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News Release 18-016

NSF support helps advance research in geography and spatial science

Awards support research projects that advance fundamental knowledge and have positive societal impacts

Collage of landscapes, city skylines, and people.

Geography and Spatial Sciences supports research on interactions of humans and their environments.

March 8, 2018

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded more than $10.2 million in 2017 through its Geography and Spatial Sciences (GSS) program to fund 64 new projects that will advance knowledge about geographic patterns and processes, as well as the complex dynamics of interactions among human, physical and biotic systems on Earth.

"Geography plays an important role in how people interact with each other, their cultures and their environments," said Fay Lomax Cook, NSF assistant director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), which houses the GSS program. "NSF has a long history of supporting fundamental research that advances the knowledge, concepts, theories and methods in geography and spatial science. GSS projects have advanced fundamental understanding and addressed critical questions of societal significance in many ways."

The GSS program promotes research about the nature, causes and consequences of human activity, natural environmental processes, and human-environmental interactions across a range of scales. The program also promotes education and training opportunities for geographers and spatial scientists and their involvement in interdisciplinary research.

"Awards made by the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program address a wide range of topics with real-world impacts," said GSS Program Director Antoinette WinklerPrins. "Our awards reflect this diversity with projects about land-use, technology and social networks, labor migration patterns, road safety, spatial dynamics of homicides, adjustments to changing societal and environmental conditions, and more. The awards also assist in the professional development of researchers who will conduct exciting, significant research for decades to come."

Several awards are co-funded by other programs in NSF, and one was funded in partnership with the Research Councils, United Kingdom.

Listed below are the projects, principal investigators and organizations receiving awards.

2017 Geography and Spatial Sciences program awards

Research awards

SBE-RCUK: The Effects of Mobile Phones on Gendered Social Networks, Decision Making, and Vulnerability, Timothy Baird, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Relationships Between Removal of Infrastructure Subsidies and Coastal Development: The Impact of the U.S. Coastal Barrier Resources Act, Todd BenDor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Quantifying the Invasive Grass-Fire Cycle and Implications for Carbon Storage in the Continental U.S., Bethany Bradley, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Coastal Erosion Vulnerabilities, Monsoon Dynamics, and Human Adaptive Response, Thomas Crawford, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Soil Erosion, Floodplain Sedimentation, and Agricultural Sustainability Over Centennial Time Scales, J. Michael Daniels, University of Denver

Understanding the Role of Moisture Transport in Rainfall Variability and Agricultural Decision Making, Jeremy Diem, Georgia State University

Land-Surface Processes, Dust Sources, and Particulate Fluxes of the 1930s Dust Bowl Drought in the U.S. Great Plains, Steven Forman, Baylor University

Assessing the Influence of Zero-Deforestation Supply-Chain Commitments on the Conservation of Ecosystems, Rachael Garrett, Boston University

Evaluation of the Processes Shaping Geographic Patterns of Language Diversity with Process-Based Simulation Models, Michael Gavin, Colorado State University

Developing a Network of n-Alkane Hydrogen Isotope Records to Identify Drivers and Impacts of Holocene Droughts, Sally Horn, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Geospatial Intelligence, and Civil Rights, Joshua Inwood, Pennsylvania State University-University Park

A Paleoclimatic Examination of Tropical Cyclone-Related Precipitation Variability and Atmospheric-Oceanic Controls Inferred from Longleaf Pine in the Coastal Carolinas, Paul Knapp, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Refueling Infrastructure Preferences and the Adoption of Alternative-Fuel Vehicles, Michael Kuby, Arizona State University

Relationships Between Urban Population Densities and the Carbon Efficiency of Public Transit and Private Vehicles, Bumsoo Lee, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Intellectual Migration Dynamics Between China and the U.S., Wei Li, Arizona State University

Co-Production of Environmental Conservation and Social Equity: Is Conditionality in Payments for Ecosystem Services a Necessity or an Impediment? Zhao Ma, Purdue University

An Ethnography of Pathways to Interdisciplinary Knowledge Integration at Two Environmental Science Sites in Brazil, Katie Meehan, University of Oregon-Eugene

Fire, Vegetation Change, and Human Settlement, Scott Mensing, University of Nevada-Reno

RAPID: Impacts of an Extreme Flood on River Channel Formation and Riparian Forests, Robert Pavlowsky, Missouri State University

Labor Migration and Effects of Remittances and Commodity Enclosures on Industrial Agriculture and Forest Landscapes, Nancy Peluso, University of California-Berkeley

Neighborhoods in Space-Time Contexts, Sergio Rey, Arizona State University

RUI: Assessing the Environmental and Human Drivers and Cultural Dimensions of Changes in Oak Forests of the Eastern U.S., David Robertson, SUNY College-Geneseo

Linking Basin-Scale, Stand-Level, and Individual Tree Water Stress Indicators for Groundwater-Dependent Riparian Forests in Multiple-Use River Basins, John Stella, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Fleeting Decisions and Risks in Pedestrian Road-Crossing Behavior: Building Insight with Next-Generation Data, Models, and Platforms, Paul Torrens, New York University

Demographic Inversion in U.S. Metropolitan Areas, Kyle Walker, Texas Christian University

Faculty Early-Career Development (CAREER) Awards

CAREER: The Science of Science Education: Resource Access, Conservation, and Cherokee Land-Based Education in Oklahoma, Clinton Carroll, University of Colorado-Boulder

