Dept. of Geography News & Events this Week - 1/31/17

Department of Geography (DoG) News and Events Where it's at!

JAN 17
Coffee Hour with Jonathan Rush | Geospatial Data Portal | New Hamer gift


snowy day on campus looking across Atherton Street

Snowy day on campus: a view from Walker Building looking toward west campus across Atherton Street. The building in the center of the image is the Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel.


Melissa Wright is receiving the American Association of Geographers Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism in Research and Practice.
Alumna Vanessa Massaro (’16g) has accepted a position as an assistant professor of geography at Bucknell University.
Jiayan Zhao is co-author with alumnus Rui Li (’12g) on a paper accepted by the German Artificial Intelligence Journal, KI – Künstliche Intelligenze.
Alumna Helen Poulos (’02g) is quoted and one of Alan Taylor’s photographs is used in an article on Seeing Science about how photographic images influence perceptions of ecological issues.
Brian King was elected to serve on the Faculty Senate.

Coffee Hour with Jonathan Rush: SKOPE: A CyberGIS Approach for Understanding Past Environments
In this coffee hour, Jonathan Rush will introduce a cyberGIS-enabled project to better understand past interactions of human and natural systems. The environments of the past cannot be assumed to be fixed, or equivalent to today’s conditions. Shifting spatiotemporal patterns of settlement, land use, and climate can be important factors in understanding the contexts under which historic and prehistoric societies operated. However, data on these conditions can be difficult to discover and interpret. SKOPE, Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments, is being designed to fill this need.

Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
Coffee Hour to go webcast
Next time: February 10 with Jenni Evans, director of Institute for CyberScience
Big Ten’s Geospatial Data Portal connecting access to GIS, historical map data
The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Geospatial Data Portal Project, of which Penn State University Libraries is a contributor, has launched an online spatial data discovery tool called the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal. The project and geoportal aim to provide discoverability, facilitate access and connect scholars across the Big Ten Academic Alliance to often scattered geospatial data resources.

Hamer $1 million gift supports Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons
Marie Bednar and her husband, the late Donald Hamer, have committed $1 million in support of the Penn State University Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons, part of a renovation and expansion of West Pattee Library termed the Central Atrium that would provide additional space for students’ study and team-based projects.


The Historical, Environmental and Socio-economic Context of Forests and Tree-based Systems for Food Security and Nutrition
By Parrotta, John A., Jennie Dey De Pryck, Beatrice Darko Obiri, Christine Padoch, Bronwen Powell, Chris Sandbrook, Bina Agarwal, Amy Ickowitz, Katy Jeary, Anca Serban, Terry Sunderland, and Tran Nam Tu
In Forests and Food: Addressing Hunger and Nutrition Across Sustainable Landscapes
Forests and tree-based systems are an important component of rural landscapes, sustaining livelihoods and contributing to the food security and nutritional needs of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Historically, these systems developed under a wide variety of ecological conditions, and cultural and socio-economic contexts, as integrated approaches that combined management of forest and agricultural areas to provide primarily for the needs of producers and their local communities. Today they serve food and nutrition demands of growing global populations, both urban and rural.

Estimating Available Abandoned Cropland in the United States: Possibilities for Energy Crop Production
By Ryan Baxter and Kirby Calvert\
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Status: Accepted for publication
Abandoned cropland (ACL) is often cited as a land resource upon which to produce energy crops while reducing the negative impacts of broad scale energy crop production; for example, carbon emissions from land-cover change and competition with food production. In contrast to marginal land which refers to a set of biophysical and economic criteria usually imposed by experts or policymakers, the designation of ACL refers to a land-use decision by a land owner. As such, ACL is argued to be a more appropriate indication of land availability for dedicated energy crop production. Prevailing estimates of ACL in the US vary widely due to inconsistent treatment of land-use conversions away from cropland and over-reliance on remote sensing methods which measure land cover, even though ACL is a category of land use. This paper develops and applies a replicable and flexible methodology to estimate available abandoned cropland (AACL) at the county level in the United States, which accounts for conversion of ACL to forest cover, urban development or permanent pasture. Estimates of AACL are derived for two scenarios: 1) land abandoned between 1978 and 2012, which excludes lands with meaningful forest regrowth; and 2) land abandoned between 2007 and 2012, which corresponds to land-use constraints imposed by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Results show that 15 and 4.9 Mha of AACL exist in the United States in the two scenarios respectively, amounting to between only 3 and 8 percent of total light duty gasoline consumption in the US. The policy implications of these findings and the need for future research are discussed.