2013 to 2014 Academic Year News

August 1, 2013

National Geographic Education Foundation Members Visit SDSU

Representatives from the National Geographic Education Foundation visited SDSU yesterday to mark the beginning of the Geography Department hosting the California Geographical Alliance. At a special luncheon, President Hirshman and Dean Johnson (Education) were treated to some of Dr. Ming Tsou’s ideas about K-12 education and geo-spatial technology. An official letter from the President of National Geographic was received by President Hirshman. Later in the day, the delegation took a tour of Storm Hall. Dr. Kate Swanson will head up the initiative, and there will be plenty of opportunities for interested faculty and students to get involved

Members of the delegation, including Swanson, Zia Salim, Aitken, and Tom Herman Storm Hall


denise goerischAugust 5, 2013

Goerisch Defends Dissertation

Denise Goerisch successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Smart Cookies: The Gendered Spaces of Labor, Citizenship, and Nationalism in the Girl Scout Cookie Sale.”

Each year thousands of Girl Scouts sell cookies to friends family, and neighbors to raise money for their troops and local councils. Lauded as the largest girl-led financial literacy program, the annual Girl Scout cookie sale not only teaches girls essential business and leadership skills but also prepares girls for their roles as American women in a neoliberal and capitalist society. Girls learn the importance of “giving” through multiple spaces of the cookie sale. Scouts learn to give and care for others under the veil of market capitalism, neoliberalism, and American nationalism, which seeks to reproduce hegemonic gender roles regarding labor, education, and citizenship. Based on a two-year study on the Girl Scout cookie sale, using qualitative methods and rooted in feminist methodologies, this project seeks to understand how “spaces of giving” emerge in the cookie sale and how these spaces shape social constructions of gender, citizenship, and national identity.

Congratulations, Denise!


nicole simonsAugust 12, 2013

Simons Defends Dissertation

Nicole Simons successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Improving Decision Making during Wildland Fire Events.”

Wildland fires continue to be a threat to persons and their property in many parts of the world, particularly in areas characterized as having Mediterranean climates, semi-arid climates, or boreal forests. The entities responsible for minimizing the impacts of these events are emergency management organizations (EMOs). However, EMOs efforts are hampered by issues that influence the effectiveness of their response during a fire event.

This research explored the informational needs, data availability, communication flows, and decision making workflows informing fire decision support within current EMOs in order to develop tools that can improve decision making during a wildland fire event. By utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques, this research identified one of the most prevalent needs among EMO personnel, the need to know what impacts a firebreak has upon an active fire front, explored the relationship between firebreaks and wildland fire behavior, and developed and statistically validated a firebreak probability tool that has been integrated as a part of a wildland fire behavior program.

The results demonstrate that by taking into account the needs and limitations of decision makers during an event, valuable information can be obtained that in turn can be used to inform the creation of improved spatial decision support systems used to assist decision makers manage wildland fire events.

Congratulations, Nicole!


September 10, 2013

Tsou Hosts GIS Workshop

Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou and his Graduate Assistant, Cynthia Paloma, collaborated with Professor Ken Yanow from Southwestern College (SWC) together to host the 5th annual Geospatial Technology Summer Workshop on July 22-24, 2013. The three day workshop sponsored by the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence introduced ArcGIS online and iBook GIS textbook project Leave geography site. During the three day workshop, invited GIS educators (high school teachers and community college instructors) designed and produced geospatial curriculum that can be used within their own classroom settings. Participants posted their work on “Schoology”, in a virtual group called “GIS Education, Maps, and Spatial Reasoning”.

Please visit the Schoology site Leave geography site to see some of the work and freely download the resources.

Cynthia Paloma demonstrating iBook Students in the workshop


September 17, 2013

An and Yang Named Prominent SDSU Faculty and Student

Professor Li An and PhD student Shuang Yang were invited to attend the Campanile Foundation Annual Board Dinner at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center on September 11, 2013 along with ten other prominent SDSU faculty and students. During the reception and after the dinner, Li and Shuang displayed a poster about their NSF CNH project “CNH: Impacts of Ecosystem Service Payments in Coupled Natural and Human Systems” (DEB-1212183). They discussed and interacted with President Elliot Hirshman, Vice President Stephen Welter, College of Arts and Letters Dean Paul Wong, and a number of SDSU faculty, staff, and alumni about their NSF funded research project.

