Spring 2020 AGSG Newsletter

We hope this newsletter finds you and yours doing well. The spring has been challenging in so many ways as we face the impacts of COVID-19 and the difficulties it’s introduced to our daily lives. Hopefully this newsletter will bring you some of the information that would have been shared in Denver, along with much more!

Recent Activities & Items of Interest

AGSG Business Meeting

The annual AGSG business meeting didn’t take place due to the virtualization of the AAG Annual Meeting, so the AGSG Board held a special board meeting to discuss recent activities, gather status updates, and identify priorities for the year ahead. Some actions that will be explored in 2020, include to:

  1. Increase awareness of AGSG to bolster membership
  2. Foster networking among AGSG members
  3. Grow the AGSG social media presence
  4. Implement a quarterly board meeting schedule
  5. Participate in the Applied Geography Conference 
  6. Expand outreach for awards
  7. Explore alternative means of raising funds

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please reach out and share them with us!


With millions of cases reported around the globe, the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic is impacting us all. Geographers are playing a key role in the tracking and communication of its spread. Interested in learning more about mapping efforts? Visit the Johns Hopkins University and Esri COVID-19 Dashboard and Esri’s coronavirus story map.

The Applied Geography Journal recently shared a call for papers for a special issue on “Global Pandemics,” which is looking for submissions encompassing a broad range of topics that have a geographic approach to better understand and/or (re)solve outcomes of local-to-global pandemics.

AAG Annual Meeting

We missed seeing everyone in-person at the Annual Meeting, however the AGSG participated in two virtual panel sessions: Urban Geographers Respond to COVID-19 and Internships and Work-Based Learning.

National Park Week

Each year in April, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation celebrate America’s National Park Week. This year due to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s gone virtual! Check out NPS’s checklist of 20 virtual ideas for celebrating National Park Week.

Earth Day

Earth Day was a little different this year being celebrated at home and virtually. However, with everyone staying at home, the globe is seeing the lowest levels of air pollution in years. Visit the EarthDayAtHome with NASA site to get NASA’s 2020 Earth Day poster and wallpapers.


2020 AGSG Awards

This year, the AGSG put out calls for travel awards, research awards, and the annual call for submission for the Anderson Medal.

The Anderson Medal will not be awarded in 2020, however, Dr. DeMers, Anderson Medal Competition Chair suggests you begin your application materials if you wish to nominate someone for the 2021 competition. Visit the Anderson Medal webpage for more information and eligibility requirements for the Anderson Medal.

We are happy to announce that the AGSG is awarding eight applied geographers with research awards. Due to the AAG Annual Meeting being cancelled in-person, all travel awards were transitioned to research awards. Congratulations go to:

  • Emily Barrett, University of Kentucky
  • Abby Boylan, New Mexico State University
  • Junghwan Kim, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Wataru Morioka, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Paula Perilla-Castillo, University of Tennessee
  • Alana Rader, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Jack Swab, University of Kentucky
  • Fikriyah Winata, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Check out what your fellow applied geographers are working on below and join us in congratulating the awardees! We hope that you will submit for an AGSG award in the future!

Emily Barrett, University of Kentucky

Examining uneven power relations in community-engaged GIS

As local governments increasingly turn to digital technologies and data-driven solutions to help address some of their most acute challenges, from entrenched poverty to affordable housing, they often call on community-engaged researchers as collaborators, analysts and experts. Whilst these partnerships are celebrated under the emancipatory potential of data, or "doing good" with data, it is crucial that community-engaged researchers understand how digital technologies and their associated data practices contribute to and are critically deployed within unequal relations of power. In this paper, I explore one effort to critically apply geospatial technologies to intervene in discussions of gentrification and affordable housing in Lexington, KY. I examine the ways in which the positionalities of community-engaged researchers are entangled into the power dynamics of the community, challenging conceptualizations of the role of the academic researcher and the ability to leverage GIS for social justice. Ultimately, I argue that geospatial technologies and their data outputs are saturated with the politics and power dynamics from which they are embedded and mobilized within. Better understanding how to navigate these power relations in community-engaged research is vital if community members are to take full advantage of the increasing capacities that geospatial technologies offer.


Abby Boylan, New Mexico State University

Walking Interviews and Community Geopoetics in Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

The Literary Inventory of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (OMDP) National Monument includes more than 50 contributors who have written poetry or prose addressing species who live in OMDP, a new national monument established in 2014 in southern New Mexico. As a community/public geohumanities endeavor, this project has resulted in multiple public events and an issue of the journal Spiral Orb that features the inventory. The creative work produced can provide insight into the unique relationships between the community and this new national monument: What do the geopoetic/prose pieces reveal about contributors’ relationships with the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and its inhabitants, and how does a project such as the literary inventory affect perceptions of a region? To address these questions, ‘walking interviews’ (semi-structured interviews conducted in the field on the trails of OMDP) will be used to explore contributors’ engagement with this community geohumanities project. Results will be presented in the form of an ArcGIS story map incorporating these walking interviews.


