Geography Newsletter - Spring 2014.indd

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Mark Hurd
Mark Hurd

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Betty Jane Rhodes
Betty Jane Rhodes

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Greetings from Bolton Hall, where we
are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring!
Thanks to the long winter, many of us are
looking forward to this year’s Association of
American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting,
which will take place in sunny Tampa. The
department will be well represented at the
conference – ten faculty and eleven graduate
students will be participating – and we are
pleased that once again we can support the
travel of our students.
Despite (or maybe because of) the long winter, we have been keeping busy,
and we are proud to share our congratulations to several faculty and students.
Associate Professor Rina Ghose has been unanimously recommended to be
promoted to Full Professor by the Social Science Executive Committee. Also,
we’re very pleased to announce that one of our graduate students, Margaret
Pettygrove, has been awarded a UWM Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship
for the 2014-2015 academic year, continuing our long string of success for this
very competitive fellowship. In addition, we have just learned that Assistant
Professor Anne Bonds and her collaborators have received a prestigious and
highly competitive Transdisciplinary Challenge Grant from UWM’s Center for
21st Century Studies.
This semester we are honored to welcome two distinguished guest speakers
in our long-running and highly successful Harold and Florence Mayer Lecture
series. The first was Professor Audrey Kobayashi of Queen’s University, a
former president of the Association of American Geographers and one of
the discipline’s most prominent scholars of race and racism. At Professor
Kobayashi’s lecture, we were privileged to have with us our own Distinguished
Professor Emeritus Harold M. Rose, in whose honor the Association of
American Geographers recently created an award for Anti-Racism Research and
Practice. We are laying the groundwork for a new lecture series in honor of
Distinguished Professor Rose, and we look forward to sharing news about this
in upcoming newsletters.
We hope you enjoy this spring’s issue, which features more details on the
announcements above, as well as news from our faculty, current students, and
several of our recent alumni. We’d love to share even more stories from alumni
in future issues, and we encourage you to send us your news and photos –
you’ll find contact information to the right or submit them online at
Professor Changshan Wu
Spring 2014: Volume 10, Issue 2
Letter from the Chair
Department News
Alumni Updates
Faculty News
Grad Student News
Join us:
Friday, May 2, 2014
2:30 pm – AGS Library
Harold and Florence Mayer
Lecture: “PreEuropean Amazonian
Presented by Bill Woods, University
of Kansas, Department of
Friday, May 9, 2014
2:30 pm – AGS Library
Geography 600 Undergraduate
Research Symposium
Contact us:
Department of Geography
PO Box 413
Bolton Hall, Room 410
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413
(414) 229-4866
[email protected]
Chair: Changshan Wu
UWM Geography Welcomes Audrey Kobayashi and Harold M. Rose
by Anne Bonds, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography
For our first spring 2014 Harold and Florence Mayer Lecture, we
were honored not only to welcome distinguished geographer Audrey
Kobayashi, but also to have present in our audience UWM Geography
Professor Emeritus, Harold M. Rose. Dr. Rose’s foundational work on
racial discrimination and segregation challenged urban geographers
to consider the ghetto as produced through both spatial and social
processes. His scholarship established that examining segregation was
not just about mapping the distribution of racial groups across the
urban landscape, but also about understanding the social processes
and attitudes about race that produced those patterns. Far ahead of
what we, as a discipline, know today about the mass incarceration of
African Americans and the state abandonment that has further entrenched racial and class segregation in cities,
Professor Rose urged geographers to address the urgent social problems producing and reinforcing racialized
urban geographies of despair and violence. The legacy of his work is paramount, and we were honored to
announce the establishment of a new Harold M. Rose Lecture series that will emphasize topics of race and
urban social justice, as a means to pay tribute to Professor Rose’s legacy to UWM Geography, to the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and to the discipline of geography.
