2009 to 2010 Academic Year News

Nicole simonsAugust 5, 2009

Simons Receives Poster Award

Nicole Simons, joint doctoral program student, won the Second Place in the poster competition at 2009 Geoinformatics Forum in Salzburg, Austria. Her presentation on “An Assessment of Emergency Service Operations Prior to, During and After a Fire Hazard Event” was selected from a group of 70 exhibited posters.

The Geoinformatics Forum Salzburg focuses on an international GIScience audience, communicating in English and sharing an interest in translating new methods and techniques into a broad range of application domains in geoinformatics.


Piotr jankowskiSeptember 15, 2009

Jankowski Named Science Foundation Ireland Walton Visiting Professor

Professor Piotr Jankowski has been invited by Irish Science Foundation to collaborate with University College Dublin researchers on developing geographic methods of data analysis and visualization that are scalable across different data set sizes. Such methods are expected to enable integrated processing and analysis of diverse types of spatial, temporal and spatiotemporal data including large data sets and model simulations used in spatial decision support. Piotr will be the second Science Foundation Ireland Walton Visiting Professor after Michael Goodchild who held the position in Spring 2008.


September 24, 2009

Annual Geography Welcome Picnic

September 11 saw the Department head out to its usual spot at Tidelands Park on Coronado for the beginning of the year Welcome Picnic. The festivities started around 5:00 pm and continued well into the darkness.


October 8, 2009

Department Hosts the APCG Conference

The Department of Geography successfully hosted the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, September 30 through October 3. The conference was held at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley. The conference attracted geographers from all over the west coast. Attendees also came from Arizona and Mexico.

APCG Welcome banner at the Town and Country Convention CenterSDSU graduate students line up for recognitionSDSUAttendees at the PresidentTom Herman and Fernando Bosco present in front of a full roomAttendees relaxing in the courtyard


Stuart AitkenOctober 13, 2009

Pacific Coast Geographers' Distinguished Service Award

Professor Stuart C. Aitken was awarded the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers’ Distinguished Service Award for 2009.


October 13, 2009

CIA Cartography Group Interview

The head of the Cartography Center from CIA visited SDSU Geography Department on October 6th, 2009 and made a presentation for recruiting full time cartographers in their Media Presentation Group. The entry level salary of CIA cartographers could be around $50K with full health insurance and benefit. Senior level positions (after 5-8 years) can reach to 90K-110K. Several SDSU graduate students and undergraduate students were interviewed by the CIA staff members during their visit.


October 13, 2009

CEQA Workshop held at SDSU

The CEQA Workshop for Students was held on October 10, at the SDSU Extended Studies/Gateway Centers. This four hour workshop is the first building block to understanding how to use and implement the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and completion of the Workshop provides students with a strong base to develop further CEQA knowledge. Potential employers in agencies and companies that deal with CEQA and sustainable development often require some knowledge of CEQA from new employees, and the graduate with CEQA knowledge often win a position over a candidate without this.

The Workshop was a joint effort between the Association of Environmental Professions (AEP), and the Geography Department at SDSU. AEP is a national professional organization with state and local chapters. AEP professionals include people from a wide range of careers including environmental analysts, planners, architects, engineers, biologists, archaeologists, air quality experts, water quality experts, GIS professionals, and many more from areas of interest that all support the idea of sustainable development. The California AEP members do much work in accordance with CEQA, thus a good understanding of this critically important policy in California is crucial to success in the practice of sustainable development. SDSU has an AEP Student Chapter which is supported by the local San Diego chapter of AEP.


November 2, 2009

Getis Book Released

human geography textbookphysical geography textbook

The eleventh edition of Human Geography: Landscapes of Human Activities has been published by McGraw Hill this month. This popular world-famous human geography textbook is co-authored by our world-renown emeritus faculty, Dr. Arthur Getis, his wife, Judith Getis, along with two other geographers. Dr. Arthur Getis and his wife are also the co-authors of another famous book, Introduction to Geography (the twelfth edition) also published by McGraw Hill.


arthur getisNovember 2, 2009

Getis Appointed Hooker Distinguished Professor

Professor Emeritus Arthur Getis has been appointed as Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Business at McMaster University. He will be affiliated with the School of Geography and Earth Sciences for a period in February 2010. Dr. Getis will give a series of lectures and consult with undergraduate and graduate students.

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, and has one of the leading geography departments in Canada. Its spatial analysis program has a strong international reputation. The Hooker award is given to a “distinguished visiting scholar whose teaching and research interests enhance the quality of academic life in specific departments and throughout the University generally.”


November 3, 2009

Geography Awareness Week is Coming

Since 1987, Geography Awareness Week (GAW) has been held the third week of November. For 2009, it will be held November 16 to 18. Geography Awareness Week is used to promote geographic education in schools and throughout the general population.

