Faculty members in Geosciences secured $1.4 million in research funding in FY2019.
One of the most pressing challenges of this century is the availability, distribution and quality of water resources and the complex interplay of water and society in our human and natural systems. In the Department of Geosciences, we tackle the interrelated challenges of water through social, physical, political and geochemical investigations.
Researchers examine water governance, or how decisions about water quality and distribution are made and the resulting unequal benefits for minority communities in cities around the globe, from Atlanta to Accra, Ghana. Inequalities from water governance shape water access for billions of people and characterize struggles over water supply across local, regional and international scales. Geosciences faculty address water issues, including sewage overflows, urban impacts on hydrologic systems and unhealthy drinking water in cities and communities around the world, including multiple research projects to address water issues in metro Atlanta.
The Department of Geosciences has taken a leading role in studying the effects of urbanization on the hydrology and geochemistry of stream flow within the Atlanta metropolitan region. Recent studies have focused on better understanding major ion variation through the Upper Chattahoochee basin. We also have a strong interest in studying the chemical interactions of aqueous contaminants (particularly metals) on sediments. We are involved in studying temporal variation patterns in rainfall and runoff to discern possible effects of climate change on water resources in the southeastern United States.
We study the hydrology and hydrogeology of natural water systems, including the changing dynamics of coastal areas, where the overpumping of coastal aquifers and the saltwater intrusion poses serious risks to nearby communities. We consider the coastal erosion associated with sea level rise.
Environmental geochemistry is at the heart of many geoscience investigations, from hot, hard rocks of the earth’s interior, to agricultural soils, to studies of surface and groundwater.
Geochemistry is a tool to answer fundamental questions about earth and environmental materials - What is this made of? How does this behave, both naturally and in interaction with humans? What can this tell us about the earth’s history and the ways societies have interacted with the environment? Environmental geochemistry is crucial to addressing many of the most pressing questions facing the 21st century: air, water and soil quality, energy resources and environmental health.
The Department of Geosciences has facilities to support environmental geochemical investigations:
- Ion Chromatograph
- Atomic Absorption
- Wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
- Field-portable energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
- X-ray diffraction
- K-Ar mass spectrometer
- Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer
- Atmospheric CO2 monitor and weather station
Geographic Information Science research at Georgia State is a key component of the Geosciences department and a significant tool in urban and environmental research. Projects include modeling ozone across the Atlanta metropolitan area, analyzing the digital divide as it affects the city and the region, assessing urban development and population growth in Egypt, or the paleoenvironment of lake sediments in East Africa. The department also includes an ongoing interest in various aspects of urban health and applications of mapping and GIS that can help us better understand the spatial epidemiology of disease.
The rise of “locative media” and new spatial media have attracted considerable interest within the department and across the larger Georgia State community. Questions of interest here include how free and open source software for geography can shed light on geospatial phenomena or help to model geographical processes. Furthermore, what does this era of Big Data mean in our daily lives? What kind of Big Data are mapped and how?
Geoinformatics, as a specialized branch of the informatics science, deals with the creation and processing of information about the geosphere component of the Earth system. This emerging subdiscipline provides mechanisms for the conceptualization, design, modeling and implementation methodologies for the management, processing and representation of geological information and knowledge.
The department houses its own GIS web server which can support development projects, dedicated geospatial research labs for use by the Georgia State community, as well as an extensive array of historical and present-day data covering topics as varied as 1927 aerial imagery of the Atlanta area and recent census, geologic and environmental data.
Students may pursue GIS through the graduate Certificate in GIS or in a number of other GIS and mapping classes, including Introduction to GIS, Digital Cartography, Urban GIS, Remote Sensing, GIS Programming, Geoinformatics and Advanced GIS.
Research in the Department of Geosciences utilizes a variety of methods and tools to address pressing urban environmental problems. The city of Atlanta is a living laboratory with a host of social and environmental challenges and scholars in our unit work towards a more sustainable and socially just city—both in Atlanta and beyond.
Research in this area includes work on spatial disparities in health across and within cities; neighborhood/community-based activism to address social and environmental inequalities; assessments of "green gentrification" efforts; injustices around housing and neighborhood transformation; the impacts of urban heat islands along with mitigation strategies; and, of course, the multi-dimensional challenges of water in urban settings.
Researchers in Geosciences study global climate change at a range of scales. For example, Dr. Jeremy Diem is most interested in local-scale impacts on precipitation and potential impacts of global warming on a suite of climate variables in different parts of the world. His current and past research has examined the following: (1) air pollution; (2) the North American monsoon; (3) carbon fluxes in the Atlanta region; (4) urban effects of rainfall; (5) climate literacy; (6) precipitation variability in the southeastern United States; and (7) rainfall in eastern equatorial Africa. He also oversees the Georgia State University carbon-dioxide monitor, which is used to assess the influence of anthropogenic activities in the Atlanta region on atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Scholars in Geosciences also turn to the paleo record to examine environmental change. Dr. Dan Deocampo uses geochemical and mineralogical methods to study the sedimentary records of paleolakes, wetlands and volcaniclastic sediment to reconstruct paleohydrology and paleoclimate. Much of this work relates to paleoenvironments associated with ancient humans and hominids. He has studied modern and ancient lake basins in East Africa, the Great Basin of the western United States and volcanic paleosols in central Italy.
Dr. Lawrence Kiage uses remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and palynology (fossil pollen) to understand Quaternary and Recent biogeography and environmental change. He has studied environments and paleoenvironments in East Africa and coastal Louisiana and he is actively involved in the new field of Paleotempestology, involving the reconstruction of ancient tropical cyclone (hurricane) activity by means of geological proxies.
Researchers in Geosciences examine environmental issues—whether questions about water governance in Accra and Atlanta or the viability of extracting rare-earth elements from the waste in kaolin mines in middle Georgia.
At Georgia State, we pride ourselves on our undergrads. GSU just ranked “second in the country for its commitment to undergraduate teaching in the 2019 Best Colleges edition of U.S. News & World Report magazine.” That’s second to Princeton. And Geosciences undergrads like Lisa Duong are sure product of such pluck.
Some students in the Geosciences Department seem to have always been around, like amiable ghosts of Kell Hall. You’ve presented with them at conferences and shared a pitcher at trivia night. In the case of undergrad David Davis, the truth is: he’s been a little bit of everywhere and it's his determination and involvement in Geosciences that may lead him straight to hypothetical outer space.