Friday, August 1, 2014

Art for All – the Phillips Hall Geog-Anth Wall Mural

Top: Prof Gannon & Josie
Bottom: Samara

In an ongoing effort to improve our environment and make it warmer and more welcoming for our students, the Department of Geography and Anthropology inquired of Art and Design for some graphic arts students to paint a geographically themed piece of work on our walls. We were especially interested in doing something with the west hallway on the Phillips Science Hall's second floor.  For years, the hallway has maintained a clinical, stark and quite uninviting look.

Before: March 2014

During: April 2014

Junior Josie Kallenbach and Senior Samara Cobus responded to the invitation.  They visited the hallway with their advisor, Associate Professor Ned Gannon of Art and Design, and identified a corrugated section of wall on the north end of the hall, a strange corner that joins two parts of the building.  They began drafting a landscape that took on something of an Amazonian motif.  We liked the initial design and its nature-society interplay and asked our colleague Jeff DeGrave a Latin American specialist who teaches a course on the regional geography of Latin America to work with Josie and Samara to finalize the design.  He did, they did, and with Prof. Gannon's help, they began transferring the design to the wall in April; they put the final touches on the mural at the beginning of July. Thank you, Josie, Samara and Ned for using your talents to enhance our environment.  We look forward to more Haas-Phillips collaboration.

Please feel free to stop by and see the mural.  We are not sure where this initiative will lead, but all who see the landscape mural and the color it brings like it , and  there is still plenty of empty wall in that Phillips Science Hall's west hallway. I would be happy if other art students were interested in building on this project.  I look forward to hearing from them.

After:  Final Mural, July 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Geography & McIntyre Library team up on Cartographic Internships

A 1776 English map in the
UW-Eau Claire Archives.
One of our many cool maps
This past spring, UW-Eau Claire's McIntyre Library and the Department of Geography and Anthropology teamed up to develop an internship program for students interested in spending time with – and learning from – the University's map collection.  Under the guidance of Asst. Professor Greg Kocken, Head of Special Collections, Archives and Records Management, students can choose from between two internship alternatives, depending on what they want to learn and produce.

Both the Cartographic Cataloging and the Digital Curation internships make valuable contributions to the work of the Library and the Department of Geography and Anthropology as the students investigate and learn about maps, their histories, stories, ideas, purposes and perspectives.  The internships open up the worlds and histories of cartography to students and the students gain important practical experience in interpretation, presentation and information management. Details on the internships is provided at the bottom of this post.

Geography major Aaron Schroeder
UWEC's McIntyre Library,
Special Collections & Archives.
Junior geography student Aaron Schroeder immediately jumped on the opportunity to become to the first cartographic cataloging intern.  In addition to his summer job with UW-Eau Claire's Learning and Technology Services (LTS), Aaron is spending some of his summer on the fifth floor of the library looking at the map collection to see what all is among the hundreds of unorganized and undocumented maps in the archives. According to Aaron, they range from Wisconsin plat maps to French drawn territory maps of the East Coast. His goal is to have an up-to-date catalog records of all the maps and atlases which will people in the university and the community to utilize the maps.

According to Aaron, he is enjoying the internship very much. "It is very flexible which is great over summer. I am learning what makes a good map and what makes a great map. Looking at the different types and styles really opened my eyes and showed me what it takes to create a map that is worthy of archiving.  In addition, it provides a great opportunity to learn, to get to know more of the Library staff and resources and because  "investigating old maps, . . . is just cool." 

Emily Christenson, currently on a summer internship in Georgia (see past post from 23 April), is enrolled to be the first student to sign up for the Digital Curation internship this fall.  We look forward to hearing about her experiences and learning of her project.

To learn more about the Special Collections and Archives, go to their website. For any who are interested in this great internship opportunity, please email the Head Special Collections Librarian, Greg Kocken, at kockeng @ or call him at (715) 836-3873.  An application and the full range of internship expectations will be provided to prospective interns.  Following are a few of the tasks associated with each internship: 

Cartographic Cataloging Intern
·      Update and enhance existing database of information about the maps.  The database currently includes information about the date, title, geographic location, map number and storage location.
·      Conduct basic research to identify dates and appropriate geographic terms for each map.
·      Determine which maps have existing catalog records in the McIntyre Library Catalog and provide updated information when necessary.  Identify maps which do not have an existing catalog record and coordinate with technical services staff in the department to create new records.
UPDATE:  I have just learned from Greg that, since Aaron has done such an efficient job this summer, the Cataloging internship will probably not be offered again.  However, he would like to offer the Digital Curation internship beyond this fall, and it is possible that we can craft and offer other cartography-themed internships in the future.

