2008 to 2009 Academic Year News

Marta jankowskaSeptember 3, 2008

Jankowska receives ORNL Travel Scholarship

Master’s student Marta Jankowska was awarded an Oak Ridge National Laboratory travel scholarship for her upcoming presentation “An AMOEBA Procedure for Visualizing Clusters” at the GIScience 2008 conference, September 23-26, in Park City, Utah.


September 3, 2008

ISYS Hosts International Workshop

Workshop attendees

Workshop participants (from left to right): Kate Swanson, Tom Herman, Sam Cortez, Dina Mendoza, Gloria Zafra, Servando Ortoll, Maribel Sanchez, Chris Moreno, Geraldine Pratt, Cynthia Bejarano, Stuart Aitken, Arely Perez Landeros, Ramona Perez, Susan Ruddick, Vicky Plows, Giorgio Curti, Fernando Bosco, Don Colley, Lawrence Berg.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space and the Department of Geography recently hosted an international workshop entitled: “Mapping North American Youth Cultures: Local Settings for Global Lives.” The workshop, funded by a grant from the Canadian Government (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) took place from August 20-22, 2008 at Scripps Cottage in the SDSU campus and brought together 14 lead researchers from Canada, Mexico and the United States and 8 geography graduate students from SDSU and beyond. The successful workshop, organized and hosted by ISYS’ managing director Thomas Herman and professors Stuart Aitken and Fernando Bosco, was an opportunity to foster interaction and collaboration among Canadian, Mexican, and American researchers who are currently studying youth cultures and young people's geographies at various locations throughout North America. Participants shared and discussed their past, current and future work through presentations. Participants also developed consensus around a set of themes that are important for the understanding of youth cultures. These themes included issues of citizenship, dependencies, culpabilities and the overturning of established assumptions together with an overarching concern about ethics and methodology. These crucial themes will guide future international and cross-disciplinary research among workshop participants, who are already working on a set of articles that will be the first tangible outcome of this international workshop. The organizers thank all participants for a wonderful experience and for their commitment to a workshop that, once again, demonstrated SDSU Geography’s commitment to critical, collaborative and socially relevant research on the geographies of children, young people, their families and their communities.

Story in SDSUniverse Leave geography site


Sam cortezOctober 11, 2008

News from the APCG Meetings in Fairbanks, Alaska

Caitlin Chason received the Harry and Shirley Bailey Award for Outstanding Paper in Physical Geography.

Sam Cortez received the Mexican American Travel Scholarships-2008 (MATS). Sam is pictured with David Arreola.

Chris Lippitt received an APCG travel award.


Diana richardsonNovember 18, 2008

Diana Richardson honored by Mortar Board

Congratulation to Diana Richardson, who is a recipient of an award from Mortar Board. Mortar Board is the national honor society for college seniors, and it will host the 19th Annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation Dinner at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19 in Aztec Center’s Casa Real.

The Award honors persons who have made significant contributions to the education and academic achievement of the SDSU members of Mortar Board.

Mortar Board selects honorees who represent the ideals upon which Mortar Board is based, including superior scholastic achievement, outstanding leadership and dedicated service.

More information about the Mortar Board award Leave geography site.


January 30, 2009

ASPRS Southwest Region Technical Meeting

The American Society for Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Southwest U.S. Region Technical Meeting will be held Friday, January 30, 2009 at SDSU in West Commons 201.

The agenda is as follows:

  • 1:00pm Andres Abeyta, President, IGIS Technologies, Inc.
    Status of the Geospatial Industry and How to Prepare Yourself to Enter the Marketplace
  • 2:00pm Lee Harbers, President of the Southwest Region of the ASPRS, and Director of Surveys & Photogrammetry, Engineering Surveying & Photogrammetry, LLC
    ASPRS Certification Program for Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and GIS
  • 3:00pm Discussion of ASPRS Southwest Region Business
  • 3:30pm Ms. Kass Green, President of ASPRS
    Object-Oriented CART for Land Use/Land Cover Mapping Using ADS40, Lidar, and Ancillary Data


Justin stolerMarch 13, 2009

Justin Stoler Receives SRS Dean’s Award

Congratulations to Justin Stoler, who has received the Dean’s Award in 2009 Student Research Symposium (SRS)! His presentation is “Exploring the Relationships between Dengue Fever Knowledge and Aedes aegypti Breeding in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica: A Pilot of Enhanced Surveillance.” This is his second time to obtain this type of prestigious award, he got the President’s Award last year. Justin Stoler is currently a first-year doctoral student in the SDSU-UCSB joint doctoral program working with Dr. John Weeks.


