2007 to 2008 Academic Year News

Li AnSeptember 7, 2007

An Awarded NSF Grant

Professor Li An and four collaborators successfully secured a five-year National Science Foundation award totaling $2.5 million.

The project, titled “NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) Collaborative Research and Training in Social Context, Population Processes and Environmental Change”, is an interdisciplinary, multi-site project designed to train the next generation of scientists to conduct the international collaborative research in global environmental change, human population change and their dynamic relationships.

The research will focus on biodiversity, wildlife habitat, land-use and land-cover change, agricultural practices, population changes and social context in Nepal and China. The training will focus on research methods in studying human-environment interactions at multiple scales and in multiple international settings.

The project will hold a series of workshops that aim to educate trainees in project- and setting-specific concepts, measures and methods. Each trainee will visit Nepal, China or both, work on collaborative research projects at these sites, and obtain hands-on training in social and ecological research methods.

The collaborators come from universities across the country:

  • William Axinn, from the University of Michigan
  • Jianguo (Jack) Liu, from Michigan State University
  • Scott T. Yabiku, from Arizona State University
  • Lisa D. Pearce, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Stuart AitkenSeptember 10, 2007

Aitken Delivers Keynote

Professor Stuart Aitken will give the keynote address at the first International Conference on Geographies of Children Youth and Families (ICGCYF) at the University of Reading in England on September 17.

As part of his keynote address, Professor Aitken will discuss his work on child labor and citizenship in Tijuana and South San Diego. His talk is entitled “La Frontera Portátil: Child Labor, Citizenship and Portable Frontiers.”

Professor Aitken is director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space (ISYS) in the College of Arts and Letters and is a founding editor of the Routledge journal, Children’s Geographies: Advancing interdisciplinary understanding of younger people’s lives.


George ChristakosSeptember 10, 2007

Christakos Visits China

Professor George Christakos visited China this summer. His visit was sponsored by an award from the Chinese Ministry of Education through its “Internationally Renowned Scholars” program.

Christakos gave lectures at the following universities:

  • The College of Environment and Natural Resources at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou
  • The School of Life Sciences at Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan) University in Guangzhou
  • The Department of Environmental Engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing
  • The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing

He was also the Keynote Speaker of the 2007 International Groundwater Forum at Nanjing University.


November 26, 2007

SDSU Geography is Number 7

SDSU Geography Joint Doctoral Program Ranked No. 7 in the United States as reported by the “The Chronicle of Higher Education” in 2007.

For the analysis conducted by Academic Analytics, faculty members can be judged on as many as five factors, depending on the most important variables in the given discipline: books published, journal publications, citations of journal articles, federal-grant dollars awarded and honors and awards.

The 2007 national ranking of geography PhD awarding departments is as follows:

  1. University of California, Los Angeles
  2. University of California, Santa Barbara
  3. University of California, Berkeley
  4. Ohio State University
  5. University of Colorado, Boulder
  6. UNC, Chapel Hill
  7. San Diego State University
  8. University of Illinois, UC
  9. Cornell University
  10. Texas A&M


Richard WrightDecember 5, 2007

Wright to Receive Abler Honors

Dr. Richard Wright will receive the Ronald F. Abler Honors for Distinguished Service of the Association of American Geographers for 2008. This award is in recognition of Richard’s exceptional leadership in advancing geography and geographic information science at the state, national, and international levels.

The 2008 Annual Meeting of the AAG will be held April 15-19 in Boston, Massachusetts.


Tong ZhangDecember 6, 2007

Zhang Defends Dissertation

Tong Zhang successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara as part of the joint doctoral program. His dissertation title is Developing Grid-enabled Internet GIService Portals to Support Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure: A Pilot Study in Accessibility..

His committee members are Ming-Hsiang Tsou (Chair), Piotr Jankowski, Keith Clarke, and Konstadinos Goulias.


John WeeksJanuary 7, 2008

Weeks Named Fellow

Dr. John Weeks has been named a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. Dr. Weeks was nominated by SDSU President Stephen L. Weber.

The California Council on Science and Technology was established by the legislature to provide science and technology policy advice to the state. CCST Fellows are top-level engineers, scientists, educators, analysts, and technical experts who have earned distinction in their respective fields. Initiated in 1997, there are currently a total of 107 appointed Fellows that include six Nobel Laureates, nine recipients of the National Medal of Science, and two National Medal of Technology recipients. Many Fellows serve on National Research Council committees, or are members of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, or the Institute of Medicine. The appointment as a CCST Fellow is as a result of a formal nomination and approval process. It is an honorific and the Fellow holds permanent tenure. More information is available on the CCST website Leave geography site.


