As indicated in my letter of October 15, the big news is that the Atmospheric Science Program is returning to Geography after nearly 20 years in Physics & Astronomy. Faculty joining us include David Braaten (climate change and remote sensing) and Donna Tucker (mesoscale precipitation and mountain meteorology), and we are in the middle of a search for a third faculty member in atmospheric science. Also joining us will be Curtis Hall, a lecturer, who handles a substantial portion of the teaching duties in atmospheric science. We will be offering a BS in atmospheric science, and in the future hope to offer an MS.
In addition to programmatic changes, the atmospheric science move is also transforming the look of Lindley Hall. The 404 complex (where Will Kuchler, and more recently Bob Nunley were housed) has been completely remodeled - gone is the closet and the loft where it looks like Bob Nunley may have caught a few winks. Tucker's office will be located in 404B, with 404A used for atmospheric science research and for geography graduate students focusing on research. Similarly, we are getting ready to remodel Bob McColl's 413 complex for Braaten - the plan is to create one large office from two rooms. Since we also need space for a Weather Lab, we have convinced the university Space Committee to give us room 405 (this was a long linear classroom that wasn't satisfactory for teaching anyway); now Garth Myers will have up-to-date weather available when deciding whether he should ride his bicycle.
Some of our graduate students are also getting new digs, as we have been given the room 500 complex (the old astronomer's penthouse on the fifth floor). We don't expect any parties on the roof, but with new air conditioning and other amenities, we think this will be quite satisfactory space. Another modification is that we are combining rooms 224 and 226 (some of you may recall that 226 was the old NASA computer lab) to create a larger computer lab - this is essential as we are finding that more and more of our courses require computer laboratory space. Our increase in computer usage (and the move of atmospheric science) has also led us to add another half-time computer technician, Ben Kane, to assist Mel Kroeger - now when we need help, we can search for two computer technicians rather than one.
Other changes in our faculty this past year include hiring Xingong Li (environmental modeling and GIScience) and Jerry Dobson (GIScience). Jerry is an internationally known geographer who is President of the American Geographical Society and whose work with the LandScan population database was highlighted in the fall 2003 issue of KU Endowment's Catalyst. Jerry previously was affiliated with the Kansas Biological Survey, but now is officially in our department. Additionally, we have been given permission to search for an Environmental Geographer with expertise in Russia and Central Asia (to be shared with Environmental Studies), a position that will assist ultimately in replacing Leslie Dienes. By next year, we will have 20 faculty! Our increase in faculty also has caused the university to offer us room 117 on the first floor of Lindley (part of the Paleontological Institute), an offer that we gladly have accepted.
Our faculty continue to be successful in the publication/grants and teaching arenas and to garner awards. The following are just some of the recent successes:
- David Braaten (along with Professor Gogineni of EECS) is in the running for an NSF Science & Technology Center focused on ice sheets and sea level rise (they were among 23% selected from 160 pre-proposals).
- Chris Brown was nominated for the H.O.P.E. award (he is only the second from the department ever nominated for this prestigious teaching award).
- Steve Egbert received a second year of funding from the USGS AmericaView program to build satellite image databases and promote remote sensing in Kansas.
- Johan Feddema received a three-year National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) grant to work on the development of land cover change datasets for use in GCMs.
- Peter Herlihy has co-edited a special edition of Human Organization on Participatory Mapping of Indigenous Lands in Latin America (the edition includes two papers by Peter).
- Bill Johnson was nominated and elected to be a Fellow in the Geological Society of America.
- Rolfe Mandel, one of our Courtesy Associate Professors, has received the George "Rip" Rapp Archaeological Geology Award for his outstanding contributions to archeological geology, and has been elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
- Garth Myers received the Provost's International Leadership Award.
- Kevin Price was the invited Keynote Speaker at the Grassland Societies of Victoria and New South Wales Joint Conference in Albury, Australia, this past June.
- Barbara Shortridge was the recipient of an Anne U. White Fund Award (funded by the AAG) for her proposal on "Local Foodways Knowledge in the Cutover Lands of the Upper Midwest."
- Pete Shortridge is wrapping up a book entitled Cities on the Plains: The Evolution of Urban Kansas.
Our graduate students also have had a number of recent successes:
- At the 2003 AAG regional meeting at Kansas State University, RJ Rowley and Matt Ramspott won first place in the student paper competition, and Angela Gray won second place; and our department's team placed second in the Geography Bowl.
- Roberto Castillo received a University of Costa Rica-KU Exchange Grant; Roberto is now an Assistant Professor at the Univeristy of Costa Rica.
- David Cochran was a Doktorand Fellow in Basel, Switzerland; he is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.
- Matt Dunbar has made three international trips: one to present a paper on "Visualization for the Analysis of Forest
Cover Change" at an ISPRS workshop in Stuttgart, Germany, and two to assist Jerry Dobson in creating his LandScan population base (trips to the Balkans region and East Asia).
- Matt Koeppe received a major grant from the National Security Education Program to complete his dissertation work on the growth of mechanized soybean production in the Brazilian Amazon.
- Monika Moskal received several grants and awards, including an AAG Dissertation Research Grant, a Grant-in-Aid from Sigma XI (National Research Society), and the International Geographic Information Foundation Best Student Research Proposal Award.
- Sun Park, who received a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and was one of our 2003 graduates, had a paper accepted in Remote Sensing of Environment; Sun is currently a Post-Doctoral researcher as KARS.
- Ratna Radhakrishna recently returned from field research in Honduras, where she was funded by Fulbright and Tinker Foundation grants.
- Matt Ramspott took second place in the Student Honors Paper Competition at the annual AAG meeting in New Orleans in March, 2003.
- Brian Wardlow received a second year of funding on his NASA Earth System Science Fellowship "The Development of a Near Real-Time Mapping and Monitoring Protocol for the U.S. Great Plains Agro-Ecosystem UsingTime-Series MODIS 250-Meter Data."
If you plan on attending the national Association of American Geographers' meeting in Philadelphia, I invite you to attend the KU Department of Geography's AAG party. This year we will meet in Room 301 of the Philadelphia Marriott on Monday, March 15 from 8:00-11:00 PM. A cash bar will be available. As a student from 1976-1980 and a faculty member from 1981 to the present, I have many fond memories of our Department, and so look forward to seeing you. If you are unable to make it his year, hopefully I will see you at a subsequent AAG meeting.
If you would like to see more about what is going on, I encourage you to read further and to take a look at our new Web page, which we hope to have available by the time you receive this newsletter (our Web site is http://www.geog.ku.edu/). When you've had a chance to look at the new page, please feel free to provide feedback. I do hope that you will consider paying us a visit if you should be traveling through Lawrence. Although we may seem busy, it is always a delight to see familiar faces.
Terry Slocum (firstname.lastname@example.org)