Sunday, November 20, 2011

Geography graduate student was panelist for a discussion on Moroccan-American relations and islamophobia

Graduate Student, M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine, served as a panelist for a screening and discussion of the documentary Crossing Borders at the Texas Union.  The event was sponsored by the International office of The University of Texas at Austin which featured the seventy minute documentary that followed four Moroccan and four American university students as they travel together through Morocco.  The film explored the group’s frank discussions, in which the students confront the complex implications of the supposed "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West.  After the screening of the film, Sounny-Slitine and other UT affiliated students, faculty, and staff had a discussion about this complex issue of international relations and islamophobia.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Plaid Avengers Sweep Trivia Title!

It's not all fun and games for Texas Geography Grads. In a surprising victory this week, the Plaid Avengers won first place at the McCombs Business School International Week Trivia Night, narrowly beating out Talk Nerdy To Me by two points. The 12 teams of five that competed focused on such topics as geography, food, country flags, potpourri, and famous faces. The Avengers (pictured at right) started off slow, but picked up momentum as the event drew on, seizing the title with an almost unheard of 88 points. Said Team Captain, Brian Mills upon victory: "It was all possible worlds out there... it could really have been anybody's game. This was just one win for us. This game's just a matter of scale..."

Geography Students Take to the Field

In an attempt to break out of the classroom, Geography students with Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse's paired up with the Austin Water Utility's Center for Environmental Research (CER) this Saturday to study at the Colorado River at Hornsby Bend. After a brief overview of the cultural and political history of the Colorado River bottomlands, students marched to the field, learning how this unique river system has adapted in the face of human pressure. Once lined with dense forests of sycamore and maple, Kevin Anderson of CER explained to students how this bottomland has began to make the transition back to forest after the vegetation was stripped bare by settlers and cattle. Anderson, who received a PhD in Geography from Texas, instructed students in both contemporary river morphology and practical water testing through the collection of benthic macroinvertabrates (also known as bugs).
Willing students (above) took to the river with nets and wash tubs to collect a sampling of bugs that would indicate river health. With the help of Elizabeth Welsh from Austin Youth River Watch (also a UT Geographer!) students categorized critters from damselflies and caddisflies to freshwater shrimp, to determine that even in one of Texas' worst drought ever, the Colorado is still a flourishing healthy river.

The three and a half mile Hornsby Bend, which is owned by the City of Austin, is also the home of Austin's Biosolids Management Plant, which processes two-thirds of the city's solid waste. From tap to toilet, Anderson explained how the city disposes of waste water and how what we see as sewage can be sterilized and recycled into compost rather than being dumped in landfills. Even urban water systems have a unique ecology that must be carefully managed.

The take-home message: even urban areas have unique ecologies that are constantly changing and adapting to climatic and human pressures. All one needs to do is take a close look around to see that not all is in fact lost.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Solar Power Potential on the University of Texas Campus

Graduate student M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine authored a paper for the “Sustainability on the UT Campus Symposium” examining the potential of solar energy on UT campus taking into account both the social and economic barriers to its development.  The paper titled “Solar Power Potential on the University of Texas Campus” was presented at The 2nd Annual UT Campus Sustainability Symposiumsponsored by the president of the University of Texas and was featured among the most promising sustainability-related research projects and operations initiatives on UT campus.  The study is the most comprehensive solar inventory done of UT campus to date showing that “Roofspace” on UT campus has great potential to produce renewable energy through the integration of solar photovoltaic and thermal panels.  Unlike other renewable forms of energy, solar technologies can be integrated into the built environment making them one of the few options for onsite renewable energy for the University.  However, there are substantial social and economic barriers that will inhibit the University from developing the full potential of its solar energy resources.  Economically, the price of solar energy is too high in comparison to current electrical generation on campus.  Socially, the aesthetic and cultural value of the UT campus’s red clay-tiled roof space surpasses the value to be potentially gained by covering them with solar collectors.  The paper examined the potential taken into account these barriers and incorporated them into a model, which utilized Geographic Information Science (GISc) techniques of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) along with Solar Analyst tools developed by ESRI.   This analysis demonstrates that the UT Campus has significant potential for generating solar energy, even without placement of PV arrays on its treasured red-tile roofs, but economically the price of solar energy is still too high to compete with the current highly efficient natural gas power generation.  Although extensive installation of solar panels cannot be justified solely on an economic savings basis today, the price of solar PV is dropping and solar power may be economically advantageous for the University in the near future.
The full essay and other proceeding are available on line from the Center of Sustainable Development.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Molly Polk and Maria Jose LaRota attend Student Conference on Conservation Science at the American Museum of Natural History

