The semester, the year, and the decade come to a close

Posted On December 18, 2019
Categories Headlines

Like Georgia’s seasons, the end of any semester is a welcome shift. We’ve handed in final exams. Graduation gowns flutter on downtown sidewalks. So, naturally, we’re reflecting on the achievements of our department: here we recognize what our faculty and students have accomplished this semester, and we share our vision for the future.

This fall, our students represented their research (and Geosciences!) all over the country: from Phoenix (GSA) to Savannah (SERMACS) to San Francisco (AGU). In just four short months, many of our Geosciences students, including, among others, Faisal Adams, Thien Tran, and Candice “Nikki” Simon have amassed accolades, scholarships, and ambassadorships. These students are the essence of our success as a department, and we congratulate them for the well-earned recognition.

Our faculty members continue to gain recognition for their work as well. Of note is the attention that Dr. Crawford Elliott’s lab is getting with his work on the rare earth elements in the Kaolin mines of Georgia. Dr. Brian Meyer has also been featured on GPB’s Georgia Outdoors sharing his insights about rising sea levels as seen in coastal GeorgiaDrs. Luke Pangle, Richard Milligan, Ellis Adams, and Jeremy Diem have officially launched their National Science Foundation-funded research on the influence of governance on the flows of water in the metro Atlanta area. Dr. Nadine Kabengi and her research group are working on geothermal dynamics and have happily accepted more support from the Department of Energy. Dr. Larry Kiage continues his work on paleoclimate of east African environments and has recently published his research findings with several of his students. Dr. Dajun Dai has been busy further developing his research agenda on health disparities and Geographic Information Systems. Drs. Sarah Ledford and Luke Pangle received funding to evaluate the role of beaver dams in the urban context. Dr. Hassan Babaie continues to work in structural geology and geoinformatics and is working with collaborators to develop a project exploring the food-energy-water nexus in regional watersheds. Dr. Christy Visaggi is now serving as Senior Faculty Associate for Signature Experiences providing support to offer more experiential learning opportunities across the university. Drs. Paulo Hidalgo and Ricardo Nogueira successfully crafted and launched fully-online introductory physical geography courses this semester. And with the support of her graduate students, Dr. Katherine Hankins is finishing up her funded research project on housing precarity among urban migrants in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Dr. Nadine Kabengi (second from left), graduate students Faisal Adams and Sean Zigah (far right).

Undergraduate Candice “Nikki” Simon, Dr. Christy Visaggi, and Austin Wilson at GSA in Phoenix, AZ.

Graduate student Thien Tran receives The Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) Scholarship for his research.

Dr. Sarah Ledford teaches students the importance of fieldwork in her Surface Water Hydrology course.

Our Geosciences family grows with each new major and each new graduate student. And as we approach the new decade, in addition to welcoming our new majors and graduate students, we are proud to welcome three full-time faculty members: Dr. Armita Davarpanah joins us as a Lecturer.

Dr. Armita Davarpanah

Dr. Davarpanah is no stranger to our department; she received her PhD from GSU in 2014 and worked closely with many of our faculty members. Her training in geology, computational modeling, and Geographic Information Science is a welcome addition, and she will be adding a new course on sustainable development, which she taught in a previous role as a faculty member at Spelman College. Our department also welcomes Dr. Ellis Adams from the Global Studies Institute. Dr. Adams focuses his research on water governance, and he has been a collaborator with colleagues in Geosciences since he arrived on campus in 2016!

Dr. Kavita Pandit

Joining us from the Provost’s office, where she is the outgoing Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, Dr. Kavita Pandit will enhance our department’s ability to offer courses in human geography.

And we’re not done! We are seeking to fill two more positions—one Assistant Professor position in Geographic Information Science and a Lecturer position to teach introductory physical geography. Indeed, by the fall of 2020, our department will be twenty strong—a record in the history of the department. And we’re still not done: we welcomed two “honorary members” of the Geosciences family: Lab Coordinator Atieh Tajik’s son and Dr. Ellis Adams’s daughter!


But we’re saying some goodbyes this week, too. We’d like to congratulate all of our graduating students. We wish you many successes in the years to come—do remember that you’ll always be part of the Geosciences family!

From Left to Right: Drs. Katherine Hankins and Christy Visaggi, Shellby Miller, Jefferson Ibhagui, Céline Mollet-Saint Benoît, and Dr. Ledford.

We’re also happy to announce that our sustainability fellowship program will continue into Spring 2020, thanks to a grant from the Office of Sustainability. This program enables GSU students to participate in internship opportunities in area organizations and businesses that focus on sustainability—and to represent sustainability interests on campus. Alumni, if you know of an internship opportunity, please get in touch! We would like to thank one of our stand-out students, Lacey Davis, who has spearheaded the launch of the program and who will now pass the baton to Sierra Kealey. Thank you, Lacey and Sierra.

One promise we make to our students, past and present, is that we will continue to improve what we do here at Georgia State. As our research profile grows, as our students obtain career-oriented employment, as our classes make more real-world connections for our students, the degrees we offer get better over time. This semester, faculty and graduate students have begun a multi-year plan to enhance our introductory lab-sciences courses, incorporating cutting-edge pedagogical techniques that focus on experiential learning. For example, we outfitted one of our lab classrooms with an Augmented Reality Sandbox, ready for explorations in landforms (and a huge thanks to Russ Kirn for building it!).

To ensure our students get opportunities to travel to conferences, collect data in the field, and gain invaluable experiences as Geosciences students, please consider giving to our department. Better yet, consider a monthly, recurring gift to support the work we do here at GSU and beyond.

For more updates, please take the time to follow us on our new LinkedIn page. Connect and share with fellow members of the GSU Geosciences community by joining GSU Geosciences Alumni & Friends. As always, you can also follow us on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. And, please know you are always welcome to stop by our offices on the 7th floor of Langdale Hall (formerly the General Classroom Building. And most definitely still standing. Unlike Kell Hall).

Happy Holidays, Geosciences family!

Katherine Hankins and Julia Kirn