Dr. Li An and SDSU President Eliott Hirshman
Dr. Li An and SDSU President Eliott Hirshman


September 19, 2013

Levine, Rossiter Research Recognized

jaime rossiter arielle levine

A recent paper published in the journal Marine Policy by Professor Arielle Levine> and PhD student Jaime Rossiter was quoted extensively in the West Hawaii Today PDF file newspaper.

The news article references Arielle’s and Jaime’s research in conjunction with a fishery rules package, more specifically the fish replenishement areas, recently sent to the Hawaii governor’s desk.


marta jankowskaSeptember 19, 2013

Jankowska Defends Dissertation

Marta Jankowska successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Integrating Space and Place into Children’s Perceptions of Environmental Health Hazards in Accra, Ghana”

Health in the developing world is becoming particularly complex due to disparate economic and environmental contexts residing in close spatial proximity, each paving the way for widely different environmental health hazards resulting in acute and chronic illness. In navigating this increasingly heterogeneous landscape, children in Accra, Ghana face multiple types of environmental health hazards as they travel from home, to school, to friends’ houses, and to visit family. A child-in-home, or even child-in-neighborhood model of third world urban health hazards cannot account for the complexity of hazards and health threats faced by children on a daily basis. Yet children in Accra, particularly as they move out of their especially vulnerable early years, manage to navigate and mitigate health hazards. Little is known about how children perceive environmental health hazards: their spatially situated knowledge of hazards within daily environments may lead to a better understanding of how space and place drive human-environment health interactions. Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated that children in both the developed and developing world are acting with increased agency regarding health.

This research proposes to advance the health geography, environmental health, and health education literature by working with children from three diverse contextual backgrounds in a developing third world city to examine verbal, visual, and spatial perceptions of health and environmental health hazards. The dissertation does this by establishing baseline differences of children and adult’s perceptions of children’s health, testing child-friendly visual methods of assessing health knowledge, and developing a novel method of assessing spatial patterns of health perceptions through GPS and photography. Results indicate that children in Accra have distinct, and often varying, perceptions of health when compared to adults and across socioeconomic groups. Photographic methods that contextualize health are good measures of health knowledge and perceptions. Furthermore, placing health perceptions in space as children move through the environment sheds light on spatial properties of health perceptions, such as health related landmarks, and regional categorization of spaces into healthy and unhealthy places.

Congratulations, Marta!


john weeksSeptember 19, 2013

Weeks Contributes to Union-Tribune Article

Distinguished Professor John Weeks was quoted in the article Poverty in Region Still 15 Percent Leave geography site. He spoke about the region’s employment and future demographic trends.


crystal englishOctober 10, 2013

English Selected for 2013 USGIF Scholarship Award

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) Academic Committee selected Doctoral Candidate Crystal English as one of 25 students for scholarship awards this past summer Leave geography site. The amounts of the scholarships totalled $107,000. High school recipients are awarded $2,000 per scholarship, while others are awarded $5,000 each.

The mission of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) is to promote the geospatial intelligence tradecraft and to develop a stronger community of interest between government, industry, academia, professional organizations and individuals who share a mission focused around the development and application of geospatial intelligence to address national security objectives. One of USGIF’s objectives is to award scholarships to students at accredited institutions of higher education to pursue geospatial intelligence disciplines, to include such areas as: geographic information systems, remote sensing, intelligence analysis, and other related topical areas. The Foundation is dedicated to helping students succeed within the field of geospatial sciences with its scholarship program, which in turn helps further the advancement of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft.

USGIF Academic Director, Dr. Max Baber, explains, “Supporting student education and research with USGIF scholarships helps expand the horizon of our geospatial capabilities. Scholarship recipients represent a broad assortment of geospatial interests, including humanitarian operations, natural disaster preparation and response, epidemiology, conflict along borders, and modeling of river water quality. All of these interests lie within the broader definition of national security, which gives an excellent opportunity for innovative students to be recognized and supported for their efforts.”

