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Geography has had a very dynamic academic year that was marked by the approval of a proposal to merge with Environmental and Marine Studies to become the department of Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences.

Geography continues its outreach mission to the local community and beyond. In collaboration with the office of Sustainability and the Center for Sustainability Education and Environmental Literacy, Geography has worked with the City of Bridgeport to create sustainability initiatives, and with the West Rock Healthy Community Initiative to work on issues related to food security in the neighborhood. Further from home, Geography (with Environmental and Marine Studies) is working on a collaboration with the department of geography at Liverpool John Moores University to develop joint field experiences, a seamless undergraduate student exchange program, a joint M.S. in Coastal resilience, and joint supervision of doctoral theses.

Several students presented their research at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Chicago, IL and at the Annual Conference of the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society at UNH in Durham, NH. Michelle Ritchie presented on the cartography of food access in Chicago, IL, and Alex Destefano created a poster presention, Mapping the Networks of Indigenous Health in Rural India: A Case of Dongria Kondh. Lance Lambert (with Dr. Patrick Heidkamp) presented on Viticultural Site Suitability: A Case Study of Litchfield County in Durham, NH. Michelle Ritchie and Fatima Cecunjanin received the Outstanding Research Poster Award in Durham, NH. Four majors received departmental honors, and several undergraduates have been accepted to graduate programs in geography form Columbia University to California State, Long Beach.

Geography Department

Recent Departmental and Faculty Successes

Dr. Patrick Heidkamp organized two panels for the AAG conference in Chicago, IL. With Dr. Karl Benediktsson (University of Iceland), they presented on Nordic Environments, Nordic Spaces and Nordic Places. The papers from this session are under review for a special edition of the interdisciplinary journal, Environment, Place, Space, to be co-edited by Drs. Heidkamp and Benediktsson. With George Bentley, he also organized a panel on teaching Economic Geography related to a book project under contract with Springer. Dr. Heidkamp also presented “From Visualization to Tactilization: Using 3D printing to represent geospatial data” at the AAG conference and at the Annual Meeting of the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society in Durham, NH.

Dr. Eric West (with Dr. Patrick Heidkamp and Dr. Peggy Gallup, from Public Health) received a Faculty Development Grant focused on Food Justice which resulted in the creation of an interdisciplinary Food Studies Affinity Group. Dr. West will present his research at the International Geographical Union in Moscow, Russia.

Dr. Leon Yacher co-authored several articles on his Jaltomata research on a new species from Northern Peru in the journals Arnaldoa and Brittonia. He continues to provide book reviews of current research in geography to scholars in the field.  

Dr. Elyse Zavar published an article, “Residential Perspectives: The Value of Floodplain-Buyout Open Space,” in Geographical Review. In addition to several presentations, she recently received the prestigious Gilbert F. White Award from the Association of American Geographers highlighting her important work related to Hazards Geography. Dr. Zavar also won the Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship.