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Melissa Haller ’16: Investigating How Closing a Nuclear Plant Impacts Small, Rural Communities

By Geography Department on April 4, 2017

Professor Yamamoto co-edits two volumes on the Fukushima Disaster

By Geography Department on January 25, 2017

Professor Yamamoto, along with Mitsuo Yamakawa, co-edited two volumes: Unravelling the Fukushima Disaster and Rebuilding Fukushima.

For Unravelling the Fukushima Disaster, the publisher notes: the Fukushima disaster continues to appear in national newspapers when there is another leakage of radiation-contaminated water, evacuation designations are changed, or major compensation issues arise and so remains far from over. However, after five years, attention and research towards the disaster seems to have waned despite the extent and significance of the disaster that remains.

The aftermath of Fukushima exposed a number of shortcomings in nuclear energy policy and disaster preparedness. This book gives an account of the municipal responses, citizen’s responses, and coping attempts, before, during, and after the Fukushima crisis. It focuses on the background of the Fukushima disaster, from the Tohoku earthquake to diffusion on radioactive material and risk miscommunication. It explores the processes and politics of radiation contamination, and the conditions and challenges that the disaster evacuees have faced, reflecting on the evacuation process, evacuation zoning, and hope in a post-Fukushima environment.

Rebuilding Fukushima gives an account of how citizens, local governments, and businesses responded to and coped with the crisis of Fukushima. It addresses principles to guide reconstruction and international policy environments in which the current disaster is situated. It explores how reconstruction is articulated and experienced at different spatial scales, ranging from individuals to communities and municipalities, and details recovery efforts, achievements, and challenges in the realms of public transportation, agriculture and food production, manufacturing industries, retail sectors, and renewable-energy industries. This book also critically investigates the nature of the current reconstruction policy schemes, and seeks to articulate what may be required in order to achieve more sustainable and equitable (re)development in afflicted regions and other nuclear host regions.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and local surveys, this volume is one of the first books in English that captures the knowledge and insights of native Japanese social scientists who dealt with the complexities of nuclear disaster on a day-to-day basis.

Professor Monk discusses after-the-fact efforts that attempt to make sense of the United States of America’s election

By Geography Department on November 22, 2016

Dara Seidl ’10 awarded International Prize for Master’s Thesis

By Geography Department on November 16, 2016

Dara Seidl ’10, was awarded the Prize for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis in Cartography, Geodesy and Geo-Information awarded by Pan-American Institute of Geography and History in 2015. This is the first time that the prize has been awarded. The selection was made by a jury of experts who evaluated 14 international submissions. Dara’s 2014 thesis is titled “Striking the Balance: Privacy and Spatial Pattern Preservation in Masked GPS.” (Details of the award here.)

Dara says, “My data source had a huge impact on my thesis experience. I applied for access to GPS data collected in household travel surveys that was later hosted and administrated by the National Renewable Energies Laboratory (NREL) in a secured data center. This allowed me to work with really high-resolution and high-frequency trajectory data (and lots of it!) that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. I definitely would recommend this as a data source. I was able to remotely log in to their data center and work with their GIS software (QGIS, PostGIS, ArcGIS, R). Of course, for privacy reasons, any results had to be aggregated and go through an approval process to be extracted from their network. The application process for working with these data was helpful in that it forced me to organize the details of my procedure far ahead of time. On the other hand, it was a lesson that not everything in research will go as planned, even if the plan seems solid. For instance, I had to reduce my sample size due to frequent timeouts in the server connection, and at one point, my data folder inexplicably disappeared from their server. These were good reminders for me to adapt to changes when writing the thesis and not to stress too much overall.”

A link to the published version is here.

Dara is still focused on geoprivacy in her doctoral research, and is now looking at human behavior related to location masking.

And, she adds, she’s still thinking fondly of Colgate!

Observing the potential impact of nuclear decommissioning on a community

By Geography Department on November 11, 2016

Lydia Ulrich ’16 continues independent study and collaborates with Bassett Research Institute

By Geography Department on November 11, 2016

2016 GTU Presentation by Brian Godfrey

By Geography Department on November 10, 2016


The 2016 GTU Keynote Lecture was given by Dr. Brian Godfrey, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Vassar College, on October 17, 2016.

