Monday, November 12, 2012

Plaid Avengers to be Remembered as Conscious, Plaid-Wearing

Plaid Avengers, the GAGs trivia team and 2011 champions of the McCombs Business School International Week Trivia Night declined to defend their title this year, citing organizational and scheduling issues.  The team, who cruised somewhat effortlessly to victory last year after garnering a satisfactory 88 points, will be remembered for their characteristic patterned shirts of alternating colored threads and continuous state of awareness throughout the competition. "In the moment, I don't think we realized the gravity of our achievement," recalled team alumnus Jonathan Lowell, "I mean, each of us was experiencing coherent cognitive and behavioral responses to the external world." Although the fully-conscious, tartan-clad bunch will, by default, lose their status as reigning trivia champions when the 2012 competition kicks off on Wednesday, the Plaid Avengers' legacy endures. While noting that he preferred tweed, university president Bill Powers said of the teams' 2011 victory, "[Plaid Avengers'] complete wakefulness and indisputably crisscrossed attire will not be forgotten in the relatively near future."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Students participate in Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Doctoral candidates Naya Jones and Bisola Falola co-organized and chaired two sessions at the 2012 Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference (hosted in part by the Ethnic Geography Specialty Group of AAG) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Both sessions were titled: (En)countering Space, Place, and Agency: Everyday Youth  Geographies

Naya presented: Of Soul Food and Barbacoa: Black and Latin@ Youth, Food, and Intersubjectivity

Bisola presented: Entangled Emotions: Connecting the Links between Race, Emotional Landscapes, and Youths’ Future Expectations

The sessions were well attended and had engaging discussions!
Back to Main

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Students and faculty present at annual SWAAG meeting in Las Cruces, NM

Department of Geography and the Environment graduate students and faculty members traveled to Las Cruces, NM, last week to present their research at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SWAAG). Congratulations to the presenters for their hard work!

The Case of the Missing Laureate: The Communication Geography of the 2010 Nobel
Peace Prize
; Dr. Paul Adams

Rural-to-Rural Trading in the City: Artisanal Sugarcane Liquor Commercialization in
the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon
; Mario Cardozo

Spatial Analysis of Woody Species in Northwest Botswana; Thomas Christiansen

An Evolving Home: Communal Vision and Changing Livelihood in an Amazonian
Religious Community
; Jonathan Lowell*

Land Cover Change in Seronga, Botswana Between 2003 and 2011; Xuebin Yang*

*denotes participation in student competitions
Graduate students at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Monday, October 8, 2012

[in print] Recent Publications from Matt LaFevor and Niti Mishra

 Doctoral candidates Matt LaFevor and Niti Mishra have new publications available. Follow the links below for the full text of each article.
LaFevor, M. 2012. Sulphur Mining on Mexico’s Popocatépetl Volcano (1820-1920): Origins, Development, and Human- Environmental Challenges. Journal of Latin American Geography11(1): 79-98.

This paper traces the origins and development of a little-known extractive industry in nineteenth-century Mexico: volcanic sulphur mining. Unpublished documents from Mexican archives, nineteenth-century travel literature, reports from early scientific expeditions, and historical newspapers provide the bulk of data. Documents show how both Mexican and United States interests – indigenous sulphur miners (azufreros) and venture capitalists – confronted the challenges of mining sulphur from the crater of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano, at 5,426 meters (17,802 feet) elevation.

 The discovery, extraction, and monopolistic control of key natural resources was a priority of New Spain's colonial administration. Managing the region's abundant resources, however, often proved difficult for the Spanish Crown. Human and environmental challenges impeded protoindustrial growth and development, and monopolistic control of resources often met resistance. In this article I examine these processes in the context of New Spain's little-known monopoly on sulphur—a yellow, powdery mineral the Crown jealously guarded as its own.



Mishra, N. B., Crews, K. A., & Neuenschwander, A. L. (2012).Sensitivity of EVI-based harmonic regression to temporal resolution in the lower Okavango Delta. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 33(24), 7703–7726.

