Geographers in the News Archives

2014 / 2015 Academic Year

Social Science & Humanities Research Council Storyteller: Marylynn Steckley

Marylynn Steckley, a PhD Candidate in Western Geography, was featured in the most recent edition of Dialogue - SSHRC's eNewsletter - as a final five finalist of SSHRC's three minute storytellers competition. She is interested in the ecological and sociological impacts of the idiom “you are what you eat.” Marylynn studies how the pursuit of greater social status through conspicuous consumption of luxury foods and delicacies can shape food systems in ways that reproduce poverty and facilitate ecological destruction. Despite this, she argues that food systems and eating practices can potentially also be emancipatory. Her current research investigates local responses in rural Haiti to encroachment by the global food market—specifically, how peasant resistance manifests in dietary choices and farming practices. Marylynn has also conducted field research in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Haiti. [WATCH]

Taking a Fresh Look at Social Housing

 Geography professor Michael Buzzelli, who teaches in the Urban Development program at Western, was recently featured in the Western News to discuss rethinking social housing in London, ON.  Buzzelli feels "there’s an opportunity to reintegrate those communities with the wider fabric of London. That requires some strategic thinking around planning and urban development." [ARTICLE]

Addressing Food Security both Locally and on a
National Scale

Dr. Jason Gilliland, Western Geography and Director of the Urban Development Program, contributed insights into the issue of food security in Canada, and London, Ontario specifically, as he addressed the media at the London Food Bank’s annual spring food drive kickoff.  Jason first commented (LINK TO STORY 1 BELOW) on a recent report by Statistics Canada concerning food affordability and security in Canada, with Statistics Canada reporting that food insecurity rates held stable in Canada from 2007-12, the latest period for which numbers are available, affecting over 1 million households, or 5% of children and 8% of adults.  Jason also spoke to CBC, CTV and other media (LINK TO STORIES 2-6 BELOW) about food insecurity and poverty in London, and potential solutions.  Along with Glen Pearson, Co-Director of London's Food Bank, he called for changes to the food distribution system in London, but only based on research underway or about to get underway by several city agencies.   [STORY 1][STORY 2][STORY 3] [STORY 4][STORY 5] [STORY 6]

Michael Goodchild to recieve Honorary degree from Western

Recognized as a global leader in the ever-evolving field of geographic information systems, Michael Goodchild is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The former chair of Western's Department of Geography, Goodchild won the Lauréat Prix International de Géographie Vautrin Lud, considered the Nobel Prize for Geography, in 2007. He will be the recipient of a Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.), at the convocation ceremnony on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 10am.

Library Scrambles to Nab Moon Egg

Geography Professor Philip Stooke's 38 year old egg, painted as Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, will soon find a new home in the U.S Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. [Western News]

Grand Opening of New Facility for HEAL

On Monday February 9, 2015, the new home of the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory at Western University was officially opened by City of London Mayor Matt Brown, Dr Dan Shrubsole (Chair of Geography), Dr Jason Gilliland (Professor of Geography and HEAL Director) and Dr John Capone (VP Research).  The HEAL is an innovative research and training environment which facilitates cross-sector collaboration and cutting-edge research to support healthy, sustainable, and vibrant communities. Over 60 people attended the opening of the new facility, including many HEAL alumni and collaborators from community organizations such as the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the London Health Sciences Centre, Investing in Children, the United Way, the Boys & Girls Club, the Old East Village Business Improvement Area and local elementary schools. According to HEAL Director Jason Gilliland, “By collaborating with community partners, we are able to conduct meaningful research that often has immediate impact.” The lab was funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Al and Donna Angelov.  More details on HEAL can be found at

Grand Opening of the Physical Geography Learning Lab

The Physical Geography Learning Laboratory (PGLL) was officially opened on January 9, 2015.  [Western News]

Pictured are: Judy and Maurice Davidson, (financial contributors) Alex Cebluski (President of the Geographical Peoples' Society, Brian Timney (Dean of Social Science) and Dan Shrubsole (Chair, Department of Geography)

Congratulations to Karen Van Kerkoerle

Karen is the recipient of the Labour Appreciation Award for Western representing UWOSA.  This award is given to those individuals that go above and beyond to support their United Way Campaign.  Karen certainly fits this criterion.  She has been highly engaged in our United Way campaign for many years and our leader for the past few.  It has been a highly successful campaign, which has regularly raised well over $1,000.00 with a series of events that culminates with the Talent Show.  She does all this while continuing to support the Department's web pages and provide cartographic support.   Congratulations Karen!

