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October 1, 2014 | News

Geography Alumni John L. “Jack” Curtis dies

On March 19, 1932, Jack Curtis graced with his presence in New Haven, CT, his parents Anna S. Curtis and Dr. Lawrence C. Curtis. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Jennifer Lynn Curtis Byler and granddaughter Sarah Alexandra Byler in 2001. Jack is survived by his wife of 59 years Patricia (Patty) Curtis, daughter Alice B. (Ken) Noland of Atlanta and son John Alexander (Nan) Curtis of Watkinsville, his sister Dr. M. Julia Curtis of New York City and son-in-law Gary C. Byler of Virginia Beach, VA.

Jack is also survived by seven grandchildren: Amy Curtis (JT) Oliver of Stafford, VA, Laura Anne Curtis of Fredericksburg, VA, Georgia Cate Byler of Boulder, CO, Emma Grace Byler and Jonathan Levi Curtis Byler of Virginia Beach, VA, and Samuel Oliver Noland and John Charles Noland of Atlanta, GA.

After graduating from Moses Brown School in Providence, RI, he attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA where he met his future wife Patty. In 1955 he graduated from UGA, majoring in geography, gained a car (through marriage), and was commissioned in the US Naval Reserve, serving as Photogrammetrist and Intelligence Officer in a Tactical Air Control Squadron in Norfolk, VA. He and his new family (with the addition of son, Alex) moved to Athens in 1957 to further the sand and gravel business, along with farming and breeding angus cattle; L. C. Curtis & Son, Inc. As Jack often said, "I retired when I came back from the Navy", as he did what he loved best – farming and mining. In 1991 he opened The Stone Store in Watkinsville, providing products for landscaping, construction and do-it-yourselfers – "The Best Rocks in the Business!"

For many years, Jack was active in the Athens community, serving in many areas. Believing in a two party political system and living in virtually a one party state, Jack and a handful of others worked to help to get the Republican Party viable, serving on the GOP State Central Committee, 11th District Committee and as Clarke County Chairman. The Clark County Commission appointed Jack to the Airport Authority where he was a member and chairman for a number of years during the expansion of the airport and the building of hangars for General Aviation. He and Patty sang in the choir at Emmanuel Episcopal Church for a period of time while their children were growing up.

With many and varying interests, Jack participated in the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Athens Area Homebuilders Association as an officer, was a member of the Unification Commission of Clarke County, board member and guarantor of the Northeast Georgia Girl Scout Council, Board of Directors of the Bank of Greensboro, the Georgia and National Cattlemen's Association, and the Georgia Industrial Authority in the 1960's. For 31 years he was on the Board of Directors of the National Sand and Gravel Association. Jack served as President of the Georgia Mining Association and had historical photographs of early mining in Georgia restored. In 1980 Jack was a founder and Charter President of the Oconee County Rotary Club, after being a member of the Athens Rotary Club.

He and Patty enjoyed many years of exciting travel starting in 1998. Their travels have taken them on a sailing ship from Thailand to Greece, many river cruises in Europe and viewing the wonderful animals in Africa.

At Jack's request, there will be no formal services held. Those wishing to honor his memory may make contributions to Oconee County Rotary Club PO box 76, Watkinsville, GA 30677 or OCAF 34 School Street, Watkinsville, GA 30677.

Online and audio condolences may be offered at www.bernsteinfuneralhome.com.

September 30, 2014 | News

Dr. Andrew Grundstein: Study finds thunderstorms worsen asthma, allergy symptoms

In one of the first studies of its kind done in the United States, a University of Georgia professor teamed up with faculty at Emory University to research the effect thunderstorms can have on people with asthma and allergies.

Andrew Grundstein, a professor in the Department of Geography at UGA and the lead author of the study entitled “Thunderstorm-associated asthma in Atlanta, Georgia,” said people generally think of rain as a good thing for pollen allergies and asthma, and normally they would be right. But research showed that when rain escalates to a thunderstorm, it can actually exacerbate symptoms.

