Julie L. Commerford Visiting Professor

Julie Commerford is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography.

Julie’s research focuses on disentangling the drivers of ecosystem change in North America throughout the last 10,000 years. She uses a variety of field, laboratory, and geospatial techniques in her work, including analyzing pollen and other proxy data in lake sediments. She is currently working on a multi-year pollen monitoring project that aims to quantitatively evaluate modern-day drivers of grassland vegetation change (such as human disturbance, fire, and climate). With that knowledge, we can achieve better-informed interpretations of how grassland ecosystems responded to past changes.

Clare Mathias '18 Wins Class of ’61 Award

The Class of '61 Award (geography.dartmouth.edu/undergraduate/awards) supports honors-level research by a member of the incoming junior class.  

Gentrification: the buzzword immediately conjures contrasting images of community growth and displacement, economic development and segregation, urban restoration and demolition. Public space development projects often cause gentrification by bringing new populations and capital into “failing” neighborhoods. While researchers credit well-designed public spaces with fostering social capital and thus strong communities, they can potentially benefit communities of newcomers more than the preexisting local population.


NIH Grant Awarded for Environmental Health Research

Jonathan Chipman and Xun Shi are part of a large multidisciplinary team recently awarded a $42 million National Institute of Health grant.  The project, led by Margaret Karagas of the Geisel School, will assess environmental influences on child health.  Geography's Shi and Chipman will be using geospatial data to study the health effects of exposure to "greenspace" and other aspects of the natural and built environment through which children move during their daily lives.  For more information:


Life After Dartmouth

Lindsay Allen will be working in the marketing department of Elite Hockey after graduation.

Jessica Avitabile is working for the New York County District Attorney's office as a trial preparation assistant.

Christopher Banks will be working as an analyst at the TMT strategy consulting firm, Altman Vilandrie and Company. 

Madeline Broas will be working for the Virginia Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential Capaign.

Austin Boral will be moving to Washington, DC to work as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company.

Taylor Braun will be launching a tech startup in the publishing space that she has been developing over the past year.  She just received commitments for the first round of funding, so keep a lookout for new updates about Taylor and her business!

Adam N. Brown '97 Award

The Adam N. Brown '97 Memorial Award in Geography is presented each year to recognize the best written work in a Geography course. The student receives $500.00 and an engraved trophy. Additionally, their name will be listed on the Adam N. Brown '97 plaque in 021 Fairchild.

As in previous years, it was a challenge for us to decide on a winner because of the strength and topical breadth of the nominated papers. Ultimately, we selected Jasmine Xu ’16 who wrote the winning paper for Geography 29: Global Cities in Spring 2016,  “A Lost Generation: Exploring Social Consequences of Urbanization in China Through Jia Zhangke’s 24 City”, analyzes the film “24 City.” Set in Chengdu, China, the film weaves together the stories of factory workers who see their workplace redeveloped into a luxury real estate project.


Brooks Traveling Fellowship

Dalia McGill, double major in Geography and Studio Art, received the Brooks Traveling Fellowship to conduct a photography project about the Belo Monte Dam, which is currently being constructed on the Xingu River in the Amazon. When completed in 2019, it will be the third largest dam in the world. The project has been very controversial, since it is causing the displacement of thousands of people, including indigenous people, and the dam will have serious environmental consequences as well. Dalia hopes to conduct a photography project documenting the impact that the construction of Belo Monte dam has had on the region’s communities. 

New Urban Studies Minor

Today more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and projections suggest that almost all population growth in the next thirty years will occur in cities.  Both today and historically, cities occupy a key position in our symbolic imaginations and lived experience.  Seats of political power, cities are also crucibles for cultural and social change.  They are simultaneously centers of economic development, cultural energy, civic, intellectual and artistic achievement, and sites of social hostility, political chaos, economic inequities and cultural malaise. 

Most Dartmouth students grew up in and will increasingly encounter an urbanized world.  Geography’s new minor in Urban Studies is intended to guide students through a series of courses that will provide the intellectual training and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate that world, and to address some of its central socioeconomic, environmental and spatial challenges.   

The Urban Studies minor will consist of six courses:



GEOG 22 Urban Geography

GEOG 25 Social Justice and the City


Simone Wien '16 Winner Engaged Scholarship

Simone Wien ’16, a Geography modified with Economics major, was selected to present at the Annual Engaged Scholarship & Social Justice Undergraduate Research Conference at Harvard College, and was awarded First Prize for Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation.

Simone’s research project “After Brown: Desegregation, Schooling, and Property Values in New Rochelle, NY” examined the relationship between changes in property values and public school demographics within the New Rochelle City School District following two important events: Taylor vs. New Rochelle School District Board of Education (1961), the first northern school district court-ordered desegregation, and Latino migration to New Rochelle in the late 1990s.

Understanding Health Care Access in Rural South Africa

In November and December 2015, Abigail Neely, assistant professor of Geography and Arun Ponshumnugam ’17 spent three weeks in South Africa conducting an in-depth survey and gathering GPS data about health care access in rural South Africa.  Dr. Neely has been working in the Pholela region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa for close to a decade, but it was Arun’s first trip.  This research was funded by the Mellon Foundation through the Leslie Center for the Humanities and by the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, both at Dartmouth.  Below are some thoughts and reflections of Arun’s.