Blog Post by MA Students
Check out the blog post from the NOAA Marine Debris Program: Exploring How Trash Travels in the San Diego River.
By Geography Master's students - TJ Palmer and Ibisia Jack
Alumni Distinguished Faculty Awards
Congratulations to Pascale Joassart-Marcelli, professor of geography and co-director of the Center for Better Food Futures, on receiving a 2023 Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship, teaching, and citizenship. During the All-University Convocation on August 17, 2023, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs William Tong and Samuel Brown, president of the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors, presented the awards.
Tsou and HDMA Research Team Recognized for COVID Work
March 9, 2023
Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou was interviewed on March 6, 2023 by NBC7 News to highlight COVID-19 research work in the Human Dynamics research center and the recent journal paper publication in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Thanks to the HDMA Center research team for their collaborative work, including Dr. Atsushi Nara, Dr. Gabriela Fernandez, and our wonderful students, Jessica Embury, Jaehee Park, Jain Xu, and Christopher Swindell.
Araki Receives Quad Fellowship
March 7, 2023
Doctoral candidate Ryoko Araki is among the first cohort to receive a Quad Fellowship. She is a hydrologist looking to mitigate the damages of flood and drought events under climate change. Originally from Hyogo, Japan, she graduated from Kyoto University with a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. As an avid hiker, she has explored many trails in Japan and the US and hopes her research can preserve the Earth’s natural beauty for future generations to enjoy. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Hydrology conducting research on improving hydrologic models by integrating satellite and field soil moisture date.
This year’s class of Quad Fellows passed a rigorous selection process designed and operated by Schmidt Futures. Over 3,200 completed applications were submitted for consideration. These written applications were assessed for their academic excellence by renowned academics from across the Quad countries in applicants’ fields. Over 100 professors across 15 STEM disciplines from the Quad countries evaluated applications for their academic rigor and intellectual promise. Fewer than eight percent of applicants advanced to academic interviews conducted by experts in each discipline, which further assessed candidates’ curiosity and academic abilities. Fewer than five percent of all applicants advanced to the final-round panel interviews, conducted by C-suite executives, tenured professors, non-profit Executive Directors, government ministers and senior-level officials, and other senior leaders from the Quad countries. Panel interviews assessed finalists’ interest in the intersection of STEM and society, capacity to bridge differences, and an orientation towards results. 100 Fellows – 25 Fellows per Quad country – were selected for the inaugural cohort.
Congratulations to Ryoko!
Grafton and Rowlett Receive Student Awards at APCG 2022
October 26, 2022
Congratulations to PhD students Dan Grafton and Jacob Rowlett for receiving two student awards at the 84th Annual Meeting of Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (APCG) Conference at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington!
Dan Grafton received the Tom McKnight and Joan Clemens Award for an Outstanding Student Paper. His paper title is “Sustainable Tourism and Global Climate Change in Polar Regions: Women’s Voices and Agency”
Jacob Rowlett received the Larry Ford- Dan Arreola Fieldwork-Archival Research Scholarship for his research proposal “Walking the Jedi’s Path: The Forces behind “Star Wars” Tourism at Skellig Michael”, which he also presented as a paper at the conference together with his advisor Professor Stuart Aitken.
Congratulations to both!
Joassart-Marcelli Lead PI for USDA Food Grant
October 19, 2022
Geography professor, Pascale Joassart-Marcelli, is the lead principal investigator of a new 4-year $1,000,000 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant providing opportunities for SDSU undergraduate and graduate students to learn about sustainable food and agriculture. The project brings together a faculty team from anthropology, biology, chemistry, food science and geography.
The grant will support the research of 36 undergraduate, seven master’s and three doctoral students generated from summer internships in San Diego and Mexico. These internships will have the students engaging with, and learning from, immigrant and Indigenous farmers and cooks.
McMillan Named Presidential Research Faculty Fellow
October 5, 2022
Professor Hilary McMillan has been selected as an SDSU Presidential Research Faculty Fellow for 2022-23.
From College of Arts and Letters Dean Monica Casper:
This distinction, awarded to just a handful of scholars across campus and announced earlier this week by President de la Torre, recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions to SDSU’s research, scholarship, and creative activities (RSCA) enterprise. The Faculty Fellowship comes with a one-time award of $25,000 in the form of research support funds. Professor McMillan is the first CAL faculty member to be honored in this new program, which was launched just last year.