In this study, we examined how satellite time-series-based characterization of ecological cycles and trends is sensitive to the temporal depth and spacing of the time series and whether the observed sensitivities were cover and/or cycle specific. The results show that as the temporal depth decreases, the sensitivity to both short- and long-term ecological cycles was lost in the seasonally dynamic environment.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

[event] Food for Black Thought

Fri, September 28, 2012 • 11:00 AM - 9:30 PM • The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

Critical discussions of food and the food system are on the rise in academic research, public policy, and in popular media. Organized by the Department of Geography and the Environment Doctoral student Naya Jones, Food for Black Thought (FFBT) will explore how these issues involve, impact, and engage Black populations from transdisciplinary and community-based perspectives. FFBT will explore Black experiences with food and the food system, past and present, in Austin and beyond.

The 2-day community + action symposium will take place at the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (UT Austin) and at the George Washington Carver Cultural Center. Facilitators and presenters include youth and adults, from the University of Texas at Austin, the greater Austin community, and from across the United States.
Geographic highlights include keynote Dr. Kwate of Rutgers, who discusses urban space, access, and race in relationship to food. Roundtable speakers include UT faculty from Planning, Advertising, and American Studies (Dr. Englehardt). 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Doctoral Students receive AAG EDGE Career Grants

Congratulations to Marina Islas and Naya Jones for receiving the 2012 AAG EDGE Careers and Outreach Grant.  They will both use the NSF funded grant to promote geography outreach and build diversity in the field.

Marina’s funds will support the Undergraduate Diversity Liaisons Project (UDLP) which aims to: 1) broaden the participation of underrepresented groups within the Department and 2) to promote geography as a declared major for undergraduates. During the upcoming year, the diversity liaisons will promote geography at orientations, give geography-related presentations to fellow undergraduates, and further develop their knowledge about the discipline.

Naya’s grant will increase the educational component of her participatory food mapping research by enabling her to support a peer facilitator and expose the youth participants to the discipline and related career paths. Her undergraduate peer facilitator will share mapping/GIS knowledge with diverse juniors and seniors from East Austin as part of the project.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

AAG Annual Meeting 2013 - Call for Papers

Online registration for the AAG Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 9-13, 2013, is now open. All presenters and attendees are invited to register. Abstracts for papers and sessions are also being accepted. Abstracts are due by October 24. 

The AAG Annual Meeting is an interdisciplinary forum open to anyone with an interest in geography and related disciplines. All scholars, researchers, and students are welcome to submit abstracts for papers and presentations. 

Please take a moment to read the Call for Papers and Abstract Guidelines

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Julio Postigo was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award


Julio Postigo was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award for the study areas of Social Sciences, Business and Education. Julio began in the doctoral program in the Department of Geography & the Environment in 2007. Previously, he completed his M.A. degree in 2006 in Latin American Studies.

His dissertation is entitled “Responses of Plants, Pastoralists, and Governments to Social Environmental Changes in the Peruvian Southern Andes.” He found that the ecological and social systems in the Andes Mountains are responding not only to climate change, but also to simultaneous changes in social, economic, and political factors. The fieldwork involved vegetation sampling, household and community interviews, and analyses of governmental responses. His dissertation supervisor was Dr. Kenneth Young. The other committee members were Drs. Kelley Crews, William Doolittle, Gregory Knapp, and Camille Parmesan.

Julio continues to do research on global environmental change, as informed especially by social science and interdisciplinary approaches.The Outstanding Dissertation Award included a $3000 prize.

Abstract of his dissertation: Anthropogenic global changes are altering properties and functions of social and ecological systems at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In addition to climate change, the Peruvian Southern Andes has also experienced dramatic political and social change. This dissertation addresses the responses of plants, humans, communities and sub-national governments to the impacts of these changes. Methods from both the social and natural sciences were used at three levels: 1) on the forelands of the Quelccaya ice cap a chronosequence approach was used and 113 quadrats (1m2) sampled the vegetation covering an altitudinal range from 5113 to 4830 m.a.s.l.; 2) with the households of herders in the Quelcaya community surveys, interviews, participant observation, and archival research were employed; and 3) with the three Regional Governments (Arequipa, Cusco, and Puno) interviews with officials and stakeholders were conducted. The results show an upward displacement of the elevational limit of plants and a trend towards homogenization of vegetation. Warming climate, a shortened rainy season, and longer dry and cold spells are the most relevant impacts of climate change in the study area. Responses to these changes occur within households, supra-household units and communities, through dynamic institutions, traditional knowledge, and flexible polycentric social organization. These responses originate from path dependencies generated by human-environment interactions in the Peruvian Southern Andes. For instance, pastoralists increased livestock mobility within their pastures, created wetlands through irrigation, and introduced agriculture of bitter potatoes. The women agriculturalists modified the productive calendar to adjust agricultural tasks to changes in the rainfall regime; they replaced maize for wheat and fava bean, because these crops are more resistant to cold spells. Agro-pastoralists increase institutional water governance and demand infrastructure to improve efficient water use. Synergies between local and regional adaptive responses to climate change may be led by projects like building irrigation infrastructure and strengthening local resource governance, although there are also disjunctions that limit adaption. Local social ecological systems are adaptive and resilient to multi-scale social environmental disturbances by a malleable forging of former strategies to face change, innovation, polycentric social organization, and a dynamic institutional body that promptly response to change.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doctoral student receives residency at Center for Land Use Interpretation