Junghwan Kim, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

How Neighborhood Effect Averaging May Affect Assessment of Individual Exposures to Air Pollution: A Study of Individual Ozone Exposures in Los Angeles

The neighborhood effect averaging problem (NEAP) can be a serious methodological problem that leads to erroneous assessments when studying mobility-dependent exposures (e.g., air/noise pollution) because people’s daily mobility may amplify or attenuate the exposures they experienced in their residential neighborhoods. Specifically, the NEAP suggests that individuals’ mobility-based exposures tend towards the mean level of the participants or population of a study area when compared to their residence-based exposures. This research provides an in-depth examination of the NEAP and how the NEAP is associated with people’s daily mobility through an assessment of individual exposures to ground-level ozone using the activity-travel diary data of 2,737 individuals collected in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The results obtained with exploratory analysis (e.g., a scatter plot and histograms) and spatial regression models indicate that the NEAP exists when assessing individual exposures to ozone in the study area. Further, high-income, employed, younger, and male participants (when compared to low-income, non-working, older, and female participants) are associated with higher levels of neighborhood effect averaging because of their higher levels of daily mobility. Lastly, 3D interactive geo-visualizations of the space-time paths and hourly ozone exposures of 71 selected participants who live in the same neighborhood corroborate the findings obtained from the spatial regression analysis.

kim illustration

Wataru Morioka, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dual Cross K Function on Networks: An Alternative Method for Discovering Spatial Colocation Patterns

Capturing spatial colocation patterns (i.e., subsets of two geographically close point events) is one of the primary interests in spatial analysis. In the business field, for instance, colocation helps to increase sales. To reveal the spatial clustering of different types of point events, we present a new statistical measure named Network Dual Cross K Function. This method is based on Ripley's K function and has distinctive advantages. First, it enables us to identify the detailed locational relationships between two categories of facilities which include mutual or one-sided colocation. In this paper, mutual colocation situations in which the two types of facilities in questions depend on each other; one-sided colocation represents situations in which Group A facilities rely upon Group B facilities but Group B facilities do not need to be located close to Group A facilities. Second, this method assumes a network constrained space and calculates the distance with the shortest path. This approach provides us with more reliable results than the traditional approach that assumes a Euclidian plane, especially in the case of micro-scale analysis (e.g., store locations in a downtown area). The methods used in previous studies do not consider these advantages simultaneously. The usefulness of our method is illustrated by applying it to the locational distribution of stores in one of the main hubs of Tokyo. Using this method gives us a better understanding of their locational strategy. It can also be used to analyze other cases in which two types of point events occur on networks. This study was supported by Joint Research Program No.943 at CSIS, UTokyo and NTT TownPage Corporation.

Paula Perilla-Castillo, University of Tennessee

Floodplain profiles as repositories of paleoflood information: Chickamauga Reservoir, Tennessee River, USA

Floodplains are important and useful repositories of information for paleoflood studies. We studied five cutbank soil profiles in the floodplains of the Tennessee River. The profiles vary from 1.1 to 2.5 m high and have recorded between 3 and 9 paleoflood deposits separated by paleosols. The paleosols represent periods of stability or minimal flooding that allowed the soils to develop. We characterized the sediments using multiple analyses, including particle size (PS), portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF), magnetic susceptibility (MS), loss-on-ignition (LOI), and radiocarbon dating. PS results show paleoflood layers have larger proportions of sand size sediments, corresponding to quartz, feldspar and plagioclase. Paleosols show predominance of silt sized sediments and clays, the latter probably a product of plagioclase weathering. MS, LOI, and pXRF support the PS results, as the paleoflood sediments show lower MS than the paleosols, due to a predominance of ferromagnesian minerals in the finer grain sizes. LOI shows higher loss of mass in paleosols after igniting at 1000 degrees Celsius, probably due to the loss of lattice OH water in clays present in soils. pXRF shows a higher Zr/Rb ratio in paleoflood deposits compared to paleosols. An increased Zr/Rb is associated with larger grain sizes. The profiles have characteristics that respond to the specific landform they occur and the behavior of the river and tributaries nearby. However, they show similar distinctive paleoflood layers that correlate for major floods between profiles, allowing for a reconstruction of the flood history of the Tennessee River before the time of human observation.

Alana Rader, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Re-Imagining forest disturbance: The socio-ecological relationship between land use and regeneration in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, Mexico

For over 10 years, the tropical forests of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, Mexico, have been recovering from Category 5 Hurricane Dean’s 2007 landfall. Despite resulting damage, a variety of forest uses continue to be common in the corridor, with almost 80% of forested land home to forest commons communities. Within the context of forest damage and simultaneous processes of forest recovery and use following Hurricane Dean, the corridor provides the opportunity to understand the relationship between land use and ecosystem processes that together drive regeneration of tropical forests. Through ongoing mixed-methods research based in land change science and critical physical geography, I experiment with moving beyond forest degradation narratives to highlight the socio-ecological process of forest regeneration following Hurricane Dean. I will first perform time-series remote sensing analysis to understand how forest regeneration has changed throughout the MBC in the ten years following Hurricane Dean. Next, using statistical analysis of in-situ data, I will analyze how ecosystem processes of biomass recovery and species recruitment are impacted by forest regeneration in 23 individual forest plots established by the Rutgers Land Change Science Research Group. Results will be presented, discussed, and (re)analyzed with communities in the corridor where forest land uses of swidden agriculture, forestry, and cash crop cultivation are dominant. Re-imagining geospatial and ecological patterns related to tropical forests with communities not only advances understanding of forest regeneration in the corridor, but challenges degradation narratives through methodological experimentation that foregrounds interactions between diverse knowledges, materiality of forest, and perceived forest change.