Professor McMillan’s research agenda focuses on water – how much we have, how we measure it, where it is stored, and how much will be available in the future. This is a vital topic, for without water, there is no life. A hydrologist, Professor McMillan has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, many in the field’s top journals. As a Principal Investigator, she has been awarded grants totaling more than one million dollars, including from NSF and NOAA. She was also recognized with a CAL Excellence in Research Award for tenure-track faculty, in 2018.
A hallmark of Professor McMillan’s research is that she frequently involves students, thus also contributing to the University’s pedagogical mission, and she works collaboratively and internationally. Her many research projects are timely and impactful - because despite her own superb efforts, and the efforts of many other scholars, we continue to face extraordinary challenges to our environment.
Please join me in congratulating Professor McMillan on this major accomplishment.
An Selected as Lifetime AAG Fellow
January 24, 2022
Professor Li An has been recognized by the Association of American Geographers for his contributions to advancing the discipline of Geography by being named an AAG Fellow. This is a lifetime recognition.
From the Announcements in the SDSU State Up to Date:
The AAG Fellows is a program to recognize geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing geography.
Geography Professor Dr. Li An was selected to serve in the 2022 class with the honorary title of American Association of Geography (AAG) Fellow conferred for life.
“Dr. Li An is a creative and ground-breaking geographer whose work on agent-based modeling and space-time analysis has significantly improved our ability to model human-environment processes, in particular land use change,” the AAG stated. “In particular, his work extended ‘survival analysis,’ which has been used to understand temporal changes, to study spatial problems, by incorporating GIScience methods into the traditional survival analysis approaches.
“In honor of his work, in 2020 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). At his home institution of San Diego State University, he is the founding director of the Complex Human-Environment Systems Center, jointly sponsored by San Diego State University and Peking University (China).
“Dr. An has also been highly active in the greater fields of Geography and Ecological Modeling. He has currently or previously served on the boards of four journals, including the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.
“He was chair of the AAG Spatial Analysis and Modeling Specialty Group and has helped found a number of international research and education networks involving collaborators from around the globe. He has also helped lead equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts in the North American Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE-NA).
“Overall, Dr. An is a creative and inclusive scholar whose work brings together both areas of study and people to uncover new ways of thinking.”
In addition to the honorary award, fellows will work with the AAG in an advisory role. An plans to contribute to AAG’s various initiatives related to his expertise areas of GIScience, systems modeling and simulation, and sustainability science. He also expects to provide advice on AAG strategic direction and challenges, be involved in AAG task forces or committees, and continue mentoring early-career faculty.
“I am thrilled for this big honor,” An said. “I have been so blessed, honored, and privileged to be in a great university, a great college (CAL), and a great department — the leaders have been working so hard to create and maintain a very collegial, supportive environment. I thank my wonderful colleagues, staff, and graduate students — it is they who have inspired, helped, and facilitated my research, education, and outreach efforts and successes. I am grateful to, and enjoy working with, our exceptional students. Very importantly, thanks to God who has given me all the above great people, resources, environment, and talent.”
Fernando Bosco, geography department chair said, “I am very happy about Professor Li An’s recognition for his accomplishments and contributions to our discipline. The American Association of Geographers is the premier scientific and educational society in the United States, and to be recognized as a AAG Fellow for life is a great honor. The entire Department of Geography is very proud to have him as a colleague.”
“I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Li An on this wonderful achievement,” College of Arts and Letters Dean Monica J. Casper said. “I am not at all surprised that his significant professional contributions have been recognized by the AAG.”
Morales and Embury Receive Student Paper Awards at APCG 2021
October 19, 2021
Congratulations to Master’s students Gabriela Morales and Jessica Embury for receiving the Student Paper Awards at the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (APCG) Conference 2021!
Gabriela Morales received the APCG President’s Master’s paper award. Gabriela presented a paper titled, “A Mixed-Methods Assessment of the Quantification Settlement Agreement in Imperial Valley, California”.
Jessica Embury received the Christopherson Geosystems Award for Excellence in Applied Geography/Earth Systems paper award (Graduate-level). Jessica presented a paper titled, “Tackling Food Insecurity in the San Diego Promise Zone: A Spatial-Demographic Approach”.
Congratulations to both.
Getis Honored as 2021 KPBS Hall of Famer
September 21, 2021
Geography Professor Emeritus Dr. Arthur Getis will be honored as a KPBS Hall of Famer on Wednesday, October 20th, 2021. Dr. Getis has provided support and donations to KPBS for over 30 years. His philanthropy has assisted KPBS continue its mission of bringing independent journalism to the community.
