Mark Gottdiener Called One of the Most Important Urban Sociologists in U.S.

Mark Gottdiener, UB professor of sociology, has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Sociological Association.

The 2010 – 2011 ASA Lifetime Achievement Award to be added to his many distinctions

Mark Gottdiener, PhD, of Buffalo, professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo and one of the nation’s leading urban sociologists, has received the 2010 – 2011 Robert and Helen Lynd Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished career achievements in community and urban sociology from the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The Lynd is one of the most notable awards presented by the ASA and was presented at the ASA’s annual conference in August.

It is one of many honors received by Gottdiener during his career, among them a number of international visiting scholar positions (three in 2007 alone), a special session of the Eastern Sociological Society’ annual meeting and several distinguished lectureships and fellowships, including two Fulbrights.

Gottdiener is a devoted urbanist who lives in Buffalo’s Riverside district, and a founder of what is often called “the new urban sociology,” a field that considers the rise and fall of cities, their class-shaped patterns of capitalistic urban development, real estate manipulations and their symbolic dimensions.

Joseph Feagin, former president of the American Sociological Association, and a distinguished scholar and Pulitzer Prize nominee, calls Gottdiener “one of two or three leading urban sociologists in the United States…a courageous and influential pioneer in critical social sciences approaches to and research on U.S. and global cities.”

“He and his work are well known by urban analysts across the globe,” Feagin says.

Gottdiener was recruited to UB in 1994 from the University of California at Riverside to chair the sociology department.

He conducts research at the intersection of urban sociology and cultural studies and has earned international regard in particular for his work in socio-spatial analysis, an important contribution to urban sociological theory.

Gottdiener developed a new urban paradigm that focuses on such things as cultural semiotics and popular culture and how cultural issues are related to social problems. Much of this cutting edge research is presented for undergraduates in his book, “The New Urban Sociology” (McGraw Hill, 2010), which originally was published in 1986 and is now in its 4th edition.

His leadership in the field is evidenced by the nearly two thousand citations to his work by scholars across the disciplines of sociology, urban studies and economics. More than 95 percent of his books and articles are single authored, thereby making his number of citations all the more impressive.

Like Gottdiener, Kevin Fox Gotham, professor of sociology and director of the Social Policy and Practice Program at Tulane University, conducts research that looks to tourism as a force of global standardization or heterogeneity. The author of several important books in the field, Gotham concurs with Feagin’s assessment of Gottdiener as a world-class scholar.

“His work is well known and respected everywhere,” Gotham says. “He has synthesized an impressive range of explorations on urban space and semiotics, notably in his famous book ‘The Social Production of Urban Space,’ originally published in 1985,” which has been called “the best theoretically-oriented book” by an American urban sociologist in more than 50 years.

“His research overall provides a theoretically sophisticated and politically incisive examination of the ways in which the restructuring of cities has become central to the new geographies of power,” Gotham says.

Another of his celebrated books looks at the commodification of everything: in the “Theming of America: Dreams, Visions and Commercial Spaces” (2001, Westview Press), about to be published in a third edition, Gottdiener investigated and offered reasons why the U.S.-built environment increasingly consists of shopping malls, theme parks, fast food franchises and various hybrids of all three.

In 2006, he was awarded the Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was invited to give the annual Roth and Symonds Endowed Lectureship at the Yale University School of Architecture and was recognized by his peers with a special session devoted to his work at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society.

Gottdiener has presented 65 invited papers at sociological conferences since 1982 and has served as editor or editorial board member for eight sociological journals, including the prestigious American Journal of Sociology and the international journal, Urban Studies, arguably the highest rated journal in the field, where he served as managing editor for North America from 1996 to 2002.

He chaired the National Task Force on Urban Governance of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and in 2005, when the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art mounted a major traveling exhibition titled “Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist’s Eye,” featuring the work of 70 important artists from 30 countries, it employed excerpts from Gottdiener’s writings in both the exhibition itself, and in the exhibition catalog.