There are wonderful connections between Dr. Rose and our distinguished guest speaker, Audrey Kobayashi,
whose scholarship has, in so many ways, contributed to understandings about race, racism, and anti-racism
in geography. Professor Kobayashi joined us from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She has co-edited
important books on peace and armed conflict, immigrants in North American cities, as well as publishing
extensively within – and serving as editor and on the editorial boards of – the premier journals within human
geography. Professor Kobayashi’s work has not only generated new theoretical approaches to race, antiracist research, and pedagogy; it has also problematized the whiteness of the discipline and underscored the
fundamental difference that race makes within the geographic enterprise. As someone working in the areas of
critical geographies of race and feminist geography, I know I am just one of many, many scholars who can attest
to the influence of Professor Kobayashi’s work on my own research and activism within geography. It was a true
honor to have present with us two pioneering past-presidents of the AAG who have done so much to help us
understand and challenge racism within and beyond the discipline.
Julie Kebisek BA ’10, was accepted into the Environmental Public Health graduate school at
the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Brian F. Biernat, BA ’87, has been happily working as the Director of Economic Development,
Inspections and Zoning, for the City of Cudahy.
Doctoral student Margaret Pettygrove received a UWM Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
Department of Geography |
Tropical Fieldwork team (GEOG 654): Belize 2014
A Tropical Fieldwork team (GEOG 654) was in Belize from
February 15 through March 4, studying (eco)tourism in the karst
of the western Cayo District. Based again at the Lower Dover
Research Station in Unitedville, the team ( Jake Bachman, Ellen
Blaser, Mick Day, Courtney Gauert, Ed Glavin, Ashley Hoerz,
Kate Sorensen and Tyler Willey) built on prior research by Liana
Escott (MA, 2002) and the 2012 team in the former Cayo West
Special Development Area, the establishment of which was
prompted by the growth of the tourism business. The research
also built on the karst tourism work of Joe Rath (MA, 2000) and
particularly on the dissertation of Jeff Allender (PhD, 1992),
who provided important benchmark data during the early
establishment of the local tourism sector.
The team documented the current state of the local ecotourism
industry, based on San Ignacio/Santa Elena, visited principal
tourist locations and surveyed numerous operators and
participants. The information is currently being analyzed with a
report due by the end of the spring semester. As always, Belize’s
landscape and people provided a wonderful venue for the field
research, and the Lower Dover Research Station facilitated the
UWM geographers host research collaborators from University of Illinois
In December, faculty member Ryan Holifield and PhD student Katie Williams hosted researchers from the
University of Illinois (Bethany Cutts and Andrew Greenlee) who recently began a study of community
involvement in sediment removal projects from contaminated rivers. They were joined by representatives from
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, UW-Extension, and Milwaukee County Parks. Landscape architect Kevin Haley led
us on a rather chilly but highly informative tour of a recent restoration project at Milwaukee’s Lincoln Park.
Ryan and Katie are collaborating with Caitie McCoy of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant on research on stakeholder
involvement at Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Patrick Gaertner, BA ’84, is currently a principal consultant with the Lucidity Consulting Group, Dallas, but
lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida. He provides consulting and implementation services for utility companies
implementing Oracle WAM (Work and Asset Management) and Oracle MWM (Mobile Workforce Management)
After graduation, Pat worked briefly with Mark Hurd Aerial Surveys in Minneapolis, scribing digital terrain maps
for the Department of Defense. After about a year, he moved back to Milwaukee and began his career working
within the GIS industry and utility companies. For the next 13 years, Pat worked primarily as Consultant and
Project Manager implementing Intergraph FRAMME projects.
In 1998, Pat moved away from working with the primary mapping applications to work with OMS (Outage
Management Systems) and Mobile Workforce applications. With the advance in digital technologies, computerized
customer records and streamlining work applications for field crews, it was an easy move into implementing new
solutions for utility operations. Pat’s work has been dedicated to this field since the late 1990’s.