Doctoral student Kathleen Shafer has received a residency at the Center for Land Use Interpretation's Wendover, Utah site. Wendover was a stop on the Western Pacific Railroad and later home to the Wendover Air Force Base which trained B-17 and B-24 bomber crews. Much of the air base remains intact. Shafer will spend one month in Wendover this October/November.

The Center operates a residence program to support the development of new interpretive methodologies and ideas. The program is open to artists, researchers, theorists, or anyone who works with land and land use issues in an innovative and engaging manner. Residents primarily work out of the CLUI facilities at Wendover, Utah, and explore and interpret the landscape of that unique and inspiring geographic region, which includes the Great Salt Lake and its desert and salt-flat environs. More information can be found at the CLUI website at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Graduate Students Receive Research Funds from the Latin American Studies Institute

Two graduate students in the Department of Geography and the Environment received Summer 2012 Research Grants from the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LILAS). Ph.D. student Josh Rudow received a grant for preliminary dissertation research in Peru. He will investigate how small- to medium-sized farmers are adapting to the effects of climate change, including unpredictable weather conditions and loss of glacier melt. Master’s student Katherine Lininger also received a grant to conduct research on floodplain processes on the Araguaia River in the Brazilian Cerrado.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Students receive NSF Awards

Two Texas Geography grads received the Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards from the National Science Foundation, securing two of the only twelve awards for Social Sciences in Geography. Only one other school received two of the NSF awards, ranking Texas among the top in the nation. One award winner, Katherine Lininger, is a first year Master's student studying who received her undergraduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will be working over the summer on river system hydrology in Brazil. Thomas Brandt, the second award winner, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas-Austin, and will be beginning the Master's program in the Fall. His research will focus on the dynamics of fire, land management, and climate change and their effects on plant biomass quantities in the Botswana Kalahari.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Departmental Awards Given to Graduate Students

The Department of Geography and the Environment announced the 2012 departmental awards, three of which are awarded to graduate students. Niti Mishra received the Achievement Award for excellence in research, publication, and institution building. Jon Gehrig received the Leadership Award for leadership in departmental activities, and Sharon Adams was given the Teaching Award for teaching excellence, based on student evaluations and faculty recommendations. Vince Clause, who will be a geography graduate student in the fall of 2012, received the Undergraduate Award, which is given to a major in the department who excels through a combination of academic excellence and leadership.

The recipients were chosen by the faculty, and the award winners will receive a monetary award. In addition, their names will be inscribed on the department plaque.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Grads Win Veselka Field Award

Five Texas grads have received the Robert E. Veselka Endowed Fellowship for field work. The field grant--which was awarded to Marina Islas, Christine Bonthius, Jonathan Lowell, Richard Knox, and Katherine Lininger--helps to defray the high travel costs associated with summer field work and is administered annually by the Department of Geography. Students will be representing the University in a variety of countries, from Mexico to the Brazilian Amazon. The award honors Robert E. Veselka, a 1993 Texas Geography PhD who passed away in 1994.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

AAG Specialty Groups Award Field Research Grants to Graduate Students

Ph.D. student Molly Polk was awarded the Chimborazo Student Research Grant from the Mountain Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). The award will help with the expenses for her fieldwork in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, where she is researching high Andean wetlands and glacial recession. Molly was the only recipient of the Chimborazo Grant in 2012.