Gottdiener says he is “most honored” by receiving the Lynd Award, but it hasn’t slowed him down much. He is under contract to produce another urban book, this one comparing urban development in Las Vegas with that of Dubai and Macau, and has just recently completed editing a special issue of the journal Critical Sociology on the topic of urban sociology and critical theory.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

[Source: University at Buffalo press release]

Spatial Analysis on Childhood Tuberculosis in the State of Espirito Santo, Brazil, 2000 to 2007

Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, 2010 Aug; 43(4):435-9

Sales CM, Figueiredo TA, Zandonade E, Maciel EL

“Childhood tuberculosis is responsible for 15% of case notifications. The focus of Tuberculosis Control National Program is on identifying tuberculosis in adults, while leaving children under 15 years of age on the margins of studies, diagnoses and treatment. Spatial analysis quantifies the exposition to the illness and displays the main causes relating to geographical space. The objective of this study was to analyze the spatial distribution of childhood tuberculosis in Espírito Santo, between 2000 and 2007, according to the municipality of notification.  An ecological study was conducted on 515 cases of childhood tuberculosis that occurred between 2000 and 2007. The Local Empirical Bayesian Method was used to measure the risk. The Moran Local Index was calculated in order to evaluate autocorrelations between threshold districts. High incidence rates were found in the Metropolitan Region of Vitória and the northeastern region, and lower rates were found in the southeastern region. Similar data were observed in a study on endemic tuberculosis among adults in Espírito Santo. This is possibly related to contacts within the home. This study identified possible areas of recent transmission of the disease. It is important to emphasize that knowledge of the high priority areas for tuberculosis control may help public administrators to diminish healthcare iniquities and enable improvement of resources and teams for controlling childhood tuberculosis.”

Getting to Know Esri Business Analyst: New Workbook Teaches How to Analyze Business Opportunities Spatially

Getting to Know Esri Business Analyst, by Fred L. Miller, teaches entrepreneurs how to use a wide range of Business Analyst applications to develop opportunities and serve customers more efficiently. Readers learn by completing fully illustrated, step-by-step exercises based on the growth of a hypothetical startup business, from its conception to its emergence as a national enterprise.

A useful resource for business professionals and business students alike, Getting to Know Esri Business Analyst gives readers the skills to make better business decisions using the tools available in the Business Analyst suite. Data for completing the exercises is available on a DVD that comes packaged with the workbook.

Business Analyst software combines geographic information system (GIS) technology with national business, demographic, consumer spending, and street data, allowing entrepreneurs to quickly analyze business opportunities in their area.

“The premise of Getting to Know Esri Business Analyst is simple: integrated business GIS in general, and Business Analyst in particular, are no longer solely the tools of specialists in large organizations but have evolved into essential information technology resources for enterprises of all types and sizes,” Miller says. “The objective of this book is to help business professionals understand and exploit these technologies.”

Miller is Thomas Hutchens Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Business GIS in the Department of Management, Marketing, and Business Administration at Murray State University (MSU), Murray, Kentucky. He is also director of MSU’s Regensburg Exchange Programs. His teaching and research interests include business GIS, e-commerce, emerging technologies in marketing, and global marketing management. Miller authored the book GIS Tutorial for Marketing (Esri Press, 2007).

Getting to Know Esri Business Analyst (ISBN: 978-1-58948-235-7, 352 pages, $79.95) is available at online retailers worldwide, at, or by calling 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, visit for complete ordering options, or visit to contact your local Esri distributor. Interested retailers can contact Esri Press book distributor Ingram Publisher Services.

[Source: Esri press release]

A Spatial Temporal Analysis of Wetland Losses in the Lagos Coastal Region, Southwestern Nigeria, using Multi-date Satellite Imagery

IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium,IGARSS 2009

Taiwo, O.J., and Areola, O.

“This paper assesses the temporal trend and the spatial patterns of wetland forest loss in the Lagos coastal region of southwestern Nigeria between 1978 and 2006 based on the comparative analysis of multi-date satellite imageries for 1978, 1987, 1995, 2000 and 2006. The initial number of wetland habitats was derived using an unsupervised classification algorithm. Freshwater and mangrove swamp forests dominated the area. Generally, the wetlands declined by 19% between 1978 and 2006 at 0.6% annual rate of loss. The freshwater and mangrove swamp forests declined by 20.9% and 13.0% with an annual rate of loss of 0.7% and 0.43% respectively. Using the Markov Chain technique, the trend in wetland loss would likely continue if the current economic, social and political systems are maintained. The lower rate of decline of mangrove forests compared with freshwater swamp forests is a reflection of the more waterlogged and difficult terrain.”

