Our Colloquia Series presents engaging research from around the world. Guest presenters cover varied topics from all aspects of Geography. This page lists abstracts from past and future colloquia.

Woman standing in mountain puddle with drill and mountain backdrop

An exploration of connections between trees and subsurface water stores

April 19, 2019

Earth’s “critical zone”, the zone of the planet from treetops to base of groundwater, is critical because it is a sensitive region, open to impacts from human activities, while providing water necessary for human consumption and food production. Quantifying water movement in the subsurface is critical to predicting how water-driven...

Woman squatting by research equipment in rocky desert-like landscape

Bridging the Gaps: Environmental NGOs in China and Their Role in Society, Business, Government, and Science

April 12, 2019

Colloquium is co-sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies 40 years ago, upon announcing the “Reform and Opening-up” of China, the Communist Party called for “social forces” to “subsidize and fill gaps in state services”. This, combined with the dramatic environmental and public health implications of China’s rapid economic development,...


Local Structures of Human Mobility in Chicago

March 15, 2019

A vast literature establishes the importance of social capital to neighborhoods. Jane Jacobs famously argued that this capital is maintained through "cross-use of space," and James Coleman formalized it as the "closure" of human interactions. Many of these interactions require human mobility, so neighborhoods with higher social capital should be...

Emily Fischer and crew standing in fuselage of research plane

So Much Smoke: Investigating the Impact of Wildfires on Western U.S. Air Quality

March 8, 2019

This colloquium discusses the air quality impacts of western U.S. wildfires and introduce the Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption and Nitrogen (WE-CAN). The WE-CAN project deployed the NCAR/NSF C-130 research aircraft in summer 2018 (22 July – 31 August) to sample wildfire smoke during its first day...

old boat on a dry lake bed

Nature and Nation: Political Ecologies of Extraction and Belonging in Bolivia

March 1, 2019

Lake Poopó was once Bolivia’s second-largest lake. Located at roughly 3700m in the semi-arid central Altiplano, shallow and saline Lake Poopó has long been recognized for its ecological importance and in 2002 was added to the list of internationally important lakes and wetlands included under the Ramsar Convention. In late...

 people on mountain with survey equipment

Rivers and hillslopes: deciphering the signal of sediment transport

Feb. 22, 2019

In view of modern anthropogenic impacts, forecasted changes in climate, and resulting shifts in the frequencies and magnitudes of surface processes such as wildfires, landslides and large floods, reliable models are needed to monitor and predict the short-term evolution of the Earth's surface. Models generally consider climate and tectonics to...

photo of Czech country landscape

Soils, sediments, and the legacy of medieval agriculture in Czech plužina landscapes

Feb. 8, 2019

Land-cover change from forest to agriculture is widely recognized as a primary cause of accelerated soil erosion. Floodplains in agricultural watersheds represent fluvial archives for understanding anthropogenic erosion and downstream sedimentation. These agricultural legacy sediments may be used to construct watershed sediment budgets and can help reveal pathways of hydrologic...

 GIS 3d map

PhD Dissertation Topics

Dec. 14, 2018

Cross-Scale Analysis of Surface-Adjusted Measurements in Digital Elevation Models by Mehran Ghandehari Digital terrain data forms the basis for geospatial analysis and modeling in many disciplines. Terrain is commonly modeled on a grid of pixels, assuming that elevation values are constant within any single pixel of a Digital Elevation Model...

man stooping in a stream

Risky subjects: vulnerability and uncertainty in the global pesticide boom

Nov. 30, 2018

Globally, pesticide use is increasing significantly faster than food production. The vast majority of the world’s food producers depend on pesticides, and most of those users live in the global south. I present data from Northern Laos, until recently among the world’s lowest per capita pesticide users, to explore the...

Indigenous people in the Amazon

“Differentiated citizenship” and the persistence of informal rural credit systems in Amazonia

Nov. 9, 2018

In the Brazilian Amazon, the long-distance river trading system known as aviamento has linked commodity producers in remote areas to markets in urban centers since the colonial period. Based on a case study from the rural municipality of Lábrea, this presentation explores continuities and changes in river trading from the...