Western Geographers giving back to the community in their own unique way!

The Department of Geography showed its unique United Way fundraising skills with their 20th Annual Talent Show on November 28th. This long standing tradition brings faculty, staff and students together in support of a very worthy cause. United Way is a charitable organization that looks at the root causes of community issues in order to build long-term solutions. Through various activities the department raised $1460. Thank you to Desmond Moser, Martin Horak, Amanda Stubley, Paul Pare, Emmanuel Songsore and our talent first year graduate students for entertaining the masses this year!

Geography of Change course testing out the new Western Active Learning Space

Graham Smith teaching in Western Active Learning SpaceStudents and Dr. L. Graham Smith use the new WALS classroom (Western Active Learning Space) or the Geography of Change (Geography 4100) course. The new space promotes student-centric learning and interactive engagement, which greatly facilitates the pedagogy of Geography 4100. All of the course materials for Geography 4100 are hosted on a Prezi, a software feature which was a focal point for a Lunch and Learn session on Thursday November 20 2014. The session, entitled Beyond the Powerpoint and hosted by Western's Teaching Support Centre (TSC), included a feature presentation by Dr. Smith on the varied uses of Prezi. Both the use of WALS and of a Prezi as a course host reflect the continued innovation in teaching practice by the Department of Geography and its instructors.

Scientists have a heart-to-heart for Children’s Health

Over the past 12 years, Western Geography Professor Jason Gilliland has conducted interdisciplinary research on how the physical environment influences children's health and well-being.  The collaborative work of Dr Gilliland and colleagues from the Lawson Health Research Institute and Children’s Health Research Institute (CHRI) was recently the focus of an article in the London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Inside magazine.  The article also announced Canadian Pacific’s generous donation of over $1.3 million to the CHRI and LHSC, which will help build their capabilities to improve kids’ heart health by bettering the understanding of the causation and outcomes of heart diseases in children. [MORE]

Community Work by Gilliland and Students praised in Ontario Legislative Assembly

At the Ontario Legislative Assembly on November 24, 2014, London West MPP Peggy Sattler highlighted the quality work experience being gained by students in Dr Jason Gilliland’s HEALab in the Department o f Geography at Western Ontario.  She spoke in particular about attending the launch of a new smartphone app (SmartAPPetite) that was developed by Gilliland, in collaboration with a team of students, researchers and community partners, to help improve community well-being and boost Ontario’s local food economy. [WATCH]

New smartphone app helps users ‘Buy Local, Eat Smart, Get Healthy'

Western University researchers and partners released the SmartAPPetite app Nov 21st, providing Southwestern Ontarians customized tips about local food, healthy eating, recipes, and information about local farmers and food providers.  [More]

SmartApp group shot Back row from left to right: Michael Clark (MA Candidate, Western Geography); David Corke (Executive Director, London Training Centre); Peggy Sattler (MPP for London West); Dr Jason Gilliland (Associate Professor, Western Geography); Matt Brown (Mayor elect, City of London); Dr Colleen O’Connor (Associate Professor, Brescia Food & Nutritional Sciences); Ahsan Syed (HBA/BSc candidate, Ivey Business School); Malgorzata Milczarek (SmartAPPetite Project Manager, HEAL/London Training Centre).  Front row: Katherine Wilson (BA student, Kinesiology and Geography, Western); Alicia Sippola (BSc student, Brescia Food & Nutritional Sciences)

Scientists have a heart-to-heart for Children’s Health

Over the past 12 years, Western Geography Professor Jason Gilliland has conducted interdisciplinary research on how the physical environment influences children's health and well-being.  The collaborative work of Dr Gilliland and colleagues from the Lawson Health Research Institute and Children’s Health Research Institute (CHRI) was recently the focus of an article in the London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Inside magazine.  The article also announced Canadian Pacific’s generous donation of over $1.3 million to the CHRI and LHSC, which will help build their capabilities to improve kids’ heart health by bettering the understanding of the causation and outcomes of heart diseases in children. [MORE]

Geography Awareness Week November 17-21, 2014

This year, Western University’s Department of Geography is inspiring future learners throughout Geography Awareness Week! The Department invited local high schools to discover their world through the use of Geographic Information Systems and explore its benefits and significance throughout our everyday lives.

