Recognition Reception celebrates new spaces, contributions, accomplishments

recognition reception
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 - 10:50am

Swab poster Recognition Reception

Jack Swab sets up his poster during the reception on the second floor of Walker Building.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Department of Geography gathered on Friday, April 28, 2017 in Walker Building for the annual Recognition Reception. The purpose of the event was to recognize the accomplishments and contributions made throughout the year by Penn State geographers. This year, the event also celebrated lab renovations in the department.

Socializing and refreshments took place on the second floor as participants had the opportunity to examine research posters prepared by master’s degree students and undergraduate students. 

A formal dedication of the C. Gregory Knight Collaborative Learning Laboratory was held in room 229.  The lab features worktables with multiple screens and keyboards to facilitate group projects.

Marieta and Cindy Knight Lab Dedication

Marieta makes a few remarks about the new Knight lab. Click on the image above to see a short video of the dedication

Knight joined the Penn State faculty in 1971 and retired from the University as professor emeritus of geography in 2011. Knight’s research interests were in climate change, water resources, resource management, global environmental change, and sustainable development. He authored books on ecology and change in Tanzania, climate change in Bulgaria, and methods for regional assessment of climate change impacts.  African carvings from his private collection were donated to the department and are on display in the new lab space.

“He was an excellent teacher, so I think this collaborative space is well-named for Greg,” Department Head Cynthia Brewer said. “We’re really happy to have this new space for the undergrads and grads.” The space also provides more connections between other department research labs, Brewer said.

Marieta Staneva, retired geography professor and Knight’s widow, said, “I would like to thank the whole community. I would like to thank Cindy, Bill Easterling [former dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences], and the whole administration that took this wonderful step while Greg was still alive. Greg always wanted to bring people together to talk with each other.”  Brewer added that the college initiated the process of dedicating  the renovated space for Knight several years ago.

At 4:00 p.m. everyone moved to 112 Walker Building for the awards presentation.

A short video of the proceedings can be viewed on Mediasite.

Download a PDF of the program booklet.

Brewer served as the master of ceremonies, sharing the lectern with Donna Peuquet, undergraduate program officer, and Alexender Klippel, graduate program officer, to recognize students, faculty, and staff who won awards this year.

In her opening remarks, Brewer acknowledged all those who contributed to the creation of the new Knight Lab and thanked them for their work.

Fred and Marianne Gockley were in attendance to present The Jeff Gockley Memorial Award. The award was established in 2005 to honor the memory of their son Jeff Gockley (‘97). It is awarded to top rising senior in the GIS option.

Yuying RenThe 2017 award was presented to Yuying Ren (pictured left) who is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the GIS option and minors in geosciences and economics.

 Ren has worked as a research assistant in the Geoinformatics and Earth Observation Laboratory and conducted research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection program.

Marianne Gockley said she was pleased to present the 2017 award to Ren. “In looking at her résumé, I can see that she is a truly remarkable student.”

Bruce Balmat presented the Balmat awards. The Balmat Family Scholarship is intended to help students who transfer from another major into the Department of Geography.

 “My wife and I both graduated from Penn State in 1970 and we really did not have much connection with our majors. When our kids became college age, our son enrolled here in engineering and our daughter then enrolled in education. However within one year they saw the light and they both transferred into the Department of the Geography, and the friendships the connections they made, and the support from the staff really made a difference in their experience at Penn State. As parents, we were really impressed with how they took advantage of the opportunities a Penn State education can offer,” he said.

 “It makes my wife and I proud to see another generation coming out of Penn State, and the Department of Geography and making an impact,” Balmat said.

He presented the Balmat Family Scholarship in Geography to Danielle Ruffe and Brittany Waltemate and the Balmat Family Fund for Honors Scholars to Sonia Kaufman and John Swab.

Peuquet presented the departmental undergraduate student awards. The awards are:
G.D. Richardson and Kathy LaSauce Undergraduate Scholarship in Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences:
Andrew Brown, Colin Kelly, Connor Klassen, Christopher Mertz, Doran Tucker.

Geography Alumni Scholars (Outstanding Undergraduate Student) Award:
Ruiqi Guo, McQuillan Murphy, Grant Smith, John Swab.

Peter R. Gould Center for Geography Education and Outreach Student Engagement Award:
Kathy Cappelli, McQuillan Murphy, Grant Smith.

Klippel presented the departmental graduate student awards.
E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Geography: Sara Cavallo

E. Willard Miller Award in Geography:
Ph.D. Paper (1st), Jenna Christian;
Ph.D. Paper (2nd), Morteza Karimzedah;
Ph.D. Proposal, (1st), Lucas Harris;
Ph.D. Proposal, (2nd), Kelsey Brain;
Master’s Paper, Carolynne Hultquist;
Master’s Proposal, Jamie Peeler.

Elena SavaOutstanding Graduate Research Assistant Award: Elena Sava (pictured left)
Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award: Carolyn Fish
Ruby S. Miller Endowment for Geographic Excellence:
Megan Baumann, Carolynne Hultquist, Elena Sava, Marie Louise Ryan

Brewer presented the faculty and staff awards. In introducing the Staff Outstanding Service Award, Brewer said, “Denise has had quite a year, doing lots of detective work on the budget due to the impacts of Lionpath. She manages a smooth-running main office and is a generally helpful person.”
Department of Geography Staff Outstanding Service Award: Denise Kloehr.

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Wilson Awards Banquet winners were recognized at the annual college Wilson Awards Presentation Banquet.
Faculty Mentoring Award:  Andrew Carleton
Wilson Award for Excellence in Research: Alan Taylor
Wilson Research Initiation Grant: Bronwen Powell

In her concluding remarks, Brewer mentioned the retirements of Donna Peuquet and Deryck Holdsworth, and that they would be celebrated with Coffee Hour events in the fall.  “They have given their last classes and I bet that feels pretty good.”

To the graduating students, Brewer said, “Keep learning; keep learning new tools, keep seeking out new ways of solving problems, seek out collaborators around the world. Be geographers. Get out there and have a great time, do well, and enjoy being geographers.”