March 21, 2009

Geography at SDSU Open House

Dominic talking with prospective majorsSarah, Zia, Jenny, and Dominic at the boothJenny talking with prospective majorsSarah talking with prospective major

SDSU Geography graduate students, Jennifer Vaughan, Sarah Champion and Dominic Abbenante, and Ph.D. student Zia Salim were our stellar Geography Department ambassadors at the recent Explore SDSU Open House on Saturday, March 21. This event is part of the SDSU Month activities, and it attracts thousands of people to the campus who are interested in seeing campus departments, clubs and other activities; many of these are graduating high school seniors who are in the process of deciding where they will go to college or what major they’d like to declare.

Our students provided important information about the department in a friendly, energetic and competent manner, truly representative of the high caliber of student we attract in this department. They highlighted the breadth of the undergraduate emphases, the GIS labs and projects, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space (ISYS). The mural adjacent to the booth is associated with ISYS and is a multi-national peace project which will eventually be displayed in the North Korea/South Korea DMZ. Finally, they communicated the great variety of interesting and relevant careers that a Geography graduate could obtain, using examples of past graduates.


Gregg verutesMarch 31, 2009

Gregg Verutes places third in NGS Mapping Contest

Recent Master’s graduate Gregg Verutes (2008) has earned the third place prize in the National Geographic Society (NGS) 2009 Mapping Contest in association with the Association of American Geographers/Cartography Specialty Group. He received his award at the AAG conference in Las Vegas.

The competition was open to undergraduates and master’s level students. The award recognizes achievement in all aspects of mapping. Submissions may take the form of any of the following: map products in digital and paper formats; web-based maps or cartographic services; dynamic, animated, and/or interactive geovisualization environments; or other cartographic projects.

The Department of Geography at San Diego State University, in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and George Washington University, put together an initial Women's Health Survey for Accra, Ghana. Phase two of this project necessitates relocating the same women that were contacted for the first survey. The ground team in Accra has only a limited amount of information to locate these individuals.

Gregg’s submission was an interactive map designed to assist the ground team in their efforts. He created detailed maps of specific Enumeration Area (EA) boundaries. These polygons (analogous to US Census tracts) highlight the areas where field workers still need to locate additional subjects. The interactive map was created in Flash and represents a streamlined version of the original printed field maps created to locate subjects.


George ChristakosApril 10, 2009

Christakos Keynote Speaker at Harvard CGA Workshop

Dr. George Christakos will be the keynote speaker at the 2009 Harvard University Center for Geographic Analysis Workshop to be held April 10, 2009. The theme of the workshop is Spatial-Temporal Modeling: its implications across disciplines. The title of Dr. Christakos’ talk will be Interdisciplinary Spatiotemporal Modeling: It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.

This workshop is aimed at providing a high-level overview of this field, from theoretical research to industrial solutions and multi-disciplinary applications; from 4-dimensional database construction, object manipulation, to simulation and visualization. The audience will come from many disciplines, some with and some without previous experience in spatial-temporal modeling. The keynote address will give a general overview of the field, and the subsequent presenters from Harvard and other local institutions will show-case a sampler of current work in various disciplines. The break-out sessions will give beginners a selection of hands-on learning opportunities while experienced researchers engage in an in-depth discussion of the subject.


Sarah wanderseeMay 1, 2009

Wandersee Receives Award

Sarah Wandersee, one of our joint doctoral students, has recently been notified that she got a very prestigious award of $12,000 from Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation! Her project title is “Documenting Impacts of Illegal Mining on the Guizhou Golden Monkeys, Rhinopithecus brelichi, in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China.” She will use the grant money to collect data in the summer and fall of 2009 in the reserve.

