2014 to 2015 Academic Year News

stuart aitkenAugust 4, 2014

Aitken Releases Book

Professor Stuart Aitken will have his new book The Ethnopoetics of Space and Transformation Young People’s Engagement, Activism and Aesthetics, launched at the Royal Geographical Society meetings in London later this month. See details of the book Leave geography site.


ming-hsiang tsouSeptember 8, 2014

Tsou Receives Award

Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou (Director of the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age) received the NSF-IBSS (Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Science Research) Award. The project entitled: “IBSS: Spatiotemporal Modeling of Human Dynamics Across Social Media and Social Networks.” This is a four-year award (2014-2018) for $999,887. One key contribution of this project is to build a prototype for the San Diego Office of Emergency Services (OES) social media outreach platform, which may be applicable for other U.S. cities in the future. The design of the prototype is to facilitate rapid dissemination of official alerts and warnings notifications from OES during disaster events via multiple social media channels to targeted population (typically in certain area). The platform can identify and recruit top 1000 social media volunteers based on their social network influence factors and help government agencies communicate more effectively to the public and be better prepared for both natural disasters and human-made crises.

Congratulations, Ming!


philip prydeSeptember 24, 2014

New Edition of Pryde’s County Book Out

The 5th edition of Professor Emeritus Phil Pryde’s book, San Diego: An Introduction to the Region has just been published. Fully revised and updated, it is the first edition to be in full color. Please visit the book website Leave geography site. The book should be in bookstores shortly, and is currently available from Sunbelt Publications.


crystal englishSeptember 30, 2014

Associated Students Elect English

Congratulations to doctoral student Crystal English, who was elected by Associated Students to represent the graduate student body of the university at the Graduate Council Meetings for this academic year.

Well done Crystal and good luck.


liz kennedyOctober 10, 2014

Kennedy on PBS Newshour

Doctoral student Elizabeth Kennedy appeared on the PBS Newshour Leave geography site last night in its segment on how the United States is using sponsored programs to decrease child migration from Central America.


andré skupinOctober 15, 2014

Skupin at Pediatric Intelligence Forum

Dr. André Skupin, Co-Director of the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy Leave geography site (CICS), was an invited guest speaker at the inaugural Pediatric Data/Intelligence Forum, held October 13-14 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dana Point. The event was hosted by Children’s Hospital of Orange County Leave geography site (CHOC) and the Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (MI3). Other institutions presenting their work and brainstorming possible collaboration included Stanford University, MIT, Georgia Tech, and several commercial entities, as well as such leaders in pediatric medicine as the Mayo Clinic, Texas Children's Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

sample of medical cluster map

Dr. Skupin’s talk, titled “In Terms of Medicine: Language, Space, and Computation”, discussed geographic approaches to the visual representation of biomedical knowledge. It was based on collaborative research involving colleagues at Indiana University, UCSD, and the University of Utah.


ming-hsiang tsouOctober 21, 2014

Tsou Receives NSF Grant

Professor Ming-Hsiang Tsou was interviewed by KPBS Leave geography site, San Diego Union Tribune Leave geography site, and CBS8News-San Diego Leave geography site for his new $1 million grant from National Science Foundation. The project aims to allow San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services Leave geography site to spread disaster messages and distress calls quickly and to targeted geographic locations, even if traditional channels such as phone systems and radio stations are overwhelmed.


stuart aitkenOctober 22, 2014

Aitken Becomes Royal Norwegian Society Member

Professor Stuart Aitken will be indoctrinated as a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab, DKNVS). DKNVS is a very old learned society, founded in 1760 by the bishop of Nidaros, Johan Ernst Gunnerus. Members are nominated and voted in to the society; each year 1-2 new members are accepted who are foreign born.

The indoctrination ceremony will occur in 2015. Congratulations, Stuart!


