GUS Icon

Posts Categorized: Undergraduate


Our Undergrads Take on Middle States

On October 20 and 21, five students representing the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University attended the Middle States Division of the Association of American Geographers annual meeting at SUNY Geneseo.

They presented five-minute talks on a range of topics:GUS 2

  • Jillian Eller: “Liquor Store Locations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Their Relation to Violent Crime Based on Seasonality”
  • Joseph Gallagher: “Cod-motity Fetish: British Fishers, Place and Brexit
  • Maric Kusinitz: “Geographies of Sacred Space: A Meditative Exercise”
  • Ritapa Neogi: “Colonialism and the Ecological Crisis of the Suez Canal
  • Chelsea Williams: “Neoliberal Food Deserts”

In addition to the professional development of presenting at a conference, this was a chance for our students to network with fellow Geography undergraduates and meet faculty from the region, including the Chair of the American Association of Geographers Derek Alderman.

This was a student-driven effort, with support from faculty and staff in the department.

GIS River City

Environmental GIS takes on Urban Heat at the River City Festival

By Hamil Pearsall, PhD, Marlee Cooper, Dempsey DiMedio, Kenneth Govan, Jason Loux, Daron Mulligan, Charlie Orr, Julia Pedrick, Sam Schwarzwalder, and Chris Tauskey

On Saturday, October 14th, the students from Environmental GIS taught by Professor Hamil Pearsall developed an exhibit on urban heat islands in Philadelphia as part of the Climate City section at the Fishtown River City Festival at Penn Treaty Park.

Our goal was to teach attendees about urban heat islands and in a way that was easy to understand, memorable and relatable to individuals living in the Philadelphia area. We followed a climate communication approach developed by the Climate & Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) that focused on making an issue like climate change local, relevant, and solution-oriented and developed three different hands-on components for our exhibit:

  1. A station for measuring the temperature of common construction materials (e.g. bricks, roofing materials, wood);
  2. A matching game that challenged residents to match a neighborhood-scale photo to its corresponding location on a map of temperatures across the city; and
  3. A game, inspired by The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, to help Fishtown residents come up with ways of cooling their neighborhood.
Students in Professor Pearsall’s Environmental GIS course show River City Festival attendees ways to combat urban heat.

Students in Professor Pearsall’s Environmental GIS course show River City Festival attendees ways to combat urban heat.

Our maps and activities were engaging, fun, and educational. They help get people interested in the timely issue of urban heat, it helped people realize that urban heat islands affect them as
individuals. It also equipped them with recommendations of what they can do to keep their neighborhoods cooler. Easy recommendations included green spaces, planting trees, or being aware of the type of shingles on your roof.

The students from the class enjoyed interacting with the local community to discuss environmental issues relevant to Philadelphia. The exhibit successfully accomplished its goal of making people aware of extreme heat in cities and helping them to find ways that they could make a difference through a few simple actions.

Extreme Weather

Our Faculty Advocate for Climate Change Policy Reform in Wake of Recent Natural Disasters

On Sept. 26, six of our faculty openly addressed recent natural disasters in a panel titled “Extreme Weather or Extreme Politics: Climate Change, Urban Planning and the 2017 Hurricane Season.” Moderated by Hamil Pearsall, an expert on hazards and vulnerability, panelists included Christina Rosan, David Organ, Victor Gutierrez-Velez, Robert Mason, and Charles Kaylor.

Read more about the panel, as told by Environmental Studies major Jillian Eller, on the College of Liberal Arts Newsroom.


Building Information Technology Skills, Summer 2017

Each summer, youth from all parts of Philadelphia come to Temple University to participate in the Building Information Technology Skills (bITS) program at Temple University.  The program offers unique opportunities for urban youth to acquire new digital literacy and professional skills for the 21st century. The program seeks to build new capacities for community development and economic change through the languages of digital technology.

