Welcome to our New Faculty Member, Dr. Christine Biermann!

We are absolutely thrilled that Dr. Christine Biermann will be joining our Department starting next Autumn! She brings with her new perspectives and research interests, which we are sure will very much strengthen our department’s teaching and research. Check out how Dr. Biermann describes her own interests below:



I am a nature-society geographer with training in both human and physical geography. I am graduating with my Ph.D. in Geography from Ohio State University this May, and my current research explores the politics of ecological restoration and de-extinction projects. I am excited to work with students to better understand ‘nature’ from both social and biophysical perspectives, and I can’t wait to learn more about environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest.

Upcoming Colloquium: Dr. Sarah Quinn on ‘Political Fractures, Market Bonds’

We’re pleased to feature one of UW’s own for this week’s colloquium. Please join us at 3:30 in Smith 304 for Dr. Sarah Quinn’s talk Political Fractures, Market Bonds: Finance, Technology and the Politics of Debt in the United States. As always, join us for a reception in Smith 409 following the talk.

Abstract: Scholars typically conceive of states as exogenous to markets, stabilizing and policing them from the outside. Against this, a growing literature shows that governments can be creative, entrepreneurial market participants. This talk sheds light on why and how government officials engage entrepreneurially in markets by studying a key juncture in the history of the American government’s participation in the housing market. In 1968, the Johnson Administration reorganized housing finance, “spinning-off” Fannie Mae and encouraging the use of securitization. This policy was in part a response to a showdown over the debt limit. Rather than being paralyzing, this budget constraint generated new policy responses. I use this case to theorize how fragmented and contentious political institutions create incentives for officials to promote homeownership, develop financial technologies, and use hybrid forms of governance. I reconsider securitization as a political and social technology, and draw conclusions for models of states and markets in the U.S.

GIS Workshop Follow Up: Successes Developing Mapping Tools for Health

vaxvizIn Spring 2013 geography undergraduate students Devin Hacket, Zak Lee, and Isaiah Berg worked on a project called VaxViz in the department’s GIS Workshop, GEOG 469, taught by Professor Nyerges. The client for this project was WithinReach. According to Isaiah Berg, their project works to help health practitioners make better use of Washington’s Immunization Information System (WAIIS), a robust but underused database in the state. VaxViz itself is a tool-suite, comprised of Python scripts and a standard operating procedure to help local health practitioners map immunization data locally. With help from the Department of Health’s Office of Immunization and Child Profile the project evaluated the accuracy, validity, and completeness of the WAIIAS. The students then developed a set of Python scripts and instructions to seamlessly transfer HTML ‘Pocket of Need’ data into a Geodatabase with ready-to-use layers. They believed that the research and theory-of-concept has the potential to empower local health jurisdictions with new analytics for immunization surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation.

Since completing the project, the team has had the opportunity to present their findings to the Washington State Secretary of Health, and their research and theory-of-concept have been presented to the Washington Immunization Action Coalition WIAC. Next month they have the opportunity to present their findings at the 11th National Conference on Immunization and Health Coalitions. Chris Halsell, the Immunization Assessment Coordinator at the State Department of Health, will be co-presenting these results.

UW opens new online BA featuring four geography courses

ISS2Integrated Social Sciences, UW’s new online BA  is designed to provide an affordable way for students with jobs and family commitments to complete their degrees as Huskies.  The BA includes over 30 online courses, and amongst these there are 4 from geography professors Jonathan Mayer, Katharyne Mitchell, Kam Wing Chan and Matt Sparke.  For more details, check out the program webpages at: http://www.onlinedegreecompletion.uw.edu/degrees/integrated-social-sciences/