The SDSU Department of Geography will be holding two events to commemorate GAW. The first will be a Photo Contest open to all faculty, staff, and students of SDSU. The deadline for submissions is November 13, 2009 at 4:00pm. Entry forms can be found in the department office, Storm Hall 323. Photos will be posted in the third floor corridors of Storm Hall for judging by popular vote during the week. Balloting closes November 20, at 4:00pm. Prizes will be awarded in various categories on Tuesday, December 1.

The second event is the Careers in Geography Panel Presentation. This panel brings together various professionals to speak about their job experiences, career opportunities, job searching tips and much more. The Panel convenes on Wednesday, November 18, 5:00pm to 6:00pm in Storm Hall 150. Presenters include:

  • Brian Mooney, AICP, Interim Planning and Community Development Director, City of Del Mar
  • Charles Marchesano, Chief, Park Development, Parks and Recreation Department, County of San Diego
  • Teri Fenner, Project Director, Environmental and Ecological Planning Practice, AECOM
  • Emily Kochert, GIS Analyst, County of San Diego
  • Courtney Jones, GIS Technician, SDG&E

We hope to see you all there.


book coverNovember 3, 2009

Jankowski Book Released

The first edition of Regional and Urban GIS: A Decision Support Approach has been published by Guilford Publications. This new text is co-authored by our own Dr. Piotr Jankowski. The book illustrates how GIS can guide community and environmental decision making.


chris lippittNovember 3, 2009

Lippitt to Receive Inamori Fellowship

Doctoral Student Christopher Lippitt has been selected to receive one of the inaugural Inamori Fellowships. Chris was one of 10 recipients of the award. There were a total of 179 applicants from masters and doctoral programs across the university. The award is for $5000.00.

The Inamori Fellowships are made possible by the contribution from Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation and the Inamori Foundation.


November 17, 2009

Community College Day

SDSU Geography devoted an afternoon to our community college colleagues and their students. About 50 people were in attendance for tours of the department and presentations by students (Leah Bremer, Sean Crotty, Sam Cortez and Emily Power Neder) and faculty (Diana Richardson, Stuart Aitken, Ed Aguado, Pascale Joassart, Trent Biggs and Ming Tsou). The afternoon ended with a reception on our balcony, and some considerable excitement about the possible of an SDSU transfer for many of the community college students.


golden monkeyNovember 17, 2009

Golden Monkey and Environment Colloquium

There will be a presentation Thursday, November 19 2009, 3:30pm to 5:00pm at Storm Hall 136. The presentation is titled “People, Golden Monkeys, and the Environment: Sustainability into the Future”. It will begin with opening remarks from Dr. Paul Wong (Dean of CAL), Dr. Lei Guang (Asian and Pacific Studies Director), and Dr. Stuart Aitken (Geography Chair). The two main presentations will be on Conservation and Research of the Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey in Xiaoping Lei, Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China and Evolutionary History of Snub-nosed Monkeys and Population Genetic Structure of the Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey in Mouyu Yang, German Primate Center (DPZ), Germany. Following this there will be other presentations from Dr. Stuart Aitken (Geography) on Community Mapping and Participation in Fanjingshan, Dr. Erin P. Riley (Anthropology) on Niche Separation in Sympatric Guizhou Snub-Nosed Monkeys and Tibetan Macaques in Fanjingshan, Sarah Wandersee (Geography), and Amanda Sheres (Anthropology). If you are interested please plan on attending.


conference attendeesNovember 30, 2009

Aitken at Global Child Rights Conference

Dr. Stuart Aitken is an invited participant at the Global Conference on Research and Child Rights in Addis Ababa, at the United Nations Conference Center, from November 30th to December 2nd, 2009. He has organized a two-day roundtable discussion on child migration and dislocation that involves academics, policy makers, NGO workers and young people from Addis Ababa. The conference is organized by Childwatch International Research Network, The African Policy Forum (ACPF) and UNICEF in collaboration with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The conference marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Conference Announcement Flyer PDF file

To obtain more information, please use the following links:


giorgio curtiNovember 30, 2009

Curti Keynote Speaker

Giorgio Hadi Curti recently returned from Campinas, Brazil where he served as the keynote speaker and a panelist on publishing at the Colóquio Internacional: A educação pelas imagens a suas geografias, held at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) from November 9-11, 2009. His keynote speech, titled “Tropa de elite: um filme e sua geografia”, was based on a paper collaboratively written with former Joint Doctoral Program student Jim Craine.


Leah bremerDecember 10, 2009

Bremer Blogs on Conference

Doctoral student Leah Bremer will be attending the COP 15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7 to 18, 2009. She will be attending as part of the Tropical Forest Group’s (TRG) delegation. Visit Leah’s blog. Leave geography site


aitken book coverDecember 11, 2009

Aitken Book Released

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Geography has just been released. SDSU Professor Stuart Aitken is one of the co-editors of the book.