Youth in the bITS program participate in service learning projects or a faculty-led internship experience. This summer, a group of youth worked on a project led by Geography and Urban Studies PhD student Alisa Shockley with Environmental Studies major Jillian Eller as a fellow mentor. They examined parks in North Philadelphia and Center City, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different parks. They then proposed a new park that could be put in place at 8th and Berks, just east of Temple’s Campus. Given the size of the plot of land and the best and worst practices they saw across the city, they designed a park that sought to integrate the needs of the community with aesthetic design. Their final proposal pulled from family-friendly parks found in North Philadelphia, with kids playing and teenagers present, and the design focused around a fountain seen at Logan Circle, to suggest a park with a rec center to generate money, space for kids, dogs and parents, and a community garden space. In keeping with Philadelphia’s love of mural but putting their own spin on it, they suggested painting the walkways instead of a building wall.

Check out their story map, detailing their fieldwork, reflections and suggestions, here: Engaging with Spaces: 8th and Diamond Playground Fieldwork.

In addition to the student mentors, other members of the GUS community were involved with the bITS program including PhD student Sarah Heck, who worked as a coordinator GUS bITS 2for the program. Guest visitors included Assistant Professor Dr. David Organ and 2016 PhD graduate Alec Foster.

The bITS program invites several guest speakers to attend and work with the youth. For the past several years, Cey Adams, a graffiti artist and co-founder of the Drawing Board, Def Jam Recordings visual design firm. Just one day after participating in the bITS showcase, Cey Adams was featured in August 11th’s Google Doodle, recognizing the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip hop.

G3The bITS program is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Philadelphia Youth Network. It began as a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dr. Michele Masucci, Vice President for Research at Temple University and a Geography and Urban Studies Professor. More information about the bITS summer program and its affiliation with the Apps and Maps Studios at Temple is available here.



Pictured above: Jillian Eller and Alisa Shockley, bITS mentors from GUS, and their group of youth at the final presentation day.
Pictured right: Dr. Michele Masucci, Vice President for Research, presents Cey Adams with a thank you gift.
Pictured left: Philadelphia Youth Network’s Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend addresses the youth, recognizing their hard work in the program.

Aaron Weckstein

Environmental Studies Major Aaron Weckstein receives Udall Scholarship

Environmental Studies major Aaron Weckstein was selected out of nearly 500 applicants as a 2017 Udall Scholar. With an interest in sustainable urban design and green stormwater infrastructure, Aaron has served as the Director of Grounds and Sustainability for the Temple Student Government for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Udall Scholars are selected on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Native health care, or Tribal public policy; leadership potential; record of public service; and academic achievement. Each scholarship provides up to $7,000 for the Scholar’s junior or senior year. Since the first awards in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,574 scholarships totaling $8,090,000.

The 2017 Udall Scholars will assemble August 8-13, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona, to meet one another and program alumni; learn more about the Udall legacy of public service; and interact with community leaders in environmental fields, Tribal health care, and governance.

Learn more about the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship and meet the 2017 Scholars.

Pictured above from left to right: Denina Taylor, Kerri Thomas, Austen Davis, Darion Porter, Mattingly Cohen, Zachary Gebhardt at the CLA Awards Reception

Congratulations to our 2017 Awardees!

Departmental Awards

Carolyn Adams Award in Geography and Urban Studies
Zachary Gebhardt
Austen Davis

Henry N. Michael Prize in Geography and Urban Studies
Timothy Capella
Nigel Auguste

Patrick Stocking Memorial Prize
Seth Zeiset
Taylor Johnson

Delaware Valley Geographical Association Award
Kerri Thomas

Environmental Studies Award
Darion Porter

Geography and Urban Studies Department Award for Outstanding Achievement
Denina Taylor

Benjamin H. Kohl Memorial Award
Mattingly Cohen

Phi Beta Kappa

2017 members

  • Denina Taylor
  • Taylor Johnson
  • Darion Porter
  • Molly Mattes
  • Ramona Rauh
  • Daron Mulligan
  • Sierra Sparrow
  • Michael McKelvy

See past award winners here.

