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Week of October 16th, 2017

Each Wednesday, Geography & GIS will distribute an e-newsletter to our faculty, students, postdocs/visiting scholars, and staff. Please send any news, announcements, and citations to by noon on Monday for publication in the same week’s newsletter.


West Lakes Regional Division meeting of the American Association of Geographers
October 19-21 at Missouri State University-West Plains

GGIS Colloquium: Li Xu,
Geography & GIS PhD Student
Mining Human Activity-Travel Patterns for Constructing a Noise Profile of Chicago
Friday, October 20th, 3:00 p.m.
Room 2049 NHB, Russell Seminar Room
In the past decade or so, the advent of new information & communication technologies has led to a fast growing volume of human mobility data. The spatio-temporal resolution of these data has also been improved to a previously unimaginable level. Meanwhile, contextual information collected from travel surveys, space-time diaries, social network services, and many other sources is becoming increasingly available to help understand space-time activities and locations. Studying these data offers great opportunities to reveal unprecedented patterns that could benefits a broad range of research and applications. One hot topic of them is noise pollution, which has attracted a lot of attention as substantial scientific evidence has shown that exposure to noise is associated with increased health risks, including mental health issues, hearing impairment, and cardiovascular diseases. In spite of the significant utility of human mobility and contextual data, mining such big data remains a complicated and challenging task.

This dissertation work seeks to offer both methodological and empirical contribution to human mobility pattern mining and application through achieving the following research objectives.
(1) Develop a sequential similarity measure for human activity-travel patterns to help quantify the difference between individuals and populations
(2) Propose a multi-level Bayesian Networks for human activity recognition
(3) Develop a location prediction strategy for context enabled space-time trajectories
(4) Construct a space-time noise profile for Chicago and assess individual-level noise exposure through incorporating noise complaints data and human activity-travel patterns mined from previous steps.

Natural History Building - Homecoming Open House
Saturday, October 28th, 2-4:30 p.m.

SESE and SIB will host an open house, allowing visitors to wander through the Natural History Building and enjoy the visual impact of how new and old architectural elements merge. Students posted at locations around the building will explain how facilities will be used. This event will be open to everyone.

School of Earth, Society, and Environment | Natural History Building Dedication Event *RSVP*
Saturday, November 4th

SESE and its departments will host tours of the building in the morning, and then a lunch for current and former students, faculty, and staff. After lunch, we will host an Afternoon Symposium with speakers and a panel from all components of the school, to converse about the past, present, and future of studies related to the Earth, its atmosphere, its environment, and its human dimensions at the University of Illinois.
All alumni and friends, and students, staff, and faculty of SESE, Atmospheric Sciences, Geography & GIS, and Geology are welcome! For further information on these events please contact Lana Holben, the SESE Office Administrator, at

M.S. in GIS + Business = Professional Science Master's (PSM)
Thursday, November 9th, 5-6:00 p.m.
Room 2049 NHB, Russell Seminar Room

Are you contemplating graduate school, but don’t know if you are up for research and a thesis? Does the thought of combing geographic information science (GIS) and business skills excite you? Join us to learn more about our 16-month non-thesis program which include three semesters of study and a summer internship. Learn more about the Illinois PSM in GIS and other PSM programs at


Professor Jim Best spent the first week of October conducting fieldwork at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, with Geology graduate students Ruisong Zhou and Kalin Howell. They were researching the geomorphology and sedimentology of fluvial-eolian interactions, using ground penetrating radar and ground mapping, along the ephemeral rivers in the park. Some days were challenging and sand-blasted, due to 45 mph winds that showed the eolian sand dunes during active formative conditions!

photo: Jim Best 

Professor David Wilson convened the 8th International Spaces & Flows Conference at the University of Hull, UK on October 12-13. Presenters from around the world gathered and shared ideas about the conference's central theme of enculturing the city. Wilson is a founding member of the Spaces & Flows Research Network.
This week, Wilson is attending After Suburbia: Extended Urbanization & Life on the Planet's Periphery, a conference hosted by York University in Canada, where he will deliver a talk on the new immigrant politics in cities of the global west.