Molly Polk and Maria Jose LaRota
UT Geography grad students, Molly Polk and Maria Jose LaRota, were selected to attend the second annual Student Conference in Conservation Science in NYC, organized by Center for Biodiversity Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. The conference was held over three days and gathered over 300 conservation scientists from 28 nations around the world to present, discuss and share the latest research in topics of biodiversity conservation.

Molly presented a poster entitled "Glacier Recession and Wetlands in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru" that described her recent research on the response of high Andean wetlands to shifting hydrology located in Huascaran National Park.

Maria Jose presented a talk of her Master’s thesis results, "Guild specific responses of birds to habitat fragmentation in coffee agroecosystems", where she studied the conservation role of different coffee production systems in the tropical Andes of Colombia.

SCCS-NY is a unique opportunity for those beginning their careers to present their work before established leaders in science, policy, and management. It was featured in the NY Times blog Green
More information about the conference can be found at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adaptation to Climate Change

Graduate student publish article on prospective collaboration in flood control research between UT and Latin America

Graduate students M. Anwar Sounny-Slitine and Jennifer Alexander along with other students from programs across campus published an article in the current edition of Portal, an annual publication of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.  In their article titled “Adaptation to Climate Change: A Prospective Collaboration in Flood Control” the students call to attention the importance of research in climate change adaptation, and the role that UT can play between Texas and Latin America acting as a catalyst for South-South and North-South provisions of adaptation techniques.
Hard copies of Portal are avilable in the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, or can be read online at:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Veselka Field Research Grant winners to present preliminary research findings

Robert E. Veselka Field Research Grant winners from the department of geography will be presenting their preliminary research findings at a colloquium, Friday September 30. Among the field grant winners are Jennifer Alexander, Molly Polk , Niti Mishra, Pamela Sertzen, and Jon Gehrig, who will be introducing a variety of topics, from climate change in Peru to disease in Botswana.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

IIE Graduate Fellowship for International Study Awarded to Matt LaFevor a Doctoral Student

Farming system in Tlaxcla, Mexico
The International Institute of Education has awarded doctoral student, Matthew LaFevor the 2011-2012 Graduate Fellowship for International Study, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The awards come in lieu of the 2011-2012 Fulbright-Hays DDRA competition, which was eliminated after congressional budget cuts. Of the 120 students originally selected for Fulbright-Hays DDRA awards, 80 were selected to receive Graduate Fellowships for International Study instead. The award provides funding for one year.

Matthew will continue to conduct dissertation fieldwork in Tlaxcala, Mexico on the mechanics of semi-terracing and water conservation on mountain slopes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Esri Health GIS Conference

The Esri Health GIS Conference is still accepting abstracts for the Setember 7-9, 2011 meeting in Washington D.C. - LAST DAY TODAY, JULY 17th

Today (July 17th, 2011) is the last day to submit an abstract for this year's Esri Health GIS Conference. Map Gallery Submissions will be accepted until July 29th!

