Geovisualizing, representing, analyzing, modeling, and simulating

Complex Human-Environment Systems (CHES)

for improved envisioning, understanding, and planning



News in 2012

• November 1, 2012: The NSF CNH Project, "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", was recently featured in SDSU's newspaper The Daily Aztec. "If we learn more about the effectiveness of ecosystem payments, we can better understand what it takes to sustain environments, local people's livelihoods, and endangered species such as these," An said. To read the full article, see page two of the November 1st edition of The Daily Aztec.

• October 30, 2012: Professor Li An, the PI of the NSF CNH Project "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems" has received a letter of congratulations from the SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for the receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. This project aims to investigate the interaction between payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman remarks on the importance of the project to scientific research and the distinction brought to both the Department of Geography and SDSU by this project.

• October 24, 2012: A paper by Ninghua (Nathan) Wang, Trent Biggs and Andr¨¦ Skupin, titled "Visualizing gridded time series data with self organizing maps: An application to multi-year snow dynamics in the Northern Hemisphere" has been accepted for publication in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. The paper discusses using a self-organized map (SOM) to classify snow dynamics from microwave imagery of the Northern Hemisphere taken over a 20-year timespan. The authors found that SOM successfully identified transitions in snowcover related to the Southern Oscillation. Congratulations Nathan!

• September 21, 2012: Congratulations to Li An, who is part of a team that was recently awarded an National Science Foundation - Dynamics Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF-CNH) grant, entitled: "CNH: Feedbacks Between Human Community Dynamics and Socioecological Vulnerability in a Biodiversity Hotspot" (PI Scott T. Yabiku, ASU, co-PIs: Sharon J. Hall, ASU; Li An; Abigail M. York, ASU, and Dirgha Ghimire, University of Michigan). The project team will be investigating connections between non-family organizations and management institutions, and the spread of an invasive weed, Mikania micrantha, in the buffer zone surrounding the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The team will use a unique integrative approach including conducting a number of controlled experiments testing how institutions influence the success of interventions aimed at slowing the spread of Mikania.

• September 7, 2012: Four students (3 doctoral, 1 MS) are sought in support of an interdisciplinary project "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", which is newly funded by NSF. The three PhD positions will have emphases in 1) landscape ecology, remote sensing, habitat analysis; 2) GIScience and systems modeling; and 3) human geography and social demography, respectively. The MS position could be any one or combination of: 1) habitat modeling, 2) land cover change, 3) participatory mapping, and 4) econometric analysis.

• September 4, 2012: The STACS group Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) team has received congratulations from College of Arts and Letters Dean Paul Wong, Provost Nancy Marlin, and SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for their receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the interaction between PES programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman noted the importance of the project to the university as a whole, saying "It is wonderful news for you, your colleagues in the college, and the entire university. I look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of your work as you proceed." Congratulations to the project team! See the August 22, 2012 news item for additional details on the research project.

• August 24, 2012: Congratulations to Kristin Meseck, who successfully defended her master proposal: "Habitat Distribution for Non-native Amazona viridigenalis in the City of San Diego using Maxent Predictive Model". Her research involves collection of presence data for the Red-crowned Amazon Parrot, and the creation of a habitat model including both human and non-human related variables. Her committee, Piotr Jankowski, Rebecca Lewison(Biology), and Li An (chair), unanimously passed her defense.

• August 22, 2012: Great news! The STACS group has just received funding for research in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China! The award from NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems will provide $1.3 million to the project, entitled "CNH: Impacts of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", over 4 years (PI: Dr. Li An; 2012-2016). The entire research team consists of researchers and students from San Diego State University (Dr. Li An, Dr. Stuart Aitken, and Dr. Doug Stow from Geography; Dr. Minjuan Wang from Educational Technology; Dr. Rebecca Lewison from Biology) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr. Xiaodong Chen from Geography and Dr. Richard Bilsborrow from Biostatistics). Researchers will collaborate to investigate the interactions between payments for ecosystem services programs, golden monkey conservation, and local livelihoods using a diverse set of approaches including remote sensing, camera trapping, participatory mapping, interviews, and participatory agent-based modeling. We look forward to the development of this research program, in building on the groundwork laid in the past few years by the STACS team. This is a great opportunity for continued SDSU-FNNR collaboration and for fostering further education and teamwork, as well as improving our understanding of golden monkey conservation.

