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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Classes may have been held remotely during the previous spring semester, but Penn State faculty members found creative ways to bring field trips to their students, even when they couldn’t necessarily bring students out into the field. Two courses in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences employed virtual reality field trips last semester to continue delivering the same high degree of academic quality that Penn State is known for around the world.
"Fully immersive virtual reality, where everything is interactive, is the ideal," said Alexander Klippel, professor of geography and director of the Center for Immersive Experiences. "But that requires special equipment that would not work in the new remote teaching environment."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Large protest events can be divisive, spurring an outpouring of both support and opposition. But new Penn State research found that the 2017 Women’s March, which championed goals in support of women and human rights, was met with mostly positive support on social media, with relatively few negative messages.
In an analysis of all geolocated tweets in the continental U.S. on the day of the march, the researchers found that not only were tweets about the march generally positive, but they were actually more positive than other geolocated tweets — those that have an attached location — on that day. Tweets about the march rose to a peak of 12% of all geolocated tweets on that day.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Lauren Maloney trained in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force, she was impressed by how much information could be conveyed by geospatial intelligence, which uses images and data to analyze activity in specific locations.
“We typically write reports and use a lot of words to convey a message. With GEOINT you can convey it with images, and the message is so much clearer,” said Maloney, who graduated this year with a master of professional studies in homeland security, geospatial intelligence option, offered online by the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and Penn State World Campus. “I fell in love with the whole idea.”
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It took a global pandemic to convince many of something Mike Hermann has long known: We are surrounded by some amazing outdoor attractions.
Hermann, founder of the adventure map company Purple Lizard and a 1995 Penn State geography alumnus, said he founded the company after attending the University and realizing how little people knew about the area that surrounds them. Since 1997, he’s parlayed his love of geography and outdoor landscapes into his business venture.
The coronavirus pandemic may leave faculty, students and colleagues physically distanced, but Jennifer Baka sees the situation as a means for reconnecting.
“The pandemic has given us a chance to reconnect with students in new ways and to help them through a time of transition,” said Baka, assistant professor of geography and associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. “That’s been a priority.”
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — Penn State geographers are taking part in a variety of projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Helen Greatrex, Anthony Robinson and Erica Smithwick are among those receiving grants from the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences COVID-19 multi-institute seed grant fund for projects related to social sciences and predictive modeling. Todd Bacastow is convening focus groups within the geospatial intelligence community. Alumni Siddharth Pandey and Rachel Passmore are supporting state and federal responses.
Within days of the University's shift to remote learning, faculty, instructors and teaching assistants in the Department of Geography moved 35 resident instruction courses into remote delivery mode to teach 1,947 students.
The Department of Geography has three representatives serving on the Graduates of the Earth and Mineral Sciences (GEMS) board this year: Emily Starin Connor who earned a bachelor of science in 2012 and now works as an associate with CleanCapital; Susan Lechtanski, who earned a bachelor of science in 1997 and now works as a project manager for Penn State Auxiliary and Business Services; and Wendy Zeller Zigaitis, who earned a bachelor of science in 1999 and is currently a doctoral student.
Residents of Pennsylvania can monitor the spread of COVID-19 across the commonwealth with an online dashboard created by researchers at Penn State. The dashboard, which has been available since March 12, provides a map of the state with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases represented by county.
Updated daily, the dashboard also presents graphics that help to visualize this spread, including ways to look for a “flattening of the curve” that would indicate that our efforts to slow the spread of the virus are working.
The Ecology Institute announced a call for proposals for its Flower Grant program. The funds aim to support ecology research focused across the institute’s five core themes: resilience and adaptation; provision of ecosystem goods and services; ecology at the interface; rapid evolutionary change; and ecological foundations.