From the book cover:

Exploring the dynamic growth, change, and complexity of qualitative research in human geography. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Geography brings together leading scholars in the field to examine its history, assess the current state of the art, and project future directions. Moving beyond textbook rehearsals of standard issues, the Handbook shows how empirical details of qualitative research can be linked to the broader social, theoretical, political, and policy concerns of qualitative geographers and the communities within which they work.


getis book coverDecember 14, 2009

Getis Book Released

The Handbook of Applied Spatial Analysis: Software Tools, Methods, and Applications edited by Manfred Fischer and SDSU Professor Emeritus Arthur Getis has recently been published by Springer-Verlag.

The book has 35 chapters of which a number were written by current and former faculty and former Ph.D. students of the Geography Department. These include: Jared Aldstadt (Ph.D. 2007), Janet Franklin (former faculty), Arthur Getis, Mark Janikas (Ph.D. 2006), Jennifer Miller (Ph.D. 2003), Sergio Rey (former faculty), Lauren Scott (Ph.D. 1999), and Douglas Stow.


john weeksDecember 14, 2009

Weeks on AAG Editorial Board

Professor John Weeks is confirmed to join the Editorial Board of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers starting January 1, 2010. A term on the board lasts four years.

The position involves active participation on the Board, providing several manuscript reviews per year, suggesting reviewers to the editor, and fulfilling other responsibilities as needed.

Dr. Weeks will attend his first Annals Editorial Board during the AAG’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in April, 2010.


swanson book coverJanuary 5, 2010

Swanson Book Coming Soon

Begging as a Path to Progress: Indigenous Women and Children and the Struggle for Ecuador’s Urban Spaces is the forthcoming book by Professor Kate Swanson. The book is part of the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series from the University of Georgia Press. It will be available in March 2010.

In 1992, Calhuasí, an isolated Andean town, got its first road. Newly connected to Ecuador’s large cities, Calhuasí experienced rapid social-spatial change, which Kate Swanson richly describes. Based on nineteen months of fieldwork, Swanson’s study pays particular attention to the ideas and practices surrounding youth. While begging seems to be inconsistent with, or even an affront to, ideas about childhood in the developed world, Swanson demonstrates that the majority of income earned from begging goes toward funding Ecuadorian children’s educations in hopes of securing more prosperous futures.

Begging as a Path to Progress is an excellent book that comes to some arresting conclusions. Pleasingly and accessibly written, it is a major contribution to the fields of youth geographies, development studies, and interdisciplinary research on childhood.

Craig Jeffrey, coauthor of Degrees Without Freedom?: Education, Masculinities, and Unemployment in North India


January 5, 2010

Holiday Party Highlights

Dr. Pascale Joassart reads a trivia question in front of a food laden table.Dr. Pascale Joassart incorrectly answers a trivia question.The annual Geography Department Holiday Party was held on December 16, 2009. There was much food, drink, and trivia had by all during the three hour extravaganza.


chris morenoJanuary 6, 2010

Chris Moreno Defends Dissertation

Congratulation to Christopher Moreno who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Geographies of Addiction and Recovery: Drugs, Spaces, and Body Politics” on December 18, 2009. Chris explains his dissertation topic:

The main purpose of my dissertation project was to build on, work through, and expand relational understandings of bodies and spaces to bring different sensibilities to discussions of drug addiction and recovery, particularly as they related to geographical matters. This included, engaging with the subject of drug addiction and recovery through contemporary geographical concerns and debates surrounding the health, ethics, and politics of bodies, as well as relational understandings of space and affect as they intersect in the critical and health geography literature. Through different modes of encounter (film, families, institutions, and communities), I also qualitatively and ethnographically explored the different ways in which drug users (including their social and familial relations) and spaces of drug addiction and recovery evolved and worked to create for themselves new, more active, healthy, body-spaces not necessarily confined to, or limited by, institutional or ideological controls. Ultimately, there were two intended goals and outcomes of this project: 1) to explore conceptually and empirically what drug using and recovering bodies and spaces were capable of by mapping a more hopeful social and spatial politics of drug addiction and recovery, and 2) to offer social science researchers and policy makers different geographical sensibilities from which to approach the complex and emerging relationships between drug use and recovery in differentiating social and institutional contexts.

Three of five chapters in this project were published, forth is currently in review, and the fifth will be submitted here shortly. In the spring, beyond looking for a job and teaching a few classes, I will also be putting together two edited journals on addiction and recovery in Emotion, Space, and Society and Social and Cultural Geography.