The event will be held virtually and requires an RSVP. For more details, please contact Claudine Casillas, Special Event Manager.
Jessica Embury Featured in the 2021 Sage Project Showcase
July 13, 2021
Jessica Embury, a graduated senior and an incoming Masters student, participated in the SDSU Sage Project and collaborated with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to identify high-risk dry cleaning sites in San Diego County. Through two geography courses, GEOG 584: Geographic Information Systems Applications (Instructor: Kristen Monteverde) and GEOG 499: Special Studies (Instructor: Atsushi Nara), she produced a GIS database and conducted spatial analysis to identify dry cleaning sites within disadvantaged communities and near sensitive receptor sites including schools, hospitals, playgrounds, and residential communities. More information about the Sage project and Jessica’s work.
Left of Boom VII
July 7-9, 2021
The Annual Conference on Proactive Threat Mitigation Strategies, Left of Boom, became the first major such event held in person on the SDSU campus since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. During July 7-9 the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy (CICS) and the Intelligence Research Institute (IRI) held Left of Boom VII in magnificent Montezuma Hall, allowing speakers and participants to gather under adherence to social distancing guidelines. Thirty-eight speakers, some traveling to San Diego from far-flung places, like Singapore and the Czech Republic, covered domains ranging from trade and security to health, environment, and technology. This year, notable contributions covered safety and security in marine environments, the work of the FBI’s Victim Services Division (VSD), efforts to reform the criminal justice system in Baja California, and creative solutions to provide housing for the homeless. Cybersecurity was a theme strongly permeating the program, whether in the form of cyber threats to national security discussed by senior FBI leadership, ransomware attacks against businesses of all sizes, or the work of the National Football League’s Global Security Operations Center (GSOC). The crosscutting nature of Left of Boom was also exemplified by several industry presentations on hygiene and patient safety in hospital settings, supported by biomedical research and artificial intelligence.
Hilary McMillan wins grant from NSF Hydrologic Sciences Program
June 17, 2021
Associate Professor Hilary McMillan has received a 3-year, $295,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Hydrologic Sciences Program to support her research on how landscape features influence the hydrologic cycle. The new project, titled “A framework to predict hydrologic processes at continental scales” will predict how watershed processes vary across the U.S.. The project develops a new approach that combines small-scale field hydrology knowledge within a continental-scale, machine learning application, and aims to discover new relationships between landscape features, streamflow dynamics and watershed processes. This information is essential to building accurate hydrologic models and making reliable predictions of streamflow, floods and droughts. Dr McMillan will partner with NOAA’s National Water Center to apply the results in the design of the Next-Generation U.S. National Water Model. The project will develop online learning materials on the topic of continental-scale hydrology, and will offer research opportunities to PhD, Masters and Undergraduate students at SDSU.
Cybersecurity Seminar Attracts 170+ Participants
March 3, 2021
The Center for Information Convergence and Strategy (CICS) hosted a seminar titled “Cybersecurity: Era of 5G” that was presented by the FBI San Diego Citizens Academy Alumni Association, in collaboration with Intelligence Research Institute (IRI). With Akshay Pottathil as moderator, expert speakers representing private and government sectors discussed how individuals and organizations are targeted, as well as the driving factors, threat landscapes, techniques, and actors, from groups to nation states. Emphasis was given to current and emerging trends and the resources available to detect, deter, and defend against such threats.
Levine Receives National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Grant
January 4, 2021
Dr. Arielle Levine has received a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant to study the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities. Marine resource dependent communities along the West Coast are feeling the consequences of a changing ocean. Yet the vulnerability of and capacity to adapt for those who are closely tied to marine resources and their economies are not clear. This capacity depends on community knowledge, networks, and practices, as well as institutional policies and strategies that support adaptation. Working with project team members from UC Davis, Oregon State University, and CA Ocean Science Trust, Dr. Levine will explore how six coastal communities in Oregon and California are experiencing environmental vulnerability to ocean acidification and what they are doing to adapt to the impacts. They will also identify barriers to adaptation and coping strategies that can help inform policies to foster and support more resilient communities along the U.S. West Coast moving into the future.
Embury to Receive AAG Undergraduate Achievement Award
December 8, 2020
Jessica Embury, a senior geography major and a member of the HDMA center, has been selected as one of two recipients of the 2021 AAG Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geographic Science. The award aims to recognize excellence in academic performance by undergraduate students from the United States and Canada who put forth a strong effort to bridge geographic science and computer science.
Using GIS and Geocomputation techniques, Jessica has been helping several projects including dynamic mapping of coronavirus cases as well as mapping old dry cleaners in San Diego.
