Graduate Student Profiles

Wei Luo

Wei LuoWei Luo, who will graduate from Penn State with Ph.D in Geography in August 2014, has accepted a post-doc position in the School of Computing, Informatics & Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. He will work on an NGA-funded project to address the national security risks of climate change.  

As a graduate affiliate of the GeoVISTA Center, Wei contributed to several projects, including SensePlace2, STempo, and the Vaccine Modeling Initiative. He also developed, as part of his thesis research, the GeoSocialApp, a visualization tool that supports the exploration of spatial-social networks among network, geographical, and attribute spaces. Using mixed methods - computational and visual, the GeoSocialApp enables discovery of complex patterns in large spatial-social network datasets in an effective and efficient way. Wei successfully defended his thesis, Geovisual Analytics Approaches for the Integration of Geography and Social Network Contexts, in July of 2014. Read more about this grad student . . .

Raechel Bianchetti

Raechel BianchettiRaechel Bianchetti will graduate from Penn State with a Ph.D in Geography in August 2014, and she has already accepted a tenure-track position in the Geography Department at Michigan State University.  As a graduate affiliate of the GeoVISTA Center, Raechel contributed to the SymbolStore project. Her research interests center on remote sensing and physical geography, cognitive GIScience, and historical geography. Raechel was also a member of theHuman Factors in GIScience Lab.

Raechel successfully defended her thesis, Looking Back to Inform the Future: The role of cognition in forest disturbance characterization from remote sensing imagery, in May of 2014. Raechel’s dissertation work, which was supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation, is rooted in her interdisciplinary educational training. Read more about this grad student. . .

Elaine Guidero

Elaine GuideroElaine Guidero is currently a Ph.D. candidate in geography, advised by Dr. Cynthia Brewer. Her tentative dissertation topic will be the evaluation of typography in cartographic applications. Typography is an essential part of any cartographic product, yet it is frequently overlooked by cartographers and designers. Her dissertation research will revolve around issues of legibility, aesthetics, and cognition as they apply to best practices of typographic design in maps.

Elaine graduated in 2012 from Penn State with a Master of Science in geography, advised by Dr. Alexander Klippel. For her Masters degree, she wrote two papers: Representing ordinal change in dynamic point symbols for emergency management applications, and Does topology predict geographic (2D) event segmentation? Read more about this grad student. . .

Rui Li

Rui LiRui Li received his Ph.D. in geography in June 2012. Li’s adviser, Alexander Klippel, Ph.D., is assistant professor of geography and director of the Human Factors Lab at the GeoVISTA Center. Li’s paper, "The dominant factor: Impacts of environmental quality and familiarity on wayfinding behaviors in buildings," received The Saarinen Best Student Paper Award of the Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography Special Group at the 2012 Annual Meeting of American Association of Geographers. In August, Li will join the Spatial Intelligence Lab in the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Muenster, Germany, as a postdoctoral researcher. Read an in-depth article at Research Penn State about Rui's work . . .

Ken Pelman

Ken PelmanKen Pelman graduated in May 2011 with his Master of GIS degree. His advisor was GeoVISTA Assistant Director Dr. Anthony Robinson. Ken came to the Penn State MGIS program (www.pennstategis.com) after completing his M.S. degree at University Park in the Department of Meteorology and taking a job in Washington, DC at NOAA. While working at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center he’s been working on his MGIS degree, in addition to raising two sons with his wife.

On May 10, 2011, Ken presented his capstone research project at the 2011 Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. Ken completed a software tool called EvacSpace (www.evacspace.com) that is designed to support rapid evacuation planning through an interactive, visually-enabled interface. Ken received a travel stipend to support his trip to Portugal to present on behalf of the GeoVISTA Center and MGIS program. Read more about this grad student . . .

Sen Xu

Sen XuSen Xu is a Ph.D student in Geography at Penn State, working under the advisement of Dr. Alexander Klippel. Sen is also enrolled in a Ph.D Minor in Computational Science from Department of Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering, PSU. Last fall, Sen received his Master of Science degree in Geography with his thesis entitled, Exploring regional variation in spatial language - a case study on spatial orientation by using volunteered spatial language data.