Dr. Moreno’s doctoral committee members were: Dr. Stuart Aitken, Dr. Fernando Bosco, Dr. Helen Couclelis (UCSB Geography), Dr. Colin Gardner (UCSB Art/Film), and Dr. David Carr (UCSB Geography).


giorgio curtiJanuary 6, 2010

Giorgio Curti Defends Dissertation

Congratulation to Giorgio Curti who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “The Body Geographic: Affect, Imagination and the Relationality of Be(com)ing, or Movements through Spinozan Earth-Writings” on December 18, 2009. Giorgio explains his dissertation topic:

An exploration of what geography does (and can do) can help uncover its role as a disciplinary mode of encounter in tension with the dominant ontological foundations of Western philosophic and scientific thought. French philosopher Gilles Deleuze points to the existence of two lines of Western philosophical tradition: the dominant one exemplified by the philosophies of Plato, Descartes and Kant, the other a challenge and break from the interiority and artificial dualisms of this “rationalist” tradition and expressed through the works of such philosophers as Lucretius, Hume, Nietzsche and Spinoza (as well as Deleuze himself). It is my position that the latter line, most forcefully the work of 17th century Dutch (Marrano) thinker Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza, finds a certain vital resonance with(in) geography through a shared epistemological break from and ontological challenge to conventional Western thinking. Nigel Thrift recently argued that “Spinoza was a kind of geographer.” I take this statement one step further to argue that geography does a kind of Spinozan science. I support this claim by first exploring how geography’s content is entangled in enduring intellectual and practical separations which hinder or disallow it adequate expression. I then discuss and illustrate through different topical movements - such as landscape, territorial conflict, gentrification and displacement, media and social networks, and the relationships between children, families and governmental institutions - how Spinoza’s work and its: (1) conceptualization of humans and earth, nature and culture, society and space, as intimately and necessarily inter-connected and inter-related phenomena; (2) immanent understanding of ideas (thought) and material (extension) as two perspectives of the same substance informed and experienced through capacities of embodied imagination, affection (affectio) and affect (affectus); and (3) capacity to serve as a dynamic nexus through which various geographical viewpoints and interests can find lines of agreement or correspondence, presents geographers with a conceptual logic internal to and expressive of the content of the discipline. In its move towards a “Spinozan Geography,” this work - both as a whole and in its composite parts - is not an attempt at a rigorous analytical exposition of Spinoza’s thinking in the academic philosophical sense. In other words, the drive of this work is not for rigor as redundant repetition or analytical critique. Rather, it is a call for and a push towards rigor as an internally consistent and creative “productivism.” Thus, as a “productivist” mo(ve)ment, this work is not propelled by the necessity, need or desire to “critically” trace or embed Spinoza’s thought in or to a particular episteme or time-space. Neither is it driven by the need for an historical or ‘comprehensive’ survey of the geographical tradition. Instead, it is an effort at an open ontological and epistemological assemblage creatively building on Spinoza in fluid molecular dialogue with other thinkers, such as Henri Bergson, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, Antonio Negri and Brian Massumi, but especially the lineal “geo-philosophers” Deleuze and Guattari and the body geographic - in the double sense of a geographic body of literature and practice and the body as a(n) (un)folding geographic membrane and force - as an affirmative way through which geographers can better gain insights into, grapple with, understand, express, share and explore what geography does. To put it in practical terms, this work is more concerned with what bodies do or can do - in this case assembling bodies of thought, practice and action - than by what they are.

Currently, Giorgio Hadi Curti is working on papers, editing a book on media and geography and a special issue of Aether on media geography and the Middle East, teaching two classes at SDSU and looking for a tenure track J.O.B.

Dr. Curti’s doctoral committee members were: Dr. Stuart Aitken, Dr. Fernando Bosco, Dr. David Carr (UCSB Geography), and Dr. Colin Gardner (UCSB Art/Film).


February 1, 2010

Professors Out and About

At the La Jolla Playhouse last season, Kate Swanson led discussion about the urban geography in Unusual Acts of Devotion, a play set in a New York City apartment. More recently, Trent Biggs stood under the stage lights of the IMax theatre in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center to speak about the Amazon and field questions at the San Diego movie premiere of The Greatest Places.


arthur getisMarch 9, 2010

Getis’ Amazing February

Emeritus Professor Dr. Arthur Getis had an amazing month of February.

  1. He was awarded the status of Fellow by the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science. Dr. Getis was in the inaugural group of three fellows; the others are David Mark and Lynn Usery.
  2. The award of a Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professorship at McMaster University in Canada. He spent a week giving lectures and visiting with faculty and graduate students.
  3. The publication of Perspectives on Spatial Data Analysis by Springer, a volume edited by Luc Anselin and Serge Rey, which is a review of Dr. Getis’ work and is essentially a festskrift. A festschrift is a tradition among Norwegians and Swedes to honor senior colleague’s work by publishing a volume of essays honoring the colleague's corpus of work.
  4. Also, Dr. Getis recently had published The Handbook of Applied Spatial Analysis: Software Tools, Methods, and Applications.

Congratulations to Dr. Getis!


sean crottyMarch 11, 2010

Crotty Receives Dean’s Award

Congratulations go to Doctoral Student Sean Crotty who received the Dean’s Award for his presentation at the SDSU Student Research Symposium on Saturday, March 6, 2010.

Sean’s talk was titled “The Geography of Day Labor in San Diego”. Sean basically examines the geographic distribution of day labor hiring sites in San Diego. The two factors he talked about in this paper were: 1) the connection between hiring site locations and spatial concentrations of employment in “connected industries” (the industries that most commonly hire laborers), and 2) Some of the situational characteristics of hiring sites, which help us understand why particular spaces are better or worse for day labor within areas of high connected industry employment.