Congratulations, Crystal!


October 22, 2013

Rogerson Gives Getis Lecture

On October 18, 2013, Dr. Peter A. Rogerson, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Biostatistics at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, gave an outstanding talk aas the latest guest in the Getis Lecture Series. The title of his talk was “The Statistical Detection and Monitoring of Spatial Patterns.”

At the lecture, Dr. Rogerson presented a unifying framework to test the null hypothesis of spatial randomness. He started with the simple global test, which tests the overall pattern randomness. The second topic was the local test, which examines the rate of incidence in the vicinity of a predefined location. He then demonstrated how to assess the size and significance of the most prominent spatial clusters in the study area. Finally, Dr. Rogerson shared his recent interest in monitoring changes in spatial patterns over time. The presentation concluded with questions and comments from faculty members and students.

The Getis Lecture is held during the Fall Semester each year and is sponsored by Emeritus Professor of Geography Arthur Getis.

Dr. Peter A. Rogerson at SDSU Drs. Piotr Jankowski, Peter Rogerson, and Arthur Getis


November 19, 2013

Stow and Coulter Win Zahn Award

pete coulter doug stow

Repeat Station Imaging (RSI), a start-up commercial venture by Department Staff member Pete Coulter and Dr. Douglas Stow in the SDSU Zahn Center, took second place in the Second Annual Zahn Challenge in the category Commercial Enterprise with Prototype. Pete made a very effective four minute “pitch” as part of the competition and also included a brief proposal that was judged by SDSU Faculty and Staff. RSI is developing a tool for automated image registration of images captured with the repeat station imaging approach. The tool and approach will assist producers of updated orthoimages and users of image-based change detection technologies.

The Zahn Center is an on-campus business incubator that supports SDSU innovators as they bring their ideas to fruition. The competition was judged by local champions of entrepreneurship. The second place prize was $3000.00.

Congratulations Pete and Doug!

Doug Stow and Pete Coulter accepting the second place award


November 19, 2013

First Joint SDSU and UCSB Retreat

The first joint retreat of University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and San Diego State University (SDSU) geography departments was held on November 16 at the Sedgwick Reserve – a research, conservation and education facility located north of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. The retreat, hosted by UCSB Geography Department and attended by 26 participants from both departments including faculty members, graduate coordinators, and doctoral student representatives; was organized in response to a recommendation from the 2012 review of the joint SDSU-UCSB doctoral program. Following the morning lightning talk session including the participant introductions, a variety of issues affecting the program were discussed. They included better coordination of the admission procedures, more effective advising starting with the diagnostic interview, facilitating access for UCSB doctoral students to SDSU faculty, involving SDSU doctoral students into research of UCSB faculty, and closer collaboration between two faculties and JDP students in developing grants proposals, research, and publishing. There was a sentiment voiced by many participants that the retreat was a successful event and that the next retreat could be organized in 2 years.

Group picture of participants at retreat


doug stowNovember 21, 2013

Stow Named ASPRS Fellow

We are all very proud of Dr. Douglas Stow who has been named the 2014 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Fellow Award winner. Quoting from the official ASPRS announcement on www.asprs.org: “The ASPRS designation of Fellow is conferred on active Society members who have performed exceptional service in advancing the science and use of the mapping sciences (photogrammetry, remote sensing, surveying, geographic information systems, and related disciplines).”

Way to go Doug!


li anDecember 2, 2013

An Enters Editorial Board of the Annals of AAG

The AAG Council has recently approved the nomination of Dr. Li An to join the Editorial Board of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, flagship journal in geography. His position is to last from 2014 to 2017. During that time, Dr. An will be involved with handling manuscripts submitted to the section Methods, Models and GIS together with the editors, other board members, and reviewers.

Way to go Li!


nathan wangDecember 5, 2013

Wang Defends Dissertation

Ninghua (Nathan) Wang successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Statistics for Time-Series Spatial Data: Applying Survival Analysis to Study Land-Use Change.” Drs. Li An, Keith Clarke, Helen Couclelis, André Skupin unanimously passed his defense.

