Retires and Hires
Rob Crane, associate vice provost for Global Programs and professor of geography, retired in August 2021 from the University after 36 years as a faculty member and administrator.
William Easterling returned to the department after concluding his term as assistant director of the National Science Foundation in charge of the Geosciences Directorate.
Brandi Gaertner joined the department this summer as an assistant teaching professor of spatial data science in the online geospatial education program.
Tatiana Gumucio joined the department as a post-doctoral scholar working on Helen Gretrex’s AXA-XL grant on humanitarian weather response in Somalia.
Alan MacEachren, professor of geography and information science and technology and longtime director of the GeoVISTA Center from its formation in 1998 until 2020, retired in July 2021 after 36 years at Penn State.
Research Professor Douglas Miller, who created and led the Center for Environmental Informatics for 20 years, retired in July 2021.
Marcela Suarez joined the department this summer as an assistant teaching professor of spatial data science in the online geospatial education program.
Kimberly Van Meter joined the department this summer as an assistant professor of geography specializing in water systems. She is a co-hire with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI).
Faculty and Staff
Todd Bacastow, teaching professor in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State, was appointed to the board of directors of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) for a three-year term.
Jennifer Baka, Gregory Jenkins, Alexander Klippel, Louisa Holmes, and Emily Rosenman are among the 22 groups of interdisciplinary researchers to receive Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) seed grants for the 2020-21 award cycle.
Trevor Birkenholtz was appointed associate head for resident graduate programs.
Guido Cervone was elected president of the Natural Hazards section of the American Geophysical Union.
Lorraine Dowler was appointed as the department’s first associate head of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She began her new role in January 2021.
Roger Downs continues in his role as the associate head for the undergraduate program.
Helen Greatrex received a Research Innovations with Scientists and Engineers seed grant from the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences for the project “Standardizing satellite weather analysis.”
Louisa Holmes received funding from the Penn State Population Research Institute Emergency Grant Fund for the project “Bay area young adult health panel survey” and an IEE seed grant for “Engaging Underserved Communities in Environmental Assessment for Healthy Living,” with co-investigators Mallika Bose, professor of landscape architecture and Melissa Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology.
Joshua Inwood was promoted to professor of geography and was quoted in the article, “Don’t Move On Just Yet: Could a truth and reconciliation commission help the country heal?” in The Atlantic.
Beth King received the 2021 Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award from the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.
Anthony Robinson participated in the panel discussion “Social Engineering with Data - Disinformation and Destabilization of Geo-Political Order” at the Institute for Computational Data Sciences’ virtual symposium, The Data Deluge: Opportunities and Challenges, on October 22–23, 2020.
Emily Rosenman received an IEE seed grant for the project, “Energy retrofit policy and programs in low-income housing markets: Implications for energy equity in Cleveland, Ohio.” Her co-PI is Esther Obonyo, in the College of Engineering.
Erica Smithwick was awarded the title of distinguished professor and was selected as an Administrative Fellow for 2021–22. Her mentor will be Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research.
Rising second-year undergraduate Rylie Adams was awarded placement in the NASA PA Space Grant Research Internship Program with Alexander Klippel as her mentor.
Ph.D. student Megan Baumann was awarded the Best Paper Award for 2021 from the Latin America Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) for her paper titled, “‘No es rentable’: Land rentals as a form of slow exclusion and dispossession in Colombia’s irrigation megaprojects,” and she also received the 2021 Mountain Geographies Specialty Group Mauna Kea Student Presentation Award.
Undergraduates Hannah Schreck (fall 2020) and Amanda Byrd, Shane Leister, Talia Potochny, Jenna Pulice, Harman Singh, and Sophie Tessier (spring 2021) were named College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Academy for Global Experience (EMSAGE) Laureates.
Ph.D. students Connor Chapman and Ruchi Patel were named EMS Graduate Council representatives for the Department of Geography. They began their term in January 2021 and serve for the 2021 calendar year.
MGIS student Amy Farley won first place in the Engineering category of the Graduate Exhibition for her research project, “Open-source, serverless web-mapping: A case study for the agriculture industry.”
Ph.D. student Mikael Hiestand, was quoted in the article, “Introducing Students to Scientific Python for Atmospheric Science,” in the September 2020 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. He also spoke at the fall 2020 virtual Climate Dynamics Seminar Series, on the topic, “Annual variations in latent and sensible heat fluxes under differing synoptic regimes in the U.S. Corn Belt,” on September 30, 2020.