October 24, 2014

Czech Delegation Visits CICS

CICS Co-director Akshay Pottathil and the Czech delegationEarlier this week, the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy Leave geography site (CICS) welcomed a delegation from the Faculty of Economics and Management of the Czech University of Life Sciences Leave geography site in Prague. The Vice-Dean for International Relations, Dr. Karel Tomšík, and the Head of the Department of International Relations, Dr. Vlastimil Černý, learned about the diverse expertise and perspectives offered by the newly founded Center and discussed with the CICS Co-Directors and the Geography Department Chair possible avenues for future collaboration.


November 25, 2014

SDSU Delegation Visits United Arab Emirates

CICS directors with University of Dubai facultyThe SDSU Provost, Dr. Chukuka S. Enwemeka, and the Co-Directors of the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy (CICS) Leave geography site, Dr. André Skupin and Akshay Pottathil, recently visited the University of Dubai Leave geography site in the United Arab Emirates. The SDSU delegation met with senior leaders of the University of Dubai, including its Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Ananth Rao, the University President, Dr. Eesa M. Bastaki, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Majid Hamad Al Shamsi. The discussion centered on the development of educational and research ties between the two institutions.


December 1, 2014

Pottathil and Skupin give GIS Day Keynote in Qatar

Montage of Dr. Skupin and A. PottathilThe Co-Directors of the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy Leave geography site (CICS), Dr. André Skupin and Akshay Pottathil, traveled to Doha, Qatar, on November 19 to give the GIS Day Keynote in an event organized by Mannai Corporation Leave geography site, the local Esri distributor, and the Centre for Geographic Information Systems Leave geography site (CGIS) of the Qatar Ministry of Municipality & Urban Planning. Well over 100 attendees enjoyed a three-hour presentation titled “Beyond GIS” that elaborated on how geographic concepts, cartographic techniques, and GIS technology could move beyond traditional GIS applications. The domains discussed included operational management, customs, civil protection, healthcare, and others.


December 8, 2014

Salap and Crook Awarded Fellowships

steve crook seda salap

Seda Salap and Stephen Crook, two second year doctoral students, have been awarded Marshall Fund of Austria Fellowships to spend three months during the summer of 2015 to work on collaborative research projects in Villach, Austria.

Seda’s research project is “Application of Spatial Exploratory Global Uncertainty-Sensitivity Analysis for Flood Protection Scenarios.”

Stephen’s project is “Developing a Human-Environment Agent Based Model to Assess Carnivore Recolonization Scenarios in Austria.”


john weeksDecember 19, 2014

Weeks Authors U.S.-Cuba Article

Dr. John Weeks co-authored the article “The Political Demography of U.S.-Cuba Relations ” Leave geography site in the Washington Post.


January 21, 2015

SDSU Hosts Conference

stuart aitken kate swanson

In San Diego last week, academic researchers from more than 30 countries gathered for the 4th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Leave geography site. The three-day conference was organized by San Diego State University’s Department of Geography to discuss topics ranging from youth migration to child labor, educational policies, violence against children and young people’s rights and well-being. The theme of border crossings threaded through the conference, culminating with a panel discussion featuring the work of Dr. Kate Swanson and Dr. Stuart Aitken on unaccompanied migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into California, Arizona and Texas.


January 30, 2015

CICS Opens Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Dubai

The Center for Information Convergence and Strategy Leave geography site (CICS) and the University of Dubai Leave geography site are pleased to announce the creation of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (UD-CEI). The new center will act as a research and consultancy platform for students, alumni, and faculty to network, collaborate, and develop their ideas. Situated within the University of Dubai, UD-CEI will support entrepreneurs through various stages of the entrepreneurial and innovation process. CICS Co-Director Akshay Pottathil is the Center’s Director of Innovation & Strategy, while CICS Founder André Skupin assumes the position of Associate Director for Data Visualization & Analytics.

overhead view of University of Dubai


February 15, 2015

Stow Receives NSF and DOT Grants

pete coulter doug stow

Professor Doug Stow and Department of Geography Researcher Pete Coulter have given some interviews regarding the awarding of grants from the National Foundation of Science and the United Stated Department of Transportation. The research grants focus on potential applications of remote sensing in disaster response.