Ninghua’s dissertation focuses on extracting temporal information from time-series spatial data. He adopted an agent-based model of residential development in a virtual landscape that simulated the decisions of homebuyers in choosing residential locations based on the values of several spatial variables. Simulated land-change maps, generated by the agent-based model with different weights on these spatial variables, were exposed to statistical land-change analysis. His study evaluated how land-change analysis could reveal the spatial variables that were used in the agent-based model, and the impact of various temporal imprecision conditions. Empirical data from two case study sites in San Diego and Tijuana were also used for investigation and the results largely corroborated to those from the simulated land-change dataset.

Congratulations, Ninghua!


zia salimJanuary 24, 2014

Salim Receives Inamori Fellowship

Doctoral student Zia Salim has been selected to receive a prestigious Inamori Fellowship. The Inamori Fellowship is awarded to SDSU graduate students who demonstrate an exceptional degree of scholarly accomplishments. The award letter from Vice President for Research and Graduate Dean Stephen Welter noted that “competition for Inamori Fellowships was intense. There were applicants representing both masters and doctoral candidates from almost every college of the university. Each application was first reviewed and ranked by the corresponding college-level research committee. The Student Research Committee subcommittee took those recommendations into serious consideration when they selected the final ten recipients.” The Inamori Fellowships are made possible by a contribution from Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation and the Inamori Foundation.


li anJanuary 24, 2014

An Selected Outstanding Scholar

Dr. Li An has been selected as the 2013-14 Outstanding International Scholar by the honor society Scholars Without Borders. The Outstanding International Scholar Award is given once a year by Scholars Without Borders, and its purpose is to recognize a distinguished faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the international arena.

The award ceremony will take place during the annual Scholars Without Borders Installation Reception, scheduled for 3:00 PM, Friday, February 21, 2014 at Scripps Cottage.

Congratulations, Li.


zia salimMarch 26, 2014

Salim Receives Award

Doctoral student Zia Salim received the First Place, CAL Dean’s Award and the Scholars Without Borders/International Recognition award at the 2014 SDSU Student Research Symposium for his presentation “Segregation, social networks, and mobility: Gated community residents in Bahrain”.

Congratulations Zia!


li anMay 8, 2014

An Receives Leadership Grant

Dr. Li An has received a grant from the SDSU President’s Leadership Fund, which is aimed at “building on excellence” in support of student success, research and creative endeavors, and community and communication. The successful proposal, titled “Cross the Border: Immerse Undergraduates in Conservation,” will contribute to allowing undergraduates to take part in collecting data and learning field methods in the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, Guizhou, China. The multidisciplinary work will have broad impacts ranging from the protection of the endangered Guizhou golden monkey to the support of indigenous cultural traditions.

Congratulations Li!


liz kennedyJune 2, 2014

Kennedy Quoted in Politico

Doctoral student Elizabeth Kennedy was extensively quoted in an article in Politico Leave geography site focusing on the challenges of child migrants.


liz kennedyJune 24, 2014

Kennedy Quoted by NBC News

Doctoral student Elizabeth Kennedy was also reently quoted in an NBC News article Leave geography site again regarding child migrants.


arielle levineJune 30, 2014

Levine Quoted by Associated Press

Professor Arielle Levine contributed to an Associated Press article regarding the battle surrounding aquarium fishing in Hawaii. The article was carried by ABC News, The Washington Post, and NPR.


liz kennedyJuly 2, 2014

Kennedy Paper on Child Migration Published

Doctoral student Elizabeth Kennedy has had her policy paper “No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children Are Fleeing Their Homes” Leave geography site published by The American Immigration Council.


July 8, 2014

SDSU Geography Represented at GI-Forum

dara seidl andré skupin

SDSU Geography was well represented at the GI-Forum conference in Salzburg, Austria, July 1 – 4. Doctoral candidate Dara Seidl presented a poster “Masking GPS Route Data to Preserve Privacy”. Professor André Skupin was a keynote speaker, presenting “A World beyond Networks: Geographic Approaches to Knowledge Visualization.”