borders, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Grupo Punta Cana, Fondation Connaissance et Liberte, The Nature Conservancy and numerous Haitian and Dominican public agencies and non-profits.

Thomas W. Potteiger (B.S. 1981) retired from

the United States Air Force Reserves last July after twenty-five years of service. He spent the majority of his career as a C-130 Navigator. Most of his time was spent flying cargo throughout southeast Asia, while stationed in the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan. He currently works at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia, working navigation/avionics testing and training. His work affords him the opportunity to travel to Pisa, Italy; Richmond, Australia; and the United Kingdom.

Robert D. Schellhamer (B.S. 1989) received his America Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) credential.

Anthony Hutchinson (B.S. 1990), current GEMS

board member, and his wife Rhona welcomed their newest Nittany Lion Luke Anthony to the world on Sunday, October 28, 2007.

Jon Eich (M.S. 1992) was elected to the Centre

would set up for a process for amending Pennsylvania’s constitution and changing the way the boundaries are drawn.

Bob Keach (B.S. 1993) was co-


If you have personal updates or address changes, please send them to or contact Alumni Relations Coordinator Jodi Vender at 814-863-5730. Not on the ALUMNI-GEOG-JOBS@LISTS.PSU.EDU or ALUMNI-GEOG@LISTS.PSU.EDU listservs? Send an e-mail to keep in touch.

counsel in a Camden County, New Jersey strip-search class action law suit which (Please note: to ensure that your information is up-to-date with the Penn State involved 24,000+ pre-trial Alumni Association, please visit detainees who were illegally strip-searched by the Camden County Department of Corrections. The suit Michael Hermann (B.S. 1995) is serving as was settled for $7,500,000. Bob also achieved president of the North American Cartographic verdict in Sealed Plaintiff v. Farber, a federal civil Information Society (NACIS) for 2007-08, and rights case tried to jury in Utica, New York. The serves as president of the Osher Map Library case involved the violation of the right to privacy Associates at the University of Southern Maine’s of a juvenile who was the victim of sexual abuse Osher Map Library and Smith Center for and whose identity as such was Cartographic Education. revealed by a police chief.

David Rain (M.S. 1993, Ph.D.1997), assistant

Jamie Bridges (B.S. 1997)

and his wife Karisa (B.S. 1994 Psychology, J.D. 2002 Dickinson School of Law) welcomed Casey Hayko Bridges to the world on June 2, 2007.

professor of geography and international affairs at George Jamie Bridges and his newest Washington University, along Nittany Lion, Casey Hayko with several other PIs and coPIs, is the recipient of a five-year, approximately Stewart Bruce (M.S. 1997) accepted a new $3,000,000 grant from the National Institutes job as GIS program coordinator at Washington of Health/National Institute of Child Health and College in Chestertown, Maryland. Human Development to study “Health, Poverty, and Place: Modeling Inequalities in Accra Using Phil Dennison (B.S. 1997) won the 2007 R/S and GIS.” Dr. Rain and his colleague from Superior Research Award from the College of George Washington University, Ryan Engstrom, Social and Behavioral Science at the University started conducting fieldwork in January to of Utah. He also recently received a four-year document neighborhood conditions in Accra, grant for developing methods of measuring Ghana. wildfire properties using hyperspectral remote sensing data. Jeremy Crampton (Ph.D. 1994) is the new editor of Cartographica: The International Journal Hilary Anne Frost-Kumpf (Ph.D. 2001) took for Geographic Information and Geovisualization. an educational leave from the University of Cartographica is dedicated to publishing articles Illinois at Springfield to pursue an M.A. in on all aspects of cartographic and geovisualization Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in research while maintaining its tradition of International Studies from the University of publishing material on cartographic theory, the Iowa. Upon graduation, Hilary returned to history of cartography, cartography and society, the University of Illinois at Springfield, where and critical cartography. she is assisting with the development of a new undergraduate degree in global studies.