As a graduate affiliate of the GeoVISTA Center, Sen contributes to both the GeoCAM and the STempo projects. He specializes in spatial linguistic analyses, exploring the application of various knowledge discovery and data mining approaches. He is also interested in Spatial Cognition, Thematic Cartography, Visualization, Crowd-sourcing, and Knowledge Mining (from the Web). Sen is also a member in Human Factors in GIScience Lab. Read more about this grad student . . .

Ritesh Agrawal

Ritesh AgrawalRitesh Agrawal graduated with his PhD in the spring of 2010, having worked under Dr. Donna Peuquet. Ritesh currently works as a Research Engineer for AT&T Interactive in San Francisco, and is one of six people who have been designated as the initial team in the new west-coast AT&T research lab. Ritesh's dissertation focused on a holistic approach for dealing with the information overload problem within the modern computing environment. His approach and prototype implementation incorporate tools for the breadth of needed tasks for learning about spatial and space-time domains, including information filtering, knowledge acquisition, organization, transfer and recall. Read more about this grad student . . .

Kevin Ross

Kevin RossKevin Ross (kevin [at] ksross.com) graduated with his Master's Degree in Geography in the summer of 2010 under the advisement of Dr. Alan M. MacEachren. Kevin's thesis focused on geocollaboration, specifically how teams of people query structured spatial data in a same-time, different-place geocollaboration environment. For this research, he developed a conceptual framework for how to support this type of collaboration, programmed a web-based software application based on this framework, then conducted a user study with this software to analyze how people collaboratively query spatial data. Kevin also worked on other GeoVISTA projects during his two years as a research assistant. He contributed to the development of the original prototype of SensePlace, a tool to support rapid web document acquisition and contextualization. The main project Kevin worked on as a research assistant, and continues to work on, is CrimeViz -- a web-based map application that supports exploration and sensemaking of criminal activity in space and time. Read more about this grad student . . .

Adrienne Gruver

Adrienne Gruver graduated in August 2009 with a Master's Degree in Geography, having worked under Dr. Cynthia Brewer. Adrienne is now the lead instructor for Geography 486, Cartography and Visualization at the Dutton e-Education Institute. Her thesis looked at the use of geovisualization tools in epidemiology and public health. Through in-depth case studies with epidemiological researchers using a geovisualization application for data exploration and analysis, Adrienne's research provides examples of the utility of geovisualization for health-related research, and contributes evidence toward ways geovisualization can improve to meet epidemiological users' needs. Read more about this grad student . . .

Jin Chen

Jin Chen (jxc93[at] psu.edu) defended his doctoral thesis last semester, having worked under Dr. Alan MacEachren. During his time at the GeoVISTA Center, first as research staff and later as graduate student, Chen's scientific pursuits have had two foci: (1) developing methods for data analysis and knowledge construction from spatial, temporal, and multivariate data; and (2) applying those methods to address practical problems in sub-disciplines of geography including public health, environment, natural hazards, economics, and so on. His research adopts multidisciplinary approaches ranging from cartography to visualization, statistics, computation, data mining and artificial intelligence. Read more about this grad student . . .

Craig McCabe

Craig McCabe (cam509 [at] psu.edu) graduated this summer with his Master's Degree in Geography, having worked under Dr. Alan M. MacEachren. McCabe's thesis looked at the effects of data complexity and map abstraction on the perception of spatio-temporal patterns in animated maps. Using a 10-year dataset of weekly measles infections in Niger, Craig administered an experiment that employed temporal aggregation and moving-window averaging approaches in combination with geographic and schematic map representations to measure participants' abilities to complete a series of map-reading tasks. During his 2 years as a research assistant at Penn State, Craig collaborated closely with the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics to create novel methods of exploring patterns and possible environmental drivers of measles epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa. Read more about this grad student . . .

Tom Auer

Tom Auer (mta138 [at] psu.edu) graduated in the summer of 2009 with his Master's Degree in Geography, having worked under Dr. Alan M. MacEachren. Auer's thesis sought to understand whether explicitly symbolizing time-series change in map animations would help users recognize patterns in those animations, showing that for animated map reading tasks explicitly about change, symbolizations encoding change were most successful. As a corollary, Auer developed a task typology on movement patterns found in aggregated point data. Working as a research assistant, Auer helped develop a web-map, CalFloraViz, which allows the quick and easy spatiotemporal exploration of a large California plant sample collection. Read more about this grad student . . .