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."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

GEOG 368 Field Seminars in 2014-2015: Oregon & Turkey

The department is happy to report that, in recognition of their high impact on student learning and the central role that field experiences play in a geographic education, the Geography Field Seminar will receive Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition support in 2014-2015.  This support significantly offsets student participation costs and makes them much more accessible to students. It should be noted, however, that international experiences typically cost more than domestic ones.

Wheat fields and Mount Hood, Oregon.
Photo by E. Zeitler.
In the fall semester 2014, the GEOG 368 Field Seminar will be a regional examination of Oregon and its various environments, and will combine the the physical, human-environmental, and human aspects of geography.  Dr. Ezra Zeitler will lead the course and program.  The field component to Oregon is tentatively scheduled to run from 26 September to 5 October.  Thus, students will have the opportunity to prepare for 3-4 weeks before the field experience; upon their return, they will draw on the experience and their findings as they develop and finalize their research projects.  

In Oregon, students will spend time in Portland, Bend, Eugene, Tillamook, Salem, and Astoria traveling between the coast and the interior, visiting the Hood & Columbia Rivers, Crater Lake, Mt. Saint Helens.  They will examine and learn about a wide array of cultural and environmental landscapes -- from indigenous to urban,  agricultural to electrical,  touristic to gentrified, and sandy to igneous.  The comparison to the upper Midwest will be rich.

To learn more, or if you are interested in participating in the Fall 2014 Field Seminar to Oregon, please see Dr. Ezra Zeitler.

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, where the
Bosphorus Strait meets the Marmara Sea.

Photo by P. Kaldjian.
The Spring 2015 GEOG 368 Field Seminar will be an international field experience to Istanbul and its surrounding areas. I will draw on my years of research in the region, relationships with its people and places, and experiences leading UWEC immersion trips to Turkey in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This will be a slightly different GEOG 368 experience.  We will study and prepare the entire spring semester (2015) for the trip and then travel for 3-4 weeks in May/June, right when the semester is over.  The preparatory semester will include studying rudiments of the Turkish language, learning about Thracian and Anatolian geography, place, culture, history, and daily life, and preparing our research projects.

The field component will be a largely urban experience, and we will spend time examining various elements of the region's physical geography, Istanbul's food systems, rural-to-urban migration, Turkey's various ethnic subgroups, the city and region's long history, intersections with globalization, political-economic change, and ongoing and dynamic human-environment interactions.  We will also travel into Turkey's interior, up to the Black Sea, and into the former Ottoman region of northern Greece.

To learn more, or if you are interested in participating in the Spring/Summer 2015 Field Seminar to Turkey, please see me (Dr. Paul Kaldjian).  Course fees for this program should be estimated by the end of the summer.

4 UWEC students at national geography conference in Florida

This past week, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) held its Annual Meeting, this time in Tampa. The AAG has been hosting annual meetings every year since 1904.  I am not sure what the attendance was in Tampa, but last year in Los Angeles there were over 7,000 attendees.  That's a lot of geographers.

Arik Arnevik & Jackson Becker in front of
their poster at AAG 2014, Tampa, FL

UW-Eau Claire has a long history of student and faculty participation at the AAG Annual Meetings, and we are suspect that we bring as many undergraduate participants as nearly any other school in the country.  This year, in addition to seven UW-Eau Claire faculty participants, we were proud to have four students successfully present their research.  

Nate Wick explains details of his research to
Ross Guida ('09), now in the PhD program
at Southern Illinois University.
Nathaniel Wick presented a poster of the research he conducted with recent UWEC geography graduate Sam Krueger and their research mentor Doug Faulkner.  Their poster, A Detailed Long Profile of the Lower Chippewa River: Evidence of Ongoing Episodic Incision was one of nearly 30 posters in a session entitled Geomorphology, Hazards, and Vulnerability.  Jackson Becker and Arik Arnevik presented their research poster, Active Channel Loss on the Lower Chippewa River Due to Reed Canary Grass, on work that they, too, did with Dr. Faulkner.  And Joey Quintana was one of 8 presenters in the Economic, Cultural, and Regional Geography  illustrated poster session for the work that he did with Ezra Zeitler.  The title of their research poster is Impacts of Corporate Water Parks on Residents' Sense of Place and Place Promotion in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, Wisconsin.

Click on names of the posters for the research abstracts and to get a feel for the kind of work our students are doing; to see the range of work presented in the poster sessions, and to see the kind of research that that others with similar interests are conducting, click on the poster session name. 

In addition to presenting their research, meeting scholars, and learning of research from around the world, our students had the opportunity to meet numerous other UW-Eau Claire graduates who have gone on to graduate schools in such places as the University of Tennessee, Southern Illinois, Penn State and Kansas.  It becomes apparent that participating among a community of scholars and researchers at such conferences can be a powerful and inspirational  professionalization opportunity for our students. We are very thankful for the opportunity that UW-Eau Claire --  through the Blugold Commitment, the work of ORSP, and the Simpson Fund -- creates to enable this kind of participation.  Such financial support of undergraduate research and travel to professional presentations is truly distinctive among geography programs world-wide.  

Next year at the AAG Annual Meeting in Chicago, we hope to increase student participation by working with our students and encouraging them to think about the possibility early in the school year.

Though it was at a different national conference, I suspect that Drew Briski had a similar experience at the annual conference of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) in Louisville, KY (23-28 March) where he presented a poster and gave a lightening talk on his research with Dr. Cyril Wilson in the Land Use/Land Cover and Change Detection session. The title of their presentation was Spectral and Socioeconomic Assessment of Land Use/Land Cover Changes in the Chippewa Valley Metropolitan Area, WI.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our geographer in Amman, Jordan

Hillary on GEOG 319 field trip
at Friday prayers  at mosque
in Twin Cities
, MN spring 2012.
Just a week or so ago, we received just that kind of note that faculty and departments love to get from their graduates -- an update that all is well and that aspirations are being fulfilled. 

We are very happy to learn that Hillary Johnson has accepted a GIS Intern position with the French NGO ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) and will soon be working in Amman, Jordan. Hillary graduated with her geography degree in Spring 2012, and has been working at Garmin International in the Kansas City area since fall 2012.  As a human geographer with interests in humanitarian aid and sustainable development, and with a kit of geospatial skills, she had been thinking of continuing her studies in graduate school.   Those will now wait.  

Hillary on GEOG 319 field trip to Kurdish
restaurant in Twin Cities
, MN spring 2012.
In April, Hillary goes to Paris for three days of training, then on to Amman for half a year.  While she does not yet know what she will be doing, she explains that the majority of ACTED's work in Jordan is emergency relief for thousands of refugees -- she expects to spend half of her time in the field and the other half in an office.  If all goes well, she hopes to transition into a GIS Officer role, if not in Jordan, then perhaps in a place like Kenya or Mozambique. It's a huge change but she is, in her own words, "Super excited! Good thing I took the Middle East [GEOG 319 - Geography of Middle East and North Africa] class so I can take that knowledge into real life!"

The funny thing is, the very week we heard from Hillary, one of the students in my intro Human Geography course asked me if geography was a good discipline in preparation for working with refugees!!  Well, it seems it can be.

May all go well, Hillary, and we look forward to updates and pictures.  

PS. I hope you bring your piccolo or flute.  Everybody likes music. 
(Hillary played piccolo in UWEC's marching band.)