Links to recent presentations

April 16, 2017Posted by Sam


Recently, I gave a Brown Bag series presentation to my colleagues in the GeoVISTA Center titled Big Data, Theory, and Black Boxes: Ensuring the Evaluations do not 'Speak for Themselves.' My AAG 2017 presentation in the Geospatial Data Science paper sessionwas a shorter version of the same presentation. Here are links to both talks.

GeoVISTA Brown Bag March 29, 2017

AAG 2017 Geospatial Data Science

AAG CFP: Open Source Software in Geography: Theories, Developments, and Pathways toward Openness

Sept. 26, 2016Posted by Sam


I, on behalf of my co-organizers, Matt Haffner and Jesse Piburn, invite submissions to our call for papers for our special session of AAG in Boston.

Open Source Software in Geography: Theories, Developments, and Pathways toward Openness

The field of GIScience has increasingly considered software development for spatio-temporal analysis, not only as a research tool, but for its implications for disciplinary identity and who has access to code and software resources. As such, we must consider both the uneven processes of creating code, and the utility of the end product. Open access does not ensure open accessibility when code is unworkable, too specific to adapt to new tasks, or contains components that function like black boxes. We ask, how should GIScientists consider their tools and techniques beyond the purposes for which they were initially written, to create applicable and generalizable resources?

With these concerns in mind, much attention has recently surrounded efforts to increase the openness of code and software. Much of these efforts focus on the use of online repositories, improving visibility by attaching code to journal contributions, and emphasizing generalizable software for a range of geographic applications. This paper session draws on these recent interests in addressing efforts and trajectories in open source software in geography.

Specifically, this session aims to advance conversations in a number of areas related to the openness of data, code and software including but not limited to:

Access to existing code -

  • Advancing open source e.g. GitHub, GitLab
  • Open source vs. free software; increasing software accessibility
  • Searchable repositories of data and code e.g. ArXiv
  • Extendable data formats e.g. GeoJSON
  • Best practices in generating and testing code -

  • Educating students on basic and advanced strategies - inside and/or outside of geography departments
  • Reducing the digital/coding divide within geography
  • Facilitating and rewarding reproducibility
  • Creating and disseminating usable code -

  • Generalizability of data, code, and software
  • Methods for ‘publishing’ and ‘citing’ code
  • We welcome empirical and theoretical submissions which advance these conversations on the openness of code and software in GIScience and geography for 15-minute presentations, as well as anticipate a concluding panel discussion. Please send your 250-word abstracts for submission to this paper session to Sam (, Matt ( or Jesse ( by October 20. Accepted submissions will then be asked to register for the conference and provide AAG presenter PIN information to the organizers before the abstract deadline.


  • Matthew Haffner, Oklahoma State University (
  • Jesse Piburn, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (
  • Sam Stehle, Pennsylvania State University (
  • CyberGIS 2016 and NSF workshop on Geospatial Data Science in the Era of Big Data

    July 26-31, 2016Posted by Sam


    With many thanks to the NSF and the University of Indiana hosts, I attended this year's CyberGIS conference and accompanying geospatial data workshop in Urbana-Champaign. The website (here) contains links to each of the workshop participant's papers, including my own on evaluation methods under big data. Or view it directly here.

    In addition to making new friends, there was a lot to learn. I was particularly inspired by talks given by Arfon Smith of GitHub and Victoria Stodden in the School of Information Sciences at UIUC. Both talked on the topic of open data and software and encouraging openness in software development. Dr. Smith spoke about recieving credit for writing code, 'publishing' code contributions, and a novel way that we might indicate the influence our projects draw from other code. Dr. Stodden spoke during dinner about the legal aspects of openness and reproducibility and emphasized that current efforts are on the side of those who encourage and facilitate openness.

    Jennifer Fluri and Amy Trauger Student Essay and Creative Works Competition

    February 24, 2016Posted by Sam


    Recognizing the role of gender, class, sexuality and race in the organization of our everyday lives, Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) aims to promote and empower individuals within geography by offering a supportive network that sponsors opportunities to grow professionally, intellectually, and personally. Penn State's SWIG organization invites undergraduate and graduate students from all institutions and disciplines to contribute to our ongoing efforts and conversations and submit to our third annual essay and creative works competition.