A Smart Sensor Web for Ocean Observation: Fixed and Mobile Platforms, Integrated Acoustics, Satellites and Predictive Modeling

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 2010

Bruce M. Howe, Yi Chao, Payman Arabshahi, Sumit Roy, Tim McGinnis, and Andrew Gray

“In many areas of Earth science, including climate change research and operational oceanography, there is a need for near real-time integration of data from heterogeneous and spatially distributed sensors, in particular in situ and space-based sensors. The data integration, as provided by a smart sensor web, enables numerous improvements, namely, 1) adaptive sampling for more efficient use of expensive space-based and in situ sensing assets, 2) higher fidelity information gathering from data sources through integration of complementary data sets, and 3) improved sensor calibration. Our ocean-observing smart sensor web presented herein is composed of both mobile and fixed underwater in situ ocean sensing assets and Earth Observing System satellite sensors providing larger-scale sensing. An acoustic communications network forms a critical link in the web, facilitating adaptive sampling and calibration. We report on the development of various elements of this smart sensor web, including (a) a cable-connected mooring system with a profiler under real-time control with inductive battery charging; (b) a glider with integrated acoustic communications and broadband receiving capability; (c) an integrated acoustic navigation and communication network; (d) satellite sensor elements; and (e) a predictive model via the Regional Ocean Modeling System interacting with satellite sensor control.”

Read the paper [PDF]

New Maps Show Economic Opportunities for Poor Livestock Farmers in Uganda

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is unveiling today a new set of maps illustrating possible market opportunities for Uganda’s livestock farmers living in poverty. The maps compare for the first time 2005 poverty levels with livestock data from the 2002 population and housing census and the 2008 national livestock census.

“Seven out of ten households in Uganda own livestock, making it an integral part of Ugandans’ diet, culture, and income,” said Hon. Hope R. Mwesigye, Ugandan Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and co-author of Mapping a Better Future: Spatial Analysis and Pro-Poor Livestock Strategies in Uganda. “The maps are meant to guide the government’s future investments to reduce poverty while strengthening the livestock sector.”

This map combines poverty rates with milk production data and shows only the poverty rates for administrative areas with milk surplus.

Hon. Syda N.M. Bbumba, Uganda Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, said, “Examining the spatial relationships between poverty; livestock systems; location of livestock services, such as dairy cooling plants; and livestock disease hotspots can provide new evidence-based information to help craft more effective investments and poverty reduction efforts.”

While Uganda’s total agricultural output has declined, livestock figures have increased dramatically in the last decade due to strong domestic and regional demand for livestock products, according to the report.

“Increased livestock production carries both economic opportunities for Ugandans and greater risk for transmission of animal diseases,” said Nicholas Kauta, Commissioner of Livestock Health and Entomology at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. “The maps included in this report will help Uganda’s leaders understand market opportunities and, at the same time, target at-risk areas for disease outbreaks with appropriate health intervention plans.”

For instance, maps showing milk surplus and deficit areas can highlight geographic differences in market opportunities for poor dairy farmers. According to the maps in the report, about 3.5 million people live in subcounties identified as producing more milk than their residents consume and approximately 0.8 million poor people live in areas where the demand for milk is greater than supply. This information can help policymakers, dairy researchers and development agencies gauge market opportunities and invest in infrastructure where it is needed the most.

“By combining social data and livestock information and analyzing the map overlays, decision-makers from different sectors can work together to identify solutions to complex problems facing communities such as diseases that affect both people and livestock,” said Norbert Henninger, senior associate at WRI and co-author of the report.

John B. Male-Mukasa, executive director of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, said, “Uganda’s government acknowledges the importance of livestock to the nation’s economic development and food security, and as part of its 2010-2015 National Development Plan, it plans to invest in improved livestock breeds, water infrastructure, and livestock land management. The maps in this report will be useful in identifying the regions where investment is needed most dearly.”

Mapping a Better Future is the third installment in a series of publications using maps and spatial analysis to reduce poverty in Uganda, following two previous reports which targeted wetlands and water and sanitation.

[Source: World Resources Institute news release]

A Study on Determining the Sample Size in Geostatistics

Masters Thesis, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, University of Alberta, Fall 2010

Ying Ming Or

“After the scientific problem of interest is defined, collecting data is the first stage of any statistical analyses. The question of how large the sample should be is thus of great interest. In this thesis we demonstrate that in a geostatistical experiment determining the minimum sample size to achieve a certain precision of an estimator is often not possible due to inconsistencies of the estimators. This thesis is an empirical work extended from a manuscript (Gombay, 2010), which shows that the laws of large numbers may not hold under the spatial setting. It is demonstrated by a simulation study that the variance of the kriged mean converges to a non-zero constant as the sample size keeps increasing. It then followed by further investigations on the simple and ordinary kriging estimators. The conclusions arrived in this thesis lead for further research on the topic.”

Automatic Identification Methods of Linear and Circular Archaeological Structures via Satellite Imagery Processing

International Aerial Archaeology Conference – AARG 2010, Bucharest, Romania, 15 – 18 September 2010

Dorel Micle, Daniela Zaharie, and Oana Borlea

“Very wide spaces, rough terrain or the lack of visual perspective are the most invoked motives because of which wide areas of a country’s territory are not archaeologically investigated, thus creating a multitude of archaeological white spots.