March 15, 2010

Annual Department Camping Trip

Last weekend the Department had its Annual Department Camping Trip. The group of students and professors traveled out to the desert to have some fun. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed being surrounded by nature. Below are a few pictures. The first picture is of a cactus that is budding with flowers. The second is a picture of Dr. Skupin cooking. The last picture is of a group getting ready for a hike.

Hiking groupDr. Skupin cookingBlooming cactus


aitken book coverMarch 22, 2010

Three Books by SDSU Geographers Nominated to be Honored

Three books by SDSU Geographers nominated to be honoured at this year’s Geographical Perspectives on Women (GPOW) Book Event at the 2010 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting:

  • Stuart Aitken. 2009. The Awkward Spaces of Fathering. Ashgate. ISBN: 9780754670056. (Stuart Aitken’s book The Awkward Spaces of Fathering was also rated ‘Highly recommended’ in Choice, which is the leading source for academic librarians.)
  • Dydia DeLyser, Steve Herbert, Stuart Aitken, Mike Crang, and Linda McDowell, Eds. 2010. Handbook of Qualitative Geography. Sage. ISBN: 9781412919913.
  • Kate Swanson. 2010. Begging as a Path to Progress: Indigenous Women and Children and the Struggle for Ecuador’s Urban Spaces. University of Georgia Press. ISBN: 9780820331805.


dominic abbenanteMarch 25, 2010

Abbenate Designs Projections for SDSU School of Theatre

Last fall, SDSU Geography Master’s student Dominic Abbenante designed the projections for the SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film production of Dear Harvey as a competing production for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The production, after successfully advancing to the Region 8 Festival in Utah, has been selected as one of four productions nationally to be performed as a concert reading, with music and projections at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. The performance will take place Friday, April 16, at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre at 5 p.m.. Dominic is currently finishing his Master’s thesis on the Geographic Spaces of Urban Theatre Performance.


hui linMarch 25, 2010

Dr. Hui Lin Does Lunch Talk

Dr. Hui Lin, Professor and Director of Institute of Space and Earth Information Science (ISEIS) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), will be talking during the Lunch Talk on March 26 (Friday) 12:00pm to 1:00pm, Geography Seminar Room (SH321).

Dr. Hui Lin is Director of Hong Kong Base of National Remote Sensing Center of China. He graduated from Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping in 1980, received Master of Science degree from Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1983, and Ph.D. from University at Buffalo in 1992. Hui Lin joined CUHK in 1993 with major research interests in satellite remote sensing, virtual geographic environments (VGE), and urban and historic GIS. He was elected academician of International Eurasia Academy of Sciences in 1995 and member of the Expert Committee of China Lunar Exploring Program in 2008. Hui Lin is the founding president of International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Science (CPGIS) and the chief editor of the journal Annals of GIS.

His topic for the Lunch Talk is What could be after Geographic Information System?

GIS, after continual development in last 40 years, has been widely used in various fields by researchers, governmental officials, businessman, and many professionals and non-professionals. With its root from maps, GIS has more functions including spatial analysis and static spatial modeling. However, many GIS users today are looking for a platform which is of geo-process modeling functions, such as wild fire modeling and air pollution spreading simulation. The framework of GIS with a geo-coded database shows its bottleneck for this kind of dynamic modeling. What should we do for integrating the geo-coded database and the geo-process models? Virtual geographic environments (VGE) could be an answer as a new framework beyond GISystem.


yuki hamadaApril 5, 2010

Hamada Earns Poster Award

Doctoral candidate Yuki Hamada earned second place for her poster, Characterizing Conditions of California Sage Scrub Communities in Mediterranean-type Ecosystems Using Remote Sensing at the 2010 Association of Environmental Professionals Annual Conference in Palm Springs.

Poster abstract: Protecting the biologically diverse California or coastal sage scrub (CSS) communities is vital to conserving rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) animal species and overall species richness of California’s Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs). To protect these ecologically significant communities, monitoring integrity of the community type is equally critical to maintaining its extent and distribution. Current monitoring methods (i.e. field-based surveys and vegetation type mapping), however, do not adequately quantify internal conditions of CSS communities. This research investigates the effectiveness of remote sensing for estimating fractional cover of true shrub, subshrub, herb, and bare ground within CSS communities, which would aid in quantifying CSS community health. It also explores the utility of spatially exhaustive life-form cover fractions for CSS habitat conservation. Ten advanced remote sensing approaches based on combinations of image types with varying spatial resolution (i.e. 0.15 m to 10 m) and image processing/analysis methods (i.e. per-pixel, object-based, and mixture models) were tested. The results show that object-based image analysis (OBIA) using pansharpened QuickBird imagery (0.6 m) is capable of estimating fractional cover most accurately with error as low as +/-6.4%. Using cover estimates derived from this approach, maps representing CSS community conditions and life-form cover preference of Polioptila californica (California gnatcatcher) were created. The estimates were also applied to generate ternary plots indicating life-form composition of CSS communities. Spatially exhaustive life-form fractional cover aids in developing more comprehensive monitoring systems by filling information gaps between existing monitoring methods.