In 2008, Pat moved from Wisconsin to Florida to work with GE as an OMS/DMS Commercial Manager to work
with GE’s Smallworld PowerOn application and its move to Smart Grid technology. After two plus years with GE,
Pat left and has since gone back to working with Oracle products and applications.
When he isn’t on a plane traveling to customer locations, Pat enjoys personal traveling, promoting and supporting
local eco-tourism activities, surfing, and an occasional round of golf. His work has taken him to Nepal, Australia,
Brazil, Scotland, Costa Rica, Jamaica and various other countries. Over the next few years, he plans to increase
his activities in supporting eco-tourism activities locally and internationally in the Americas.
Jonathan Burkham, PhD ’12: I am pleased to say that I have made a fairly
seamless transition to an Assistant Professorship at UW-Whitewater. Props to the
professors, instructors, staff and grad students at UWM Geography for helping
me realize my skills as an educator, researcher, and, I would like to think, critical
thinker! I now have the pleasure of opening young minds to the world of
development geography, migration studies, and Milwaukee’s urban geography,
which is, surprisingly, unexplored territory for many. In addition to my standard
lecture classes I recently co-taught a class that included a two-week study
component in Oaxaca, Mexico. Oh, Mexico, my love for you never tires.
Speaking of Mexico and Milwaukee, I am continuing my transnational ethnography
into the economic and social ties between Milwaukee and a small village in Jalisco, Mexico. This summer, I will
be researching the so-called “skills gap” between employment opportunities and workers in local industry, with
a particular interest in the role Milwaukee’s burgeoning Latino and Mexican migrant population play in the city’s
highly-segmented labor market.
I also had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia last year to visit my (now) wife’s family. Our trip included a five
day hike in the Ethiopian highlands complete with overnight stays at local tukuls (thatched-roof, adobe huts)
where we danced and drank tej (honey wine) into the night. I hope to open up a new line of research on the
Ethiopian “developmental state” in the future. But, for now, my feet are firmly planted in Wisconsin.
Emily Grant, BA ’12: Upon graduation, I was presented with the opportunity to work
for RJN Group Inc as a GIS technician. Located west of Chicago, in Wheaton, Illinois, RJN
Group is a Civil Engineering Firm that specializes in collective systems. Working as a GIS
technician for a Civil Engineering company, I am able to use my Geography degree on a
day-to-day basis. One of my main tasks includes using GIS in order to organize field data and
develop maps for in-house engineers and clients. To further my knowledge, I often research
what other professionals are doing to enhance GIS and spatial components. Currently, RJN
is exploring numerous data collection softwares that allow for real-time data access all over
Department of Geography |
the country as well as immediate map updates. I am currently collecting data in order to compile a paper on
alternative data collection and to explore what GIS can do for mapping the collective system.
In my free time, I use GIS and the online spatial component, ArcGIS Online. Through ArcGIS Online, I am able
to create my own personal spatial network and am working on a map that tracks my past and future vacations.
Having the opportunity to teach individuals the importance of GIS has been an enriching experience in my
professional career thus far. I look forward to increasing my knowledge of GIS and gaining my GIS Professional
Certificate in the future.
Jason Tilidetzke, BA ’11: Soon after earning my Geography degree, I became a
graduate student at UWM in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP),
graduating in spring 2013 with a Master of Urban Planning degree. At the same time, I
accepted a SARUP project assistantship to report on the Menomonee Valley’s progress
since 2002 – the 2013 Menomonee Valley Benchmarking Initiative (MVBI). The focus of
the project was to review benchmarks of sustainability created for the Valley nearly 10
years ago. Despite a project delay (at which point I became a teaching assistant with
Professor Huxhold in SARUP), I was able to complete the report at the end of 2013.
Following my graduate studies, I worked for a local real estate development firm
as a market research analyst. Roughly one year later, I began my current job as a field engineer for a regional
utility contractor in the Chicago area. Despite an ambiguous job title, the position has many duties: construction
scheduling, data management/analysis, GIS, GPS, and problem solving. Our company assists the local energy
company with installment of polyethylene gas pipe in the City of Chicago.