“OLYMPIC CITY: Legacies of Athletic Mega-Events in Rio de Janeiro” is a theoretical review and critique of mega-events, along with an empirical analysis of the various socioeconomic, transportation, political, environmental and other impacts of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (and the 2014 World Cup). The talk will highlight the long-term issue of pollution in Rio’s Guanabara Bay, industrialization and informal urbanization (favelas), and sanitation infrastructures generally. It should complement courses on uneven development, urbanization, environmental hazards, Latin America as well as courses on human and nature-society geography more generally.

In addition to attending the banquet/induction ceremony, Dr. Godfrey attended some classes and met individually with faculty and students. He was very generous with his time.

The talk is available on youtube.

James C. McCann to present on Forest Stories and Landscape Realities, Ethiopia, 1668-2015

By Geography Department on October 15, 2016


James C. McCann, Professor of History, Associate Director for Development, African Studies Center, Boston University, visited Colgate October 13-14, 2016.

He gave a public presentation on Thursday, titled “Forest Stories and Landscape Realities, Ethiopia, 1668-2015.”

The next day, he participated in an ENST brownbag where he discussed his research and experience in East Africa. He also met with students and researchers from Colgate’s NSF grant on Church Sacred Forests.

A video of the public lecture is located on youtube.

Professors Hays-Mitchell and Graybill co-edit Cities of the World, 6th ed

By Geography Department on April 4, 2016


Along with Stanley D. Brunn, and Donald J. Zeigler, Professor Hays-Mitchell and Associate Professor Graybill co-edited the Sixth edition of Cities of the World: Regional Patterns and Urban Environments.

The publisher notes: ‘This edition focuses specifically on urban environmental issues, social and economic injustice, security and conflict, the history of urban settlement, urban models, and daily life. Building on 2015 as the Year of Water, the book introduces urban water concerns as a common undercurrent running through all chapters. The contributors explore how water affects cities and how cities affect water—from glacier loss to growing aridity, sea-level rise, increased flooding, potable water scarcity, and beyond. Vignettes of key cities give the reader a vivid understanding of daily life and the “spirit of place.” ‘


Professors Graybill and Loranty Awarded Picker Grants

By Geography Department on March 4, 2016

The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI) recently announced the 2015-2016 grant awards supporting interdisciplinary approaches in innovative research. The grants bring together Colgate faculty and other researchers with complementary expertise to open new areas of study and to tackle existing problems in creative new ways.

Professor Jessica Graybill (Geography and Russian & Eurasian Studies) and her collaborators Andrey Petrov (University of Northern Iowa) and Gleb Kraev (Moscow State University) have received a one-year award of $37,430 for their project “Tundra Tracks: Mapping Community and Carbon Mobilities in the Russian Arctic”. Vehicle tracks have a long term impact on the tundra in Arctic Russia. Unused tracks remain recognizable from satellite images ~40 years after creation. The tracks damage plant cover, compact and disengage soil layers and change energy and matter fluxes. Their impact on large scale climate is unknown. They are also intertwined with human activity and community in these regions. This project will explore how carbon fluxes vary on or near tracks, how the tracks vary in density and distribution and how their presence interacts with nearby human communities.

Professor Michael Loranty and Heather Kropp (Geography) and their collaborators Nick Rutter (Northumbria University, UK) and Chris Fletcher (University of Waterloo, CA) have received a two-year award of $136,545 for their project “Impacts of boreal climate feedbacks on climate change”. Boreal forests represent approximately one-fifth of the Northern Hemisphere land surface and strongly influence global climate. Declines in the duration and extent of seasonal snow cover across the boreal region increases the absorption of solar radiation, which amplifies climate warming. The strength of this positive feedback varies widely between climate models because it is difficult to represent complex snow-forest-climate interactions. This project will confront climate model representations with field measurements and satellite observations of boreal forest-snow energy dynamics. The researchers aim to improve the understanding and climate model representation of interactions between boreal forest structure, snow cover, and climate dynamics.