    This paper competition solicits perspectives on the following question: How has communication in the course of your research and everyday life, impacted your understanding of your identity and other's identities both personally and professionally?

    Communication is key to impactful research, whether it be with research participants, stakeholders, colleagues, and other communities inside and outside of academia. Effective communication strategies are developed through the course of research, and are shaped by our identities and those of the people we communicate with. SWIG encourages responses to this prompt considering your own experiences and how you have been shaped as a student and a person by the need to communicate in your research and coursework.

    Example topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

    • trans-disciplinary communication
    • the impact of technology on your ability to communicate
    • communication experiences with research participants and constituents
    • negotiating communication across linguistic barriers
    • nonverbal communication methods
    • areas where communication is lacking and proposed solutions

    And many more!

    We welcome contributions from current undergraduate and graduate students, irrespective of academic institution or discipline. Although written essay submissions are limited to 1,000 words (excluding references and short abstract), we encourage contributors to express their thoughts using other mediums as well, including, but not limited to; maps, diagrams, photography, poetry, film, drawing, and painting. Every submission, whether textual or visual, should include a 100 word abstract that indicates how the entry addresses the intent of the CFP.

    With the author’s permission, submissions will be made public for others on Penn State SWIG’s website. We envision the public presentation of submissions to provoke discussion and questions in the discipline about what support looks like, and how it may be and could be experienced. Awards will be presented at the 2016 AAG Conference panel on the Art of Grant Proposal Writing (4474), hosted by SWIG, although participation in the conference is not required.

    Submissions are due March 20th, 2016 online at

    Read the CFP online and view last year’s winning entries at

    Please direct questions to Sam Stehle (

    Check out SWIG’s other ongoing activities here:

    Dr. Jennifer Fluri and Dr. Amy Trauger were instrumental in the establishment and promotion of Penn State SWIG when they were graduate students in the Penn State Department of Geography. Their defining leadership established long standing traditions in our community, including Supporting Young Women in Geography Day (SYWIG Day) where young women from across the state participate in a day of geography learning with researchers in our department, and have left a legacy within our department of a culture of mentorship, support, and outreach. By hosting this award in their names, we hope to further the spirit of their work with Penn State SWIG.


    May 18, 2015Posted by Sam


    Well, the stressful year that was is over. I'm running and jumping again on my repaired ACL, coursework is completed, and research, well, that never wraps up. Which means it is time to have a productive summer!

    But spring hasn't been so bad either. I passed the final oral component of comps, so I'm officially ABD! One large hurdle jumped on the way to a doctorate. Putting the research plan to action will be the tough part.

    I'm going back to Oak Ridge National Lab this summer for an internship. It'll be good to spend a significant amount of time there with other interns. Maybe this time I'll post pictures...

    Also, I've joined the world of Twitter. I figure, how can you study social media without playing a role in it? You can follow me at @TheHigherThFewer. And for some perspective on my choice of handle, you'll have just to embrace the nerd-dom and re-watch Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5, episode 20 "Cost of Living".

    Finally, I can announce the publication of our first paper on the STempo project, with Donna Peuquet as PI. The project has been through numerous years of change and and revision, and so it is great to finally have a paper out that details our work. You can find it in IJGIS .