“Certain kinds of pollen, like grass pollens, will get pulled into the thunderstorm clouds, the pollen greens will rupture and produce very tiny ones,” he said. “People who inhale those small particles, they can get deep into your lungs.”

According to the study, this phenomenon is possible because thunderstorms have an updraft, causing allergens to be transported off the ground and into the air.

“Our findings corroborate previous reports of an association of thunderstorm activity with asthma exacerbation,” the study reads. “Furthermore, our results provide preliminary evidence in support of rainfall and wind gusts playing important roles in this association.”

The link between thunderstorms and an increase in asthma symptoms may pose a problem for asthmatics and allergy sufferers in Georgia. According to the National Weather Service, thunderstorms are most common in spring and summer months in north Georgia. Additionally, WeatherSpark found thunderstorms occur on an average of 31 percent of days that rain in Atlanta.

Grundstein, who has a research specialty in climatology, said he first came across an article about thunderstorm asthma in foreign countries when teaching a graduate seminar years ago. Since then, he has worked with a group of health scientists at Emory to test the theory in metro Atlanta.

“We helped with the information on the weather conditions,” Grundstein said. “They had a big data set of people seeking medical attention in emergency rooms, so we combined our information with their information.”
He said they basically looked at emergency room data in Atlanta to see how it corresponded with thunderstorms in the area. What they found was a three percent influx in people going to emergency rooms with asthma symptoms after thunderstorms. Grundstein said that represents a low estimate, as there are likely those who suffer from thunderstorm asthma who treat themselves without going to a hospital.

But in places such as England, where three percent of the population is still a large part of the population, that can cause problems, Grundstein said.

“One of the things that’s really important is in a lot of the states in England where you have these big outbreaks, all these people have asthma attacks and they rush to the emergency rooms and get overloaded,” he said. “Being aware in thunderstorms [that] these things could happen, you might help them prepare better.”

Grundstein said the people who run into trouble are usually not those with severe asthma, but those with mild asthma paired with pollen allergies because those with frequent asthma attacks have and know how to use medication.

Grundstein said he recommends people with asthma, especially those with pollen allergies, stay informed about symptoms and treatments.

“Talk to your doctor about an appropriate kind of regiment to control it and what to do if you do have an asthma attack,” he said. “It might be helpful to stay indoors during the thunderstorm.”

September 19, 2014 | News

Changing Politics

A gated community of regal brick homes with impeccable landscaping and $450,000 price tags might seem an unlikely place for a voter-registration drive.

August 12, 2014 | News


Landscape Ecology and Bio-Cultural Heritage: The New Geographies of Conservation

This course engages students in geographical literacy of nature conservation by deconstructing contemporary narratives of cultural landscapes as they relate to Landscape Ecology. The main goal is to expose graduate students to the current literature on cultural landscape conservation and train them in biocultural heritage studies, geospatial tools, with challenges to political-ecology theory and critical biogeography. The study of place, power relations of culture/nature binaries will help us to reconstruct appropriate narratives with four major pillars:
a) cultural reactions, perceptions and conceptions of nature, and protected areas
b) natural restoration cycles of the forest environment and its appropriation by society
c) ecological footprint, human impacts and ethno-landscape ecology
d) environmental forecasting of geographical scenarios of sustainability.

We will theorize the process of conservation territories in a global economy and analyze the metageography of continents to frame conservation scenarios in a North-South vector with spatialities of sustainability and transfrontier conservation, as well as commodification of plants, animals and environmental services. We will also identify constraints of managing cultural landscapes with the paradigm of biocultural heritage in either farmscape/ seascape/ cityscape and other foci of centralized protection schemes. We then will construct our narrative for the human dimension of a place worth conserving, namely a cultural landscape. The discussions will be based on students' presentations, and videoconference(s) with the main actors of political ecology, cultural landscape research and conservation science available to us.