Popular science magazineMarch 4, 2008

MEMOREDUS Featured in Popular Science

The MEMOREDUS project by Dr. Jörg Rieckermann and Dr. George Christakos has been featured in an article by Eric Hagerman in the March 2008 issue of the magazine Popular Science.

Drs. Rieckermann and Christakos, from the SDSU Geography Department, in collaboration with colleagues from Oregon State University, are investigating whether measuring drugs or its metabolites in sewer lines together with geo-spatiotemporal modeling has the potential to better identify and understand drug use patterns in the urban environment. A specific goal of the project is to rigorously assess the overall uncertainty in the obtained results through mathematical modeling.

Full Popular Science article Leave geography site


March 4, 2008

Stoler Wins Presidential Award

Justin Stoler was one of the Presidential Award Winners at this weekend’s SDSU Student Research Competition. Justin’s presentation was from his Master’s thesis research on a spatial analysis of urban malaria in Accra, Ghana.

San Diego State University’s first annual Student Research Symposium (SRS) was held Friday, February 29 and Saturday, March 1 in Aztec Center. All SDSU students, including recent graduates, were encouraged to participate in this event, which showcased student research, scholarship and creative activity through oral and poster presentations. Students judged by a faculty panel to have presented the ten most outstanding oral presentations were named as Presidential Award winners. They each received received $500 and have been invited to compete in the 2008 CSU Student Research Competition at CSU East Bay in May.


Arika ligmann-zielinskaMarch 10, 2008

Ligmann-Zielinska Defends Dissertation

Arika Ligmann-Zielinska successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara as part of the joint doctoral program. Her dissertation title is Exploring Normative Scenarios of Land-Use Development Decisions with an Agent-Based Simulation Laboratory.

The main area of research focuses on modeling the relationship between human decision making and land development configurations. In the dissertation research, Arika developed two separate models that generated a variety of land patterns, which were further compared to produce efficient development recommendations.

The first model is a morphological mathematical model that allocates growth based on optimal combinations of selected land characteristics. Through this model we can obtain a number of land use designs that may be later discussed in a participatory setting. The second model is a dynamic agent-based model that simulates decision making of property developers. These agents are enhanced with different attitudes to risk: from extremely risk-taking, through risk-neutral, to extremely risk-averse. As a result of their decisions, diverse land use patterns emerge spanning from a dispersed leapfrog urban development to a compact pattern of land use. These results indicate a strong nonlinear relationship between risk-explicit decision making and the spatial outcomes.

Her committee members are: Piotr Jankowski (chair), Li An, Richard Church, and Helen Couclelis.

Arika was hired by Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor in both the Department of Geography and the Environmental Science and Policy Program (50-50 split).


Arthur getisApril 14, 2008

Getis Receives Aangeenbrug Career Award

The Award Committee of the GIS Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers announced the selection of Arthur Getis as recipient of the Robert T. Aangeenbrug GISSG Distinguished Career Award for 2008.

The Aangeenbrug Award is given to honor a senior scholar for sustained and effective research contributions in geographic information systems and science. It is bestowed based on a record of published research and/or other accomplishments that extend over a period of several decades. To be selected as a recipient of this award, the research of the scholar must be deemed of great importance and relevance to geographers, and this research must be largely concerned with or applicable to Geographic Information Systems and Science.


Debbie fugateMay 3, 2008

Fugate Defends Dissertation

Debbie Fugate successfully defended her doctoral dissertation as part of the SDSU / UC Santa Barbara joint doctoral program. Her dissertation is titled Geodemographic Modeling of Data-poor Populations in a Security Context.

The major goals of the research were 1) to expand knowledge of the relationship between population and security through the application of a geodemographic framework, and 2) to develop a methodology to estimate the count, distribution, and characteristics of data-poor populations. The scope of the research was limited to data-poor populations in developing countries and the methodological processes were refined for ease of use and rapid implementation in a security context. The research was organized around two case studies, a data-rich and a data-poor example, which serve as proof of concept. The research was guided by a spatial perspective as applied to the population-conflict nexus through a geodemographic framework and provides a way to estimate population characteristics for parts of the world where data are scarce, unreliable, or where data collection efforts are otherwise impossible, such as in times of conflict.

Her committee members are: John Weeks (Chair), Douglas Stow, Keith Clarke, and David Carr.


Martin lacayo-emeryMay 12, 2008

Lacayo-Emery Receives Fullbright Scholarship

Martin Lacayo-Emery has received a Fullbright Scholarship to study in Switzerland during the 2008 to 2009 academic year. He will conduct research on visual analytics at the University of Zurich’s Division of Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis.