Geography professor receives Fulbright grant to work in Austria

by Angela Rogers
April 05, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anthony Robinson, assistant professor of geography at Penn State, has been selected to receive a Fulbright grant to teach and conduct research at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Beginning Jan. 2017, Robinson will spend six months working in the Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS).

Robinson was awarded a Fulbright for his proposal “Making Maps to Make a Difference: Uncovering Geographic Patterns in Learner Engagement.”

“In my research, I explore how people use and understand geographic information through visual interfaces, and then use this knowledge to improve the utility of geographic information. I like to focus on the ways we can design interfaces and interactions to make geographic information actionable— a fundamental need associated with mapping in the digital age,” Robinson said. “The work I do around human-centered GIScience requires collaboration with other academics and end users. This Fulbright experience will help me develop new connections with researchers and students doing complementary work at the University of Salzburg.”

“When I saw the call for proposals for this position last spring, I immediately contacted Professor Josef Strobl, who leads Salzburg’s Z_GIS group and its UNIGIS global online geospatial education efforts, to find out more details. It seemed like the perfect fit for a Fulbright experience since it brings together my teaching and research interests. The UNIGIS program for online learning is very similar in size and scope to the online programs that I direct at Penn State, and the Z_GIS research group has a lot of parallels to our strong GIScience research core here at University Park. The University of Salzburg is one of just a handful of institutions in the world that has both of those strengths, presenting a priceless opportunity to see my research and teaching worlds through a new lens,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he anticipates developing and teaching new courses and conducting research with his colleagues at the University of Salzburg.

“In addition to research collaboration on geovisual analytics, I’m excited about the opportunity to exchange best practices in online learning with Professor Strobl and his colleagues. I’m hopeful that what we are able to learn from each other will lead to new forms of online education collaboration that take advantage of respective strengths at Penn State and University of Salzburg,” Robinson said.

“My teaching efforts in Salzburg will focus on design challenges in geovisual analytics and cartography and will target the intersections between human-computer interaction, information visualization and GIScience to envision new geovisual analytics systems.  I am also really excited to work with graduate students affiliated with Z_GIS to help advise the development of their individual research projects.”

Robinson’s research project for this Fulbright award will focus on two major research questions related to mapping learner engagement in online courses: 1) What spatio-temporal patterns can we find in learning activities, including the submission of assignments, discussion activity and content viewing? and 2) What differences do we see among learner engagement in classes taught online to U.S. students via Penn State’s World Campus and classes on the same topics taught globally via the UNIGIS network?

These questions are inspired by Robinson’s experiences as director of online geospatial education programs at Penn State.

“This opportunity also has a very personal draw,” Robinson said, “as I have relatives from Salzburg, including many who live there today. So, if I were to choose any place to spend six months with my family, it would be Salzburg.”

“There are two rounds of review associated with Fulbright awards, and when I made it through the first round in November of 2015, I started to feel better about my chances. At the same time, I knew these awards are extremely competitive, so it was still a bit of a shock to get the notification email,” Robinson said “It’s an incredible feeling to have your efforts pay off like this, and I am extremely grateful for my family, colleagues, and mentors who set me in motion to make this kind of thing possible.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 07, 2016