    Peuquet, D.J., A.C. Robinson, S. Stehle, F.A. Hardisty, W. Luo


    A method for discovery and analysis of temporal patterns in complex event data


    Pattern analysis techniques currently common within geography tend to focus either on characterizing patterns of spatial and/or temporal recurrence of a single event type (e.g., incidence of flu cases) or on comparing sequences of a limited number of event types where relationships between events are already represented in the data (e.g., movement patterns). The availability of large amounts of multivariate spatiotemporal data, however, requires new methods for pattern analysis. Here, we present a technique for finding associations among many different event types where the associations among these varying event types are not explicitly represented in the data or known in advance. This pattern discovery method, known as T-pattern analysis, was first developed within the field of psychology for the purpose of finding patterns in personal interactions. We have adapted and extended the T-pattern method to take the unique characteristics of geographic data into account and implemented it within a geovisualization toolkit for an integrated computational-geovisual environment we call STempo. To demonstrate how T-pattern analysis can be employed in geographic research for discovering patterns in complex spatiotemporal data, we describe a case study featuring events from news reports about Yemen during the Arab Spring of 2011–2012. Using supplementary data from the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone, we briefly summarize and reference a separate validation study, then evaluate the scalability of the T-pattern approach. We conclude with ideas for further extensions of the T-pattern technique to increase its utility for spatiotemporal analysis.

    New article + AAG abstract

    April 13, 2015Posted by Sam


    I've set a new low for lack of updating. But new publications are as good a time as any to share what I've been up to.

    Most notably I recently co-authored a paper with my advisor, Donna Peuquet, summarizing my Masters Thesis. It's in the most recent issue of the Journal of Spatial Cognition and Computation, here.


    Analyzing Spatio-Temporal Patterns and Their Evolution via Sequence Alignment


    Temporal patterns indicate consistency and change, providing insight into social processes and phenomena. This article contributes to understanding patterns in social science by confirming the existence of known patterns under new conditions and quantifying the amount of observed deviation. We introduce a technique for matching a pattern in real-world events using an extension to the sequence alignment algorithm developed in biology. We demonstrate our algorithm and its utility for social science applications using event data collected from RSS news feeds. By comparing patterns derived from events in Yemen during the Arab Spring of 2011–2012 to events in Yemen's history and to other countries during the same time period, this algorithm contributes to time geographic concepts and comparative political research.

    I'll be at AAG!

    Session Title

    Geographies of Media II: Big Data/Technology/Security

    Paper Title

    Event Data, Spatio-Temporal Analysis, and Digital News Media: A Critical Examination


    Digital social and news media has developed new networks of information flows, expanding access to events and people in spite of physical distance. Geographers interested in big data have turned to digital news collection to explore new theoretical and methodological opportunities. Events, as reported in news sources, provide a snapshot of current affairs with varying spatial and temporal resolution, while rapid dissemination and increased users ensures an ever-growing volume of information. When used in event analysis, these data are often used to represent empirical truths. However, messages are conveyed by journalists and social media users; often skilled storytellers with their own perspectives. Text processing used in event analysis distills the articles' content to an abstract, predefined list of outcomes, and is unreliable for non-English languages. This paper engages with these critiques while demonstrating the potential for digital news data to contribute an understanding of spatio-temporal processes. This paper critically evaluates news media as a source of data through an example analyzing international politics in the context of sport competition. First, I discuss ways this information is processed into event data by extracting from the article's text a "who did what to whom" (and where and when) structure. Then, I demonstrate how event data's focus on actions and pattern analysis can be augmented by also considering actors, themes, and inter-connected geographical processes. I examine news media data on international political dialogues and the 2014 British Commonwealth Games to explore the relationships between sport and politics through local and international news sources.

    New location, a new page

    July 20, 2014Posted by Sam


    I'll attempt to post more frequent updates here this year. It promises to be an eventful year of dissertation proposals, comps, and hopefully some traveling. send me an email if I'm slacking off!

    For the first of two summer internships that are a major part of the Big Data Social Science IGERT program, I am in Knoxville, TN with Oak Ridge National Lab! I have always kept tabs on the research being done there because of its geopolitical relevance. And I always hoped that I would get to spend some time here. And what a beautiful campus and experience it has been so far. I am working on a problem meant to integrate time series information with event information - two ways of representing spatio-temporal phenomenon that do not work all that well together. Learning a lot about time series intervention modeling, and how to struggle with R. I'm so glad for this experience!

    I will soon be adding a new page to this website called 'adventures.' I wanted a place where I can show some pictures of the places that I have been. Hopefully some of Knoxville will be up soon!