April 5, 2010

Fraley, Freeman, and Lippitt Collect Remote Sensing Awards

Doctoral student Grant Fraley was awarded the 2010 Graduate Student Achievement Award for Remote Sensing and GIS Based Studies by the ASPRS (American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing), Southwest Region. He will receive the award Tuesday, April 27th during the 2010 ASPRS Annual Conference in San Diego, CA (April 26-30).

At the conference Grant will also present an unrelated paper entitled Implications of Low-cost Sensor Technologies for UAV Imaging Applications.

In addition to Grant Fraley, two other SDSU doctoral students, Mary Freeman and Chris Lippitt received a 2010 Graduate Student Achievement Award for Remote Sensing and GIS based studies from the Southwest ASPRS region. The three $300 awards were all given to SDSU students.

Congratulations Grant, Mary, and Chris.

Grant FraleyMary FreemanChris Lippitt


justin stolerApril 8, 2010

Stoler Receives Travel Award

Doctoral student Justin Stoler will receive a 2010 Graduate Student Travel Fund award to continue his dissertation research. Justin was one of the few awardees picked from 78 applications.

The GSTF award is being used to facilitate Justin’s travel to Accra, Ghana, where he is currently engaged in disseration research that explores the links between drinking water sources, water quality, and human health in urban slums.

Congratulations, Justin.


xinyue yeApril 9, 2010

Ye Defends Dissertation

Congratulation to Xinyue Ye who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Comparative Space Time Dynamics” on March 12, 2010. Xinyue explains his dissertation topic:

The study of economic inequality and convergence continues to attract enormous attention thus becoming a dynamic academic landscape where interdisciplinary literature has evolved. This interest has been reflected in the spatial and temporal thinking in this research domain, that is, the analysis of spatial patterns of economic convergence and the temporal dynamics of geographical inequality. However, the literatures of process analysis and form analysis are mainly separated. Consequently, the integration of the above two rich and growing literatures offers opportunities for a truly spatially integrated social science. Hence, the aims of this dissertation are two-fold: first, to develop a comprehensive framework to integrate multiple dimensions and scales, and systematically compare regional economic structure and interactions; second, to further the understanding of the role spatial and temporal effects might play in regional economic growth. The objective of this dissertation is the crossfertilization of exploratory space time analysis and regional economic growth. This research will apply these new methods to compare Chinese space-time economic structure with that of the United States. In addition, these methods will be implemented in the Open Source software package STARS: Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems that facilitates the study of space-time economic process.

Currently, Xinyue is repackaging the dissertation into several publications. He is also invited by NSF to review the proposal. As an assistant professor of the Center for Regional Development and School of Earth, Environment and Society at Bowling Green State University (starting from August 2009), he is excited to have four research assistants in the coming academic year, working on space-time model and toolbox for analyzing regional development.

Dr. Ye’s doctoral committee members were: Dr. Serge Rey (Chair), Dr. Arthur Getis, Dr. Li An, Dr. Michael Goodchild (UCSB) and Dr. Richard Church (UCSB). His dissertation was supported by NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.


kate swansonApril 16, 2010

Swanson Book Interview

Kate Swanson was interviewed by Nicholas Crowder, for a website called ‘Latin American Book Review’ about her book Begging as a Path to Progress.

Congratulations Kate


April 23, 2010

Smith and Fraley Win Awards at AAG

diana smithgrant fraley

Both Diana Smith and Grant Fraley won awards at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, which was held in Washington, D.C., April 14 to 18.

Diana Smith won the first prize of the Cartography Honors Student Paper Competition. Her paper was about “Formalizing and evaluating principles of web-based animated cartography using arctic sea ice examples” in which she devised principles of web-based animated cartography based on existing arctic sea ice animations and then conducted user testing to explore the ability of the principles to contribute to knowledge gain. They paid for her conference registration and gave her $100.

Grant Fraley won the second prize of the GISSG Honors Student Paper Competition. His paper was about Multiple Objective Geographic Modeling for Hazards Using a Genetic Algorithm with Spatial Fuzzy Adaptation.

Congratulations Diana and Grant


andré skupinApril 30, 2010

Skupin Gives Keynote Lecture at AAG

Dr. André Skupin was invited to give the annual “Waldo Tobler Distinguished Lecture in Geographic Information Science” at the AAG Meeting in Washington D.C., sponsored by the AAG’s Geographic Information Systems and Science Specialty Group. His lecture was entitled “Tri-Space: Conceptualize, Compute, Visualize” and introduced a new approach for systematic exploration of multi-temporal attribute spaces. It featured results of Skupin’s recent collaboration with colleagues George Christakos and Trent Biggs, former post-doc Alexander Kolovos (now at SAS Institute Inc.), and several graduate students, including Grant Fraley, Martin Lacayo, and Ninghua Wang.