To start the week off, on November 17th, the Department of Geography is hosting Grade Nine students from Medway High School. Over the course of the afternoon, the 47 students will participate in a GIS workshop and lab exercises run by Kathy Tang (GIS Analyst at Geography Department) and graduate students Jonathan Raikes , Chris Hewitt, Xiaodong Huang and Ian Pritchard before touring some of the Geography Research and Teaching Lab facilities lead by a PhD student Edward Krynak and Western’s Map & Data Centre in Weldon Library.

To finish off the week, on November 21, Kathy Tang with two graduate students (Martin Lefebvre and Jonathan Raikes) will represent the Geography Department as they travel to Central Elgin Collegiate Institute to join five district geography teachers during professional development day where they will give a GIS-based lecture. Together, they will discover and explore the uses and benefits of GIS, with an emphasis on GIS at Western University, GIS research and applications and the abundance of career opportunities that come with an education in geography and GIS.

Spotlight: The SmartAPP Stands Out

The SmartAPPetite initiative was recently the focus of an article by food writer Bryan Lavery in eatdrink, a local food and drink magazine serving Southwestern Ontario.   On November 21, the SmartAPPetite team will launch a novel smartphone app and website that will make it easier for people to find, prepare and eat healthy, local food.  The project has a dual purpose: to help people make smarter dietary decisions, and to help strengthen local economies. For the full article, see: eatdrink, issue #50, pages 28-30, and

Congratulations to our Graduates!

The Department of Geography congratulates all of our October Convocation Graduates. We celebrated 7 Master's and 4 Doctoral Successes.  Among those in attendance were Dr. Karen Ross, Dr. Jenna Dixon and Andrea Rishworth pictured here with our very own Department Chair, and Convocation Marshall Dan Shrubsole. [CLICK HERE]  Congratulations Graduates! 

SmartAPPetite Project ‘Revealed’ on RogersTV

The SmartAPPetite project is featured on the current episode of the 'Western Revealed' television show on Rogers TV. The SmartAPPetite project uses a novel smartphone app to help people find, prepare and eat healthy, tasty foods from Ontario.  The episode features several collaborators talking about the project, including: project director Dr Jason Gilliland of Western’s Geography Department. For more information about the SmartAPPetite project, see:  [WATCH INTERVIEW]

WESTERN NEWS - Professor Gordon McBean heads International Council for Science

Geography professor Gordon McBean assumed the role of president of the International Council for Science at the conclusion of the organization’s General Assembly last month. McBean is only the second Canadian to take up this office. In his inaugural address, McBean said he was “proud of the role the council has played, and will continue to play, in planning, coordinating and ‘making happen’ global scale research for the benefits for all societies.” He emphasized the council “will continue to provide societies and governments with policy relevant science that can and should form the basis policy making.” McBean holds professorships in the Departments of Geography, Political Science and Physics, and is director of policy studies at the university’s Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and co-director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability.  [MORE]


Through a recent Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant, Geography professor Jason Gilliland, director of Western’s Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, will be tracking participants throughout the eight-month ACT-i-Pass program.  [MORE]

Well Done Belinda Dodson and Tony Weis

Professors Belinda Dodson and Tony Weis were Canadian collaborators on a multi-parnter SSHRC_IDRC project that is focused on improving food security in seven cities across Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.  More details can be found on the IDRC website.

Congratulations Jamie Voogt, elected as President of the International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC)

Congratulations to Jamie Voogt on his election as President of the International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC).  As President, Jamie is responsible for many aspects of the organization including representing the IAUC to other bodies, such as the World Meteorological Organization, American Meteorological Society, and IUGG.  Congratulations Jamie!

Geography grad student Kevin Vuong, Swiss contest finalist

Geography grad student Kevin Vuong and his team were one of the global finalists for the Geneva Challenge on Empowering Women for Development on September 15.      Read More...

PhD research looks to make traditional knowledge accessible

Erin Huner wants to make the past accessible for one southwestern Ontario community.  The Geography PhD student has long been intrigued by the idea of nation-building – giving autonomy back to communities from which it had been taken away. And through a collaborative project with Bkejwanong First Nation (Walpole Island), she is helping the nation access at least one small piece of its past.    Read More...

Isaac Luginaah, Department of Geography, Named an Inaugural Member of 'The College'

Congratulations to Isaac Luginaah's on his selection as an inaugural member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Those named to the College represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada. This is a tremendous honor that recognizes Isaac's many achievements and contributions in the areas of environmental hazards and people's vulnerabilities in population health.