Pictured above from left to right: Denina Taylor, Kerri Thomas, Austen Davis, Darion Porter, Mattingly Cohen, Zachary Gebhardt at the CLA Awards Reception

Dr. Pearsall presents in Barcelona

Dr. Hamil Pearsall presents in Barcelona: Green Inequalities: An Inquiry into Urban Environmental Gentrification

On February 17th, Geography and Urban Studies faculty Dr. Hamil Pearsall recently participated in Green Inequalities: An Inquiry into Urban Environmental Gentrification, an event hosted by the Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, along with several other well-known gentrification scholars.  She participated on a panel on “Measuring Gentrification” with more than 150 people attending.

To learn more about the conference, visit the BCNUEJ website.


CRC 10 Year Donation Map

Interning with the CRC: Mapping Temple’s impact on the digital divide

“Last semester, I worked with Jonathan Latko, founder and Director of the Computer Recycling Center (CRC) at Temple University; at the same time, I was enrolled in ENST/GUS 3085, Dr. Andrucki’s internship seminar.  This is a course where you earn academic credit for your internship, in addition to the experience of the internship itself. Dr. Andrucki led weekly discussions on topics ranging from the obligations of a university in the community to the evolution of volunteerism/non-profit work as a career path.  His relevant class materials, in-depth discussions, and assignments allowed each of us to assess what our internship was contributing in terms of personal development and community involvement.

“The primary role of the CRC is the collection and refurbishment of electronic computing equipment that has been cycled out. In addition to reducing electronic waste at Temple, Jonathan also aims to bridge the gap in what is referred to as “the digital divide”. The digital divide is a phenomenon that occurs within marginalized communities in which members are systemically left out of advancements in technology. This is a huge concern because today you need a computer to schedule a driver’s test, enroll in a healthcare plan, or track and manage your finances. Individuals of marginalized communities are often left out of technological advancements simply because they cannot afford it.  Through the Temple Tech For Philly Program, the CRC donates refurbished computer equipment to community recreation centers, schools and other organizations that are in desperate need of updated technology to effectively serve their community members.

“Part of my internship experience was to develop a map that would help to determine how big the impact of the CRC was in the local community and, it turns out, that it’s substantial. By mapping the receiving organizations, we found that over the last 10 years, the CRC donated over 2,500 pieces of computer equipment to more than 250 locations; the donations were items such as computers, monitors, and printers. In order to arrive at these figures, Jonathan provided me with access to the CRC’s database in which all pieces of equipment are accounted for; the database allowed us to generate a list of community organizations, date of donation and contents of those donations. After organizing the data into a format that made sense for me, I used Google Map Maker and began adding layers for each of the years in question. Once the layers were established, I used the built-in data table functions of this program to clearly identify how many pieces of equipment were donated and what the makeup of that donation was (CPU’s, monitors, printers, etc).  It was important to make sure that all of the locations were accurate because we needed to demonstrate how large the impact of this operation was. Each layer on the map is labeled by the year that was examined as well as the total amount of community organizations that the CRC donated to; each of these layers was also color coded to illustrate the reach in that specific year. These layers also contain a text summary of what particular equipment was donated.

“After the data had been mapped, it was shared with members of the Temple Administration to demonstrate how the CRC has been serving Temple and the community.  As previously stated, the impact has been substantial and Temple has continued to be a university that contributes significantly to the surrounding community by not only giving, but by setting the community up for success along with maintaining a sense of capability within those recipients. View the full map of Temple Tech For Philly’s reach.”


– John Strawbridge, Geography and Urban Studies, Class of 2017

Darion Porter

Darion Porter plans to change the world

Darion Porter, CLA ’17, was recently featured on the College of Liberal Arts Newsroom. Darion entered Temple as a Biology major, but joining a Sustainability Living-Learning Community changed his mind, and he became an Environmental Studies major. The curriculum allowed him to learn more about sustainability, Geographic Information Systems, and the wide range of opportunities now open to him as a liberal arts major.  Darion plans to use the breadth of knowledge gained from the Environmental Studies program to be the change he wants to see in the world, one step at a time.


Read the full interview with Darion.


Photo Credit: College of Liberal Arts Communications