“The usage of satellite images to identify archaeological sites represents a common practice of this scientific community nowadays, and, more and more often, the problem of automatic processing appears, of finding new methods and techniques of automatic identification of archaeological structures through satellite imagery processing.

“Finding the best solutions means to eliminate modern structures and study only the historic ones during the process. Benefitting of an almost total coverage with very good quality satellite images offered by Google Earth of the Timis County (Romania), and also of the richness and variety of noticeable archaeological sites on these images, our team tried to identify some work patterns which are accessible to archaeologists.

“Remote sensing techniques proved to be useful in non-intrusive investigation of archaeological sites by providing information on buried archaeological remains. The presence of different remains in the ground can generate different marks identifiable in high resolution panchromatic and/or multispectral images: crop marks, soil marks, shadow marks and damp marks.

“Automatic identification of archaeological sites from digital images is a difficult task, since the small anomalies induced by the buried remains are usually hidden by stronger marks corresponding to the structures currently existing on the ground (roads, constructions, trees, rocks etc). Therefore the final identification and interpretation of the marks should be made by the expert by visually inspecting the enhanced image and by corroborating his observations with additional information (e.g. historical maps, current roads network etc).

“In order to prepare the image for visual inspection we first applied a flow of basic image processing operations: gray scale conversion, histogram equalization, edge detection (Sobel filter), thresholding, inversion and erosion. Having the aim of developing a semi-automatic tool for identification of linear and circular shapes we also investigated some more sophisticated operations. One of these operations is the Hough transform which we applied in order to identify linear structures (e.g. wave like roman fortifications) and circular structures (e.g. burial mounds).

“The main problem we encountered in identifying the ancient marks is the fact that they are somewhat obscured by the marks of current land division, roads, contemporary buildings etc. In order to deal with this problem we applied both a supplementary pre-processing and a post-processing step. As pre-processing operation we used the singular value decomposition of the image. By ignoring the components corresponding to the highest singular value(s) (which contain the most important features in the image) we obtained an image where the ancient marks are more visible. In the post-processing step we tried to eliminate the lines detected by the Hough transform which correspond to the current land division by using the remark that this lines are mainly parallel while the ancient mark (e.g. a linear fortification) has a different orientation. Using such operations we successfully identified the location of a linear „roman“ fortification.

“The perspectives appear to be promising, so we also want to identify work methods for automatic identification of irregular structures and colors.”

Middleware-Based Sensor Web Integration

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, Volume PP, Issue 99, 2010-06-21

Tian, Y.; Geiger, J. V.; Su, H.; Kumar, S. V.; Houser, P. R.

“The Earth observation sensor web enables multiple-way interaction between earth observing sensors, sensor networks, Earth science models, and decision support systems. To achieve this goal, flexible and reliable integration between these disparate components is needed. In this study, a middleware-based, message-driven integration paradigm is proposed and implemented with the Land Information Sensor Web (LISW), to link a high-performance land surface modeling system with sensor simulators and other sensor web components, under a service-oriented architecture. OGC Sensor Web Enablement standard is adopted for interoperability. The middleware played a key role in enabling an integrated real-time sensor web with demonstrated simplicity, resilience and flexibility. We recommend that middleware-based integration should be adopted as a standard model in a wide range of sensor web applications, to replace the conventional point-to-point, client-server model.”

New Map Offers Global View of Health-sapping Air Pollution

In many developing countries, the absence of surface-based air pollution sensors makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get even a rough estimate of the abundance of a subcategory of airborne particles that epidemiologists suspect contributes to millions of premature deaths each year. The problematic particles, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, about a tenth the fraction of human hair. These small particles can get past the body’s normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs.

To fill in these gaps in surface-based PM2.5 measurements, experts look toward satellites to provide a global perspective. Yet, satellite instruments have generally struggled to achieve accurate measurements of the particles in near-surface air. The problem: Most satellite instruments can’t distinguish particles close to the ground from those high in the atmosphere. In addition, clouds tend to obscure the view. And bright land surfaces, such as snow, desert sand, and those found in certain urban areas can mar measurements.

However, the view got a bit clearer this summer with the publication of the first long-term global map of PM2.5 in a recent issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. Canadian researchers Aaron van Donkelaar and Randall Martin at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, created the map by blending total-column aerosol amount measurements from two NASA satellite instruments with information about the vertical distribution of aerosols from a computer model.