County Board of Commissioners in November’s election. Jon also worked with Mark Gahegan’s GEOG 468 class on an analysis that compared the current system for drawing legislative district boundaries in Pennsylvania, which is a partisan process, with a nonpartisan approach. There are currently bills in the Pennsylvania legislature to make the process nonpartisan, by placing the process in the hands of a redistricting commission rather than the legislature and by prohibiting the use of party registration as one of the factors that is considered Martin Von Wyss with son and wife in the process. The legislation



Martin Von Wyss (M.S. 1994) Lt. Jeff Rubini (B.S. 2001) is conducting a recently published The Wine Map of Victoria by Max Allen. The wine map is the most comprehensive state-wide overview of wine regions, wineries, and vineyards ever produced in Australia.

book review for the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on “Protecting the Homeland 2006/2007.” The review addresses the progress, on-going challenges, and new initiatives related to homeland security. Jeff also recently participated in the Secretary of Agriculture’s 2006 large fire cost review report as a Brookings Institution panelist. He traveled

to various national forests throughout the Great Basin and along the California coast to meet with forest staff to discuss the issues surrounding the high cost of fighting fire. His interactions focused largely on strategic discussions related to the use of local and national incident management teams in the context of pre-fire conditions, the fire chronology, suppression actions and results, assessment of cost management, and fire outcomes. Jeff also worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a member of the Practitioner’s Workgroup charged with creating the first-ever Department of Homeland Security Emergency Response Field Operations Guidebook (ERFOG). The ERFOG will be used by federal, state and local organizations to help manage emergency response operations under National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) using elements of the Incident Command System.

Anna Brendle (B.S. 2002) graduated in June

his father’s parents came from—to Sweden.

Rosemary Daley (B.S. 2006) recently started

a new job as cartographer in the National Geographic Maps division at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

Raya Guruswamy (B.S. 2006) graduated from

Johns Hopkins University in May with a M.S. in Environmental Management and Policy. He then joined Bechtel Corp, based in Frederick, Maryland, where he works in the company’s environmental group. The group oversees all the environmental aspects of Bechtel projects in and outside of the country. There’s a fair bit of travel involved which keeps things quite exciting. In terms of travel, he stopped off in Kenya on his way to India from Nigeria. His job has afforded the opportunity to travel to Sohar, Oman, and he hopes to visit Guinea before the end of the year.

with her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine, Department of Planning, Policy, and Design in the School of Social Ecology. In July, she accepted a full-time position as program officer at the Children and Families Commission of Orange County. As a program officer, she manages grants to nonprofit organizations in the program areas of strong families and capacity building.

Shannon Chapin (B.S. 2007) is now employed

Zach N. Richard (B.S. 2002) accepted a job with

Vanessa Glynn-Linaris (MGIS 2007) started

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to northern Virginia.

Geoff Hatchard (M.S. 2003) took a new job with

by the United States Geologic Survey at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. She works on research surrounding the impacts of global climate change on the productivity and function of bald cypress swamps along a latitudinal gradient. The job combines her geography degree along with her experiences of working in the Plant Nutrition Lab as an undergraduate.

a new position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region III, in the Mitigation Division, Risk Analysis Branch as a GIS specialist/cartographer. Her current position was just created and involves supporting the engineers in risk analysis and hazard reduction. She often works with flood insurance rate maps, Hazards U.S. (HAZUS) software, and contract management.

the National Geographic Society. After almost four years in National Geographic Maps division, Geoff moved into the Geography Competitions division, where he works as the manager of editing and production. He is in charge of coordinating Howard Hodder (MGIS 2007) the writing of questions for the and his wife Stephanie recently National Geographic Bee and welcomed a new addition to their the National Geographic World family—their first child Hailey Championship ,as well as other Ruth Hodder—on October 28, smaller competitions that the Baby Hailey Ruth Hodder 2007. National Geographic Society sponsors. Monica Smith (B.S. 2007) started her first year as an M.S. student in GIS at San Diego Dave Jansson (Ph.D 2005) moved to Sweden, State University. Monica is a graduate assistant where he is a visiting research fellow in the at the university, where she teaches two 100Department of Social and Economic Geography level physical geography labs each week, at Uppsala University. He’ll be there at least one conducts several hours of research for her to two years studying migration from Åland—a advisor, and takes classes. She plans to study Swedish-speaking archipelago in Finland where at the University of Munster in the Institute of