May 5, 2010

Lopez and Jankowska Recognized in Research Competition

anna lopezmarta jankowska

Two of our Fellow Geographers have been recognized in the “Places We Live” research competition sponsored by USAID, the International Housing Coalition (IHC), The World Bank, Cities Alliance, and the Woodrow Wilson Comparative Urban Studies Program (CUSP):

Dr. Anna Carla Lopez, now an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow in our department, was a finalist and received an Honorable Mention in the competition for her paper Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire? Urbanization and Sustainable Food Systems in Accra, Ghana

Marta Jankowska, Ph.D. student in the department, was also a finalist in the competition for her paper: Continuums of Vulnerability in the Slums of Accra, Ghana

Congratulations Dr. Anna Carla Lopez and Marta Jankowska.


May 5, 2010

Guest Speaker Does Research Presentation

There will be a research presentation by Stacy Rebich Hespanha, Doctoral Candidate, UC Santa Barbara, on Friday, May 7, 3:30pm, in REGAL (Nasatir 390). The presentation is titled Emotion and Climate Change Communication: U.S. News Media 1969 to the Present

As you can see based on the title and abstract, hers is an ambitious study with far-reaching implications and relevance for a wide range of geographic interests. Whether you're interested in environmental policy, human emotion and behavior, or contemporary approaches in computation and visualization, there will be something for you.

Here is a breif description of Stacy’s presentation: As scientific understanding of the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change continues to increase, public opinion in the US has moved in the opposite direction, towards greater disbelief and greater focus on uncertainties. While potential factors in this seeming paradox are many, advocates on both sides of the issue are quick to point to journalists and news organizations as promoters of bias, misconception, controversy, uncertainty, and fear. My work seeks to reveal themes and patterns in news reports about global warming and climate change over the history of public communication about the issue, and I will present preliminary results (in the form of Self-Organizing Maps) of an algorithmic text processing study based on over 100,000 news stories published or aired between 1969 and 2009. I will also report on preliminary analyses of data gathered through web surveys that were designed to document people’s emotional responses to the text and images used in news stories about climate change. These results support and build upon contemporary cognitive-emotional theory in general and previous work on communication about climate change in particular. Based on these connections, I will conclude by discussing potential explanations of the news media’s role in the disconnect between the scientific community and the general public on this issue, and what this research implies for how scientists and climate change communicators should craft their messages for the public.

We encourage all to attend.


yuki hamadaMay 5, 2010

Yuki Hamada Defends Dissertation

Congratulation to Yuki Hamada who successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled “Characterizing Conditions of California Sage Scrub Communities of Mediterranean-Type Ecosystems Using Remote Sensing” on April 9, 2010. Yuki explains her dissertation:

Biodiversity loss is an urgent global issue. For California’s Mediterranean-type ecosystems, protecting biologically diverse vegetation communities such as the California sage scrub (CSS) community type is vital to conserving rare, threatened, or endangered species, as well as overall species richness of the region. While existing monitoring methods such as field surveys and vegetation type mapping provide ecologically valuable information, they do not provide information about internal conditions of CSS communities. Fractional cover of plant life forms is frequently utilized to examine conditions of arid and semi-arid vegetation communities. For the CSS community type, however, the utility of life-form fractional cover has not received adequate attention as an effective monitoring variable indicating ecological integrity; thus, no reliable, cost-effective methods have been developed. This dissertation investigates the effectiveness of fractional cover of true shrub, subshrub, herb, and bare ground for quantifying CSS community conditions, tests remote sensing approaches to obtain spatially comprehensive life-form cover fractions, and explores the utility of life-form fractional cover maps for sustainable, effective long-term monitoring of CSS communities of southern California.

Past studies indicate that fractional cover of plant life forms an effective measure for quantifying CSS community integrity, and remote sensing is the only means to estimate spatially exhaustive cover fractions cost-effectively over large extent. Among the remote sensing approaches teste4d, object-based image analysis using pansharpened QuickBird imagery shows the most promise for estimating life-form fractional cover within CSS communities because of its high accuracy (e.g., RMSE as low as 6.4%) and robustness in esimating cover fractions and ability of providing life-form-level landscape metrics. Multiple Endmember Spectral Mixture Analysis using SPO imagery is also capable of estimating cover fractions with comparable accuracy, thus is beneficial for retrospective analysis for life-form cover changes and cost-effective ecological monitoring. Using spatially exhaustive life-form cover fractions, maps indicating CSS community conditions and species’ life-form cover preference can be obtained. Such maps can fill information gaps between field-based data and vegetation type maps and provide valuable information about habitat recovery, habitat suitability, and ecological integrity of CSS communities. By combining those methods, mover effective CSS community monitoring can be achieved.

Out of her dissertation, two manuscripts are currently review with Journal of Arid Environments and Remote Sensing of Environment. Another manuscript will be submitted to Environmental Management. As an postdoctoral research associate at the Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory (starting from July 2010), one of the oldest research laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy, Yuki is excited to conduct research on cumulative impact of anthropogenic disturbances on critical terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for sustainable renewable energy resources development in the nation.