SDSU Press Release Leave geography site
Daily Aztec Leave geography site


kathleen farleyFebruary 18, 2015

Farley Studies Payment for Ecosystem Services

Professor Kathleen Farley and Leah Bremer, a Postdoctoral Researcher, have been studying how payment for ecosystem services programs (PES) represents a growing approach to conservation in Latin America and other places around the world. Their most recent research looks at how PES affected rural farmers and communities in the Ecuadorian Highlands Leave geography site.


emanuel delgadoMarch 9, 2015

Delgado Wins President’s Award at SRS

Congratulations to Master’s student Emanuel Delgado for winning a $500 President’s Award for Research at the Student Research Symposium! As one of the top presentations at the symposium, SDSU has invited Emanuel to be one of ten SDSU delegates at the 29th Annual CSU Research Competition on May 1-2, 2015 at California State University, San Bernardino. This event will have delegates from all 23 CSU campuses.

Emanuel’s research explores the impacts of ongoing gentrification in Barrio Logan. His award winning presentation was titled, Culture and Gentrification in Barrio Logan.

Emanuel Delgado gives his research symposium presentation


March 9, 2015

California Geographic Alliance Part of AAG Grant

tom herman stuart aitken ming-hsiang tsou kate swanson

The California Geographic Alliance Leave geography site led by SDSU Geography Professors Kate Swanson, Ming-Hsiang Tsou, and Stuart Aitken, along with Adjunct Professor Thomas Herman was one of several state geographic alliances to be included in a grant awarded to the Association of American Geographers Leave geography site from the National Geographic Society.

The grant will assist in in coordinating the experience and teacher networks the Alliances posess with continuing research work in Geographic Education.


March 12, 2015

U.S. Representative Susan Davis Visits CICS

Congresswoman Susan Davis, member of the U.S. House of Representatives (CA-53), visited CICS to learn more about the domain knowledge analysis and pattern recognition efforts spearheaded by its Co-Directors, André Skupin and Akshay Pottathil. The CICS Co-Directors presented advanced visualization and data mining insights for wide range of domains, including health informatics, social media, and governance. Skupin and Pottathil further discussed their personal research challenges and their passion for impacting larger society through novel information systems platforms developed by the Center.

Representative Susan Davis with CICS co-directors


March 12, 2015

Documentary Film Production Kicks Off at CICS

The production of a documentary film kicked off this week at CICS. Produced by AY! Cinema (Los Angeles, CA), the film covers unique methods of data analysis and advanced visualization of Big Data for tackling emerging issues of contemporary society. The film’s trailer will be launched at the Left of Boom conference organized by CICS in May 2015 and filming will occur at various locations during the next three months, with post-production scheduled for late June 2015. Appearing in the documentary are several CICS researchers and subject matter experts. The expected commercial release will be announced by AY! Cinema after August 2015.

Documentary film cameraman


April 27, 2015

HDMA Center and Dr. Jung Developed GeoViewer for Helping Nepal Earthquake Disaster Response and Assistance

The Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age Leave geography site (HDMA) at San Diego State University developed a web-based social media mapping application, called “GeoViewer”, which can visualize the location-based social media (Twitter) in various cities and locations. This tool has collected real-time location-based tweets in Nepal and nearby areas since April 25, 2015. Users can search for the most recent tweets or historical tweets (since 4/25) by using keywords, spatial boundaries, or time. The GeoViewer [Geo-targeted Event Observation (GEO) Viewer] has been developed mainly by Dr. Calvin Jung (Chief Data Scientist at HDMA center) with the founding support from National Science Foundation (Award# 1416509 and #1028177) and San Diego State University.

screenshot of Nepal GeoViewer


atsushi naraJune 3, 2015

Nara Completes GREW Fellowship

Dr. Atsushi Nara recently completed the inaugral Grants and Research Enterprise Writing (GREW) Fellowship Leave geography site at SDSU. The Fellowship program Leave geography site assists early career researchers in developing strategies to obtain grants and connecting with funding agencies.


su hanJuly 24, 2015

Han Publishes First Paper

Congratulations to our joint doctoral student, Su Han! She just published her first leading author paper in the peer-reviewed journal, PlosOne. The paper title is “Do Global Cities Enable Global Views? Using Twitter to Quantify the Level of Geographical Awareness of U. S. Cities” Leave geography site

UPDATE: A summary of Su’s article was published in the Atlantic’s City Lab section Leave geography site.