Graduate Students

PhD Student Yoo Min Park (advisor: Mei-Po Kwan) received a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) Grant from the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation. Her dissertation research examines segregation in various spatiotemporal contexts in people's daily life and its effects on social disparities in exposures to air pollution.

American Geographical Society (AGS) Council Fellowship - Now accepting applications for 2018
Deadline: November 1
The AGS Council Fellowship program supports graduate students in pursuit of geographic research, especially research that includes a field component. The fellowship is open to all graduate students who are members of the Society. Each fellowship is worth $1,500 and four will be awarded in the Spring.

Our department, in conjunction with the Unit for Criticism, has established a graduate student exchange program with the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
It is a beautiful university nestled along the Neckar River and the mountains in Central Germany. It also has a superb American Studies program (complemented by great Geography, Urban Studies, Cinema, and Literature departments). As we begin the exchange, there is an opportunity for you to visit and study at Heidelberg this upcoming Spring semester. We can help you make all the arrangements, should you be interested. You would not have to pay any money to the University of Heidelberg, your registration would take place at UIUC, and you can go there to study (and play). All classes are taught in English and the University of Heidelberg welcomes US an other international students.

The Spring 2018 semester at the University of Heidelberg begins a bit later than ours, so please note the dates:

  • March 1st: Recommended arrival (for students participating in the pre-semester language course)
  • March 5th–29th: Preparatory German language course (80 hours of Instruction)
  • April 10–12: Orientation for all new international students
  • April 16–July 28: Lecture period

Please contact David Wilson ( if you are interested in this exchange program.


Geography & GIScience RSO Kickoff! | *Snacks/refreshments provided*
Monday, October 23rd, 6-7:00 p.m.

2049 NHB, Russell Seminar Room
Join us on Monday for the first ever Geography/GIS RSO meeting! Gain real experience working with peers in the field, kicking back for some fun while also adding valuable skills to your CV, including positions of leadership and exposure to programs such as ArcGIS and OpenStreetMap.
Our first meeting will consist of an informal forum for collecting feedback on what club members expect out of the RSO, and then finalizing some logistics such as officers and a club name- so come with some creative ideas! Open to majors, minors, and non-majors.

Visiting Scholars

John-Michael Davis is a visiting doctoral student from Memorial University in Newfoundland. He is leading an action-research project on the Israeli-Palestinian transboundary e-waste industry in collaboration with Ben Gurion University of the Negev. This project explores ways to sustain livelihoods, build capacity, and gain representation of an informal e-waste hub in Hebron. John-Michael holds a Master of Science in Integrated Water Resources Management from McGill University. He will be an SDEP fellow through May 2019, with an office at Memorial University.


Julie Cidell, Sustainable imaginaries and the green roof on Chicago’s City Hall. Geoforum, Volume 86, 2017, Pages 169-176.

Kangjae Lee and Mei-Po Kwan. 2018. Physical activity classification in free-living conditions using smartphone accelerometer data and exploration of predicted results. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 67: 124-131.

Sharad Chari, Susanne Friedberg, Vinay Gidwani, Jesse Ribot and Wendy Wolford (eds.). 2017. Other Geographies: The Influences of Michael J. Watts. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Ribot, J. 2017. “Causa y responsabilidad: vulnerabilidad y clima en el AntropocenoActa Sociológica. No. 73, pp. 13-81. Spanish translation of Ribot 2014.

Papa Faye and Jesse Ribot. 2017. “Causes for Adaptation: Access to Forests, Markets and Representation in Eastern SenegalSustainability. Vol. 9, No. 311. Pp. 20.

Alumni Newsletter

Our 2017 Alumni Newsletter is out now! Print copies were placed in GGIS faculty and graduate student NHB mailboxes, and are also available in Room 2042 NHB. You can read a PDF version on our website: (Weekly e-newsletters are also archived on this page.)