Jack Swab, University of Kentucky 

Inventing the Art & Science of Site Selection: William Applebaum and Mid-Century Geography

This presentation centers around a little-remembered geographer by the name of William Applebaum, his connections to mid-century academic geography, and the art and science of commercial site selection. A prominent geographer in his day, Applebaum pioneered site selection in the food industry in the 1930s. Though never earning a graduate degree and not trained as a cartographer, Applebaum’s work relied heavily on cartography, statistical analysis, and urban geography fieldwork to make his conclusions. His methods, highly coveted by commercial entities, were utilized during the Second World War when Applebaum served as the second-in-command to the Geography Division of the Office of Strategic Service. In the post-war era, Applebaum returned to private industry but soon found himself producing academic scholarship. As geography at Harvard disappeared, Applebaum joined the staff of the Harvard Business School to teach on a variety of topics related to marketing. In conjunction with Saul Cohen in the 1950s, Applebaum worked to bring marketing geography from an art into a science, foreshadowing larger turn in quantification and computing within geography. However, he found little success in geography and turned towards marketing from the mid-1960s until his death in 1978. Through archival research, trade journals, and academic papers; this paper examines Applebaum’s life history in a disciplinary context, drawing conclusions on both his importance to the discipline and to applied, business, and economic geographies.


Fikriyah Winata, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Spatial and Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Availability of Community Health Centers (CHCs) in the Jakarta Region, Indonesia

After more than two decades of postcolonialism, Indonesia, through its Ministry of Health established community health centers (CHCs) throughout the country. The main objective of this initiative was to provide basic healthcare services for the poor as they only need to show their national identification and pay a small (less than USD 0.5 in 2017) registration fee to access CHCs. CHCs were located at the subdistrict and village levels to facilitate access and reduce people’s travel burdens. However, there is a wide variation in healthcare expenditures across districts and cities in Indonesia. CHCs’ funding is derived from the district, provincial, and central government’s budgets with each contributing differently. In more urbanized cities like Jakarta—where socioeconomic inequality is huge—CHCs are mainly accessed by the low-income population. However, the number of healthcare facilities, services, and healthcare workers often does not vary based on population demand or need. In areas with a high low-income population, this becomes problematic because supply and demand are inequal. Therefore, this study aims to examine spatial and socioeconomic inequalities in the availability of CHCs in the Jakarta region.


Fun Stuff & Good Reads/Listens

  • Esri & The Science of Where Podcasts: https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/podcast/
  • AAG’s Geographer Profiles provide an opportunity to learn more about geography as a field of study and about geography careers from profiles of geographers working in education, business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Read about why they chose to pursue geography and how a career can be exciting, meaningful, and successful!

Upcoming Opportunities & Events

Interested in Publishing? 

While we are all stuck at home, why not work on a manuscript or two for publication? Here’s a few publication venues to consider:

Upcoming Virtual Conferences

Internships & Training Opportunities

  • NASA DEVELOP: Are you interested in helping address environmental issues from space? Check out the NASA DEVELOP National Program! Operating out of 11 locations across the United States, we bring together teams of students, recent graduates, and early career professionals to work on 10-week rapid feasibility studies. These projects work directly with a partner organization whose decision-making processes can benefit from the use of NASA Earth observing satellite data. As a participant, you will gain experience using remote sensing and GIS techniques, improve technical writing, enhance your knowledge of project management, and work on a multidisciplinary team. The application window opens on May 18th and closes June 26th. The fall term will run from September 14th to November 20th, 2020. For more information on our locations and eligibility, please visit our website: https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/ or e-mail us at NASA-DL-DEVELOP@mail.nasa.gov. Don’t miss out on your chance to DEVELOP your career!
  • Free Esri Cartography Course: Make an impact with maps! Cartography., Esri’s no-cost, massive open online course (MOOC), is for anyone who wants to explore fundamental principles of mapmaking in a fun, interactive learning environment. Over six weeks (April 22–June 3, 2020), hear from top Esri cartographers and pick up expert tips and tricks to craft impactful, effective maps in ArcGIS Pro, Esri's modern desktop GIS software. Join the course and try the latest ArcGIS Pro mapping and data visualization capabilities for yourself. The course includes hands-on exercises, videos, quizzes, and discussion, access to ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online software, and culminates in a certificate of completion. To register and for more details, visit: https://www.esri.com/training/catalog/596e584bb826875993ba4ebf/cartography./  
  • NASA ARSET Webinars & Self-Paced Trainings: Interested in learning about remote sensing? Visit https://arset.gsfc.nasa.gov/webinars to find free trainings open to the public.