Dept. of Geography News & Events this Week - 5/12/15

May 12, 2015

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Make way for ducklings

Make way for ducklings. A mother duck watches over her brood on the lawn by the Allen Street mall on University Park campus.


  • Kat Nickola (B.S.’00) was recently the featured author in the yearly Destination Paradise magazine published by the Stars and Stripes.  Kat is a regular travel writer for the Stripes Pacific regional bi-monthly newspapers for American military members overseas.
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Recognition Reception highlights annual achievements
Students, faculty, staff, and friends of the Department of Geography gathered on Friday, May 1, 2015 at The Nittany Lion Inn for the annual Recognition Reception to give awards and honor achievements for the year.


Recently (or soon to be) published

Blanford, J.I., Huang, Z., Savelyev, A. and MacEachren, A.M. (accepted) Geo-located tweets. Enhancing mobility maps and capturing cross-border movement. Plos One

Andrew M. Carleton, Armand D. Silva, Jase Bernhardt, Justin VanderBerg, and David J. Travis. Sub-region scale hindcasting of contrail outbreaks, utilizing their synoptic climatology. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2015. DOI:
Contrail statistical prediction methods are often location specific. To take advantage of the fact that the upper-troposphere (UT) meteorological conditions favoring “clear-sky outbreaks” of persisting contrails, or Contrail Favored Areas (CFAs), tend to be synoptic in scale, we develop and test a visual UT map technique to hindcast CFAs for sub-regions of the contiguous United States (CONUS) having high outbreak frequencies in mid-season months (January, April, July, October) of 2000-02.


Calvert, K. E. and Simandan, D. (2015). A polymorphic approach to policy analysis: a case study of ontario’s ethanol in gasoline regulation. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 97: 31–45. DOI: 10.1111/geob.12064
This article develops a “polymorphic” approach to policy analysis, that is, an approach that draws on multiple forms of spatial reasoning. Specifically, the proposed framework deploys scale and network not merely as epistemological devices that make sense of “horizontal” and “vertical” politico-institutional structures, but as co-constitutive ontological processes that involve an ever-shifting interplay among legacies, rhythms, and events. This polymorphic approach, we argue, facilitates the identification and the examination of the mobilization of social networks and of the attendant cross-scalar interactions that must be articulated whenever a given policy is framed as a sensible and politically viable place-based solution.


Roger M. Downs. Meeting the Challenge of Systemic Change in Geography Education: Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s Young Geographers. Journal of Geography. DOI: 10.1080/00221341.2015.1017516
The history of K–12 geography education has been characterized by recurrent high hopes and dashed expectations. There have, however, been moments when the trajectory of geography education might have changed to offer students the opportunity to develop a thorough working knowledge of geography. Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s geography program developed in the 1920s and 1930s was brilliant in its conception and execution but it did not lead to large-scale systemic change.


Robert E. Roth and Alan M. MacEachren. Geovisual analytics and the science of interaction: an empirical interaction study. DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2015.1021714
Among the most pressing research and development challenges facing geovisual analytics is the establishment of a science of interaction to inform the design of visual interfaces to computational methods. The most promising work on interaction to date has attempted to identify and articulate the fundamental interaction primitives that define the complete design space for the user experience. In this paper, we take the logical next step beyond this prior research, reporting on a controlled interaction study to learn how variation in interaction primitive combinations impacts broader interaction strategies (i.e., to learn how interaction primitives relate for both design and use).


Julianne Hagarty, David Azanu, Bernadette Atosona, Ray Voegborlo, Erica A.H. Smithwick, Kamini Singha. Chemistry of natural waters and its relation to Buruli ulcer in Ghana. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. Volume 3, March 2015, Pages 457–472. DOI:10.1016/j.ejrh.2015.03.006
Buruli ulcer, an emerging disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, largely affects poor rural populations in tropical countries. The environmental niche that supports this necrotizing bacterium is unclear. Here, water samples were collected from five communities within Ghana in the rainy season in 2011: four in the southern part of Ghana (three disease-endemic communities: Pokukrom, Betenase, and Ayanfuri, and one control: Kedadwen) and one non-endemic community (Nangruma) in the north.


Karl S. Zimmerer and Martha G. Bell.Time for change: The legacy of a Euro-Andean model of landscape versus the need for landscape connectivity. Landscape and Urban Planning. Volume 139, July 2015, Pages 104–116. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.002
The extreme social–ecological diversity and human use of tropical mountains has led to the development of complex and globally influential models of humanized landscapes. At the same time, such regions are increasingly subject to challenges from new global socioeconomic and environmental changes. This study investigates the role of landscape models amid new social–ecological challenges in the Andes of western South America.


Last week’s mystery dog was Milo, companion to Jenny Mason. Carolyn Fish was the first to provide the correct answer. Send a photo of your dog (or any animal companion) to for our mystery dog of the week!