I value my time spent in the Geography program because it allowed me to create my own career path and
harness my skills. I believe to create success, you need to contribute effort. And my time in the Geography
program helped me achieve my goals.
Jessica Helgesen, BA ’12: After graduation, I searched for positions related to
environmental geography, planning, and community engagement that incorporated the
opportunity to use my Spanish. My overall goal was to find a position that would help me
gain more experience before heading to graduate school or participating in the Peace Corps.
Shortly after graduation, I had the opportunity to work in Madison, WI for about 1.5
years at Dane County Parent Council, Inc. as a Bilingual Family Outreach Worker (FOW)
at the Preschool Enrichment Program (PEP) located at the East Madison Community
Center. I worked with many Spanish-speaking families, improving my Spanish skills, and
I learned how to better engage low-income and diverse communities. With a background
in Environmental Geography and Urban Studies, I decided to complete a Family Service
Credential to provide more effective social services to the Head Start Families. Working in Head Start as FOW had
its challenges and rewards, but I rarely delved into the environmental realm. I really wanted to use my degrees I
received at UWM and follow my dream to mend and/or create sustainable regions.
To take a step towards the latter dream, I applied to the Peace Corps. Starting mid-March 2014, I will travel to
Mexico to serve with the Peace Corps, participating in a project focusing on Environment and Natural Resource
Management as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) /Information Technology Specialist. After three months
of training, the Peace Corps officials will place each volunteer to a specific urban or rural location in central or
southern Mexico. I will establish relationships with the community and other important stakeholders and analyze
the GIS needs of the host agency and provide assistance with these said needs to help empower the community/
agency, among other tasks. In training, I will receive more specific guidance on the needs within the country in
regards to the project.
I am excited to partake in a new adventure with Peace Corps. Along with other opportunities, the Geography
Department specifically helped me prepare for international experiences via my undergraduate thesis, fieldwork,
and multiple international immersions.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Several UWM faculty members have presented their research in recent months, or will deliver lectures later in the
spring. These include:
• Anne Bonds at the Social Science History Association, Chicago
• Mick Day at the UK-Belize symposium at the School of the Americas, University College London
• Rina Ghose at DePaul University, Chicago, and the Open GIS Workshop before the annual Association of
American Geographers meeting
• Ryan Holifield at the University of California-Davis
• Linda McCarthy at the Asian Urbanization Conference in Varanassi, India
And as usual, faculty members and graduate students have been busy publishing their research – in far too many
outlets to list!
Three geography faculty members are now affiliated with the UWM Center for Economic Development as Faculty
Fellows: Anne Bonds, Ryan Holifield, and Linda McCarthy. You can see the full list of Fellows at:
Rina Ghose is engaged in a collaborative research project that uses historical data to study climate change in
the Great Lakes. She was also recently invited to be a member of the program committee of the International
Conference of Geographic Information Science in Vienna. She also serves on a faculty advisory committee for
community-based research.
In February, Linda McCarthy served as a Visiting Professor at the School of Geography, Planning and
Environmental Policy at University of Ireland, Dublin.
In November, Kristin Sziarto and Anna Mansson McGinty led a book discussion session in the series “Muslim
Journeys – American Stories” in the American Geographical Society Library.
Woonsup Choi delivered a colloquium lecture entitled “Urbanization and rainfall-runoff relationships in the
Milwaukee River basin” for the UW-Milwaukee Department of Geosciences.
Faculty members who have joined the editorial boards of geography journals recently include Anna Mansson
McGinty (Gender, Place, and Culture) and Ryan Holifield (Antipode). Woonsup Choi is the administrator for
the newly launched peer-reviewed open-access journal International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental
Research, hosted on the Digital Commons of the UWM Libraries (, and both Choi and
Zengwang Xu are on the editorial board.
