1. From the Department Head

Geography, big data, and more!


Karl Zimmerer 



Karl Zimmerer






The department is very pleased to welcome, beginning this semester, Dr. Guido Cervone
(see the story on page 8). Dr. Cervone has been recruited as an associate professor with the department’s strong recommendation being supported by the Institute for CyberScience (ICS) and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS). Many department faculty and staff, along with administrators across campus, contributed to this success—thanks to all!
     ICS and EMS support is ensuring the creation of a new cluster of advanced expertise in the cyberscience of the earth, atmospheric, and geographic sciences. It’s an innovative area that is developing new data- and computation-intensive techniques to address critical problems, with alignment to major national initiatives such as EarthCube and Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) at the National Science Foundation.
     Our department’s expanding activities and leadership in “Big Data Geography” extends to numerous faculty members and students. This coming summer we will be joined by Dr. Clio Andris, a new faculty member in GIScience whose expertise includes social network theory and analysis, among other areas. Dr. Andris is currently completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute. Various other faculty (e.g., Alan MacEachren, Donna Peuquet, Alex Klippel, and others) and students are integrally involved in the campus-wide Big Data Social Science/BDSS IGERT that is now in its second year. This IGERT brings together faculty and graduate students from across departments for the purpose of advanced training.
     Taking advantage of “Big Data” opportunities will require understanding not only the scientific dimension, but also the ethical, legal, policy, governance, and social issues. It’s also triggering a vibrant wave of new research and learning related to the integration of diverse research methods and techniques.
     A simultaneous surge of still other growing department strengths and potential future ones is continuing to heat up (no pun intended!). The fire ecology and pyrogeography group whose interview appears on pages 4–7 of this newsletter---Jennifer Balch (JKB), Erica Smithwick (EAHS), and Alan Taylor (AT)---is fueling a department emphasis without parallel in this area. Future prospects in other areas include environmental governance focused on urban and water issues, ethical issues (e.g., climate justice, big data, and geographies of care), and water science.


This newsletter is a publication of the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at
 Penn State.

Contact us at:
Department of Geography
302 Walker Building
Penn State University
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-865-3433
Fax: 814-863-7943
URL: www.geog.psu.edu
E-mail: geography@psu.edu

Design/editor content:
Angela Rogers
Additional editors:
Jodi Vender,
Karl Zimmerer
U Ed. EMS 14-34
This publication is available in alternative media. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its work force.

Rachel Isaacs compares photos of the same location over time to see differences in forest density and other historical changes as a way to compare past and present fire regimes. Photo by Alan Taylor.

From the Department Head
Department Highlights
Is fire bad?
Q&A with Guido Cervone
Alumni Profiles
Graduate Research
Community Updates