Category: In Print

Henquinet Published in the Journal of Applied Volcanology

Kari Henquinet
Kari Henquinet

From Tech Today:

Luke J. Bowman and Kari B. Henquinet (SS) published an article “Disaster Risk Reduction and Resettlement Efforts at San Vicente (Chichontepec) Volcano, El Salvador: Toward Understanding Social and Geophysical Vulnerability” in the Journal of Applied Volcanology. Bowman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences and Henquinet is the Peace Corps Master’s International Director and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences.

Walton noted for historic testing instrument

The original 17th-century gunpowder testing eprouvette of Joseph Furttenbach
The original 17th-century gunpowder testing eprouvette of Joseph Furttenbach

Asst. Professor Steven Walton (Social Sciences) was noted for his contribution to an ongoing project on the “Origins of Firepower” at the Royal Armouries and National Firearms Centre, Leeds [UK] in the Jan. 17-23, 2015 issue of New Scientist.  In “Do it Again: What can we find out by re-enacting the science of yesteryear” [paywall*] (pp. 31-35), Richard Webb reported on replication work with early gunpowder testing apparatus being undertaken by Haileigh Robertson, a Ph.D. student at the University of York, and one of Walton’s advisees. Robertson is exploring the philosophical and technical knowledge about gunpowder int eh early 17th century for a Ph.D. in the history of science, and Walton, an expert on historic gunpowder, built a replica of Joseph Furttenbach’s eprouvette from 1627 (see image) for her to use in testing. The New Scientist article says of their work:

Today Robertson is aiming to repeat the eprouvette work using a replica device built by historian Steven Walton of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. It has two vertical supports about 60 centimetres high, with a post suspended between them. Attached to the bottom of the post is a brass lid which sits atop a small powder chamber and priming pan. When gunpowder is ignited in the powder chamber, the force of the explosion should propel the brass lid and post up past a series of ratchets that flip up, and then catch the lid as it begins to fall. The height the lid reaches is a measure of the gunpowder’s relative potency. Robertson’s collaborator Peter Smithurst, an emeritus curator of firearms at the National Firearms Centre, first packs the chamber with modern “black powder”. Technician Trevor Weston approaches cautiously with a long lit taper. I stand ready with the video camera. “I wouldn’t want to stand too close,” says Robertson, “until we know what it does.” What it does, besides make an almighty flash and bang, is hard to discern at first. But when the smoke disperses, the lid is balancing 13 ratchets up, half a metre off the floor. So far, so good. Less successful are gunpowder mixtures prepared using old recipes by Smithurst, a trained chemist. There is the odd fizzer like a Roman candle, and quite a few proverbial flashes in the pan. No one is sure why these mixtures don’t work as well – perhaps the modern stuff is finer-grained, with a larger surface area to encourage ignition. Or maybe the samples have got damp somehow. Archaeologists and historians alike want to understand the factors affecting the potency of early gunpowder. The power and range of early guns depended on the energy it could generate, so gunpowder influenced not only the design of cannons and armour, but also the evolution of battlefield tactics. By reproducing these experiments we get a feel for what was possible – and an idea of the frustrations.

Further experimental and simulation work is planned.

* online this is part of a series of “Reliving five eureka moments lost in history”

Wellstead Publishes on Policy Capacity and Climate Change Decision-Making

National Climate Change Assessment’s adaptation process Source: Bierbaum et al. (2014)
National Climate Change Assessment’s adaptation process
Source: Bierbaum et al. (2014)

Professor Adam Wellstead co-authored a paper, Mainstreaming and Beyond:  Policy Capacity and Climate Change Decision-Making published in the Michigan Journal of Sustainability Volume 3, Spring 2015.


Mainstreaming involves integrating climate adaptation measures into existing policies and programs. This article reviews the policy process and policy capacity of government organizations and suggests that both need to be incorporated into climate change adaptation assessments. A critical part of mainstreaming is evidence-based decision-making, which emphasizes that decision makers should have the best available information in order to make knowledgeable decisions. This requires policy work that involves a wide variety of statistical methods, applied research, and advanced modeling techniques to gauge broad public opinion and attitudes as well as more routine research techniques. A review of previous past quantitative studies conducted mainly in Canada identifies factors driving policy capacity within government departments responsible for formulating, choosing, implementing, and evaluating climate change adaptation policies and programs. Policy capacity has traditionally been objectively measured and includes indicators such as the number of policy staff, their education levels, resources available, roles and tasks, and ongoing training. More attention needs to be paid to the subjective perceptions of individuals who undertake policy work, in particular the attitudes towards the policy-making process. This paper concludes by proposing a policy capacity framework that includes individual, organizational, and sectoral policy capacity considerations.

Boyer Ontl on Tool-Assisted Hunting in Chimpanzees

KellyKelly Boyer Ontl co-authored a paper, New evidence on the tool-assisted hunting exhibited by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in a savannah habitat at Fongoli, Senegal published in the Royal Society Open Science,

was summarized in numerous news articles highlighting the team’s chimpanzee research including Chimps that Hunt Offer a New View on Evolution from the New York Times, Women are better at DIY (in chimps at least):  Female primates can master and use tools more easily than males from Daily Mailand Female Chimps More Likely Than Males to Hunt With Tools from Smithsonian.


For anthropologists, meat eating by primates like chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) warrants examination given the emphasis on hunting in human evolutionary history. As referential models, apes provide insight into the evolution of hominin hunting, given their phylogenetic relatedness and challenges reconstructing extinct hominin behaviour from palaeoanthropological evidence. Among chimpanzees, adult males are usually the main hunters, capturing vertebrate prey by hand. Savannah chimpanzees (P. t. verus) at Fongoli, Sénégal are the only known non-human population that systematically hunts vertebrate prey with tools, making them an important source for hypotheses of early hominin behaviour based on analogy. Here, we test the hypothesis that sex and age patterns in tool-assisted hunting (n=308 cases) at Fongoli occur and differ from chimpanzees elsewhere, and we compare tool-assisted hunting to the overall hunting pattern. Males accounted for 70% of all captures but hunted with tools less than expected based on their representation on hunting days. Females accounted for most tool-assisted hunting. We propose that social tolerance at Fongoli, along with the tool-assisted hunting method, permits individuals other than adult males to capture and retain control of prey, which is uncommon for chimpanzees. We assert that tool-assisted hunting could have similarly been important for early hominins.



Lafreniere on Mapping Time-Space in GIS

From Tech Today:Lafreniere

Assistant Professor Don Lafreniere (SS) co-authored a paper, “All the World’s a Stage: A GIS Framework for Recreating Personal Time-Space from Qualitative and Quantitative Sources,” in Transactions in GIS, Vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 225-246.


This article presents a methodological model for the study of the space-time patterns of everyday life. The framework utilizes a wide range of qualitative and quantitative sources to create two environmental stages, social and built, which place and contextualize the daily mobilities of individuals as they traverse urban environments. Additionally, this study outlines a procedure to fully integrate narrative sources in a GIS. By placing qualitative sources, such as narratives, within a stage-based GIS, researchers can begin to tell rich spatial stories about the lived experiences of segregation, social interaction, and environmental exposure. The article concludes with a case study utilizing the diary of a postal clerk to outline the wide applicability of this model for space-time GIS research.