Mark Schwartz received a Spring 2014 SURF (Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows) Award, which will
enable an undergraduate to conduct paid research assistance.
Betty Rhodes, MS ’00, served the department
for many years as instructor for a wide variety
of undergraduate classes. She retired from
UWM in December 2013, and we were pleased
to celebrate her outstanding, dedicated service at the
annual departmental holiday party at Solo Pizza on
Oakland Avenue. We wish her the very best for her
retirement. (pictured left to right: Betty Rhodes, Patti
Day, and Linda McCarthy)
Department of Geography |
Emile Joaquin Mayer Padilla was born on December 21, 2013 at 9:13 am. He was a
healthy 6 lbs. 2 oz. and 18 inches long. He is growing quickly and getting ready to move
to Colombia for fieldwork with his father, PhD student Nick Padilla.
What’s going on today? A look into current research interests of the graduate
students in the UWM Department of Geography.
Wenliang Li: PhD student
Research interests: Estimating large-scale urban impervious surfaces distribution (such
as Wisconsin) and the corresponding environmental effect (e.g. hydrological effect,
urban heat island, etc.); examining the driving forces of rapid urbanization, modeling and predicting urbanization
process and its impact on surrounding environment and ecosystem.
Stephen Appel: MS student
Research interests: GIScience and Remote Sensing and their applications in conservation of natural resources,
biogeography, and recently, phenology. I’ve also become increasingly interested in spatial data distribution, data
standards, and public domain data and associated issues of accessibility.
Rebecca Wolfe: PhD student
Research interests: Exploring the co-operative model as an alternative to capitalist enterprise. In particular, I am
interested in co-ops as an opportunity to contribute to ‘diverse economies’ and as an access point for citizenship/
participatory democracies, community control and asset building/ownership among women and low-income
communities of color. The questions that I hope to address revolve around uncovering the history of the cooperative movement within communities of color and the role of race in co-operative discourse and development
today. Through my research I also hope to gain an understanding of the potential co-ops may have for generating
long-term economic development, employment and community assets in communities of color.
Peter Armstrong: MA student
Research interests: Understanding how influential urban institutions such as universities can better endorse
bicycle commuting. I am interested in their potential relationship to influence better designed and more livable
cities, where the bicycle is commonplace. The bicycle can be a rather convenient means to getting around, and
to solving many of our modern societal issues, but it needs a safe infrastructure to optimize its use. Therefore,
designing safe streets for bicycles not only encourages people to ride, but makes for safer and healthier cities
for all. Through my research I hope to understand under what conditions will/do universities or cities decide to
advocate for the bicycle?
Haijian Liu: PhD student
Research Interests: I’m interested in detecting tree species based on discrete LiDAR points alone and the fusion
of LiDAR data and Hyperspectral data. By filtering the raw LiDAR data, a smoother image can be created. Then
the location of each tree can be determined based on crown’s characteristics and the general tree species can be
automatically identified. Hyperspectral data includes more spectral information comparing multiple spectral data
and LiDAR data. The fusion of LiDAR data and Hyperspectral data has benefits in identifying specific species. My
research focuses on classifying vegetation in urban area and identifying ash trees in Milwaukee. Ash trees account
for a large proportion of forests in Wisconsin, but they are at the risk of being attacked by invading beetles so
detecting ash trees is critical in developing forest protection plans.
Katie Williams: PhD student
Research interests: I study ecosystem approaches to environmental restoration in three “toxic hotspots” designated
as Great Lakes Areas of Concern: St. Louis River (Duluth, Minnesota/Superior, Wisconsin), St. Marys River (Sault
Ste. Marie, Michigan/Ontario, Canada), and Milwaukee Estuary. More specifically, I look at how stakeholders
and the public participate in the processes of remediating and restoring these degraded areas, as well as the
opportunities for creating community around natural resources.
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