News and Events

New Facilities


The department spent much of 2012 and early 2013 living with construction crews.

One of the biggest changes was the creation of the new Environmental Change Laboratory (ECL), under the direction of Associate Professor David Porinchu, who joined the faculty from Ohio State University in fall 2011. The ECL and its members are dedicated to using the biological, chemical, and physical properties of lake sediment to reconstruct long-term and recent patterns of climate change in the Inter-mountain West of the United States, the central Canadian Arctic and the Ohio River Valley. Our primary objectives at the ECL involve identifying the forcing factors behind long-term and recent climate change, and to trace the impact of these changes on natural ecosystems and people. Lakes are extremely sensitive to local and regional environmental change and we exploit the archival material contained within the lake basins, i.e. sediment, to develop detailed histories of past environmental conditions.

The ECL, which occupies approximately 1000 square feet on the third floor of the GG Building, includes a state-of-the-art paeloenvironmental laboratory dedicated to the study of lake sediment. The paleolimnology laboratory contains: a Costech elemental analyzer for carbon and nitrogen analyses, a microbalance, a muffle furnace for Loss-On-Ignition analysis, a large drying oven, an analytic balance, cold storage cabinet for sediment core archiving and a full suite of glassware and chemicals, centrifuge and a brand new fume hood. In addition, four Zeiss DV4 Stereomicroscopes are available for chironomid sorting and a Zeiss Axioskop 2 Plus Research Microscope with digital camera and imaging software is available for fossil specimen identification. A reference collection consisting of fossil chironomid remains from the western United States and Arctic Canada and Russia is housed in the lab. A full suite of field equipment is also available, including a YSI handheld dissolved oxygen/conductivity/salinity/temperature meter, pH meters, inflatable boats, coring platforms and coring equipment (Livingstone and a DeGrand maxi-corer).

The ECL is already being heavily utilized. Danielle Haskett, a second year M.S. student is analyzing lake sediment from Colorado that is over 100,000 years old. Danielle is part of a large multi-disciplinary team, lead by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, working on the Snowmastadon Site in Snowmass Village, CO. Danielle is interested in quantifying the magnitude and rate of temperature change that occurred in the Rockies during the pervious interglacial (~ 130,000 years Before Present). Jiaying Wu, a first year Ph.D. student, is currently working on completing manuscripts resulting from her M.S. thesis research on Holocene environmental change in Costa Rica. Jiaying made use of insect remains preserved in lake sediment to develop a quantitative, high-resolution reconstruction of late Quaternary thermal conditions for Costa Rica and determine the degree to which landscape change in this region was driven by climate. Stay tuned for further details!




The Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science (CRMS), which has been in existence in some form for 30 years, has been renamed the Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) to better represent the breadth of work in the center. The center was also completely renovated during the 2012-13 academic year.

The center promotes geographic thinking and the application of geospatial technology in interdisciplinary research, education, and public service. Faculty and students apply their history of expertise in remote sensing, photogrammetry, GIS, geovisualization, and field surveys to uncover the spatial aspect in any research. Their internationally recognized work in natural and cultural resources, terrain analysis, and spatio-temporal modeling addresses critical and contemporary issues in human and environment relationships.

The specialties of the center's multidisciplinary staff that encompass the full range of geographic information science include remote sensing and digital image processing, digital photogrammetry, image interpretation, geographic information systems (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS) surveys and software development focused on applications in ecology, forestry, geography, geology and hydrology.


UGA elected to UCAR

A nonprofit consortium of North American research universities, UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research on behalf of the National Science Foundation and fosters basic and applied research, outreach and education in the atmospheric, oceanic, space and related sciences.

“Being a member of UCAR means being a part of a community that helps shape the future direction of the atmospheric and related sciences both nationally and internationally,” said Marshall Shepherd, professor of geography in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and director of the UGA Atmospheric Sciences program.

UGA is the 78th member of UCAR, which was founded in 1960. Universities invited to join UCAR must demonstrate continuing commitment to programs of study and research in atmospheric sciences as well as a commitment to active participation in UCAR activities. Members are elected for eight-year terms.

“The curriculum for UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences program is highly innovative and forward-looking, offering an unusually broad interdisciplinary focus that ranges from anthropology to geography, while retaining the fundamentals so critical to our field of study,” said Thomas Bogdan, president of UCAR.

Excerpt from article by Terry Marie Hastings, Office of the Vice President for Research

UGA joins NASA DEVELOP program


Beginning this summer, the University of Georgia’s department of geography will partner with NASA through DEVELOP, a national student internship program created to enhance training and development in Earth science. The UGA collaboration is only the second housed strictly at a university in the U.S.

Initial UGA projects include analyzing the marshes of coastal Georgia, examining the correlations between public health and air quality in Washington County, Ga., determining the effects of ozone on hemlock conifers in the Great Smoky Mountains and assessing forest connectivity in Costa Rica.

“The DEVELOP Program gives the university a unique opportunity to engage further with NASA, attract and train a new cohort of student-scientists and extend our results to local communities,” said Thomas Mote, professor and head of the department of geography, which is housed in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “The program is geared toward the use of NASA tools and resources to address local issues, and we’re proud that geography has played the lead role in bringing the DEVELOP Program to the university.”

DEVELOP is headquartered at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia and currently partners with 15 institutions around the world, most of which are closely associated with NASA centers. The program began in 1998 when the Digital Earth Initiative, a federal interagency project dedicated to increasing human understanding of the planet, initiated an effort to increase public access to federal information about the Earth and the environment. DEVELOP projects are designed to expand the use of NASA satellite data to effect policymaking and benefit its partner institutions.

“When you’re surrounded by people who are passionate about DEVELOP, it’s an inspiring environment to be involved with,” said Steve Padgett-Vasquez, a doctoral student in the integrative conservation and geography program.

Padgett-Vasquez came to UGA in 2012 after working at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where he served as center lead for DEVELOP. He will serve as center lead for the program at UGA—coordinating faculty, students and the program—and as liaison with the DEVELOP Program office in Langley.

The UGA DEVELOP collaboration will be centered in the department of geography’s research labs closely associated with the use of satellite data. Currently involved labs at UGA and their faculty directors are the Center for Geospatial Research, directed by Marguerite Madden; the Atmospheric Sciences Program, directed by Marshall Shepherd; the remote sensing and spectroscopy lab, under Deepak Mishra.

For more information on DEVELOP, see

By Alan Flurry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences