2017 AAG Annual Meeting SSI Highlights

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Faculty, leadership, students, and alumni present in Boston

Representatives of the USC Spatial Sciences Institute organized, moderated, and presented at sessions which spanned the five days of the 2017 annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Boston, Massachusetts.

From April 5 – 9, 2017, 19 SSI faculty, leadership, students, and alumni were among the nearly 10,000 geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience.

Three SSI undergraduates got the experience of presenting at a major conference. Diana Kim and Nida Soe, who are both seniors in the SSI’s B.S. in GeoDesign program, authored and presented their research on “Sun Exposure Reduction Recommendations for Elementary School Playgrounds in Los Angeles: A Service Learning Project for Undergraduates” on behalf of their research team comprised of co-authors Myles Cockburn, Kim Miller, Marlene Caldera, Loraine Escobedo, Jennifer Swift, and Darren Ruddell. David Roachford, a Spatial Studies minor, authored “Gentrification and Displacement in Los Angeles’ Rail Transit Neighborhoods.”

“This AAG meeting represented the first time we had Spatial Sciences Institute undergraduate students presenting their research,” said Susan Kamei, SSI managing director. “We are very proud of them for taking their place as scholars on an international stage with leading professionals and academics.”

Also representing SSI on the AAG program were Lara Hughes-Allen and Katherine A. Wright, who recently graduated from the SSI M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology Program. Both Hughes-Allen and Wright presented papers based upon their respective masters thesis research. Hughes-Allen presented on “Monitoring Mountain Glacier Changes in Relation to Climate Change” and Wright presented on “From research to results: Web GIS as a platform for research collaboration to affect real-world change.”

M.S. GIST alumna Trang VoPham presented on “Disparities of colorectal and breast cancer survival.” VoPham earned her doctorate in epidemiology and uses spatial methods to study environmental determinants of health and currently is a Research Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

SSI faculty and staff speaking at the conference were:

Noli Brazil, Postdoctoral Research Associate: Organizer and Discussant, “Migration and Children”

Susan Kamei, Managing Director: Author, “Good thinking and good writing: Ensuring both in master’s theses and capstones”

Karen Kemp, Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences: Author, “Supporting thesis students across the finish line” and Panelist, “Learning and Applying Tools in Geography: Important Concepts in GIS.”

Travis Longcore, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Spatial Sciences, and Biological Sciences: Organizer, Chair, and Author, “Environmental Niche Modeling Generates Hypotheses of Potential/Historical Natural vegetation: A California Channel Islands Case Study” and Panelist, “Geodesign Education Part 1: A Panel Discussion on Challenges, Opportunities, and Program Ambitions”

Katsuhiko Oda, Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences: Discussant, “Working Abroad: International Job Opportunities for Geographers”; Organizer, Chair, and Panelist, “Best Practices for Teaching in a Web-based Learning Environment”; and Author, “Differences in Student Perception of Online and Blended Learning”

Darren Ruddell, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences: Organizer and Chair, “Geodesign Education Part 1: A Panel Discussion on Challenges, Opportunities, and Program Ambitions” and “Geodesign Education Part 2: Reactions and Recommendations”

Elisabeth Sedano, Lecturer of Spatial Sciences: Organizer, Chair, and Author, “Aesthetics and the Neoliberal Eye: Outdoor Advertising, Street Art, and informal Regulation in Sao Paulo”

Jennifer N. Swift, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences: Organizer and Chair, “CyberGIS Curriculum Development in Higher Education”

Robert Vos, Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Spatial Sciences: Organizer and Chair, “Capstone Projects for Masters Programs in Geographic Information Science and Technology” and Author, “Enabling Thesis Success Through a Thesis Proposal Course”

Kendrick Watson, Academic Programs Director: Author, “Laying the Foundation: Academic and Administrative Steps to Ensure a Successful Thesis Experience”

John P. Wilson, Founding Director and Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences: Panelist, “Meet the Editors – GIScience Journals” and Organizer, “The Waldo Tobler Distinguished Lecture in GIScience and Transactions in GIS Plenary”

 An-Min Wu, Lecturer of Spatial Sciences: Author, “Identifying terrain attribute effects on soil organize carbon stock in US forests”

Wei Yang, Lecturer of Spatial Sciences: Organizer, Chair, and Author, “A new way of geo-visualization for large-scale big geospatial data mashups”

Another highlight of the week in Boston was for representatives and friends of SS to meet up to network and reconnect with colleagues from across the country and around the world. Kamei said, “Look for Spatial Sciences Institute to have an even larger footprint in the AAG program next year when AAG meets in New Orleans.”

For more information about SSI academic programs, please contact Kendrick Watson, Academic Programs Director, at or at (213) 740-8298.

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