    Mariners are in the thick of a playoff race! Stay up to date with Dr. Detecto of the Seattle Sports Insider blog

    On Feminist Geopolitics and Big Data

    January 2, 2014Posted by Sam


    I had the pleasure of just finishing a course on critical geopolitics to add to my semester of interdisciplinary pursuits. That of course includes the IGERT and its research rotation that I spent with a team from computer science and information science, but I found this course most rewarding. In the strictest sense, geopolitics is not interdisciplinary (despite students in history, arts, and communications in attendance), but to a GIScientist it was an experience in an interesting subject in which I would have regretted not being involved. And an area of opportunity for integrating the topics in which I am already interested.

    While I endure lots of questioning looks from students in my subfield when they see what I am working on, everybody else has been very supportive of my trying to insert myself into critical geopolitics literature. I still struggle with how to discuss the integration of critical geopolitical theories and my current emphasis on big data - though BD has seen an increasingly critical body of work - without perpetuating the unfortunately perceived gap between qualitative and quantitative focii within geography. Not to mention painting my own thesis in an uncritical light! But I have had many positive reviews of my submissions to speak on the subject at AAG. I am looking forward to being part of a panel on geography's perspectives on big data and speaking in a session title "peopling and placing big data." For the former I will present my term paper from the critical geopolitics course, for which I include the abstract below.

    The event-full world: A feminist inquiry into big event data for geopolitical analysis

    Event data analytics can contribute to efforts in critical, and specifically feminist, geopolitics to de-center the post-colonial vision of global politics practiced in comparative and international politics. As an increasingly-used form of big data in social science research, event data presents questions about the assumptions of scale produced in individual events and also in the patterns generated from quantitative analysis of that information. Such efforts encourage questions from, but also have the potential to compliment feminist geopolitics, which examines spaces of political influence at different scales, particularly embodied experience and local knowledge, that have traditionally been silenced in political analysis. This scholarship complicates hierarchical understandings of scale, and thus quantitative pattern analysis of event data is well situated to facilitate these efforts. In this paper, I present a first step toward demonstrating the potential contribution that event data analytics can make to feminist geopolitical research by interrogating the assumptions made in traditional geopolitical understandings of event data and presenting a potential framework for feminist engagement with this resource. This paper uses the very tools that have been used to produce geopolitical narratives to challenge them, and as such contributes empirically and theoretically to feminist and critical geopolitics.

    all too short a summer

    August 12, 2013Posted by Sam


    What a short but eventful summer it has been! I had planned to spend through May writing my thesis, which would have left almost the entire summer open for exploration in an academic and a Pennsylvanian sense. I still have not had the chance to try out my new pack frame on any of this beautiful state's trails. But instead, I continued writing and reviewing right up until it was due to the graduate school. I'm not the first one whose best laid plans didn't turn out the way they hoped.

    Although I haven't explored Pennsylvania in much detail, this was a summer of international firsts. My first trip outside of the U.S. consisted of my attendance and presentation at the Geocomputation 2013 conference in Wuhan, China. What an awesome trip! I met lots of great, helpful, and enjoyable people, not to mention the food! Then following the turn-in of my thesis, my colleague and girlfriend and I took a week-and-a-half trip to London, Zagreb, and Bristol. Zagreb was one of the most amazing places I have ever been. My advice is to take a week there, enjoy the cafes, and do it soon before everyone in the EU learns about it!

    This weekend my parents and grandparents came to State College to watch the commencement ceremonies for my graduating from the Masters. It had been 2 (too!) long years since I last saw my grandparents. I'm glad they could make it to share a few days with me!

    Of course, with the Masters complete, it means turning my focus to the PhD. Mix that in with IGERT and serving as graduate representative, and this year promises to provide a full schedule and lots of fun!

    where to go from here?

    April 19, 2013Posted by Sam


    As the semester ramps up into crunch-time (two term papers, ongoing research, two publications, and - oh yeah - a thesis to complete), it seems an appropriate time to briefly update my status. I was accepted to return to Penn State to begin studies as a PhD candidate beginning in the Fall of 2013. There is nowhere else I would rather be! I look forward to exploring more of Geography, as well as branching out. Too much to learn and four years sounds like too little time. I hope to continue working in the broad area of space-time patterns, though mixing more qualitative methods into my computational background.