The award consists of a cash prize of $1,000 and a certificate of recognition.
Li An Earns Lifetime Distinction as AAAS Fellow
November 25, 2020
Professor Li An has earned a lifetime distinction as an AAAS fellow (American Association for the Advancement of Science). He is being recognized for “distinguished contributions to complex human-environmental systems theory and methodological breakthroughs in modeling human decisions, agent-based modeling, land survival & latent trajectory analysis.” Professor Li An joins a group of leading scientists in several fields to earn this distinction and be named AAAS fellows in 2020.
All newly elected Fellows will be inducted via a virtual ceremony on February 13, 2021. New Fellows will receive certificates and rosette pins that symbolize science and engineering with the colors gold and blue.
K-12 Students and Teachers Explore Geography Virtually During Geography Awareness Week
November 23, 2020
Like other annual events, the 2020 edition of Geography Awareness Week looked different than it has in recent years. Instead of coordinating visits to local classrooms and hosting 100 high school students on campus for a day, the California Geographic Alliance hosted daily Zoom webinars for teachers and students throughout the state. During Wednesday’s GIS Day webinar, doctoral student Krista West gave an excellent presentation about remote sensing as a tool to manage and respond to wildfire hazards. The Friday webinar was an especially positive reflection of the quality of the geography community at SDSU. Four graduate students (Thomas Smith, Sam Orndorff, Corrie Monteverde, and Jasmine Arpagian) shared insights into their individual research and even some of the courses they teach at SDSU. All of the presenters did a great job of illustrating the value of geography for addressing important environmental and social challenges as well as the passion they have for the discipline. This was greatly appreciated by the students and educators who joined.
Nara and Herman Receive Three Year NSF Grant for Geocomputation Education
September 2, 2020
Professors Atsushi Nara and Thomas Herman have received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The new project, entitled “Encoding Geography - Scaling up an RPP to achieve inclusive geocomputational education”, is a collaborative research project funded by the NSF-CS4All (Computer Science for All) program. This project is a medium size Researcher-Practitioner Partnership (RPP) initiative that builds on a pilot study also funded by the NSF-CS4All program. Working in collaboration with American Association of Geographers, UC Riverside, Texas State University, Sweetwater Union High School District, San Diego Mesa College, and California Geographic Alliance, the project team will address the need to research and develop a school-to-college curriculum pathway that not only represents a logical learning progression in geocomputational education, but which also accounts for the diverse aspirations and job prospects of students.
Levine Recommends a Teal Deal for Climate-Friendly Economic Recovery
May 26, 2020
Dr. Arielle Levine recently co-authored an op-ed featured in the Capitol Weekly, based on a recent article in the journal Conservation Letters she co-authored on integrating oceans into Green New Deal style climate solutions. The authors, including Rebecca Lewison (SDSU Biology) and Steve Dundas (Oregon State University) recommend that investing in coastal and ocean-based infrastructure, including sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, marine transportation, offshore renewable energy, and coastal restoration, can support a shift to a more sustainable economic system.
Coronavirus Project Generates Global Impact and Industry Accolades
May 21, 2020
Since its launch two months ago, the “Coronavirus SoS” project initiated by CICS Co-Director André Skupin has been warmly received by users in almost 40 countries that have accessed project results. Meanwhile, GIS industry leader Esri has recognized the project’s story map portion as one of twelve “Innovative Story Maps for COVID-19 Communication”.
In a departure from the traditional approach of mapping disease cases in geographic space, this project instead revolves around an interactive map of the coronavirus knowledge space, derived from more than 15,000 scientific papers going back to the 1960s. Anyone can now explore this space and learn about the research fields and concepts that drive scientific advances in this domain.
HDMA Creates COVID-19 Research Hub
May 21, 2020
The Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age has created a research hub to track and monitor COVID-19 outbreaks and impacts in San Diego. By utilizing GIS, web mapping, and social media analytics, these web apps and dashboards can provide a better understanding of COVID-19 disease spread patterns related to vulnerable population, medical comorbidity, and health service resources in San Diego.