• Heckler, S. (Ed). 2012. Landscape, Power and Processes. Reevaluating TEK. Berghahn
• Sarmiento, F. (2012). Critical Biogeography of the Northern Andean Higlands. Kona Publishers.
• Peet, R., P. Robbins & M.J. Watts. 2011. Global Political Ecology. Routledge
• Johnson, L & E.S. Hunt (Eds). 2013. Landscape Ethnoecology: Berghahn.
• Roe, M. and K. Taylor. 2014. New Cultural Landscapes. Routledge, New York.
• Taylor, K. and J. Lennon (Eds). 2012. Managing Cultural Landscapes. Routledge.
• Goldman, M., P. Nadasdy & M. D. Turner. (Eds) 2011. Knowing Nature: Conversations at the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies. U. Chicago Press.
• Taylor, K., N. Mitchell & A. St.Clair (eds). 2015. Conserving Cultural Landscapes: Challenges and New Directions. Routledge.

Graduate Students Readings:
As customary in Geography, we will develop the reading seminar list to match students’ interest. You should expect to read and analyze about five articles per week from Landscape Ecology, Environmental Conservation, world Heritage, Landscape, Human Ecology, Nature and Culture, Conservation Biology, Geographical Review, AAG Annals, Biodiversity letters, Biogeography, Ambio, BioScience and other journals of the student’s chosen field. A final list of papers will be developed during the first two weeks with everyone’s input. A final Symposium presentation will be held at the Center for Integrative Conservation and Research, CICR, open to campus and the public.

August 12, 2014 | News


The graduate segment of this, the longest running course on Latin America at the UGA campus, will help students to land appropriate local contacts and target meaningful question to prepare grad students to do research with a purpose. Latin America’s multitude of options for field research will help students of many disciplines to define their own target questions but also to immerse themselves into transdisciplinary research for sustainable development.

Extensive and intensive knowledge will be afforded by taking a class with a leading scholar on mountain ecology, born in Latin America and considered at the forefront of academic engagement in the region. Dr. Sarmiento was co-director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Director of International Education at UGA, thus, his mentoring could help facilitate prospective research projects in the region. Besides, students’ comments refer to this course as a highlight on the Wow Factor.

This course will explore identity principles in today’s Latin American landscapes, analyzing the underlying factors of environmental sustainability and forecasting its likelihood of success. Current debates on development models associated with conservation of biocultural heritage in the region, as well as with economic/ecological imperatives for current global trends, will be held as survey of the incoming influence of the so-called third-world countries. As geographic instruction, the fate of Latin American nations will be untangled from the scientific interpretation of balanced, documented discussions on drivers of regional change that foster both USA and Latin America’s well-being and/or hemispheric degradation. Graduate students will develop their research skills as well as their coordination and moderation abilities by introducing discussions, moderating debates, presenting speakers, preparing a paper or organizing a conference-type final.

• Kent, Robert B. 2006. Latin America: Regions and People. The Guilford Press. New York.
• Helferich, Gerard. 2005. Humboldt’s Cosmos: Alexander Von Humboldt and the Latin American Journey that Changed the Way we See the World. Gotham Books-Penguin Group. New York.
• De Grave, Analisa. Eva Santos-Phillips and Jeff DeGrave. 2007. Taking Sides: Clashing views on Latin American Issues. McGraw Hill. Dubuque, Iowa.
• Sarmiento, Fausto. 2003. Montañas del Mundo: Una Prioridad Global con Perspectivas Latinoamericanas. Editorial Abya Yala. Quito.

Graduate Students Readings:
As customary in Geography, we will develop inform or readings from current articles from the Journal of Latin America Geography, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Perspectives on Latin America, Journal of Caribbean Geography, Journal for Latin American Cultural Studies, LASA online, Latin America Research Review and other journals of the student’s chosen field.
A term paper will be developed during the semester. A final Symposium presentation will be held at the Institute of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, open to campus and the public.

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