Geography Colloquium Schedule – Fall 2019

Please join us Fridays from 12:20-1:10PM in 234 Wallace Hall (unless otherwise noted)


September 20 - Dr. Elisabeth Root from The Ohio State University

October 11 - Dr. Galen Murton (Geographic Sciences, James Madison University)

Infrastructural Power: Disaster, Reconstruction, and the Production of New Geopolitical Space

In the spring of 2015, massive earthquakes struck Nepal and shook up both geological and political landscapes across the Himalaya region. A long-delayed Constitution was rapidly promulgated in order to capture billions of US dollars in reconstruction aid and already delicate international relations between Kathmandu and Delhi were further fractured. In response to Nepal’s national crisis, Beijing launched its largest ever humanitarian relief effort to its southern neighbor; this action also followed China’s emergence as Nepal’s largest donor of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2014. Reflecting on the past five years of trans-Himalayan development activity between Nepal and China, in this talk I argue that the post-earthquake landscape and its political aftermath opened up new space for Beijing to emerge as a leader of international investment, development, and influence. In recent years, social, institutional, and infrastructural relations between Nepal and China’s political leaders and national citizenries have grown closer than ever before. From unprecedented numbers of Chinese tourists in Kathmandu to Mandarin language programs in primary schools across the country, increasingly conspicuous Sino-Nepali business enterprises to both urban and rural built environments, I consider the ways in which co-seismic events in 2015 and the subsequent humanitarian response from Beijing set new terms and patterns of investment and development for China in Nepal. Continuing the analysis up to the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in April 2019 and recent bilateral commitments to the construction of new ‘trans-Himalayan power corridors,’ I illustrate how natural disasters reconfigure regional geopolitics and show the ways that infrastructures function as vectors of political power across international space.

October 25 - Dr. Wenwu Tang (Geography, University of North Carolina Charlotte)

Deep learning-based classification of point cloud data for the automated detection of hydraulic structures driven by cyberinfrastructure-enabled high-performance computing

Authors: Wenwu Tang, Shenen Chen, John Diemer, Craig Allan, and Matthew S. Lauffer


The classification of point cloud data collected from LiDAR or sonar technologies plays an important role in the detection and measurement of 3D hydraulic structures such as bridge and culverts. However, this point cloud classification poses a significant big data challenge because of the volume and complexity of the point cloud data involved. In this study, we present a deep learning-based spatially explicit modeling framework for the automated point cloud classification of 3D hydraulic structures, referred to as DeepHyd. Deep learning, as a cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques, has drawn increasing attention for its applicability in domain-specific studies. The DeepHyd framework is designed to classify and evaluate point cloud data for the detection of hydraulic structures based on deep learning algorithms. We trained the deep learning algorithm using cyberinfrastructure-enabled high-performance computing resources, represented by many-core graphics processing units (GPUs). This deep learning-based spatially explicit modeling framework is of great help to 3D geospatial studies, including transportation, hydraulics and hydrology, and watershed assessment.

Keywords: Deep learning, Point cloud data, Hydraulic structures, 3D GIS, cyberinfrastructure.

Web Links:

November 1 - Dr. Sally Horn (Geography, University of Tennessee Knoxville)

Fires and Climate in the Southeastern United States: Long-Term Records from Sediments and Soils

Soils and sedimentsprovide long-term evidence offires in the southeastern United States, and of linkages between fire, vegetation, people, and climate. In this talk,I will explainwhy scientists care about modern fires and records of fire across millennia, and describe methods and evidenceused to develop records of fire historythat span thousands or tens of thousands of years. I will provideexamples of records of fire developed from lake and wetland sediments and soilsin our region, and discuss what these records tell us about pastclimate.

Web Links:

November 15 - Dr. Nicole Hutton Shannon (Geography, Old Dominion University)


Cutting the Blue Tape: How Visualizations from the Blue Line Project in Norfolk, VA Altered Perceptions and Reactions to Sea Level Rise


The Blue Line Project marked mean higher high tide shorelines for 2050, 2080, and 2100 with blue chalk paint, survey flags and tape as the “King Tide” of the year approached in three Norfolk, VA communities: a neighborhood park, a working waterfront, and a cultural attraction were included. This public engagement project, disseminated through social, print, and televised news media, sought to increase awareness of and prompt action to address coastal hazards, such as sea level rise and tidal flooding, through visualization of future versus present tidal reaches. A survey collected responses from over 100 individuals that encountered the project in person and/or saw photos of the markings compared to the digitized 2D maps used for project production. I will discuss how recruitment strategies bolster ongoing risk reduction efforts and explore findings regarding preferences in visualization types, variances in perceived risk, and action proposals prompted by viewing different applications of the blue lines.