    I will be serving as a trainee in Penn State's Big Data Social Science IGERT for the next two years. It promises to be a great opportunity to study and collaborate with others in many disciplines.

    Those in State College should attend the Geography Department awards recognition reception, where all second-year Master students will present posters displaying their research. My poster, like my Masters thesis, is titled 'Pattern Matching via Sequence Alignment: Analyzing Spatio-Temporal Distances.' Come ask us questions in what is our only oppurtunity for public scrutiny, as there is no defense at the Masters level.

    Oh, and finally, it's baseball season again! Here's to a more productive season than last for the Mariners!

    some plugs

    January 26, 2013Posted by Sam


    Becuase I am lousy at maintaining a blog, here are some links that might give you an idea about what I have been up to

    - Geocomputation 2013 (coming soon): conference homepage

    - Big Data Social Science IGERT at Penn State: BDSS IGERT

    - Supporting Women in Geography: SWIG

    - Supporting Young Women in Geography Day (coming soon): SYWIG Day

    - Excercise! racquetball (please share your opinion if you have a favorite)

    STempo video

    November 7, 2012Posted by Sam


    I wanted to share this video created by members of the STempo team just for an update of our (very cool!) work.

    Check out other videos posted by GeoVISTA members on YouTube

    GIScience Conference

    September 23, 2012Posted by Sam


    I have been told that the bi-annual GIScience conference was one that should not be missed. My experience this year's rendition in Columbus, Ohio lived up to its reputation. ALthough I did not present an abstract, I found it a very valuable experience. I enjoyed the positive mix of student and faculty presentations that I image are quite indicative of the research done throughout the entire field of GIScience. I met some new people doing interesting things, had productive conversations, and was made almost painfully aware of how little I understand! At least it provides some added motivation to keep going.

    With that in mind, my mind has swung toward the desire to pursue a PhD next year, rather than to find a job. Several reasons have influenced the decision in this direction, and not the least of which was reiterated by getting to interact with the fun and brilliant people in the field. At least I think I'll stick around long enough to attend the next conference in 2014!

    Now on Linkedin

    July 30, 2012Posted by Sam


    Sam is now on LinkedIn! Here is a link to my profile with several tidbits of my professional experience: LinkedIn/Sam Stehle

    No)Boundaries Conference

    Dec. 14, 2011Posted by Sam


    The Penn State Geography Department graduate students are close to introducing the lineup for the annual No)Boundaries conference. Check it out here:> I will tentatively be introducing my current thoughts about sequence alignment and how I might make a thesis out of it. Time sure does fly!

    Semester 1 final update

    Dec. 14, 2011Posted by Sam


    At this conclusion of coursework for the Fall semester, I wanted to pause for a minute and reflect on the amount I have learned. I have pondered time, Carbon storage, intense statistics, feminism, anti-terrorism, spatial aptitude, what it means to be a Geographer, and surprisingly, very little time with GIS! It's safe to say my horizons have been broadened in the last three-and-a-half months. With things nearly done until the Spring, I find I feel almost unhappy. I'm going to blame it on tiredness, though I wish i had made more progress developing my own research ideas. I have settled on examining the field of time geography through patterns in temporal sequences of events, though much narrowing must be done. The application of techniques such as sequence alignment - a concept that originated in the biology - that were not initially intended for use in the social sciences can be hugely beneficial to temporal analysis. I'm looking forward to delving deeper into these concepts and more (resuming in 3 weeks!). Happy Holidays!

    Up and running!

    Sept. 22, 2011Posted by Sam


    Today is the birthdate of this website! Thanks for coming to visit. While at the moment what you see is what you get, much more will be soon to come, including a bio of myself, some academic history and interests, and a multitude of ways to get hold of me, should you be so inclined. Stop by frequently; I have no doubt my experiences through the rigors of graduate school will be diverse and worth sharing!