• August 22, 2012: Congratulations to Ninghua (Nathan) Wang, who successfully defended his dissertation proposal on September 21st. His proposal, "A comparative study of survival analysis and logistic regression in land-use change: A study based on longitudinal spatial data" was unanimously approved by his committee. Nathan's committee, Li An (chair), Andre Skupin, Keith Clarke (UCSB) and Helen Couclelis (UCSB), was impressed by his presentation, and sees great potential in broader use of survival analysis in geography and other discplines. Nathan will now be diving into the details of his dissertation research, which will compare survival analysis, a relative newcomer in geographic research, to more established methods of analysis for land use and land cover change datasets, using a novel combination of simulation and empirical analysis.

• June 20, 2012: Dr. Li An, Shuang Yang, and Alex Zvoleff recently returned from a research trip to the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China, funded by an NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) Grant (OISE 0729709). During the visit they completed 170 household surveys, conducted a vegetation survey of 60 field plots, and gathered ground control points for orthorectifying satellite imagery. The trip allowed Alex and Shuang (who were making their first trip to Wolong) to familiarize themselves with the study site, while all three members of the team had the opportunity to meet with senior researchers from the reserve. After their visit to Wolong, Li An and Shuang Yang continued on to visit the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in Guizhou, China, with the support of FNNR's funding from Guizhou's Foreign Experts Administration (a provincial government agency). Dr. Li An and Shuang discussed collaboration tasks with local scientists and policymakers, and conducted several household interviews as a pretest for Shuang's dissertation research. The results from the two field visits will be described in an upcoming paper comparing conservation strategies and population trends in three nature reserves in Asia (also including the Chitwan National Park in Nepal).

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• May 20, 2012: Congratulations to STACS group members and PhD Candidates Alex Zvoleff and Sarah Wandersee! This year 's recipient of the Cotton Bridges Award for GIS Emphasizing Techniques, Alex applies GIS in his research projects on complex human and natural systems in Nepal and on health and global conservation. He employs cutting edge techniques in his mixed methods dissertation research and is currently doing field work in Wolong Panda Reserve, China. Sarah received the Department of Geography Citizenship Scholarship for her service to the department as PhD representative and her involvement in the departmental Graduate Student Group. This included attending faculty meetings, addressing student concerns, and organizing and facilitating brown bags and workshops to enhance student teaching, research, and professional development. Congratulations to both of them for recognition of their efforts!

• March 12, 2012: Congratulations to Alex Zvoleff who is a recipient of the 2012 President's Award for his presentation during San Diego State University's fifth annual Student Research Symposium. The President's Award is the most prestigious honor at the competition, awarded to two student presenters in five different categories of learning. As an additional honor, Alex will travel to Long Beach May 4-5 to present at the California State University Student Research Competition in May. Alex's presentation was entitled "Linking Conservation and Development: A Global-scale Analysis of Demographics in High-value Conservation Areas" and focused on population, health and environment in high priority conservation areas.

• March 1, 2012: Congratulations to Alex Zvoleff, who was elected Student Representative for the Human Dimensions of Global Change (HDGC) Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) during the 2012 AAG Annual Meeting. He will be working to increase student participation in the specialty group, and to help promote HDGC research in general.

• February 29, 2012: Dr. Li An was elected to chair the Spatial Analysis and Modeling (SAM) Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) during the 2012 AAG Annual Meeting. He will work with other SAM officers and board members to further serve the SAM community.

• January 24, 2012: Accolades go to this year's Inamori Fellowship recipient, geography PhD student Alex Zvoleff. The Inamori Fellowship is extremely competitive and is awarded to San Diego State University graduate students who demonstrate great scholarly accomplishments, have excellent past research work and future research plans, and come highly recommended from faculty. Alex, who received his B.S. in Earth Science from UCSD and an M.A. in Climate and Society from Columbia University, represents one of 10 Inamori Fellows chosen from over 80 candidates.

• January 04, 2012: Ninghua (Nathan) Wang has passed his qualifying exams with the unanimous agreement of his committee: Drs. Li An (chair), Art Getis, Andr¨¦ Skupin,Helen Couclelis (UCSB), and Keith Clarke (UCSB). His committee recognized the high quality of his submissions, and looks forward to hearing more during Nathan's oral defense of his proposal, entitled "Can we better detect drivers of land use/cover change? Issues of statistic sampling and model selection". Congratulations, Nathan!


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