Abstracts must be 150 words or less and presentations are typically 30 minutes or less. Abstracts must answer the following questions:
  1. What problem did you solve with GIS? What advantage did GIS give you?
  2. What types of geospatial analysis did you use? Explain how and why.
  3. What are your findings or results
  4. How can this project be useful for the audience?
Possible Tracks and Topics:
  • Preparedness & Response
  • Influencing Health Policy
  • Improving Population Health
  • Hospitals & Health Care Delivery
  • Environmental Health
  • Defense Health
  • Disease Surveillance & Control
  • Workforce Development
  • Managed Health Care
  • Human (Social) Services
  • Health Information Exchange
  • Clinical Trials
All proceedings are published on the event website:

Keynote and Plenary speakers include:
  • Tood Park, Chief Technology Officer (US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
  • Bob Wiseman, Vice President for Facilities Management @ University of Kentucky
  • Seth Foldy, Director of the Public Health Informatics & Technology Program Office - CDC
  • Ellen K. Cromley, Assistant Prof. @ University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Although the website does not announce it, a special student price for the Conference Registration Fee is indeed available! Contact: Jessica Benton -

Friday, July 8, 2011

AAG NYC Call for Papers: Abstracts due September 28, 2011

The Call for Papers for the AAG 2012 Annual Meeting in New York is underway.  Remember, the deadline to submit sessions and abstracts for the 2012 Annual Meeting is September 28, 2011.  The tips below will help you get started.

Begin by reading the Call for Papers and session organization instructions at to familiarize yourself with the different session types as well as the procedures.

Once you have decided on a session category and have prepared your title and description, you may want to use the Session Collaboration Board to announce your own call for papers. You can also search the submitted abstracts for relevant papers.  

Posting a Call for Papers
Follow these steps to announce your call for papers to the Session Collaboration Board:
  • Register for the meeting online at 
  • Proceed to the Abstract and Session Submission Console from the Call for Papers web page at
  • Once on the console page, you will see the Session Collaboration Board at the bottom of the page.  
  • Click on the "New Post" button in order to place a notice about your proposed session.
  • Click on the "Search Abstracts" button in order to search abstracts that have already been submitted.
Submitting a Completed Organized Session
Once you have gained enough participants in your session to submit a complete session, follow these steps to submit your completed session to the conference:
  • Have your session participants register for the annual meeting, submit an abstract - if necessary - and provide you with their program identification number (PIN).  You will need to use the PINs to add each participant to your session.
  • Proceed to the Abstract and Session Submission Console from the Call for Papers page 
  • Click on the "New Session" button and follow the instructions to complete the online form.

Marfa Ballroom Lecture Series: Kathleen Shafer

Ballroom Marfa is launching a new lecture series with a talk by Kathleen Shafer, a doctoral student in UT Geography and The Environment.  Shafer's visual work explores and documents airfields, and her research on this subject is what brought her back into academia. She is especially interested in Marfa’s military history and the later repurposing of spaces by Judd. She will be writing a dissertation about the place and experience of Marfa, and is interested in parallel concepts of place and space between both geographic and artistic thought. Please join us for this special event, generously hosted by Marfa Book Company. Talk begins at 6 pm July, 12 2011 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Arab Spring's looming refugee crisis - Chris Ulack

Chris Ulack is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin posted an article on Foreign Policy website about the looming refugee crisis resulting from the Arab Spring.  Ulack focuses his research on refugee issues in the U.S. and the Middle East. The article is available on Foreign Policy's website.

The Arab Spring’s looming refugee crisis by Chris Ulack | The Middle East Channel

Thursday, May 19, 2011

PhD student Shafer starting research in Marfa, TX

PhD student Kathleen Shafer was the first to depart to her field site this summer in Marfa, TX. Shafer, who holds degrees in Photography and Anthropology, started in the department last fall. Having had a few weeks to settle into her research, she writes:

"There is a bird that chirps outside my house that sounds exactly like the green pelican in Angry Birds. It is hilarious. For the most part, it is a quiet town. Trains pass through about four times a day, more on Saturday, and for a brief period the town is divided in two - north of the train, and south of the train. People say hello when they pass you in the street, or raise their hand in acknowledgment when they pass you in a car. The light and the colors are wondrous, and everyone knows each other."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AAG welcomes Joy Adams

Joy Adams, GAGS Alumna, has joined the AAG staff as Senior Researcher and was featured in the current issue of the AAG Newsletter. She received a B.A. in geography from The University of Texas at Austin in 1994 and completed her Ph.D. in geography at UT-Austin in 2006. She wrote her dissertation on German-themed heritage festivals in Central Texas, reflecting her research specializations in ethnic geography and geotourism in North America.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Following Quinoa in Bolivia

Graduate student Jon Gehrig will be conducting field research for his Master's thesis in the Bolivian Altiplano this summer. He is investigating the linkages between quinoa production and consumption in domestic and international markets.

