U.S. gun deaths by county, 2004–2010

Mark Graves has put together this map based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing the average number of gun deaths per 100,000 county residents from 2004 through 2010. What really struck me is how NYC is among the areas with the lowest rates in the country. Brooklyn (Kings County), for example, has a rate of 4.79 per 100,000 residents over those seven years. I could only find the rate for 2010 for Germany, which was 1.24. Assuming that the above map actually shows the sum for those seven years from 2004 to 2010, as it suggests, Brooklyn would actually have a lower rate than Germany (7 * 1.24 = 8.68, assuming that the rate in Germany was more or less stable over those years). I certainly did not expect that.

Needless to say, the rates in other areas are much worse. And don’t even get me started about any of those nonsense arguments against stricter gun control laws.

View the full screen map here. Kudos to Harvey for pointing me to this.

SublimeText and LaTeXTools on El Capitan

I find myself using Atom for most of my text editing these days, but for LaTeX editing I still rely on SublimeText. This is mostly because of the excellent LaTeXTools plugin that makes LaTeX editing really convenient in Sublime. Unfortunately, updating OS X to El Capitan broke this setup. It took me a while to figure out how to fix this, so here’s the short story:

  1. Download and install MacTex 2015.
  2. In Sublime, go to Tools > Command Palette, look for LateXTools: Reconfigure and migrate settings, and hit enter to execute the command.

That’s it. This will update LaTeXTools with the new path of the LaTeX executables, which had to be moved around due to new restrictions on the /usr directory introduced in El Capitan. Just be aware that this will overwrite any customizations that you may have added to your LaTeXTools setup.

Tenure Track Faculty Positions at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center

The Environmental CrossRoads Initiative at The City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center invites applications for full-time, tenure-track faculty members at any rank.

We seek outstanding scientists who have a demonstrated capacity to engage in interdisciplinary field, laboratory, and synthesis research on human-ecosystem interactions, with an emphasis on urban and human-dominated regional systems. Applications are welcome in the areas of: state-of-the-art environmental sensing including novel instrumentation development and deployment, coupled with integrative, synthesis-oriented environmental research. The position seeks to catalyze innovation in urban systems research and applications within the CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative.

Individuals filling these positions are expected to serve major roles in the research and education programs of the ASRC, along with the teaching missions of one of the colleges within the CUNY system.


Candidates are expected to have advanced degrees (Ph.D. or equivalent) in environmental sciences or engineering: ecology, biogeochemistry, energy analysis, urban systems, systems analysis.

Expertise in one or more of the following areas is sought: urban and regional metabolism (materials, water and energy – stocks, flows, processes); environmental biogeochemistry across land-atmosphere-water media; energy systems analysis; large scale observatory design using sensor networks and in situ instrumentation; remote sensing over local, regional, and larger domains; data integration, simulation, and/or geospatial modeling; interdisciplinary thinking and synthesis.

Also required are the ability to teach successfully, demonstrated scholarship or achievement, and ability to cooperate with others for the good of the institution. Successful candidates will have academic appointments at one of the senior CUNY colleges.

Final faculty ranks will be determined by the qualifications and experience of successful candidates, with our primary criteria being a demonstrated commitment to research and teaching.

How to apply

Applicants should electronically submit 1) a curriculum vitae, 2) a 1-2 page cover letter summarizing research accomplishments, future directions and views on interdisciplinary research, and 3) a brief (3 page max) description of proposed research. Applicants should also arrange to have at least three letters of recommendation submitted on their behalf to the Environmental CrossRoads Search Committee c/o Charles Vörösmarty. Please submit all materials at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/6239, Job# 6239. All application materials must be received by November 30, 2015.

For more information, please see our website at http://asrc.cuny.edu/research-initiatives/environmental-crossroads/ or contact Dr. Charles Vörösmarty (charles.vorosmarty@asrc.cuny.edu) or Dr. Anthony Cak (anthony.cak@asrc.cuny.edu).

The City University of New York (CUNY) is committed to enhancing our diverse academic community by actively encouraging people with disabilities, minorities, veterans, and women to apply. We take pride in our pluralistic community and continue to seek excellence through diversity and inclusion. EO/AA Employer.

