When I came to the UO I initially began studying history with vague plans of attending law school. However, after the first Human Geography class, I took I knew I was hooked and completely pivoted my college experience. Through my studies and experiences within the Geography department, I was continually challenged to think in terms of scale and to put aside my initial assessment of a problem or situation to focus on the facts at hand. I found that studying Geography led me to take a closer look at the interface between my day to day experiences and the built environment around me. As an avid bike rider, I became increasingly invested in the idea that increasing access to bicycling for more people could the answer to many of the environmental and cultural issues facing all of us.
I finished my degree in the Fall of 2014 and took off on a bicycle trip from New York City to California. I used this opportunity to film a documentary called Westward Wheels, which is about us exploring how American cities can be more healthy, sustainable, and bike friendly. The inspiration I found from meeting bicycle advocates across the US led me to work at Cascade Bicycle Club, the nation’s largest state-wide bicycle advocacy non-profit. Through what was, at the time, an unexpected turn of events I now run our partnership portfolio which includes national companies like Kaiser Permanente, Boeing, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines and Kind Bar. While it took a little time to learn the finer points of budget forecasting and contract negotiation I have found time and time again that I lean skills developed by studying Geography. Whether it is making a presentation, writing, thinking from the perspective of a partner or understanding the connection between things like infrastructure improvements and youth health, the Geography program at the UO helped prepare me for a role that requires a wide range of skills.
The Oregon Quarterly is featuring a story about the InfoGraphic’s recently-released Atlas of Wildlife Migrations. This amazing and beautiful atlas captures until-now unknown migration routes of several ungulate species. Plus, see a picture of Jim Meacham releasing a mule deer! Here is a link to the story.
The department is excited to welcome two new faculty into our GIScience program and the Spatial State Science and Technology major. The CAS Dean’s blog recently featured [profiles of both Henry and Carolyn on their blog. You can read about Dr. Henry Luan here and about Dr. Carolyn Fish here. Both Carolyn and Henry will be teaching some of the introductory GIScience courses in addition to their specialties, which expands the offerings that our students in Spatial Science and Technology can take.
Welcome Henry and Carolyn!
If you haven’t heard, the United Nations Environmental Panel came out with a new report last week that the impacts of climate change could arrive sooner and be more serious than previously expected. The Bend Bulletin interviewed Dan Gavin as a part of an article on the impacts of climate change on fire activity in Oregon. Our very own Dr. Dan Gavin was interviews as a part of an article examining the impacts of climate change on fire activity in Oregon. Read it here!
In the last week of July, Geography hosted its first Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL) program. The SAIL program serves middle and high school students from the southern Willamette Valley who come from under-represented backgrounds such as lower-income and/or first generation students. The program encourages students to enroll and succeed in college by exposing them to fun and innovative programming through different units on campus.
Our Undergraduate Coordinator, Leslie McLees, organized a week-long series of interactive activities for students entering their junior and senior years of high school. Students reflected how we tell stories about places and how that in turn impacts how we treat the people who live there. The made maps in Carto with Joanna Merson and participated in a humanitarian mapathon, digitizing infrastructure in Sri Lanka for a project about adaptation to climate change, with the MapxNorthwest president, Greg Fitzgerald. They used the GPS apps on their phones to do some orienteering and explore human-environment dynamics on our campus. They spent time near Austen footbridge with lecturer Johnny Webb to measure on stream flow and understand the water cycle. The week ended with a discussion with Leslie McLees on the purpose of college, how to understand the purpose of college, and ways to think about how to make it successful for individuals. Several students helped throughout the week, including Bernard Cowen, Zane Eddy, Annabelle Lind, Kate Shields, and Chris Tello. Thanks to all of them for making the week possible!
Despite temperatures above 90 degrees the entire week, it was an amazing success. Students were highly engaged and active throughout all of the activities, and appreciate that they got to see and experience some of the variety of what geography can do. And of course, all were surprised at the breadth of the discipline. Several students remarked that they were so happy they had discovered geography, and hoped to study it in college. We look forward to having some of them in a our classes in a couple of years!
Lucas Silva’s study of Watershed shifts and climate change featured in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
One of the newest faculty in Geography, Dr. Lucas Silva, has recently had a study published in the National Academy of Science that examine shifts in watersheds in response to climate change. This study, in collaboration with Toby Maxwell of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution and Will Horwath of the University of California, Davis, focused on looking at the relationships between tree species and soil properties to understand how water is moving through forest systems, in this case the Californian montane forests during the drought.
For more on this fascinating study, see the article in Around the O.
On Thursday, April 12, 2018, University of Oregon Geography professor Patricia McDowell was awarded the Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award by the American Association of Geographer’s Geomorphology Specialty Group. This award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to geomorphology over his/her career. In the nomination letter for this award, Dartmouth College professor Frank Magilligan states: “Pat has been a leader in the field of fluvial geomorphology for decades and is especially deserving of this
recognition: she has earned it through her important scholarly publications, her mentoring of over 30 graduate students, her tireless devotion to the Geomorphology Specialty Group, and her important visibility as a role model for other women geoscientists.” Professor McDowell earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1980, and she has been at the University of Oregon since 1982.
Community member and guest contributor to the Eugene Weekly calls out Dr. Shaul Cohen and Dr. Pat McDowell specifically in helping him understand what makes Eugene home. This brief article in the Weekly pays homage to the power of geography in helping students understand not only a sense of place, but why that is an important question.
Read the article here!