Monica Smith travels through Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah on the way to San Diego State University where, she is now an M.S. GIS student

Geoinformatics next summer before returning for her second year of graduate school. On her way to San Diego, Monica, her sister, and a friend drove across the country, passing through Chicago, the Badlands, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Do you have a Facebook account? If so, join PSU DoGA - Penn State Department of Geography Alumni group! This group is a forum for connecting members of the Penn State Geography community for professional networking. Former and current students, staff, faculty, post-docs, visiting scholars, exchange students, and other friends are encouraged to participate! Questions? Contact

Winter/Spring 2008



New Laboratory, Center Started Laboratory of Landscape and Ecosystem Ecology


Erica measures understory vegetation in mature forests in Yellowstone National Park

t is with great pleasure that I begin

my research and teaching career in the geography department. The primary focus of my research is the analysis of spatial patterns with ecological processes. The Laboratory of Landscape and Ecosystem Ecology is specifically devoted to the understanding how spatial patterns of carbon storage and nitrogen availability—which can feedback to affect carbon storage—may change with disturbances and climate change.

My previous research was focused on fire at multiple spatial scales. Research in the lab will continue to ask how fire shapes ecosystem function across western landscapes, such as Yellowstone National Park and Alaska. Currently, Jared Oyler, an M.S. student in the Department of Geography, is exploring vegetation successional patterns in historical fires in Alaska using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) remote sensing imagery. His initial research has shown a decrease in vegetation productivity following severe fires, and we hope to extend this work to observe changes in vegetation composition, with long term consequences on carbon and nutrient cycling. In addition, the lab will be working in the Northeast, specifically along the Appalachian Trail, where we hope to determine how factors such as altered phenology may accelerate shifts in species composition under climate change and to predict whether future

By Erica Smithwick

disturbance regimes may change given these new forest types. Elizabeth Crisfield joined us in the spring as a research technician and will hopefully begin her Ph.D. in the fall working on this topic. For the past five years, Elizabeth worked as a hydrologist, water rights negotiator, and science communications specialist at the South Florida Natural Resources Center in Everglades National Park. We also plan to work with the Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa (AESEDA) within the research mission of sustainable resource management. We plan to initiate research in Mozambique in a re-emerging national park, specifically to study fire and grazing interactions and the socio-ecological complexities of conservation and fire use in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, we will work closely with students in the interdepartmental graduate program in ecology. Michelle (Misha) Williams-Tober will be working with us on an M.S. project to explore spatial variation in nitrogen cycling in central Pennsylvania watersheds that are home to varied land uses. This work will build on efforts of the Cooperative Wetlands Center and will hopefully offer us more opportunities to explore water-nutrient interactions in Pennsylvania. In all these efforts, we will continue to utilize a combined toolset of models, geospatial analysis, and field and laboratory techniques to address these multifaceted ecological challenges. Ultimately, at the heart of work in our lab, we hope to constrain uncertainties of ecosystem trajectories in the face of climate change by exploring pattern-process interactions at multiple levels of complexity, social and ecological. I look forward to interacting with the geography community on these and other emerging projects! 

Center for Public Policy Research in Environment, Energy, and Community Well-Being


my Glasmeier, professor of regional planning and economic geography, was frustrated with the inability to connect academic research to the realm of public policy. In the academic setting, where the rigor of research is often confined only to academic circles, it can be difficult to effectively connect the research to the wider citizenship and to the legislators and public policy makers in Harrisburg. To help bridge the gap, with support from three university-wide Institutes—Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, the Social Science Research Institute, and the College of the Liberal Arts’ Rock Ethics Institute—Dr. Glasmeier set up the Center for Public Policy Research in Environment, Energy, and Community Well-Being, which is housed in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. The center’s purpose is to “further current policy activities in the social sciences and energy and the environment in Penn State colleges and institutes, and to work to develop additional catalytic activities that encourage collaboration, facilitate research, augment teaching, and inform public policy realms through effective outreach.” Centered on policy communication and formation of cross-university partnerships, the center facilitates research and grant writing, community outreach, and policy communication. Specifically, the center will focus on four areas: Pennsylvania policy notes; Pennsylvania policy studies; policy briefings for federal and state legislators, local officials and agency personnel; and policy database development and management. These four tenets will help the center to achieve “greater recognition among major granting agencies of their ability to undertake social, environmentally and policy-



relevant research and to enhance public service opportunities by fulfilling important public policy research needs.” Inaugural center activities will focus on fostering synergistic activities around renewable energy research, development, and policy support and health care challenges of returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The center has collaborations with faculty in the Smeal College of Business, College of Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Architecture, the Work Force Development arm of the College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of the Liberal Arts, and the College of Health and H u m a n Development.