Digital Curation Intern (Cartography Focus)
·      Select a minimum of twenty historic maps which are all connected through a common geographic theme for inclusion in a curated digital collection.
·      Conduct research into the significance of each map with an emphasis on how the maps are connected through a common theme or themes.
·      Develop a narrative description for each of the selected maps.
·      Coordinate with campus partners from LTS, Geography and Anthropology and McIntyre Library to develop a curated digital collection.  This includes digitization, uploading and developing a dedicated webpage for this digital collection.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's been a while . . . but big news continues

Yes, the absence of any posts would suggest the absence of anything to post about, but that is hardly our department's reality.  Indeed, it has been a whirlwind since the end of April, between the end of the semester activities (CERCA week, Department Banquet, Final Exams, Graduation), some family needs that took me to Michigan a few times, work-related travel to Scotland, England and Turkey.  

While I was in the United Kingdom, the department received the news that it had been awarded a big grant that will enhance our geospatial programming.  Thanks to Dr. Christina Hupy and numerous faculty in and out of our department, the Geospatial Education Initiative grant will have a big impact on our department and opportunities for our students. Please read the recent press release for the details and anticipate exciting outcomes.

Now, mid-summer is behind us and preparations for the fall semester have already begun.  I will try to catch us up on some of the events and activities in which we have been involved.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UW-Eau Claire Geographer to work on urban-environment research in Atlanta

We are very excited to learn that Emily Christenson was selected to Georgia State University's Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Addressing Social and Environmental Disparities through Community Geography and Geographic Information Systems initiative.  There were over 170 applicants, and Emily is among the handful selected to be a CSAW Scholar (CSAW stands for Community Soil Air Water, click for the program website). 

This nicely paid (!) research opportunity is part of an ongoing NSF-supported project that brings together scholars and community partners to address the multifaceted relationship between urban communities and their environment. Emily will be working with faculty mentors in community-based research and fieldwork to examine some aspect of  neighborhood change, property markets, social geographies, air and soil quality, urban green spaces, and neighborhood visioning in Atlanta, Georgia.

Emily's research interests include community and individual based sustainability, environmental injustice, and human-environment interactions, and she is looking forward to learning more about urban green spaces and how they can be supported and enhanced.

Emily has worked hard to prepare for this opportunity, things like her numerous GIS courses culminating and her current project in GEOG 435 on identifying variables that relate to elevated lead levels in children  -- with the goal of identifying risks that can be targeted for mitigation.  Or the work she has done in her sustainability internship with Dr. Christina Hupy and the integration of UWEC's campus into the ESRI Community Maps program. 

What an experience Emily will have.  We look forward to hearing about it next fall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Arts & Sciences Honors 3 Geography Students

While the Department of Geography and Anthropology is proud of most all of its students, we are happy to report that UWEC's College of Arts and Sciences has recognized three geography majors for their exceptional efforts as they prepare to graduate.  These College awards come with 4-digit cash prizes and reflect not just hard work, but engagement with ideas and faculty, and a desire to learn and contribute in ways that are meaningful and rewarding to many people.  Congratulations Corrin, Zach and Sean for your contributions. Bravo.

Corrin Turkowitch
Corinn Turkowitch
Arts and Sciences Outstanding Undergraduate Award, 2014

From her nomination letter (prepared by Jeff DeGrave, who drew from many faculty member comments), Corrin Turkowitch is " . . .  that rare person who possesses exceptional abilities, tireless motivation, and kindred leadership—combined with an acute cultural sensitivity to the many social injustices that continue to permeate our globalized world."  She "readily understands this 'bigger picture' of life and her roles in it—revealing her cultural awareness, empathy, and understanding for all people, locally and globally. Her initiative, leadership, fortitude, intelligence, and cordiality, as well as the responsible manner with which she carries herself truly set her apart from every other student."

Zach Hilgendorf
Zach Hilgendorf
Michael F. Fredrich Science Scholarship
Based on his experiences working with and mentoring Zach, Garry Running included this excerpt in his letter of recommendation, "I think the level-headed, self-directedness that makes [Zach] a great student and an even better role model for our younger majors comes from his struggle to find his way and overcome those academic challenges.  He learned perseverance, diligence, commitment to his goals and developed a never-give-up attitude.  Zach is the kind of student I love to work with as an academic advisor." 

Sean Morrison
Leoba Hogan Scientific Research Scholarship
Sean Morrison
As Sean's geomorphology teacher and and faculty mentor on research that is investigating the coastal landscapes along the south shores of Lakes Superior (Michigan), Harry Jol highlighted the following in his letter of support.  Sean "is a leader that is flexible as well as a good team player – as I saw manifested by his participation in group projects. Sean is a self-starter and once shown a task you can be confident he will complete the project competently and on time. His oral, written, poster and web presentations are concise and well prepared."