Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Campus Cartography

Photo: Ashley Costa
Perhaps it goes without saying that geographers love maps. The fascination runs so deep that we took a departmental field trip to the Leventhal Map Museum at Boston Public Library earlier this semester, where we found this trove of cartography books! The BSU Geography Department is therefore delighted to have been able to reinstate a course in cartography under the leadership of Dr. Rob Hellström. A student learns to make maps will never see a map in quite the same way again.

BSU cartographers pose with their handiwork.
L-R: Ashley Costa,  Lara Joyce, Warren Sutcliffe, Matthew Daniel, Alaina Primeeau, James Varga, and Alexander Sullivan-Young. Not pictured: Stacy Ames, Taylor Arsenault, Meredith Briand, Nick Burns, Juan De Leon, John Doherty, Jen Hannum, Charles Oliver, Timothy Pease, Heather Rios, Lyndsay Stevens, and Sarah Watt
Photo: Juan DeLeon
Although cartography and map analysis have been integral in many of our courses all along, this spring marks the first time in about a decade that the department has offered a stand-alone course in cartography. Among the many excellent outcomes has been a group project presented this week at BSU's Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Geographer Lara Joyce discusses the campus map project with Dean Rita Miller.
Photo: Ashley Costa
The project builds on research conducted by previous cohorts of BSU (then BSC) geographers in senior seminars led by Dr. Clark and Dr. Hayes-Bohanan. Dr. Clark's students made and intensive study of campus maps at peer institutions, with particular attention to the placement and design of outdoor kiosk maps. Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's students studied the existing printed campus map, with a focus on presentation and standard cartographic design.

This year, students in Dr. Hellström's class drew upon those findings but went further, implementing a campus mapping program, literally from the ground up. Using the principals of design and procedures learned throughout the semester, students worked in small groups to build a map that integrates data from standard base maps, aerial photography, and directly-measured locations using Global Positioning System receivers. This was an ideal class project because it allowed students to work at very close range on one of the central lessons of the course: an excellent map brings together design principals and the needs -- whether articulated or not -- of the end users. Creating a map for their own campus community required careful consideration of the many uses and audiences for such a map.

The result is a map that is highly accurate and readable and that can be updated at little to no costs as the campus continues to develop.

This work was one of many presentations at the annual symposium, which included at least two others from the Department of Geography. Mentored by Dr. Boellstorff, Juan DeLeon mapped four thousand brownfield sites in Southeastern Massachusetts. Mentored by Dr. Hayes-Bohanan, Katrina Delaney presented her ongoing research on Fair Trade Universities. Students of Dr. Ingvoldstad in Communication Studies documented many of the poster presentations.
Communication student Rob Morton interviews geographer Warren Sutcliffe about the work.
Photo: Ashley Costa
Final note, as if it were not already obvious: Cartography can be fun!

L-R: Tim Pease, Juan DeLeon, and AJ Sullivan-Young
Photo: Ashley Costa

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fun Map

A new way of looking at the United States. Sorry for the low resolution, but the idea

An App for That

NGS World Atlas
According to a business article in today's Globe, the Boston area is poised to ride the mobile tech wave. Specifically, Boston-area businesses have been especially prolific in the development of applications  for mobile devices such as smart phones, and this trend is expected to continue. Combined with national trends in the growth of geotechnologies generally, BSU geographers with interest and skills in GIS and related technologies are well-positioned to participate in this interesting and growing industry.

Geographers: Read the article and then answer the question (using "comments" below): What would you like your phone to be able to do?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Staying on Top of the Weather

On a beautiful afternoon, Dr. Hellström (center) proudly poses with two of the department's student employees as they complete installation of equipment in the department's newest weather station, high above the Conant Science and Math Center. Chemistry major Christa Cronk (left) has worked as a geography lab tech this year, while history major and enthusiastic weather photographer Anthony McGonagle has maintained the department's weather board.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GIS Supervisor Position

Thanks to BSU Career Services for this announcement. Please consider applying if you are a graduate or soon will be. This is in many ways an ideal place for a geographer to work. In addition to specific technical skills, this job requires many of the interpersonal skills common to geographers (see item #7, for example).

Those who are not yet graduating -- or not yet majoring in geography -- please look at this carefully for one answer to the oft-asked question,"What can you do with a geography degree?"

Supervisor of Gas GIS Planning, NSTAR, Westwood, MA                                           Job ID # 5325

Essential Functions:

1. Supervise Gas Planners and other assigned staff responsible for updating the GIS. Responsible for quality control and timeliness of updates by assigned staff.
2. Design and manage the workflow for creating and maintaining GIS information. Maintain and update GIS standards and procedures.
3. Responsible for producing accurate GIS derived map products, in printed and electronic format, for use by Gas Operations.
4. Lead projects that support and expand the scope of GIS to internal and external customers. Assist with the integration of mapping projects into the day-to-day field operations of Gas Operations.
5. Support Gas Operations with the Tele-Dig (Dig Safe) system. Ensure that GIS programs and policies comply with state and federal regulations.
6. Manage performance by reviewing and evaluating work of employees. Identify, build consensus and communicate performance measures and expected performance levels. Assess and improve team and employee performance through coaching and on-the-job training.
7. Foster an environment of teamwork, creativity and problem solving. Share information and encourages participation in the decision-making process. Remove obstacles through communication with other areas.
8. Ensure compliance with regulatory and Company work rules and procedures. Understand and comply with the labor contract and work to resolve initial grievances. Initiate appropriate disciplinary action, when required. 

Faculty and staff can view this opportunity as well as other full-time job and internship listings by proceeding to CareerLink@BSU at, entering faculty as both their Username and Password and typing in the Job ID #. 

Please share the above opportunity with colleagues and students.  Students can create their own username and password at to access all of our listings.
Please note:  All students interested in completing a credited internship need to get approval through the department’s Faculty Internship Supervisor,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cities at Night

Scientists at the International Space Station explain the technical challenges of getting high-resolution, low-light images of the Earth's cities, and then take viewers on a ten-minute tour of images gathered over a six-year period. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Current Events

 Thanks to FastCo.Design for posting this beautiful image from NASA. It is a one-year sampling of surface ocean currents. It is full of beauty and surprises. (Click next to HD to fill screen -- it is mesmerizing.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meeting Globie!

Hello Geographers! 

I'm a geography major here at BSU and was asked to write about an experience I had over the weekend. On April Fools Day, I had the opportunity to see the world famous Harlem Globetrotters at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 

My boyfriend was thrilled to finally see them, and was pumped that we got discounted tickets through my work.

Me on the other hand... Well, I'll admit it: I was just all giddy that they had "Globe" in their name!

I mean, I had heard of the Harlem Globetrotters, and it was cool to go to see all of their tricks in person. 

But, honestly... all I wanted was to get a picture of their mascot, Globie. I thought he was sooo cool.  What can I say, I'm a geographer! 

I had even joked that if my teaching career or geography career doesn't work out, I would love to audition to be the guy in that suit. Seriously! I would get to travel the world with the team... Totally cool, right?

Anyways, I snapped a few pictures of him when he made appearances throughout the game, but that wasn't good enough for me.

Once the Globetrotters won against the "Elite" team (as usual), they allowed the audience to go up to the perimeter of the court and get autographs and pictures taken with some of the players. I dashed down there to get in Globie's line. My boyfriend looked at me like, "Seriously? You really want to wait in line for that?!?" 
. . . Um DUH

He should have known better. 

So here it is! 

- Kimberly Frisoli