Ph.D. students Bradley Hinger, Gillian Prater-Lee, and Jacklyn Weier were elected as department graduate student representatives, serving from spring 2021 through fall 2021.
M.S. student Matt Bauerlin and Ph.D. student Ruth Buck were elected as department graduate student representatives, serving from summer 2021 through spring 2022.
Ph.D. student Jaiwei Huang’s, article, “Walking through the forests of the future: using data-driven virtual reality to visualize forests under climate change,” was recognized for receiving an Altmetric score of 120, placing it in the top 5 percent of all research outputs scored by Altmetric.
Ph.D. student Susan Kotikot received an Early Career Award from the National Geographic Society.
Ph.D. student Chanel Lange-Maney received the Nancy Brown Community Service Award from Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG).
Undergraduate student Alexandra Lister won first place in the AAG Undergraduate Student Affinity Group Poster Competition. The poster, “Rattlesnake safety on the Black Forest Trail,” was based on her final project in GEOG 260 last semester.
Undergraduates Chris Long and Talia Potochny were EMS Benefiting THON dancers for Virtual THON Weekend held February 19–21, 2021.
Ph.D. students Arif Masrur, Jamie Peeler, and Julie Sanchez represented the department at the fall 2020 Virtual EMS Graduate Research Showcase held on November 13.
Ph.D. student Tara Mazurczyk had two pieces of artwork featured in Penn State Creates, a virtual exhibition of design, craft, and makery, hosted by the Palmer Museum.
Ph.D. student Ruchi Patel received a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to support her dissertation research in El Salvador for the project, “Development, conservation, and change on El Salvador’s Balsamo Coast.”
Jamie Peeler, who graduated with her doctoral degree in 2021, was named a NatureNet Science Fellow with The Nature Conservancy. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Montana.
Ph.D. student Saumya Vaishnava received the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award.
Joel Burcat, who earned his bachelor of science degree in geography in 1976 and went on to become a multi-time winner of Pennsylvania’s “Best Lawyer” designation for Environmental Litigation, has written his second novel in the Mike Jacobs series after Drink to Every Beast, titled Amid Rage (Headline Books; February 2, 2021).
Wayne Brew, who earned his bachelor of science degree in geography in 1981, has published three photo essays in PAST, the online journal for the International Society for Landscape, Place & Material Culture.
Sheryl Kron Larson-Rhodes, who earned a bachelor of science in 1985, received a State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship.
Elizabeth W. Boyer, professor of water resources, who earned her bachelor of science degree geography in 1990, is among seven Penn State faculty members named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Martin von Wyss, who graduated in 1994, launched World Wine Regions, worldwineregions.com, an interactive atlas of the world’s wine regions.
Colonel Brett DeAngelis, USAF, who earned his bachelor of science in geography in 1999, graduated from the U.S. Naval War College with distinction. His essay “B-25 Gunships in the Pacific: Lessons in Innovation, Risk, and Failure” won the General George C Kennedy Award for Writing on the topic of Airpower.
Lettice Brown of York, Pennsylvania, who earned her bachelor of science in geography in 2006, was recently featured in an Allegheny Front story, “Nature Groups Address Environmental Justice in Pennsylvania.”
Jessica Whitehead, who earned her doctorate in 2009, was named the Joan P. Brock Endowed Executive Director of the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience (ICAR) at Old Dominion University.
Emily Klipp, who earned a postbaccalaurate certificate in GIS in 2010, was promoted to associate in Dewberry’s geospatial and technology services group.
Megan Ruffe, a Schreyer Scholar who graduated in 2013, earning degrees in film production and geography, has been working at Florentine Films for eight years. She is currently producing and editing for Ken Burns’s archive website project, UNUM, and launching a web series called “UNUM Shorts.”
Sid Pandey, who graduated in 2014, was selected as a member of URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet for their 2021–23 cohort, was selected by Geospatial Media as one of their Geospatial World 50 Rising Stars for 2021, and was promoted to senior associate at Dewberry.
Rachel Passmore, who earned a bachelor of science degree in geography in 2014, published, “Needs Assessment of Integrative Health Services at School-Based Health Centers,” in the November 2020 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.
Li San Hung, who earned his doctorate in 2016, published, Comparing the effects of climate change labelling on reactions of the Taiwanese public,” in the November 2020 issue of Nature Communications.
Nathaniel Geyer, who completed his MGIS in 2020, published his capstone paper in the International Journal of Geo-Information.