Geography Program News Archive

Dr. Tom Saladyga's article, "Forest disturbance history from ‘legacy’ pitch pine (Pinus rigida) at the New River Gorge, West Virginia," was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Natural Areas Journal.

On May 10, 2016, Dr. Joe Manzo visited Russia as part of the Geography Alliance Program.

Beginning May 2016, Geography students Robert Jessee and Tyler Farley will spend a year in Korea teaching English at schools just north of Seoul.

Donnie Kirk, a 2014 Concord Geography/Geology graduate, completed her MA degree at East Carolina University in Spring 2016. Kirk spent the 2016 Summer as an intern at NASA. During her time at CU, Kirk was on the university track team and a student assistant for the Geography Program.

Briana Karl completed her MA in Geography at Ohio University in Spring 2016, and has accepted a position with Americorps. 

National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Map of Africa stopped at Concord University, April 4-8, 2016. The brightly colored vinyl floor map measured 26 feet by 35 feet and enabled area school children to embark on a mock tour of the continent as they learned about Africa’s climate, natural resources, spectacular animals and their habitats, famous landmarks, demographics and more. Linda Poff, a retired Mercer County teacher and former Concord adjunct instructor in Geography, led the activities on the map of Africa. This is the fourth Giant Traveling Map to visit Concord. Maps of Asia, North America and Europe have also traveled to the University. National Geographic Giant Traveling Maps are produced by the National Geographic Society.

Professor of Geography Dr. Joe Manzo, the co-coordinator of the West Virginia Geographic Alliance,  gave away 100 pizzas to West Virginia’s K-12 students and teachers between November 30 and December 4, 2015. The pizzas were an incentive for the teachers and their students to participate in geography awareness, an initiative of the National Geographic Society. The theme for this year’s event was, “Explore! The Power of Maps.” Dr Manzo said that the first 10 schools to register received up to 10 large pizzas for their class or grade level from the West Virginia Geographic Alliance.


Concord Geography students enjoyed stellar victories at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Department of the Association of American Geographers in Pensacola, FL on November 21-23, 2015. Students Elisa Sperandio and Katie Testerman swept the undergraduate poster competition in physical and human geography. Robert Jessee, as the high scorer in the world bowl competition, earned a trip to San Francisco for the March meeting of the Association of American Geographers. Sperandio, working under the guidance of Dr. Shimantini Shome, presented on Eastern European migration into Germany. Her work is titled “Life through the Eyes of the ‘Invader’: A Case Study of Immigration in the Düsseldorf-Essen.” She conducted research with refugees in Germany over the summer. Testerman worked under the guidance of Dr. Tom Saladyga. Her poster was titled “Fire History and Avian Species Composition in a Ridgetop Dwarf-Tree Forest.” She conducted fieldwork on Spring Mountain in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in May 2015 where she surveyed bird species in a globally rare ridge top dwarf-tree forest landscape. Also presenting at the conference were Logan Knight and Nick Edwards.


Geography 340 students collect soil samples at Camp Creek State Forest in Mercer County, WV during the Fall 2015 semester. The class is evaluating soil properties in three different forest types within the Farley Branch watershed.

The West Virginia Geographic Alliance, hosted by Concord University, announced that they have received a grant of $32,709 from the National Geographic Society on September 24, 2015. Dr. Joseph Manzo, co-coordinator of the alliance and Concord Professor of Geography, said that the grant will benefit teachers and students in the public school system as well as Concord University students. A number of professional development classes offered through Concord’s Graduate Studies Program will be available to K-12 teachers thanks to the grant. Among the topics are “Learning with Maps,” “Urban Geography,” and “North Africa and the Middle East.” The funding will also help support the annual Geography Bowl for high school students and the West Virginia Geographic Bee, a yearly competition for 4th through 8th graders. Both events have been held at Concord University in recent years. Dr. Manzo said the grant also helps fund employment for Concord students working during these events and those who work in the office.

Concord's Dr. Tom Saladyga's and Radford University professor R. Stockton Maxwell' article, "Temporal Variability in Climate Response of Eastern Hemlock in the Central Appalachian Region," was published in the Southeastern Geographer journal in summer 2015. 


Concord University students Chance Raso ('15) and Katie Testerman ('16) assisted Dr. Tom Saladyga in collecting fire-scarred tree samples at Spring Mountain in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Testerman also recorded bird sounds at multiple sites across the study area, which she will use to assess species composition within different forest types. Raso started the graduate program in Geography at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2015.


During Concord University's 2015 Annual Honors Banquet held May 1, Dr. Tom Saladyga presented the "Outstanding Graduate in Geography Award" to Nate Lawrence and Chance Raso. The award is given by the department faculty to geography majors who achieve both high academic standards in coursework and participate in geography related activities outside of the classroom. Lawrence and Raso will be recognized nationally through a program sponsored by the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers. Geography and History double-major Mary Ryan also received the "McNair’s Above and Beyond Award" for her research, "Hemlock Establishment and Vigor in Twin Falls Resort State Park, West Virginia," during the banquet.

On April 21, 2015 Dr. Shamtini Shome presented her research, "The American Dream: Stories of Somali Refugee Women from the American Heartland," at the Association of American Geographers annual meeting held in Chicago, IL. Dr. Shome's work explores the major assimilation challenges faced by Somali refugee women resettled in Kansas City and the various coping strategies that they employ. The observation data, focus groups and in-depth interviews collected over six years, strives to tell the personal stories faced by these women as they arrive from the Dadaab refugee camp and begin resettlement in the midwest.