CAREER: Linking Upstream Land-Use Dynamics and Downstream Sedimentation, William Ouimet, University of Connecticut

CAREER: Geographic and Temporal Homicide Dynamics 1870-2003, Robert Vargas, University of Notre Dame

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) Awards

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Disability Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, Anthony Bebbington/Catherine Jampel, Clark University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Cartographic Design for Public Communication of Environmental Information, Cynthia Brewer/Carolyn Fish, Pennsylvania State University-University Park

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Late Pleistocene Glaciation in Southeastern Alaska: Assessing the Sensitivity of a Marine-Terminating Ice Sheet to Changing Environmental Conditions, Jason Briner/Alia Lesnek, SUNY-Buffalo

Doctoral Dissertation Research: The American Alley: A History of Social Hierarchies in U.S. Urban Landscapes, William Cronon/Rebecca Summer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Effects of Prescribed Fire on Forest Dynamics and Resource Use, Lisa Curran/Tony Marks-Block, Stanford University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Tax Credits, Historic Preservation, and the Redevelopment of Modernist Architecture in the United States, Mark Davidson/Renee Tapp, Clark University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Differentiated Citizenship and the Governance of Land and Everyday Life in the Making of a Global City, Nancy Ettlinger/Debangana Bose, Ohio State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Extra-Territorial Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Politics of Development, Jennifer Fluri/Rupak Shrestha, University of Colorado-Boulder

Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Impact of Lateral Channel Confinement on River Morphology, Mark Fonstad/Aaron Zettler-Mann, University of Oregon-Eugene

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assessing the Effects of Tourism Development on Small-Scale Fisheries, Steven Gaines/Karly Miller, University of California-Santa Barbara

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Integrating Image Spectroscopy and Microbial Biogeochemistry to Analyze Woody Shrub Encroachment, Rachel Gallery/Martha Gebhardt, University of Arizona

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Geographies of Urban Trauma: Examining a Social Service Paradigm Shift in Two U.S. Cities, Melissa Gilbert/Sarah Stinard-Kiel, Temple University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Development of a Framework for Quantifying Hydrologic Surface Connectivity of a Coastal River-Floodplain System, Inci Guneralp/Cesar Castillo, Texas A&M University-College Station

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Holocene Precipitation Variability and Its Relationship to Prehistoric Agriculture and Fires, Sally Horn/Matthew Kerr, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Temporal Variations in Pacific Ocean Dust Fluxes, Sara Hotchkiss/Soo Hyun Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Geoprivacy Attitudes and Personal Location-Masking Strategies of Internet Users, Piotr Jankowski/Dara Seidl, San Diego State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Environmental Subject Formation at the Intersection of Hydraulic Fracturing and Agricultural Production, Hilda Kurtz/Gretchen Sneegas, University of Georgia

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Segregation and Its Effects on Social Disparities in Exposure to Air Pollution, Mei-Po Kwan/Yoo-Min Park, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Coffee Farming, Drought, and the Effects of Eco-Certification on Farmer Resilience, Eric Lambin/Elinor Benami Stanford University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Reconstructing Hurricane Activity in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: A Multi-Proxy Approach Using Biomarkers and Stable Isotopes, Kam-biu Liu/Marianne Dietz, Louisiana State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Ethnicity, Difference and the Feasibility of Spatial Exclusion Policies in Resolving Land Conflicts, Kendra McSweeney/Nora Sylvander, Ohio State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Reconstructing How Ecosystems Develop in High Northern Latitudes Using Genetic Markers and Temperature Signals in Lake Sediments, Gifford Miller/Sarah Crump, University of Colorado-Boulder

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Understanding How Community-Led Efforts of Maintaining Peace Can be Effective in Areas of Long-Term Armed Conflict, Adam Moore/Vener Macaspac, University of California-Los Angeles

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assembling Community Economies, James Murphy/Kaner Turker, Clark University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assessing the Impacts of Global Amenity Migration on Land Use, Livelihoods, and Communal Identities, Lise Nelson/Kelsey Brain, Pennsylvania State University-University Park

Doctoral Dissertation Research: New Methods for Spatial Analysis of Electoral Districts, Sergio Rey/Levi Wolf, Arizona State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Fire-Driven Alternative States and Spatial Variability in Forest Resilience at a Dry Forest Ecotone, Alan Taylor/Lucas Harris, Pennsylvania State University-University Park

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Mapping and Modeling Clandestine Activities Affecting Urban Expansion, B.L. Turner II/Beth Tellman, Arizona State University

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Displacement and Consent in Voluntary Urban Resettlement of Internally Displaced People, Gabriela Valdivia/Angus Lyall, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Research Community-Development Awards

Conferences: Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM Geospatial Sciences, M. Kate Beard-Tisdale, University of Maine

Research Data Centers: Dallas-Fort Worth, Kurt Beron, University of Texas-Dallas

Socio-Hydrological Dynamics Workshop, Marion Dumas, Santa Fe Institute

Core Support for the Geographical Sciences Committee at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Elizabeth Eide, National Academy of Sciences

Resilience and Bio-Geomorphic Systems: The 48th Annual Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium, Jason Julian, Texas State University-San Marcos

Travel Support for Early-Career Scholars Attending the 28th International Cartographic Conference, Washington, D.C., July 2017, Michael Leitner, Louisiana State University

REU Site: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking, Brian Tomaszewski, Rochester Institute of Technology


Media Contacts
Stanley Dambroski, NSF, (703) 292-7728, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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