Opportunities for PhD Students at CUNY


The Ph.D. program in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the City University of New York has the following opportunities for Ph.D. students entering the Fall Semester of 2016:

  • Up to four Graduate Center Fellowships for qualified candidates. This fellowship provides students with tuition and $25,000 each year for the first five years of study. The fellowship consists of a $23,000 stipend in the Fall and Spring semesters, a $2,000 summer research stipend, a graduate assistantship, a tuition award, and eligibility for low-cost individual or family NYSHIP health insurance.
  • One or more five-year Presidential MAGNET Fellowships for qualified candidates. This fellowship is awarded to incoming students from underrepresented groups who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It comprises an annual stipend of $24,000, a graduate assistantship, tuition and fees, and eligibility for low cost health care insurance. The fellowship covers full in-state tuition for five years; for the first year, out-of-state students receive an additional tuition supplement covering up to 12 credits per semester. Fellows also receive a $1,000 start up stipend in the first year to help with the costs of beginning doctoral studies; during the third year Fellows receive a $1,500 research/travel stipend to help lay the ground work for the dissertation project.
  • Up to two Science Fellowships which provide $24,000 per year for two years, and in-state tuition to students in the first ten semesters they are registered. In many instances, in years three through five, faculty grants supplement Science Fellowships.

These fellowships are competitive and will be given to the most qualified students.

Deadline for applications is December 15, 2015.

For more information go to the program web site at:


Students interested in GIScience research topics should contact Sean C. Ahearn, Jochen Albrecht, or myself.

New publications

I’ve got some new papers coming up:

  • Carsten Keßler (forthcoming) OpenStreetMap. In Shashi Shekhar and Hui Xiong, Encyclopedia of GIS, 2nd edition. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany (accepted).
  • Carsten Keßler (2015) Using the Web as a Data Source: Challenges for Linked Science. In: 5th Workshop on Linked Science 2015— Best Practices and the Road Ahead (LISC2015). October 12, 2015, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. Collocated with the 14th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2015).
  • Carsten Keßler, Ling Ren, and Simon Ayzman (2015) Privacy-Preserving Contagious Disease Tracking. In: Spatial Information for Human Health. University of California, Santa Barbara, December 9–12, 2015.

Which countries should be able to handle the strain in the European migration crisis?

Greg and his colleagues over at the NY Times published a piece a few days ago, entitled Which Countries Are Under the Most Strain in the European Migration Crisis?. The bar charts published there had a nice perspective on the refugee numbers, showing the number of refugees per 100,000 inhabitants for each country:


This chart shows that Germany is not really carrying the biggest burden in the current surge in asylum applications, as many people in Germany seem to think. Unfortunately, this was a little bit hidden behind the raw refugee numbers, so you had to explicitly click to get to that view. All the news – both good and really, really, bad – from Germany and the rest of Europe about how these countries and their citizens deal with large number of refugees made me wonder: who is actually carrying the biggest financial burden at this time? I had a hunch that Germany should be among the countries who can most easily afford taking on refugees.

I took data from the World Economic Outlook Database and the refugee numbers from the NYTimes article to find out whether my gut feeling is correct. In an (admittedly very simplistic) approach, I just normalized the total number of refugees by the estimated gross domestic product for 2015 for each of the countries. This is what you get (show full screen):

It clearly shows that from a financial point of view, the (raw) high number of refugees coming to Germany is much less problematic than in other countries. In bar charts, this looks as follows:


While asylum applications per billion dollar GDP is not a very intuitive unit, the last chart does show that the biggest financial burden is currently on countries that are struggling financially anyway. And it also shows that countries like Germany, France, and Sweden should be able handle the financial side of this crisis relatively easily, despite the fact that they do take on the highest numbers of refugees.

Some notes about the data: The NYTimes article had Serbia and Kosovo combined, so I also added up their respective GDPs; they still show up as individual countries on the map, but the numbers they show are the total for both of them combined. You can also download the raw data and the R script to generate the graphs.

Update Sep. 4, 2015: The NY Times has a new article out that also looks at a fair distribution of refugees in Europe, taking into account previous agreements as well as economic factors.