Dr. Joseph Manzo attended the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association's 2015 annual conference April 1-4, in New Orleans, LA. At the conference, Dr. Manzo presented his research on Jennings Boyd, a Northfork, WV High School Basketball Coach. Beginning in 1971, Coach Boyd's teams won 10 WV state high school double A basketball championships including 8 in a row. Dr. Manzo discussed how the small town in McDowell County rallied around the largely African American team during the time of an emerging civil rights movement and a heavily criticized Vietnam War.


Dr. Shamtini Shome took CU students' El Mouayed Abdellahi Ebi Bekrine, James Blankenship, Nicholas Edwards, Matthew Farley, Caleb Hanna, Roberts Jessee, Logan Knight, Candace Pendleton, and Elisa Sperandio to Washington, DC to conduct field work for her GEOG 420 Transnational Migration course. The students conducted an ethnographic study at two DC ethnic enclaves: Chinatown and the Ethiopian community. The data collected by the students was presented at Concord's Undergraduate Research Day and the Biennial Appalachian Conference held at Pipestem Resort State Park. Poster presentations produced by the students included, "A comparative study of Chinatown and Little Ethiopia in Washington D.C.," "Ethnic Enclave turned Tourist Trap: A Case Study of Washington DC's Chinatown," and "U Street: A Study on the United States Most Vibrant Ethiopian Enclave."

Approximately a 1000 elementary and middle school students from across Southern West Virginia visited the National Geographic Europe Giant Traveling Map at Concord in late March. Retired Elementary School teacher and former CU Geography adjunct Linda Poff helped instill wonder and excitement in the young students. Students learned about foods, stories and the cultures of people in Europe. The West Virginia Geographic Alliance, housed by Concord's Geography program, is part of a national network established by the National Geographic Society.


Geography students Terry Hatfield and Chance Raso worked with Dr. Tom Saladyga during CU's 2015 spring break to collect samples of pitch pine at Babcock State Park in Fayette County, WV. The samples will be used to reconstruct the disturbance history of a rock outcrop in the pine forest.

Dr. Tom Saladyga has a peer-reviewed journal article titled, "Temporal Variability in Climate Response of Eastern Hemlock in the Central Appalachian Region," slated for publication in 2015 in the Southeastern Geographer journal.

Adjunct instructor Dr. Todd Sink's co-authored article, "Applying Location Theory in Vocational Rehabilitation," was published in the 2014 edition of Journal of Rehabilitation Administration.

Dr. Tom Saladyga made contributions to the International Tree-Ring Databank, NOAA/NCDC, for his work at Pipestem Resort State Park and at Cabwaylingo State Forest


The Geography program hosted the West Virginia Geographic Bee on March 27, 2015. Hunter Midcap, a 6th grader from St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling, WV, won first place and will receive $100 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the 27th National Geographic Bee finals on May 11-13, 2015. Approximately 70 4th through 8th graders from across the state competed in the 2015 competition held at Concord University. Second place winner was Ipsita Tingi, an 8th grader representing Suncrest Middle School in Morgantown, WV. Third place went to Jared Bishop, an 8th grader from Glenwood School in Princeton, WV.

During the Fall 2014 semester, Dr. Joe Manzo made a presentation on careers in geography to 160 school counselors at the West Virginia Regional Education Service Agencies One. RESA 1 provides high quality life-long education programs and services to students, schools, school systems and communities.


On November 22-24, 2014, Dr. Joseph Manzo and Dr. Tom Saladyga took nine Concord students to the Southeastern Department of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG) annual meeting in Athens, GA. Dr. Saladyga presented his research, "Differential Growth Response of Two Conifer Species to Early Spring Temperature." Two of the students, Nat Lawrence and Logan Knight, participated in the undergraduate poster session. Lawrence's poster, "Climate-Growth Analysis of Northern Red Oak on a Southern West Virginia Ridgeline," received 1st Place in the Physical Geography category of the Undergraduate Poster Competition. Knight's poster, "Gems of West Virginia - A Closer Look at the 'Coolest' Small Towns in the Mountain State," was also well received. The geography students also participated in the Southeast Geography Bowl competition at the conference. CU student Robert Jessee finished in the top six of all participants. Jessee was an alternate for an all expense paid trip to Chicago to participate in the annual World Bowl competition held during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. In 2012, CU student Meredith Smith was awarded such a trip to New York. Smith, now graduated, was a Dr. Shimantini Shome's cultural geography protégé. ​Mary Ryan, CU student and McNair Scholar, interviewed with a senior faculty member from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill during the conference. Ryan is interested in attending graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her McNair dendrochronological project was directed by Dr. Tom Saladyga.


In September 2014, Dr. Joe Manzo took ten students in his GEOG 385 American Indians & Indigenous Culture class on a field trip to the Cherokee reservation in Cherokee, NC.

Dr. Joe Manzo took his Fall 2014 GEOG 385 American Indians & Indigenous students to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. They were given a behind the scenes tour of the National Geographic Society and had the opportunity to meet with Juan Valdez, National Geographic's Chief Cartographer. While traveling to Washington DC, the class stopped at the Mountain Ridge Intermediate School in Berkeley County, WV. Concord international students Daria Nikolaeva and Anastasia Vorobeva spoke to five Mountain Ridge classes on their experience as students in Russia.

Dr. Joseph Manzo and RTM professor Dr. Linwood Clayton took seven students to the Rocket Boys presentation and writing workshop in Beckley, WV on November 6, 2014. Students had the opportunity to meet Rocket Boys: A Memoir author Homer Hickam who talked about growing up in Coalwood, WV and his aspirations to be a rocket scientist.

Dr. Tom Saladyga received Concord University's 2014 Joseph Friedl Award. The Friedl Award is given annually by the Student Government Association (SGA) to a faculty member who excels a both as a teacher and being actively involved with students outside the classroom.

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