Jon leaves next Tuesday, May 10th for Bolivia and is posting everyday. You can follow his work directly at his blog, BoliviaTravels.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Niti Mishra awarded the GeoEye Imagery Grant - Graduate student will use grant to study change in the Kalahari

Graduate student Niti Mishra has been awarded the GeoEye imagery grant from the GeoEye Foundation in support of his ongoing dissertation research in the central Kalahari of Botswana. The Geo Eye is a leading commercial providers of  high resolution satellite imagery and supports scientists and  researchers through an imagery grant. Niti will receive 2 GeoEye-1 images worth $10,000 covering an area of 500 square kilometers.
Working under the guidance of Prof. Kelley Crews in the Digital Landscape research cluster of the department, Niti's dissertation research is part of Prof. Crews ongoing research in southern Africa.
The GeoEye-1 images will be utilized with other multispectral/hyperspectral images under a multi-scale framework to understand ecosystem structure, function and carbon dynamics by characterizing fractional Land-cover and examining its spatio-temporal association with land-use and disturbance regimes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Veselka Fellowship Talks

HIV/AIDS in Fortaleza, Brazil - Renata Ponte

Guild Specific Responses to Habitat Change - Maria Jose La Rota Aguilera

The Evolution of Tarahumara Agriculture in Chihuahua, Mexico - Joshua Rudow

Tree Ferns of Central Veracruz: Harvest and Conservation Implications - Othoniel Vázquez Domínguez

Monday, February 21, 2011

Graduate Students present in AAG National Meeting: Seattle, Washington

2011 AAG Annual Meeting will take place April 12-16, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  The Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers features presentations from leading scholars and experts on the latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience.  This year a record amount of  graduate students from UT Geography and The Environment will present.  Bellow is a list of presentations and links to their abstracts and departmental profiles.

Sharon W. Adams

Augustine Avwunudiogba

Mario Cardozo

Lindsey Carte

Emily Duda

Jon Gehrig

Ingrid Haeckel

Maria José La Rota

Matt Lafevor

Tony Layzell

Robert Lemon

Dylan Malcomb

Brian Mills

Niti Bhushan Mishra

Solange Munoz

John Oswald

Renata Ponte

Julio Postigo

Joshua Rudow

Leigh Schwartz

Pamela Sertzen

Steven Shannon

Ophelia Wang

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dr. Anabel Ford meet with UT grad students to talk about reserach.

Dr. Anabel Ford of ISBER/MesoAmerican Research Center, University of California - Santa Barbara visited UT graduate students to discuss he research and mesoamerican archaeology. Her research focuses on the evolution of settlements of the ancient Mayans. Additionally, Dr. Ford also did a colloquium where she presented the new models of the origins of the Maya forest landscape.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jon Gehrig writes Op-Ed in AAG Newsletter

Jon Gehrig participated as one of the 5 observers representing the AAG at the UNFCCC in Cancún Mexico. Gehrig along with coauthor Mike Urban wrote up their thoughts on the Cancun Agreement and what roles Geographers should play in Climate Change research. 

Overview on the AAG Newsletter
The Cancun Agreement (PDF)
The Delegates Blog
Jon Gehrig UT Profile
UNFCC Home Page

(Click image for High-Res)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sharon Wilcox Adams to attend HCA Spring Academy on American History, Culture, & Politics

Doctoral Candidate Sharon Wilcox Adams has been selected to attend the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) Spring Academy on American History, Culture, & Politics, an annual interdisciplinary conference for Ph.D. candidates. While there, she will present her dissertation research project, "Encountering El Tigre: Jaguars and People in the United States, 1800-2010."

The University of Heidelberg's Center for American Studies (HCA) is an interdisciplinary institute and center for  research on topics related to the United States of America. It was founded in 2003, making it the newest institute of Germany's oldest university Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.