Their map, which shows the average PM2.5 results between 2001 and 2006, offers the most comprehensive view of the health-sapping particles to date. Though the new blending technique has not necessarily produced more accurate pollution measurements over developed regions that have well-established surface-based monitoring networks, it has provided the first PM2.5 satellite estimates in a number of developing countries that have had no estimates of air pollution levels until now.

The map shows very high levels of PM2.5 in a broad swath stretching from the Saharan Desert in Northern Africa to Eastern Asia. When compared with maps of population density, it suggests more than 80 percent of the world’s population breathe polluted air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Levels of PM2.5 are comparatively low in the United States, though noticeable pockets are clearly visible over urban areas in the Midwest and East.

“We still have plenty of work to do to refine this map, but it’s a real step forward,” said Martin, one of the atmospheric scientists who created the map.”We hope this data will be useful in areas that don’t have access to robust ground-based measurements.”

Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it’s nearly certain you’ve inhaled millions of PM2.5 particles. Though often invisible to humans, such particles are present everywhere in Earth’s atmosphere, and they come from both natural and human sources. Researchers are still working to quantify the precise percentage of natural versus human-generated PM2.5, but it’s clear that both types contribute to the hotspots that show up in the new map.

Wind, for example, lifts large amounts of mineral dust aloft in the Arabian and Saharan deserts. In many heavily urbanized areas, such as eastern China and northern India, power plants and factories that burn coal lack filters and produce a steady stream of sulfate and soot particles. Motor vehicle exhaust also creates significant amounts of nitrates and other particles. Both agricultural burning and diesel engines yield dark sooty particles scientists call black carbon.

Human-generated particles often predominate in urban air — what most people actually breathe — and these particles trouble medical experts the most, explained Arden Pope, an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah and one of the world’s leading experts on the health impacts of air pollution. That’s because the smaller PM2.5 particles evade the body defenses—small hair-like structures in the respiratory tract called cilia and hairs in our noses—that do a reasonably good job of clearing or filtering out the larger particles.

Small particles can make their way deep into human lungs and some ultrafine particles can even enter the bloodstream. Once there, they can spark a whole range of diseases including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and bronchitis. The American Heart Association estimates that in the United States alone, PM2.5 air pollution spark some 60,000 deaths a year.

Though PM2.5 as a class of particle clearly poses health problems, researchers have had less success assigning blame to specific types of particles. “There are still big debates about which type of particle is the most toxic,” said Pope. “We’re not sure whether it’s the sulfates, or the nitrates, or even fine dust that’s the most problematic.”

One of the big sticking points: PM2.5 particles frequently mix and create hybrid particles, making it difficult for both satellite and ground-based instruments to parse out the individual effects of the particles.

The Promise of Satellites and PM2.5

The new map, and research that builds upon it, will help guide researchers who attempt to address this and a number of other unresolved questions about PM2.5. The most basic: how much of a public health toll does air pollution take around the globe? “We can see clearly that a tremendous number of people are exposed to high levels of particulates,” said Martin. “But, so far, nobody has looked at what that means in terms of mortality and disease. Most of the epidemiology has focused on developed countries in North America and Europe.”

Now, with this map and dataset in hand, epidemiologists can start to look more closely at how long term exposure to particulate matter in rarely studied parts of the world – such as Asia’s fast-growing cities or areas in North Africa with quantities of dust in the air – affect human health. The new information could even be useful in parts of the United States or Western Europe where surface monitors, still the gold standard for measuring air quality, are sparse.

In addition to using satellite data from NASA’s Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) that flies on NASA’s Terra satellite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies on both NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, the researchers used output from a chemical transport model called GEOS-Chem to create the new map.

However, the map does not represent the final word on the global distribution of PM2.5, the researchers who made it emphasize. Although the data blending technique van Donkelaar applied provides a clearer global view of fine particulates, the abundance of PM2.5 could still be off by 25 percent or more in some areas due to remaining uncertainties, explained Ralph Kahn, an expert in remote sensing from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and one of the coauthors of the paper.

To improve understanding of airborne particles, NASA scientists have plans to participate in numerous upcoming field campaigns and satellite missions. NASA Goddard, for example, operates a global network of ground-based particle sensors called AERONET that site managers are currently working to enhance and expand. And, later next year, scientists from Goddard’s Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York will begin to analyze the first data from Glory, a satellite that carries an innovative type of instrument—a polarimeter—that will measure particle properties in new ways and complement existing instruments capable of measuring aerosols from space.

“We still have some work to do in order to realize the full potential of satellite measurements of air pollution,” said Raymond Hoff, the director of the Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the author of a comprehensive review article on the topic published recently in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. “But this is an important step forward.”

[Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center press release]