Sarah’s advisor is Dr. Li An.


Leah bremerMay 7, 2009

Bremer to Receive Fulbright

Joint doctoral student Leah Bremer had been awarded a Fulbright to study in Ecuador. Her project in Ecuador includes an evaluation of the causes and biophysical outcomes of changing burning regimes in Ecuadorian alpine grasslands, in collaboration with the Fundacion Cordillera Tropical and the University of Azuay.

Leah’s advisor is Dr. Kathleen Farley.


Marta jankowskaJune 2, 2009

Jankowska selected for Young Scholars Summer Program

Marta Jankowska has been selected for participation in the Young Scholars Summer Program (YSSP) of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria. This very prestigious program carries with it an $8,000 award to support her travel and living expenses in Austria, funded by the US National Academy of Sciences. IIASA is an international research organization that conducts inter-disciplinary scientific studies on environmental, economic, technological, and social issues in the context of human dimensions of global change. IIASA’s research scholars study environmental, economic, technological, and social developments. The research areas covered link a variety of natural and social science disciplines. The work is based on original state-of-the-art methodology and analytical approaches. The methods and tools generated are useful to both decision makers and the scientific community. YSSP experience offers an unparalleled opportunity for young scholars to work with top-flight international scholars and set up a network of international contacts that can serve them well throughout their career.

Marta recently completed her Master’s degree at SDSU and has been accepted into the Doctoral program here as well. Her advisor is Dr. John Weeks.


Doug stowJune 22, 2009

Stow receives President’s Leadership Award

Dr. Doug Stow has received one of five President’s Leadership Fund Awards for Faculty and Staff Excellence for 2009. Dr. Stow was recognized for his work in remote sensing of terrestrial environments in order to detect and model environmental change caused by natural processes and human activities.

The President’s Leadership Fund (PLF) was established in October 2002 to provide San Diego State University with the flexible resources to respond quickly to strategic opportunities, pursue innovation and reward excellence. The Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards were instituted in 2008. Each award comes with a $5,000 grant which must be re-invested in their work at San Diego State University.

Further information on the PLF. Leave geography site

Further information on all the Faculty and Staff Awardees. Leave geography site


July 2, 2009

SDSU Geography Becomes an ESRI Development Center

The Department of Geography at San Diego State University has been recognized as an official ESRI Development Center (EDC).

To become an EDC, the department demonstrated faculty and staff competence in GIS and Computer Science/IT with a commitment to participate in the program; currently provides advanced level coursework in GIS Tool development, integration with computer science, support application development and ESRI platform workflows; and offers a certificate and degree relating to GIScience.

Dr. André Skupin is the EDC Faculty advisor.


Rick kimJuly 2, 2009

Ick Hoi Kim Receives EDC Awards

Doctoral student Ick Hoi Kim has received two awards as part of the Geography Department’s ESRI Development Center (EDC) program. The first is being named “Student of the Year” for our EDC. Every EDC names one Outstanding Student from their program to receive recognition and a $500 scholarship. Ick Hoi (or Rick as he prefers) is our first student to receive this award.

Rick also has been chosen from all EDC Outstanding Students to receive one of two Special Achievement Awards from ESRI to be presented at the ESRI International Users Conference July 13-19, in San Diego. He will receive a $2000 honorarium along with his award.

Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou is Rick’s Doctoral advisor.


Ming-hsiang tsouJuly 2, 2009

GeoTech Center Presented Innovative Program Award

The HI-TEC Innovative Program Award will be presented July 21, 2009 to the GeoTech Center for its Two-to-Four Year Articulation Program in Geographic Information Systems. The articulation program is led by the Co-PI of the GeoTech Center, Kenneth Yanow, M.A. Geography, SDSU 1999, Professor of Geographical Sciences at Southwestern College.

In collaboration with Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou, Kenneth has led the effort to provide a seamless articulation between Southwestern College, a two year community college, and San Diego State University’s baccalaureate program. As part of this program, Dr. Tsou developed Geography 104, a new general education level GIS course that features fully online, publicly accessible lecture notes and web-based exercises. This new course has been successfully articulated with several community colleges in San Diego.