For more information:

The center has projects with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the state’s Local Development Districts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, and Regional Technology Strategies. Dr. Glasmeier works closely with Margaret Hopkins, coordinator of public information, and journalist and educator in the College of Communications. Kevin Karzomski, a recent graduate of EMS’s Energy, Business and Finance program, also works in the center assisting with the Local Development District program. 

GIS in the Workplace By Rosalind Cimino Rosalind Cimino (CPGIS 2005) applies the learned coursework she garnered from the Certificate Program in Geographic Information to her professional career.


stumbled into the world of GIS in 2004 working as a clerk in the building department and planning board member volunteer in the Town of Dover, New York. GIS at that time was in the form of Arc Map 8.3 residing on the building inspector’s computer. The building inspector was using the program along with the ten base layers created by a local engineering company to primarily review ortho imagery and wetlands for building projects. My life took a drastic change in the spring of 2004 when, at a town board meeting, I asked one question: “What is this GIS program and can’t it do more than just print aerial photos?” The Town of Dover town board, led by Supervisor Jill Way, then made a decision that would change the way I looked at my community forever. With the town board’s full support, I enrolled in Penn Rosalind Cimino (CPGIS State’s Certificate Program in Geographic Information 2005) stands with her CPGIS Systems. This program threw me head first into a world certificate of geography and cartography that I had never known before. As each course was completed, I was able to apply the knowledge and skills I learned from David DiBiase, Beth King, James Sloane and Robert Murray, to situations and problems both the town and planning boards and building and code enforcement departments were facing. I began collecting base layers from other government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Dutchess County GIS Department and created new layers by joining existing data acquired with the Town’s zoning regulations. After my certification was complete the town board created a full GIS Department, one of only two highly-functioning GIS departments in Dutchess County. So today, my work life is spent georeferencing site plans to parcel data, fact-checking applicants’ Environmental Assessment Forms (EAFs), and using GPS to locate storm drains, catch basins, and road signs for the highway department. My Penn State certification produced an enormous return on investment when, after georeferencing an illustrated map to redevelop a former psychiatric hospital, GIS showed that the developer was building right through State-owned property! The knowledge I have acquired from Penn State’s online classes and exercises have pointed out countless “mistakes” on land use applications, from leaving wetlands and floodplains off maps to building on neighboring properties and pointing out discrepancies in total acreage. GIS is currently used “on the fly” at every planning board meeting and workshop creating a much more interactive environment between board members, applicants, and their consultants.  A GIS-producted map showing proposed and residential units in the Town of Dover, NY, created by Rosalind Cimino

Spring/Summer 2008 Events January 1/14 1/21 1/31

Classes Begin No Classes Focus the Nation

February 2/15-2/16 Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX) 2/29 Miller Lecture: Don Mitchell

March 3/10-3/14 Spring Break 3/29 no)Boundaries: Annual Graduate Student Conference, University Park, PA

january S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 february S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 march S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31


april S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


may S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

4/4 Pennsylvania Geographic Bee (Shippensburg University) 4/15-4/19 AAG Annual Meeting 4/16 Annual Penn State AAG Reception (see p. 15 for details)

5/2 Classes End 5/8 Geography Recognition Reception, Nittany Lion Inn 5/17 EMS Commencement

June 6/5-8 Traditional Reunion Weekend, University Park

July 7/10-7/13 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts 7/12 GEMS Arts Fest Breakfast

August 8/4-8/8 ESRI User Conference, San Diego, CA

june S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 july S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 august S M T W T F S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Winter/Spring 2008



Where in the World?

