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Researchers create tool to better geographic projections in atmospheric modeling
03/22/2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Open-source code developed by a Penn State graduate could improve weather forecasting and a range of other research endeavors that rely on pairing atmospheric models with satellite imagery.

Yanni Cao, who earned her master’s degree in geography in 2016, developed the code while a member of Penn State’s Geoinformatics and Earth Observation laboratory (GEOlab) as a way to fix errors created when satellite data is combined with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The work was done in collaboration with her adviser, Guido Cervone, head of GEOLab, associate professor of geoinformatics and associate director of the Institute for CyberScience, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).


Conservation and diversity: Lives, languages and land in the balance
03/22/2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Linguists reckon we lose a language every two to three weeks. Species extinction rates are about 1,000 times higher than they were before people showed up. None of that is good news," said Larry Gorenflo, professor of landscape architecture and geography at Penn State.

Gorenflo conducts research to understand how cultural and biological diversity co-occur in the hope of helping to conserve both. Gorenflo also holds the Eleanor R. Stuckeman (ERS) Chair in Design which provides him with support to further his ongoing inquiries. His research has demonstrated that places with a high number of species also feature high numbers of indigenous languages. He added, “Both are disappearing at alarming rates.”


Bringing forests of the future to life
03/22/2018

Story from Portland State University News

What if you could see what a forest might look like 50 or 100 years from now? Imagine being able to see how a warming climate turned a dense forest into sparser woodlands.

Soon, there will be an app for that. With just a smartphone and a cardboard headset, users will be able to immerse themselves in a forest years into the future.

Portland State University researcher Melissa Lucash is part of a team that is working to visualize how a variety of factors – including climate change, wildfires, insect invasions and harvesting practices – can alter a forest and how that information can then be used by forest managers when making decisions.


Students achieve personal, professional growth through study abroad in Tanzania
03/13/2018

Andrew Patterson, a geography major, never thought he would be able to study abroad.

“When I was a sophomore,” Patterson said, “I switched majors from environmental systems engineering to geography, and so I really didn’t think I would have the ability to study abroad and also graduate in four years.”

In the fall of 2016, Patterson received an email from his adviser, Jodi Vender, containing information about a summer study abroad program in Tanzania.

“After looking at my schedule, it was the perfect fit for me,” Patterson said.


Geospatial intelligence students boost careers with online program
03/13/2018

Dan Steiner knows a thing or two about assessing terrain, gathering knowledge sources and weighing human interactions — all things required in the field of geospatial intelligence — on the fly.

The West Point graduate who served for seven years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including leading an engineering company in combat during Operation Desert Storm, spent his life using these skills, first in the military, then for a pharmaceutical company, and currently for Orion Mapping, a geospatial intelligence business he founded three years ago.

Now, through the online Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) program, he’s looking to take those skills to the next level with a master's degree and geospatial intelligence analytics certificate, offered online through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Department of Geography and the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.


Liberal Arts student has research paper accepted by international conferences
03/13/2018

Penn State Schreyer Scholar Doran Tucker has been interested in medieval armor since before he started college, so much so that he has made his own chain mail.

The Penn State geography and international politics major considered making some armor to fulfill a general education course requirement but decided to research and write about it instead.

Tucker's independent study paper on that topic has been accepted to both the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University this May and the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, in July.


Peirce Lewis, Geography professor emeritus, has died
03/12/2018

Excerpt from Earth Matters: Late geography professor made a lasting impact

By Alumnus John Frederick ('78)

We all need to look up from our phones long enough to see the real world — not just to keep from running into something, but to truly look at everything that surrounds us.

We would better appreciate what a marvel the planet is and how we can change it, negatively and positively.

Penn State geography professor Peirce Lewis was as influential as anyone in helping me see those details, both natural and man-made. While his passing two weeks ago saddened me, my memories of his classes, lectures and writings also inspired me.

Excerpt from his obituary in the Centre Daily Times

Peirce F. Lewis, 90, died at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, on February 18, 2018. He was born on October 26, 1927, in Detroit, Mich., and is the son of the late Peirce and Amy Fee Lewis, of Pleasant Ridge. Mich. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Felicia L. Lewis, of State College; his son, Hugh G. Lewis and his wife, Joselyn, of Gettysburg; his three granddaughters, Gillian Desonier-Lewis and Isla and Raquel Lewis; his sister, Frances Lewis Stevenson, and her husband, John, of St. Augustine, Fla.; and his beloved nephews and niece....

... Peirce joined the faculty of Penn State University's Geography Department where he taught from 1958 until his retirement in 1995. Peirce loved everything about geography and revelled in any opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the subject with others. His acclaim as a lecturer and essayist is widely acknowledged by students and colleagues alike. His writings have received awards from the Association of American Geographers and the International Geographical Union. In 2004, he won the J. B. Jackson Award for his book, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. He gave invited lectures for more than 100 audiences around the country, both academic and public. He was a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, and at Michigan State University. He received several awards for his vibrant and engaging approaches to teaching geography, including the Lindback Foundation Award, Penn State's highest award for distinguished teaching, the first Penn State Provost's award for distinguished multidisciplinary teaching, and a national award as a distinguished teacher at the college level by the National Council for Geographic Education.


Augmented reality app reveals campus monument's history as teaching tool
02/27/2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Augmented reality is reviving the educational focus of the oldest monument on Penn State’s University Park campus. Known as the Obelisk, the nearly 33-foot-tall, 53.4-ton stone structure was originally constructed in 1896 to showcase regional rocks and minerals. Its 281 stones, procured from sites around Pennsylvania and neighboring states, are stacked by geologic time period, from youngest at the top to oldest at the base.

Now, anyone with a new Obelisk augmented-reality app, developed by researchers in the Department of Geography, can home in on details about each stone in the historic structure.


Geography professor receives Fulbright grant to work in Austria
02/19/2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anthony Robinson, assistant professor of geography at Penn State, has been selected to receive a Fulbright grant to teach and conduct research at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Beginning Jan. 2017, Robinson will spend six months working in the Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS).

Robinson was awarded a Fulbright for his proposal “Making Maps to Make a Difference: Uncovering Geographic Patterns in Learner Engagement.”


Geography undergraduate researches tea plantation loss through Tea Institute
02/19/2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For Zongjun Li, a junior majoring in geography at Penn State, the chance to explore real-life opportunities with his degree is what drives him as an undergraduate student.

“It’s important to me to take the knowledge from our textbooks and bring it to life out in the real world,” Li said.

Raised in Guangzhou, China, Li, who is majoring in geographic information science (GIS), has always been fascinated by the applications of the geography major.