UCSB Geography Newsletter: April 2020

Greetings folks,

Hope you’ve all been staying safe and taking care of yourselves during this unprecedented time. Enjoy this newsletter, which contains some information on how a few of our current faculty members have been navigating through the pandemic.

Faculty News

Rick Church and Alan Murray have been awarded the 2019 William Alonso Memorial Prize for Innovative Work in Regional Science from the North American Regional Science Council. This is in recognition of their recent book: Location Covering Models: History, Applications, and Advancements (Berlin: Springer). The objective of the prize is to recognize research contributions made in the spirit of Dr. William Alonso, who is often credited with launching the field of urban economics and made numerous major contributions to the study of migration, regional development, and the politics of numbers. You can read more about the award here:
>> http://www.narsc.org/newsite/awards-prizes/narsc-awards-prizes/ <<

Krzysztof Janowicz, co-director of the Center for Spatial Studies, is leading the CSS team in working on a knowledge graph related to COVID-19. They initially focused on disruptions in transportation and supply chains and are now trying to join forces with two other knowledge graph teams from UCSD (working on virus strains) and UCSF (working on the sequencing of the virus). All teams have an Open Knowledge Networks award as part of NSF’s new Convergence Accelerator Initiative. You can read more about the NSF Convergence Accelerator here:
>> https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/convergence-accelerator/ <<

Susie Cassells is teaching a new course, Geography 6: Sex, Drugs, and Geography! The course is an examination of the interrelationships between people, place, and the environment as they apply to contemporary public health challenges in our society. Using three case studies (COVID-19, HIV, and the opioid epidemic) to examine health through the lens of geography, students will learn about the global spread of COVID-19, emerging diseases, and simulate their own epidemic models. They will also examine how different people in different places and of different socioeconomic status are experiencing this pandemic.

Dave Siegel was recently featured in two articles discussing the disruptive and damaging effects on scientific field work due to the pandemic. Due to the virus, travel by air, land, and sea has halted, consequently upending numerous scientific field expeditions. Dave, who is the science lead in EXPORTS (EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing), notes that the disruption will massively impact students and early career researchers, hindering them from obtaining the data they need for their dissertation or gaining the kind of experience that would help them get faculty jobs. You can read these articles at the following links:
>> https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8843ap/scientists-are-stuck-on-an-ice-locked-ship-in-the-arctic-due-to-coronavirus <<
>> https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/03/27/coronavirus-is-wreaking-havoc-scientific-field-work/ <<

Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease specialist and affiliated assistant adjunct professor with the UCSB Geography Department, gave a virtual presentation to examine current medical news on COVID-19 and to analyze the information from a doctor’s perspective. You can watch the presentation at the following link:
>> https://www.cottagehealth.org/covid-19-video/ <<

Departmental News

The Climate Hazards Center submitted an article to IOPScience’s Environmental Research Letters titled, “Using out-of-sample yield forecast experiments to evaluate which earth observation products best indicate end of season maize yields,” which was recently published. The paper discusses several experiments which were conducted in order to determine which Earth Observation (EO) products, including precipitation, evaporative demand, soil moisture, simple crop model-based water requirement satisfaction index (WRSI), and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), provides the best indicator for crop yields. Ultimately, the study seeks to “support decisions for planning early and well-targeted crisis prevention” for issues regarding famine and food insecurity in particularly vulnerable areas of the world. You can read the publication here:
>> https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab5ccd/meta#erlab5ccdapp1 <<

That’s all for now! Please do continue submitting items to be featured in future newsletters. Wishing you all the best of luck and care!