Dr. Tsou and Mr. Yanow will receive the award at the HI-TEC conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Anna lopezJuly 6, 2009

Anna Carla Lopez Defends Dissertation

Congratulations to Anna Carla Lopez who successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled “Spatial Patterns of Urban Food Security in Accra, Ghana: A Geographic Analysis of Household Hunger in an African City” on July 1, 2009. An abstract of her dissertation follows:

Food is a sine qua non of human life. Yet, tragically, for an increasing proportion of the world’s population, it has become unaffordable. Rapid rates of urban population growth over the past twenty years have yielded higher numbers of undernourished urban households. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 40% of the population lives in cities, with 72% of those living in impoverished slums or slum-like conditions. As cities continue to grow rapidly and become home to higher concentrations of people, the need for disaggregated figures which can improve our knowledge of population, health and environment issues have become a priority. This study examined intra-urban patterns of food insecurity in Accra, the capital city of Ghana in West Africa. Mixed methods were used to determine the underlying socio-economic, environmental, and spatial predictors of urban household food insecurity. In a novel approach, this study integrated survey and remote sensing data to map the distribution of food insecurity in Accra and determine significant predictor variables. Results were then compared with and interpreted by qualitative data derived from in-depth household interviews. Questions explored household demographics, health, socio-economic characteristics, knowledge and attitudes about food consumption, household distribution and hygiene, and economic security. The results of this study diverged from traditional rural-based food security research. Factors influencing household food security were quintessentially urban and included data derived from the satellite imagery. Geographic factors emerged as critical to household well being. Families living in neighborhoods serviced by fresh food markets were better nourished regardless of socio-economic status. The results substantiate the role of neighborhood environments in regards to food security. Implications for policy include the need to engage urban planners when designing food policy. Tailoring food programs for urban areas of the developing world such as Accra would be a wise and worthwhile strategy for decision makers, at a time when most of the world is urbanized and when pressure on agricultural resources is intensified.

Anna is currently appointed to a two-year postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to continue her research in Accra.

Dr. Lopez’s doctoral committee members were Dr. John Weeks, Dr. Doug Stow, Dr. Richard Church (UCSB), and Dr. Hallie Eakin (ASU).


traditional dancingJuly 6, 2009

An, Aitken, and Wandersee in China: Dancing with the Geographers

As part of ongoing research on golden monkey conservation and human activities in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, Dr. Li An, Dr. Stuart Aitken, and Joint Doctoral student Sarah Wandersee traveled to Guizhou Province in China this summer. Working on the project “Does ecotourism help nature conservation? A case study of the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China”, Dr. An and Dr. Aitken conducted interviews of local villagers. Sarah Wandersee, with her advisor Dr. An, mapped reserve areas and interviewed locals and rangers on conservation and human activities as part of her project “Documenting illegal mining impacts on Guizhou golden monkey habitat in China”. At times, these interviews involved several hours of hiking through the surrounding mountains to reach remote villages (including hair-raising motorcycle rides for An and Aitken). Collaboration with the director of the reserve was a huge asset to the team. In addition to logistical assistance, he provided them with opportunities to learn about the local culture.


July 17, 2009

MAPS is Launched

Link to MAPS scanned announcement Leave geography siteJuly 14th was the launch of the Metropolitan Area Pluralism Study (MAPS), a project of the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Geography. Professor Ming Tsou and Ph.D. student Ick Hoi Kim provided technical and conceptual assistance. This is the first major collaboration between the two departments and as an ongoing project, MAPS promises to be invaluable for students, faculty and the community.


21 year old stuart aitkenJuly 28, 2009

Aitken to Deliver Keynote

Professor Stuart Aitken is invited to give a keynote address as part of a two-day celebration of the Centenary of Geography, 1909-2009, at the University of Glasgow, August 21 and 22. Professor Aitken’s address is entitled “Fa(r)ther along the road” and reflects some of his recent work on family geographies as well as his indebtedness to the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow for guiding the beginnings of his professional career. In the picture to the right, a 21 year old Stuart holds his Scientiae Baccalaureum cum honoribus at the entrance to the East Quadrangle of the University, which houses the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences.