Understanding, envisioning, and planning

Complex Human-Environment Systems

for improved sustainability, justice, and equality



News in 2013

• December 17, 2013: Kristin Meseck successfully defended her thesis titled "Habitat Distribution for Non-native Amazona viridigenalis Within San Diego County using Maxent Predictive Model." Her committee members (Drs. Jankowski, Lewison from Biology, and An) were impressed by her achievement, and unanimously let her pass. Congratulations Kristin!

• December 5, 2013: Congratulations to Dr. Ninghua (Nathan) Wang! Ninghua successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Statistics for Time-Series Spatial Data: Applying Survival Analysis to Study Land-Use Change". Drs. Li An, Keith Clarke, Helen Couclelis, André Skupin joyfully served on his dissertation committee during 2008-2013. Our sincere thankfulness goes to Ninghua for his great contribution to the STACS group and the broader community at SDSU. Good luck Ninghua for your future work!

• December 2, 2013: Professor Li An was approved by the AAG Council to join the Editorial Board of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, flagship journal in geography. In this highly prestigious position (2014-2017), he will work on papers submitted to Section Methods, Models and GIS together with other editors, other board members, and reviewers.

• October 11, 2013: Dr. Sarah Wandersee, a recent graduate of the STACS lab and the Joint Doctoral Program, returned to SDSU from her post-doctoral appointment at the University of Alaska - Anchorage to give a colloquium at SDSU about her dissertation research. The talk, entitled "Land-Cover and Land-Use Change in Human-Environment Systems: Understanding Complex Interactions among Policy and Management, Livelihoods, and Conservation," elicited interesting discussion among attendees. In addition to delivering her colloquium talk, she met with current members of the STACS lab to discuss data management issues, and to foster continuity between her past work and the lab's future research at the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou, China.

• September 27, 2013: Former STACS member Dr. Alex Zvoleff returned to the Department of Geography at SDSU to deliver a colloquium on his dissertation research. Titled "Understanding the Dynamics of Changing Land-use and Land-cover, Population, and Climate in the Chitwan Valley, Nepal," the talk was well attended by both faculty and students. At the conclusion of the talk, Dr. Zvoleff briefly discussed some of his exciting current work as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Tropical Ecology, Assessment, and Monitoring Network at Conservation International. Before his talk, he met with the STACS lab, giving a detailed description of the agent-based modelling methodology employed in his research.

• September 20, 2013: Welcome to Jie Dai and Stephen Crook, our two new PhD students!

Jie Dai is from Huaian, Jiangsu, China, and graduated from Wuhan University in 2011. He received his Master's Degree in The School of Natural Resources and Environment: Environmental Informatics from the University of Michigan in 2013, where he assisted in the teaching of graduate-level GIS courses. Remote sensing and its GIS applications are some of Jie's specialties, which he applied to analyze grassland biophysical conditions in Inner Mongolia to complete his thesis. Jie worked with a number of universities in the US and China during his fieldwork. Jie plans to extend his analysis to environmental changes in the habitat of endangered tigers in the Chitwan Nature Reserve in Nepal. His interests include Chinese calligraphy and classical music.

Stephen Crook is from Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from UCLA in 2008. He spent time both teaching and planning course curricula in Spain and across California, including programs for at-risk youth in San Diego. Stephen received his Master's degree with distinction in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from Oxford University in 2012. He plans to continue analysis of complexity in China's Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Payment for Ecosystem Services program. He enjoys the outdoors, especially surfing, hiking and mountain biking.

• September 11, 2013: Dr. Li An and Shuang Yang attended the Campanile Foundation Annual Board Dinner at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center along with ten other prominent faculty and students. See more details here.

• June 28, 2013: Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Wandersee! Sarah successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Land Cover and Land Use Change in Human Environmental Systems: Understanding Complex Interactions among Policy and Management, Livelihoods, and Conservation". Drs. Li An (co-chair), David Lòpez-Carr (co-chair), Keith Clarke, and Kathleen Farley joyfully served on her dissertation committee during 2008-2013. Our sincere thankfulness goes to Sarah for her great contribution to the STACS group and the broader community at SDSU. Good luck Sarah for your future work!

• June 28, 2013: Alex Zvoleff successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Understanding the Dynamics of Changing Land-use and Land-cover, Population, and Climate in the Chitwan Valley, Nepal". Congratulations Dr. Zvoleff! His dissertation committee members, Drs. Li An (co-chair), David Lòpez-Carr (co-chair), Kathleen Farley, and Bodo Bookhagen, have enjoyed working with him during the period of 2008-2013. All of us, especially the STACS group, appreciate Alex's fantastic work at SDSU and look forward to seeing his future successes!