Grad Students Retreat 2014 - Camp Sylvan

For many years, the Department of Geography has welcomed incoming graduate students by going on a weekend retreat.  This year's retreat was held at Camp Sylvan and was another success.  The Department of Geography and the graduate students extend a very sincere thanks to Maurice and Judy Davidson for their generous and ongoing support. Link

Congratulations Sarah Mason 2014 Vanier Scholar

Sarah receives $50,000 annually for up to three years for her work on Community conflict and management challenges surrounding urban biosolids in rural areas.  Read more...

Western Geography Grad student answering the Geneva Challenge

Paul Mayne - Western News
Every year millions of Indonesian workers, predominately women, leave their families and villages to seek work abroad as migrant workers. Approximately 4.3 million legal workers are employed overseas, with 60 per cent of those in countries in the Middle East. Undocumented migrants inflate the number to almost 15 million.  Read more...

Challenging the President...but Only on the Golf Course

Marvin Nicholson a Geography major from the University of Western Ontario has reached back to his golfing roots to become President Obama's secretary of swing.  Read more...

Professor Jason Gilliland Moderates “Community Conversation” about London’s Future

Dr Jason Gilliland, Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Urban Development Program, moderated “A Community Conversation” in London, Ontario on Sept 3 to give people an opportunity to discuss their views on various contentious issues in the city, such as the fractured nature of the current City Council.  Over 80 residents attended the event, which was hosted by Emerging Leaders, a nonprofit focused on the retention, development, and engagement of emerging talent as a means to a more vibrant, inclusive, and dynamic community. Gilliland said the topics discussed at the forum are “big issues, important issues for the future of London,” and so it is important for people to be able to have their say on them.  Over a dozen candidates for mayor and council attended the event, but they were politely asked t o listen and take notes, and leave the campaigning for after the event.  For more on event, see article in the  London Community News.

SmartAPPetite Project Makes Headlines

An interview with Dr Jason Gilliland of Western's Geography Department about the SmartAPPetite project was recently featured on the front page of the Londoner newspaper. SmartAPPetite is a smartphone app which aims to help users eat healthier while also helping to strengthen Ontario's local food economy. Seed funding for the SmartAPPetite project was provided by Research Western and the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities.  The interdisciplinary team, which includes faculty and students from Western, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Brescia University College were recently referred to as “the faces of the new local food economy” in the London Community News. Come talk to the SmartAPP team at the London Training Centre's "Feastival" in London on July 17th.

Congratulations to our 2013-2014 SIOR Award Winners

Western's Department of Geography congratulates the following students who have received merit awards from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) Canada: Nathaniel Pace was awarded $1500 for the SIOR Award for Highest Overall Graduating Average in the Honours Urban Development Program 2014 Robert Richards and Kailey Brisbin were each awarded $750 for the SIOR Award for Best Research Paper in Geog 3461 Land Use and Development Issues Congratulations Nathaniel, Robert and Kailey, and thanks to SIOR for the generous support of Urban Development students! The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) is the leading professional commercial and industrial real estate association, with more than 3,000 members in more than 630 cities in 29 countries. Real estate professionals who have earned the SIOR designation are recognized by corporate real estate executives, commercial real estate brokers, agents, lenders, and other real estate professionals as the most knowledgeable, experienced, and successful commercial real estate brokerage specialists in any market.

Workshop on Community Engagement in Research

Hannah Neufeld Banting Post-doctoral Fellow, and Cindy Anne Smithers, PhD Candidate recently spoke to a workshop on Community Engagement in Research that was sponsored by the Student Success Centre and facilitated by Joel R. Burton (Public Humanities at Western).  Both Hannah and Cindy are based in the Indigenous Health Lab that is led by Professor Chantelle Richmond.  Hannah gave a summary of the on-going research relationship with Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) that began with the Food Choice Study in 2008. She went on to describe the life history methodology that is currently being utilized to illuminate potential historical and environmental changes impacting traditional food knowledge across generations both on and off-reserve. Cindy discussed the collaborative process with SOAHAC in the context of her own research question which seeks to explore the relationship between thriving health, living in the city, and cultural and gender identity among young First Nations men. Adopting a community-based participatory approach, she described her efforts to included methods congruent with Indigenous research paradigms including conversational method and auto ethnography.