The Department of Geography is able to support undergraduate and graduate learning outside of the classroom. Each year, the department is able to support students traveling to conferences, attending workshops, and conducting research to places like North Dakota, India, and Ghana. Below, we are proud to showcase the students who received financial support for travel during 2007.

Undergraduates Andrea Schwander and Jeffrey Roecker (B.S. 2007) to participate in the field component of GEOG 497D: Environmental Issues Across the Americas which included a spring break trip to Peru; UnderDoGS members for transportation to the annual AAG Conference in San Francisco; Doug Schoch, Robert Phillips, Monica Smith (B.S. 2007), Vanessa Massaro (B.S. 2007), and Philip Smith (B.S. 2007) to participate in the field component of GEOG 497G: International Environments and Sustainability to Bulgaria; and Erin Pierce and


Chandrani Ohdedar and Guo Chen (Ph.D. 2007) to attend the 2nd Global Conference on Economic Geography in Beijing, China; Brian Tomaszewski to attend the 6th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context in Denmark; Melissa Rock to attend the Summer Institute for the Geographies of Justice FRANCE: Professor Emeritus Tony Williams spent October in France looking at a number of aspects facing rural France such as village depopulation and resulting economic consequences.

ACCRA, GHANA: Assistant Professor Petra Tschakert, undergraduate student Jessi Lehman, and graduate student Katie Dietrich conducted research in Ghana during the summer. Also, graduate student Darrell Fuhriman spent some time in Ghana investigating e-waste (see page 4 for details).

(SIGJ); Shaunna Barnhart to student the Nepali language at Cornell; Nicole Laliberte for master’s thesis research in Massachusetts; Kristen Hychka to attend International Dendroecological Fieldweek in Lotchental, Switzerland; Beth Bee (M.S. 2006) to attend the International Summer Course in Gender Studies for Foreign Students in Mexico; Amber Bagherian to conduct masters thesis research in North Dakota; Kathleen Dietrich and Darrell Fuhriman to conduct master’s field research in Ghana; Matthew Hartzell to conduct master’s thesis research in New Delhi, India; Clark Seipt, Kate Derickson, and Tim Frazier (M.S. 2005) to conduct research in Biloxi, Mississippi; and Wes Stroh to conduct thesis research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Graduate students Anthony Robinson (M.S. 2005) and Brian Tomaszewski and faculty members Cindy Brewer and David DiBiase attended the International Cartographic Association Conference in August.

TOKYO, JAPAN: Graduate student Anthony Robinson (M.S. 2005) spent some time in Tokyo visiting alumnus Rob Murray (M.S. 2006)

BEIJING, CHINA: Graduate Student Melissa Rock and Professor Amy Glasmeier attended the Second Global Conference on Economic Geography.

FIJI: Assista Professor P Tschakert a the Intergo tal Panel o Change (IP Group on Scenarios for Climate Impact Assessment (TGICA) Mee Integrating Analysis of Regional Change and Response Options.

BALI, INDONESIA: Assistant Professor Petra Tschakert and graduate student Katie Dietrich participated in the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December. At the poster exhibit, representing AESEDA, they showed ongoing work on collective learning for climate change adaptation in Ghana and results from climate modeling and downscaling for Africa. Side events provided multiple opportunities to connect and exchange with the international climate change community.

Penn State geographers could be found all over the world in 2007. From climate change conferences in Bali to traveling in France to studying abroad in Brazil, students and faculty truly were global in 2007! This map represents but a snapshot of some of the places our geographers visited. About the cover: The photo, from graduate student Anthony Robinson (M.S. 2005), was taken 100 meters from the sarcophagus covering the melted-down portion of the Chernobyl reactor that failed in 1986. Anthony visited Chernobyl after the International Cartographic Association Conference in Moscow.