Master's student Christine Bonthius received the Field Study Travel Award (Master's level) from the AAG Latin American Specialty Group, which is intended to support preliminary or reconnaissance fieldwork for research in Latin America. Christine will use the award to support her master's thesis research on the Madeira River in Brazil.

Graduate Students Win Awards from the Korean-American Association for Geospatial and Environmental Sciences

Edward Park, UT Geography master's student, won the Pixoneer Scholarship from the Korean-American Association for Geospatial and Environmental Sciences for his paper presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). The scholarship was established in 2008 by Pixoneer Geomatics, Inc. to provide financial assistance to graduate students in the research field of Geography, Geospatial Technologies and Environmental Sciences. Pixoneer Geomatics, Inc. is a GIS and remote sensing firm located at Daejon, South Korea, and the scholarship is awarded annually to students through the generous sponsorship of its CEO Jong Sik Yoon. Only two scholarships were awarded at the AAG annual meeting.

Joomi Lee, UT Geography Doctoral candidate, won the Sim AAG Student Travel Award for Geospatial Technology for her paper presentation at the annual meeting. The award was established in 2010 to support the work of students who implement GIS/RS/Geospatial techniques into his/her research.This scholarship is particularly designed to help meet the costs of travel to the annual meeting. Only two awards were provided in 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Graduate Student Jennifer Alexander Receives Peter Gould Student Paper Award

Jennifer Alexander, UT Geography graduate student, received the Masters level 2012 Peter Gould Student Paper Competition Award from the Health and Medical Specialty Group (HMSG) of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). Jennifer’s paper is titled “Analysis of models using deforestation and malaria case and incidence rates for prediction of malaria in the Amazon region of Brazil.” This competitive award is named in honor of Dr. Peter Gould, whose work has especially influenced health and medical geography. Jennifer will receive a monetary award and certificate from the HMSG. In addition, her accomplishment will be announced at the AAG award luncheon at the annual meeting in New York City. Congratulations Jennifer!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Graduates to Present at AAG

For some, the coming of spring is signalled by the arrival of the purple martin. Perhaps for others, it's the rapid approach of SXSW or spring break. However, for those of us in geography, nothing signals the change of season like the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). This year's meeting will be held in New York City from February 24th to the 28th, and for five days will be the home to some 7,000 geographers from around the globe.

This year the University of Texas will be proudly represented by some 22 graduate and 14 faculty presentations, on a diverse array of topics from GIScience and river morphology to migration and agricultural systems. Like many academic conferences, the annual AAG meeting is not only just a good excuse to cancel classes for a week, but is also an excellent venue to present our latest research findings, mingle with old friends, and search for potential career opportunities.

Below is a list of student and faculty that will be presenting this year (click on name to view abstract):

Monday, January 23, 2012

Graduate Students Present at Meeting of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers

Members of the UT Graduate Association of Geography Students presented at the 31st meeting of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers in Mérida, Mexico. The meeting was held over three days, January 11-13, at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán.

Geography graduate student Lindsey Carte co-organized and co-chaired a session on alternative and participatory methodologies in Latin America along with UT geography professor Rebecca Torres. In the session, Carte presented a paper titled, "Using Participatory Action Research to Understand Central American Women’s Relationships with the State on the Mexico-Guatemala Border." Carte also co-authored another paper with Dr. Torres on community participatory appraisal in migration research. Additional UT geography graduate students presenting in the session included Marina Islas, who gave a paper titled "On a Shoestring and a Hope: Conducting International Graduate Fieldwork," and Pamela Sertzen, who discussed her research with children in Brazil in her paper, "Taking Pictures of Space: Research with Children in a Brazilian Favela."

In a session on exchange and appropriation in migration, Vanessa Martinez presented a paper titled "Transnationalism Revisited: Exploring Migration and Cross-Border Linkages between Chichihualco, Guerrero and Small Town Nebraska." Josh Rudow discussed his research on agricultural trajectories of the Tarahumara in Chihuahua, Mexico in a session on Latin American landscapes. Matt LaFevor presented a paper titled "Estimating the Impact of Explosives on New Spain's Silver Bonanza: A Geographical Interpretation of Archival Data" in a session on historical geographies. UT geography professor Bill Doolittle also attended the meeting, and many UT geography alumni presented papers.