An Elected Councillor-at-Large for IALE-NA
May 18, 2020
Dr. Li An was elected to be Councillor-at-large and memeber of the 2020-2022 Executive Committee for the International Association of Landscape Ecology - North America (IALE-NA), which stands out as a recognition of Li’s contributions in the field of Landscape Ecology. IALE-NA is a prestigious international organization that promotes research, practice, education, and outreach activities in relation to landscape ecology. Its members come from the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Nara Receives the Michael Breheny Prize
Dr. Atsushi Nara’s co-authored paper with Drs. Joseph Gibbons (Sociology) and Bruce Appleyard (City Planning/Urban Design) won the Breheny Prize for the most innovative paperLeave geography sitin Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science. Their paper, “Exploring the Imprint of Social Media Networks on Neighborhood Community Through the Lens of Gentrification,” analyzed neighborhood communities and gentrification in Washington, DC by exploring location-based social media networks.
The Michael Breheny Prize is awarded annually for the most innovative paper in Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science during the preceding year. It is awarded in recognition of the contribution of Michael Breheny, who was a co-editor of the journal from 1989 until his untimely death in 2003.
Nara and Herman Working to Increase Geo-computational Thinking in K-14 Education
December 11, 2019
Drs. Atsushi Nara and Thomas Herman are working to develop computational thinking in K-14 geography education. With advances in geospatial technologies producing large volumes of data that need to be managed and analyzed, geo-computational thinking and methods are vital to the future workforce. Working alongside researchers from the American Association of Geographers, University of California Riverside, and Texas State University, they are preparing teachers to use geospatially- and computationally-enriched programs. These programs can be used to guide underrepresented students towards careers in geo-spatial technologies.
The research is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Complex Human-Environment Systems Center to Provide for Collaboration between SDSU and Peking University
December 4, 2019
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU hereafter) regarding the Complex Human-Environment Systems Center has been recently signed and approved by San Diego State University (SDSU) President de la Torre, San Diego State University Research Foundation Director Sandra M. Nordahl, and Dean of College of Urban and Environmental Sciences (CUES) at Peking University (PKU) Dr. Canfei He. This MOU was also approved by California State University Chancellor’s office. This MOU provides terms for collaboration between SDSU faculty and CUES-PKU faculty through Dr. Li An’s Complex Human-Environment Systems (CHES) Center. The CHES Center seeks to promote scholarship, education, and outreach in the area of computational human-environmental science, building up the capacity of SDSU and PKU to become leading research universities in human-environmental science. The Center will bring together researchers at SDSU, PKU and beyond to form a cluster of scholars engaged in externally funded, complementary research, integrating human and environment sciences that include ecology, biology, spatial science, geography, sociology, demography, and other related disciplines. The CHES Center has also received financial and space support from Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters, and Vice President Stephen Welter.
West Contributes to Video News Wildfire Discussion
November 5, 2019
On Monday, November 4, Doctoral Candidate Krista West was approached by a journalist and associate producer for Al Jazeera’s (AJ) English “The Stream” to contribute to a segment — “A World On Fire.” Within the past week, at least 13 wildfires have burned in California alone; in the last few months, there have been wildfire incidents in parts of Lebanon, Turkey, Russia, France, Greece, Indonesia, the Amazon, the Arctic, and sub-Saharan Africa. As someone living in California and studying the effects of wildfires, AJ requested that Krista provide a 30-second video comment discussing how to get through a wildfire safely and how she has been impacted by incidents in the state. “Thirty seconds is not enough time to share this information,” she said, “so I focused on covering the most critical points — how residents can find resources that will help them prepare for a wildland fire and evacuate safely. I was honored to have been included in this segment, and appreciate what the panel of experts shared with the AJ hosts.” Krista’s segment starts around the 24:10 mark.
Krista began working with Dr. Doug Stow as a Joint Doctoral Program Research Scholar in Fall 2019, and is also a member of the Climate Science Alliance Connecting Wildlands & Communities team. She intends to focus on utilizing remote sensing technologies to study landscapes and wildland-urban interface zones before, during, and after wildfires.
HDMA Featured in ArcNews
November 5, 2019
The HDMA center has developed two social media analytics tools, SMART dashboard and GeoViewer, which are highlighted in the Fall 2019 issue of ArcNews. Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou also provides his vision of creating “geospatial data science” by combining GIScience with data science domains together.
See full Fall 2019 ArcNews article.
Fall Colloquia Series Begins
October 2, 2019
The SDSU Geography Colloquium series for the Fall 2019 semester has officially begun. Visiting scholar Dr. Eran Feitelson of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem kicked off the series with his talk “Resilience to Earthquakes and Droughts: Some Insights from the Israeli Experience.” We've also had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Eyal Oren from SDSU’s School of Public Health to speak on “Tracking infectious diseases using big data: a primer using search data and social media.” We look forward to hosting more speakers in the coming weeks and months, covering various topics of relevance to our domain.