• June 26, 2013: Dr. Li An has been appointed to be member of the Editorial Board of Ecological Modelling, a prestigious international journal on ecological modelling and systems ecology. Dr. An, as a board member, will help "maintain and improve the journal standards by monitoring the editorial policy of the journal, both in terms of its coverage and the level and quality of papers". He will also review papers when invited by the journal. Initially this appointment will be for a period of 3 years (2013-2016).

• June 14, 2013: A 3-day NSF-sponsored summer workshop was held on June 12-14 at San Diego State University. The workshop, led by Dr. Minjuan Wang (Learning, Design, and Technology) and Dr. Li An (Geography), aimed to help local K-12 teachers develop curricula that are linked to our NSF project titled "Impacts of ecosystem service payments in coupled natural and human systems". This project is being conducted in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. Under these forthcoming curricula, many K-12 students will be engaged in understanding how Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) may affect, and be affected by, the corresponding Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems. Eight teachers from three different local schools in San Diego area participated in all the seven training sessions–for detail see NSF CNH project website.

• May 14, 2013: Dr. Li An has been promoted to full professor, effective August 2013. This is "the highest rank that the university can award to its faculty members", says Dr. Nancy Marlin, provost of SDSU, "[t]his title is reserved for those who have sustained achievements in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service. I am delighted that the university is able to recognize your meritorious accomplishments through this promotion, and I am honored to have you on our faculty. Congratulations."

• May 3, 2013: Congratulations to Sarah Wandersee and Alex Zvoleff, both of whom have accepted post-doctoral positions to start later this year. Sarah has accepted a post-doctoral position with the Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Group at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Sarah will be working on the NSF EPSCoR funded project "Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments". Alex has accepted a position with Conservation International to work with the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network to study the effects of land cover and climate change on biodiversity at several TEAM Network monitoring sites. Both Sarah and Alex will be defending their dissertations this summer.

• April 25, 2013: MS candidate Kristin Meseck has been selected as recipient of the department Citizenship Award! This award was given to her because of "her great help in organizing departmental colloquium series' reception, attending College of Arts & Letters related Meetings, and coordinating Grad Group Meetings". Congratulations Kristin!

• March 22, 2013: Joint doctoral candidate Ninghua Wang's new paper entitled Analyzing Crime Displacement with a Simulation Approach has been accepted for publication by the prestigious journal in geography and urban planning, Environment and Planning B. His research utilizes an agent-based modeling approach to simulate criminal activity and policing, with a goal of exploring the effect of hotspot policing on crime reduction and displacement. This paper represents a culmination of several years of hard work.

• February 12, 2013: Joint doctoral candidate Ninghua Wang recently received the honor of acceptance for publication at a prestigious journal – the International Journal of Geographic Information Science (IJGIS). The paper, titled "Comparative performance of logistic regression and survival analysis for detecting spatial predictors of land-use change" (coauthored by Daniel Brown, Li An, Shuang Yang, and Arika Ligmann-Zielinska), was accepted by the highly selective journal, indicating its scientific rigor, ground-breaking research, and high potential impact. Congratulations to Ninghua for this achievement!

• January 30, 2013: A delegation of visitors from the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) Administration was warmly welcomed to the SDSU campus in late January. The delegation consisted of FNNR former director Yeqin Yang, biologist and Head of Department of Scientific Research and Education Yang Qiu, Deputy Head of Department of Finance Hanjun Yuan, and Lei Shi, botanist at Department of Scientific Research and Education. Workshops were held on January 29 and 30 to discuss FNNR's payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs, socioeconomic and biophysical environment of the reserve, and options for GIS and remote sensing of the area. On the second day Geography Department Chair, Dr. Stuart Aitken, led a workshop on human geography, with discussion of possibilities for participatory mapping and household surveys. Geography PhD candidate Alex Zvoleff gave a GIS and Remote sensing workshop, well attended and appreciated by the delegates and SDSU graduate students. Other highlights of the visit were a tour of the Confucius Institute with a presentation by its Director, Dr. Lilly Cheng, and a campus tour which included the Geography Department labs. The delegation was able to experience San Diego through sightseeing in Mission Bay and boating at the San Diego Yacht Club, and mingle with members of the Geography Department during a BBQ party hosted by Dr. Aitken. This annual visit remains a valuable resource for research opportunities in both countries and continues to facilitate greater collaboration between the FNNR and SDSU's Geography Department.


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