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Students sweep awards at geography conference

Left to right: Victoria Nguyen (1st place undergrad poster contest); Rebekah Jones, Peng Jia and Jana Brady (first place, second place and third place graduate poster contest, respectively)

Left to right: Victoria Nguyen (1st place undergrad poster contest); Rebekah Jones, Peng Jia and Jana Brady (first place, second place and third place graduate poster contest, respectively)

Four LSU geography students took home big prizes in the student competitions at this year’s Southwestern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SWAAG) conference in Nacogdoches, Texas.

More than 40 students from across the region entered the undergraduate and graduates contests, which included awards for posters and paper presentations. Cash awards of $200, $150 and $100 were given out for first, second and third place, respectively. LSU students placed in every single category they competed in, and won first place in both the graduate and undergraduate poster competitions. Students and professors also presented papers and posters outside of the competition.

Victoria Nguyen placed first in the undergraduate student poster competition. Photo by Audrey Maass.

Victoria Nguyen, a senior geography major, won first place in the undergraduate poster category. Her project was titled, “Disappearing Vietnamese Gardens in Versailles.”Photo by Audrey Maass.

 

 

Rebekah Jones placed first in the graduate student poster competition. Photo by Audrey Maass.
Rebekah Jones, an M.S. candidate in geography, won first place in the graduate poster category. Her project was titled, “A remote sensing analysis of the effects of seasonal and annual variability and tropical cyclones on barrier island surface area in the Mississippi Sound, 1972-2013.”Photo by Audrey Maass.

Peng Jia won second place in the graduate student poster competition. Photo by Audrey Maass.

Peng Jia, a Ph.D. candidate in geography, won second place in the graduate poster category. His project was titled, “Spatio-temporal Distribution and Ecological Niche Modeling of Brucellosis Occurrences in Inner Mongolia, China.”Photo by Audrey Maass.

Jana Brady won third place in the graduate student poster competition.

Jana Brady won third place in the graduate poster category. Her project was titled, “Visualizing New Haven’s Paleo-Past: Creating a GIS Database of an Archaic Weapons Factory.” Photo by Audrey Maass.

 

 

 

Christopher McCurley SWAAG

Photo by Audrey Maass.

 

 

Ph.D. students Christopher McCurley (above) and Audrey Maass also presented at the conference. McCurley’s poster was titled, “Espiritsmo: Puerto Rico and its Indigenous Healing System.” Audrey Maass presented a paper titled, “The merging of oil and oysters: How the oyster fisherman copes with the transformations in coastal Louisiana.”

Conference abstracts

Victoria Nguyen
Disappearing Vietnamese Gardens in Versailles

My research looks into two types of ecology, essentially. The main story looks into the backyard garden culture of Vietnamese elders in my hometown of Versailles, New Orleans East. The process of cultivating traditional herbs and veggies, most of which are not sold in American grocers, help to continue Vietnamese foodways and also provide a form of physical activity. The other story is of political ecology, and examines a post-Katrina landfill that threatened to contaminate the neighborhood waterway, which some gardeners draw from. Versailles had a successful protest to shut the landfill down but the threat now is time and a lack of interest by younger generations to continue the traditional cultivation. A solution proposed is the installment of a gardening program with community garden at the local school. The backyard garden culture of Versailles will eventually disappear if youth are not educated to appreciate their significance.

Rebekah Jones
A remote sensing analysis of the effects of seasonal and annual variability and tropical cyclones on barrier island surface area in the Mississippi Sound, 1972-2013

A remote sensing analysis of more than 600 Landsat images spanning 40 years provides unique insight into the dynamics of four Mississippi-Alabama barrier islands. The data reveal two distinct types of spatial and temporal patterns: seasonal variability highly responsive to changes in sea level and increased geomorphological impacts of extreme-climatic events.The analysis of East Ship Island (ESI), West Ship Island (WSI), Petit Bois Island (PBI), and an unnamed island developing off the western spit of Petit Bois Island (nicknamed “Sand Island”) allowed for the isolation of catastrophic events, including tropical cyclones, calculation of erosion and accretion during inactive periods, and seasonal, inter-annual, inter-decadal variability.
On average, PBI experienced a decrease in surface area of 34 percent since 1972; WSI experienced a 29 percent surface area loss; and ESI experienced a 38 percent area loss. Sand Island experienced overall growth during the study period – its area increased more than 900 percent.
From 1972-1983 the islands experienced moderate seasonal and inter-annual variability, a reflection of the sensitivity of the islands to changes in sea level. The islands then stabilized with regular inter-annual variability from about 1984-1997, at which point the islands entered a very high variability phase following Hurricane Georges – a clear punctuation in the history of the islands.
After 1998, hurricane landfalls initiated accelerated erosion, with storms becoming more erosive as the surface area decreased, and smaller, less intense cyclones became more impactful overall. Recovery rates post-Katrina are accelerating, however, although not returned to pre-Georges levels.

Peng Jia
Spatio-temporal Distribution and Ecological Niche Modeling of Brucellosis Occurrences in Inner Mongolia, China

Brucellosis remains a major source of diseases in both humans and domesticated animals. It is transmitted to humans by contacting with animals carrying the pathogenic bacteria Brucella. In China, Inner Mongolia has been considered a representative area for Brucellosis studies because it is well-known for the prairies and livestock living on grass, such as cattle, sheep, etc. GIS, remote sensing, and ecological niche modeling were used to evaluate the relative contribution of environmental and socioeconomic factors as Brucellosis suitability determinants and predict vulnerable regions to Brucellosis outside the Inner Mongolia.

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