July 27, 2015

California Geographic Alliance Trains High School Teachers to Incorporate GIS into History and Geography Courses

By Thomas Herman, Director of the California Geographic Alliance

From July 15-17, the Spatial Analysis Lab at San Diego State University’s Geography Department was buzzing with energy and exciting ideas. Twenty-one educators were receiving their first instruction in using geographic information systems, having conversations about how the technology could enrich teaching and learning of history and geography, and establishing free ArcGIS organizational accounts for 13 high schools, plus the San Diego History Center and the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio County. The California Geographic Alliance (CGA), which is funded by the National Geographic Education Foundation, organized the professional development workshop with support from a $5,000 grant from Esri, Inc. as part of their ConnectEd Initiative. Teachers and curriculum specialists from San Diego City Schools and Sweetwater Union High School District made up the majority of the group, but they were joined by 4 pre-service teachers who recently completed the Linked Learning program at SDSU, as well as a museum educator and a STEM Program Manager for the Girl Scouts.

Guided by Professor Ming-Hsiang Tsou and experienced mappers and patient mentors Cynthia Paloma and Yi-Ting Chuang, workshop participants learned to use ArcGIS Online to create their own web maps, build story maps that integrate maps with other multimedia content, and even use crowdsourcing to collect observations in the field that feed directly into a web map. They were motivated by the possibilities presented through the tools made accessible by Esri, and they were quick learners. By the end of day one, teachers were presenting their own maps!

Siri Forsman-Sims presents her first web map
Sweetwater Union High School District teacher Siri Forsman-Sims presents her first ever web map, highlighting the places in which she received her higher education.

CGA’s Professional Development Coordinator Emily Schell and teacher leader Trevore Humphrey then helped the educators think strategically about how to integrate GIS into the classroom to create dynamic learning experiences and enhance students’ understanding of the world. Each educator is now working independently or in a team to develop a new educational resource for use in their own classroom. With input from the other participants and CGA staff, these resources will be refined and then shared with other teachers via the CGA website and future professional development workshops. The educators who came to the workshop are now part of the CGA team working to unleash the power of geospatial technology!

“Thank you so much for including me in the GeoQuest training last week. I enjoyed the opportunity and I look forward to moving forward with new programs based on what I learned. I already have a meeting scheduled for next week with a girl who is interested in using a Story Map as part of her Silver Award project. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as I build up our GIS based programs.”
Carrie Raleigh, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio County
“Thank you for putting on such an amazing learning opportunity for teachers. I was in amazement all day at the level of excitement. This will carry into classroom practice. I appreciate the efforts the team went to in order to make this an engaging experience.”
Linda Trousdale, Director of Teaching and Learning, SDUSD
San Diego Unified School District teachers working to create a Story Map.
San Diego Unified School District teachers Michelle Sanchez, Matthew Schneck, and Andrew Zafuto working to create a Story Map and learning activities focusing on the relationship between demographic variables and voting patterns in presidential elections.

The workshop was the first event coordinated as part of the CGA’s GeoQuest Initiative. GeoQuest seeks to integrate geographic perspectives and the tools of geographical analysis into a diverse range of courses at all grade levels, with an overall focus on building 21st century leadership and problem-solving skills that will enable the U.S. to address the challenges of sustainability, economic competitiveness, and global security while at the same time embracing a diverse citizenry and their varied experiences. The CGA works to promote geographic literacy and support geography education – at all grade levels and in out-of-school programs as well as formal educational settings.