Dr. Hamada’s doctoral committee members were: Dr. Douglas Stow (Chair), Dr. Janet Franklin (SDSU/ASU), Dr. Dar Roberts (UCSB) and Dr. Phaedon Kyriakidis (UCSB). Her dissertation was partly supported by Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant.


sam cortezMay 21, 2010

Cortez Interviewed By KPBS

Samuel Cortez, a Geography Masters student, was interviewed recently by KPBS on the travel ban to Tijuana. The US State Department issued a travel warning against travel in Mexico that was also issued by the SDSU University Police on April 12, 2010. As a result research projects, internships and classes taking place in Tijuana were suspended until further notice. SDSU appealed the decision by the chancellor’s office because of the large number of activities we have with Tijuana. The appeal was denied and all academic activities by SDSU in Tijuana were suspended, including many on-going projects in our department. Samuel was taking a Latin American Studies Seminar on the US-Mexico Border that took place in Tijuana. The seminar looked at different aspects of Tijuana society. After the ban took effect Samuel were barred from going out there.

KPBS border reporter Amy Isackson came to the class and interviewed Samuel and the professor Dr. Victor Clark-Alfaro. The interview took place on May 5 and it was aired on May 12 on KPBS’ NPR Morning edition. The article and sound clip of the interview has been posted on the KPBS website.


trent biggsMay 21, 2010

Dr. Biggs is Now an Associate Professor

Dr. Trent Biggs has been promoted to an Associate Professor. He is now part of the tenure faculty. The promotion is in recognition of outstanding contributions to the university and geography in teaching, scholarships, and service.

Congratulations Dr. Biggs.


nathan wangJune 24, 2010

Wang Receives Best Student Paper Award

Ninghua Wang, joint doctoral program student, won the Second Place Award in the Best Student Paper Competition at the 18th International Conference on Geoinformatics in Beijing, China, where he presented the paper titled “Analyzing Spatial Effects of Hotspot Policing with a Simulation Approach.”

The International Conference on Geoinformatics is a well-known annual forum for geographic information science professionals. The 18th conference was held in Beijing, China. It provided an opportunity for all professionals involved in GIS, GPS, and RS research and development to discuss new ways to advance the theory, technology, and applications of GIScience.


kate swansonJuly 1, 2010

Swanson Publishes Spanish Language Book

Dr. Kate Swanson has recently published a book in Spanish with Facultad Latinosmericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) - Abya-Yala titled “Pidiendo Caridad en la Ciudad: Mujeres y niños indígenas en las calles de Ecuador.”


July 15, 2010

SDSU Geography Ranked Seventh

SDSU’s Geography graduate program is ranked 7th nationally in a 2010 study of faculty scholarly productivity, beating out longer-established programs at such schools as the University of California at Berkeley, Texas A&M University and Cornell University.

The ranking is based on research by Academic Analytics of Stony Brook, N.Y., which specializes in compilation and analysis of data on the productivity of university faculty. Institutions subscribe to the database to get objective rankings of their programs. The rankings are widely touted as a more viable alternative to the subjectively-based U.S. News and World Report.

Academic Analytics compiles a Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, which measures scholarly productivity based upon book and journal publications, journal article citations, federally funded research grants and professional awards. Productivity indexes are based on the cumulative score of a program’s faculty compared with national standards within the discipline. The information is gathered for more than 200,000 faculty members representing 118 academic disciplines in 387 U.S. universities.


grant fraleyJuly 15, 2010

Fraley Awarded Fellowship

Grant Fraley was awarded a 3-month fellowship from Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation to conduct research in geocomputation at the Carinthian University of Applied Sciences in Villach, Austria. Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation funds scholarships and fellowships for academic exchanges between Austria and the U.S. with a special focus on universities of applied sciences and technical universities. Grant’s fellowship is a direct result of collaboration established by Dr. Piotr Jankowski (SDSU) and Dr. Gernot Paulus (Carinthian University of Applied Sciences). Nicole Simons was last year’s recipient of the fellowship.


george christakosJuly 19, 2010

Christakos Book Forthcoming

Dr. George Christakos’ new book, Integrative Problem Solving in Time of Decadence PDF file, will soon be available from Springer Press.

In a tour de force account of how to figure out a world turned decadent, George presents a unique study of Integrative Problem-Solving (IPS). As we would hope, there is sophisticated math and science in this volume, but there is also an important connection to social analysis and philosophical thinking. Only by engaging and connecting a full range of disciplines, George argues, can we arrive at a satisfactory account of problem-solving.

Citing as Decadence, the “unholy alliance of financial corporation and radical postmodernism,” George contends that contemporary higher education and research, among other things, is plagued by a desire to satisfy lower human needs and, by so doing, it dismisses tradition and past knowledge. He argues that only by understanding the power of Decadence can we embark upon a realistic study of environmental and health problems and their rigorous solutions.