Congratulations to the students who completed the requirements for the Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (CPGIS) during the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2007: Jessica Hampton Lynn Hand Roberta Harper George Haskett Jonathan Helta Joseph Henry Bruce Hensler Christopher Hilferty Max Hjortsberg James Hollenbeck Cheryl Holm Jacqueline Horsford Gary Huffman Rick Irving William Ivey David Jabas Michael Jackson Juris Jauntirans Jennifer Jeffers Brody Johnson Jessica Karste Ryan Kelley Eileen Kerhouant

Gregory Kimmel Bruce Kinner James Kompanek Jimmy Kroon Thomas Kutys Kimberly LaFrance Joseph Lalley Tracy Landingham Michelle Lazar Ryan Liddell Michael Liebler Paulina Fernandez Luengo Russell Lundstrum Christopher Lynch Robert Magee Brian Marchand Erik Martin Jeffrey Mason Charles Mayard John McCleary Robbi McKinney Gabriel McMahan Joshua McQueen

SAN FRANCISCO: The 2007 AAG Conference was a rousing success. The Department was well-represented in poster sessions and panel discussions. The annual Penn State-Syracuse AAG reception, at Cafe Royale was also a hit. (Professor Cindy Brewer and staffer/graduate student Jodi Vender are pictured at the reception)

Daniel Ryan Christopher Schaefer William Schultz Benjamin Sher Edward Sieber Russell Sieg Mark Simpson Alexander Smith Jeanna Snyder Pamela Spaziani Helms Peter Speicher Shannon Sutton Kevin Switalski Michael Team Peter Telek William Thomas Russell Tien Matthew Toonkel Jason Torres Erik Townsend William Trachtman Jennifer Trainor Todd Tulchin

Christopher Ulrickson Amy Van Laecke Janet Vaughn Steve Waltz David Ward Richard Wawrzonek Karla Weiss Carrie Wengert Adam Williams Lucas Wiseley Janna Witherell Antonio Wolf Gilbert Wolfe Erich Yokel Elizabeth Yost Timothy Zimmerman

AAG Reception at The Guild of Boston Artists: April 16, 2008

Penn State Department of Geography

7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The annual AAG reception will be held at The Guild of Boston Artists (162 Newbury St., Boston, MA) on Wednesday, April 16, 2008. Please come out and enjoy drinks and refreshments with geography faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Bill Easterling will give a special presentation during the reception. e h Av



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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: Undergraduate O’Shannon Burns studied at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica-São Paulo during the fall semester.

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Kendra Moran Cody Mori Edward Newbaker Beth Norton Jean Olibrice Eric Palmer Christopher Parrett Jason Pastoor John Pate Marcy Pavlik Michelle Pearson Christopher Pekar Kenneth Pelman Daniel Perkins Tory Peterson Wayne Pichler Bonn Poland Stephanie Potts Michael Pyle Jeffrey Rank Adam Repsher Michael Rhoads Carl Rudeen

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Robert Cox Jack Crutchfield Daniel Czirjak Jennifer Dady Craig Dragovich Camille Dunn-Stephenson Philip Egly Carla Falkenstein Cheng-Hua Feng Lisa Fischer Ryan Francoforte Elizabeth Frost Andrew Furne John Gardiner Rodney Garland Stephan Geissler Michael Gilb Brian Goudreau Joseph Governski Tammy Graff Andrew Grogan Wendy Gross Douglas Hamilton


Gloria Abarca Hussain Al-Nasser Jeff Aycock Bryce Batchman Jesse Binkley Gail Blum Laura Bowen Kevin Box Indrani Boyle Cynthia Bresloff Jamie Brick Anderson Brooms Jeremy Brown Regina Bures Linda Burke Jack Campbell Desmond Carroll Douglas Carroll Lance Case Jason Catelli Matthew Cavanaugh Scott Clark Brendan Collins

Winter/Spring 2008

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

Scholarships, Endowments, and Award Funds 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 December 31, 2007. If you would like to contibute, please consider donating to one of the following funds. For more information, please contact or

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Balmat Family Fund in Geography for Honors Scholars Balmat Family Scholarship in Geography C. Gregory Knight Endowment in Geography ‘Coffee Hour to Go’ Endowment Department of Geography Enrichment Fund Erickson Fund in Geography E. Willard Miller Award 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 Fund Robert P. and Rebecca P. Brooks Endowment for the Cooperative Wetlands Center Ronald F. Abler Award in Geography Ruby S. Miller Endowment for Geographic Excellence Supporting Women in Geography (S.W.I.G.) Fund

This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. U. Ed. EMS 08-50 Photo ( ) used with permission with a Creative License Agreement (

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