Dept. of Geography News & Events this Week - 11/18/14

November 18, 2014

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It is Geography Awareness Week (GeoWeek). Founded by presidential proclamation more than 25 years ago, GeoWeek is an annual awareness program organized by National Geographic that encourages everyone to think and learn about the role geography plays in our lives. GeoWeek is an opportunity to learn about and appreciate geography, while drawing attention to the need for policies to improve American students’ access to geography. The following are the activities happening for this week’s celebration of Geography Awareness Week. The theme is the “Future of Food.”

Tuesday, November 18:
Geography Trivia Table: First Floor Deike Building (9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)
Maptime Workshop: 123 Walker Building (4:00-7:00 p.m.)
Organized by the GIS Coalition
Wednesday, November 19 (GIS Day):
Information Fair: Mann Assembly Room, 103 PaternoLibrary  (1:00-4:00 p.m.)
Poster Display: Franklin Atrium, 1st Floor Pattee (1:00-5:00 p.m.)
GIS Networking Reception: Social Sciences Library, 208 Paterno (4:00-5:00 p.m.)
Organized by University Libraries and  including a special display of the late Professor Emeritus Wilbur Zelinsky’s books and maps, including some available to take.


The Local Foods Study for Carolyn Fish’s Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment course was a success with had more than 70 participants from the State College community who came and shared their views of local foods. Several geography graduate students were helpful in setting up and taking notes during the event. The Gould Center also provided funds for this outreach event with the goal of better understanding State College residents perceptions of local foods and specifically the spatial extent of where their local foods come from.

Sterling Quinn passed his dissertation proposal defense, and last Saturday he gave a talk titled “The State of OpenStreetMap in South America” at the State of the Map conference in Buenos Aires.

Jenna Christian was awarded a $2,000 research grant from the Africana Research Center at Penn State for her ongoing dissertation research on “Militarized Youth: Citizenship, Soldiering, Incarceration, and Young People’s Futures” in Houston, Texas.

Benjamin DeAngelo (B.A. ’92) was recently on the U.S. delegation that took part in the government approval of the IPCC Synthesis Report of the 5th Assessment.

Nathan Piekielek (B.S. ’00) was hired as the University Libraries Geospatial Services librarian.


BONUS Coffee Hour lecture with Ted Stets “Century of Trends: Historical perspectives on the evolution of water quality in the United States.”

The USGS Century-of-Trends project seeks to quantify century to multi-decadal trends in the concentrations and loads of nutrients and carbon in US rivers. Proper analysis of long-term trends required developing a basic understanding of the major periods of water quality development in the U.S. The first half of this presentation focuses on broadly describing the evolution of water quality in the US since the late 19th century. The second half presents trend analysis for nitrate and alkalinity in U.S. rivers using data from the USGS, state agencies, municipalities, and other entities. The utility of using major ion ratios to discern watershed acidification processes will also be presented and discussed.   A late addition to the fall line-up, this coffee hour will not be webcast and there will be no student-organized reception beforehand.

  •  4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

Coming up:
November 28: No Coffee Hour—Thanksgiving break
December 5: Gabeba Baderoon “Slavery, Islam, and the Making of a South African Landscape”


Call for proposals now open for 2015 TLT Symposium

Faculty and staff are invited to learn and share effective uses of technology to enhance teaching and learning at the free 2015 TLT Symposium. The Symposium will take place on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, University Park. There is no registration fee and a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The TLT Symposium is an excellent opportunity for you to share with the Penn State community the innovations in educational technology that have been explored over the past year. Faculty and staff can submit proposals to present on these innovations using the online form at


Tracking Frackers From the Sky

Ever since the natural gas boom took off in Pennsylvania in 2006, some people living near the drilling rigs have complained of headaches, gastrointestinal ailments, skin problems and asthma. They suspect that exposure to the chemicals used in the drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, triggers the symptoms. But there’s a hitch: the exact locations of many active fracking sites remain a closely guarded secret.