Geography students attend, present at AAG meeting

From left: Glenn Humphress, Rob Shepard, Humphrey Kalibo, Victoria Alapo and Jon Swanson.
From left: Glenn Humphress, Rob Shepard, Humphrey Kalibo, Victoria Alapo and Jon Swanson.

Five geography students – four postgraduate and one undergraduate – attended the annual meeting of the Great Plains Rocky Mountain Division of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), held Oct. 10-12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

The students in attendance were Glenn Humphress, Rob Shepard, Humphrey Kalibo, Victoria Alapo – all of whom are geography Ph.D. students – and Jon Swanson, a senior geography major.

Swanson tied for first place in the undergraduate paper competition. The students' presentations were as follows:

Victoria Alapo – "The Neglected Continent: Africa's Contribution to Geographic Paradigms, Theories & Methods"

Glenn Humphress – "Mapping Geosynchronous Satellites"

Humphrey Kalibo – "Transmission of Solar Radiation in a Mixed Mid-Latitude Woodland: Investigating the Interception of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) among Selected Deciduous Trees at Prairie Pines Preserve, Lincoln, NE" (poster)

Rob Shepard – "Gender Differences in Residential Patterns of Young Adults in Kansas and Nebraska, 1990 – 2010"

Jon Swanson – "The Bible Belt: An American Vernacular Region"

"The annual regional meeting – for us – is more than just a chance to get together and discuss research and vote on officers or agendas for the coming year," Shepard said. "Rather, we're all coming from very different places and often presenting research findings for very different issues."

Alapo, whose paper showed that the African continent and the work of African scholars was severely underrepresented in many Western scholarly publications, said she enjoyed being able to share her research.

"(My) paper was very well-received by the audience, and I look forward to more inclusiveness in the future when scholarly work is published," Alapo said. "It was a very good conference and I'm glad I went."

Kalibo said he was most looking forward to presentations that focused on remote sensing techniques in natural resource management.

"There were many interesting things I learned such as the innovative use of drone technology in the study of biomass in the Tall Grass Prairie of Kansas, and the role of hip-hop music as a means to create awareness about some urban problems facing sections of the city of Dakar, Senegal," Kalibo said. "I think there was great diversity in the presentations, which reflects the inter- and multi-disciplinary nature of geography."

Julie Winkler, the current AAG president and former UNL faculty member, also attended the division's meeting.

"She did not just come to give a speech, either," Shepard said. "She actually sat in on many of our presentations and even chatted with a few of us over breakfast."

The meeting presented several opportunities to connect and engage with geographers who share like-minded interests.

"Networking and staying on top of the latest developments are very important in a field such as geography, and meetings such as this one provide important opportunities to accomplish both," Humphress said. "Geographers, particularly those engaged in the more technical side of geography, such as remote sensing or geographic information systems, are in high demand right now and conferences such as this one are great venues for enhancing one's skill set."

With the meeting being held in Nebraska, the students knew how important it was to represent UNL in a positive light. The group exposed their research to students from other schools, which was a potential marketing opportunity.

"We absolutely had to have a good showing," Shepard said. "Possibly, our visibility might help recruit some of them. More importantly, it communicates to other geography programs that we have a strong department with serious scholars – that's a form of promotion you can't buy."

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources