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The Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography

The Wilbanks Prize is awarded to geographers from the academic, public, or private sectors whose research has made transformational contributions to Geography or GIScience, or to Science and Society more broadly. Wilbanks Prize awardees will receive a cash prize of $2,000 and a sculpture honoring the recipient. All individual geographers are eligible to be nominated or to apply for this prize, which represents the AAG’s highest award focusing specifically on geographic research.

Deadline: Dec. 31, 2018

Eligibility:  All individual geographers are eligible to be nominated for or to apply for the WIlbanks Prize.

Criteria: The Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography will be presented to those who have conducted truly transformative geographic research, specifically research which transformed geography, GIScience, and/or the world. The prize shall be made for transformative geographic reseacrch that has been conducted in all sectors of geographical research, including in academia, the private sector, and government/NGOs. The Wilbanks Prize is issued for transformative research only; it is not given for service, education, or teaching.

Nominations: To make nominations for the Wilbanks Prize, include the complete name and address of the nominee, a curriculum vitae, and a concise (2,500 words maximum) yet specific description of the accomplishments that warrant selection according to the above criteria. Up to three supporting letters from other individuals may also be submitted. The deadline for receipt of nominations is December 31.

Submissions: Please gather all required supporting documents before completing the online Application Form at this link. The Application Form will require you to upload all supporting documents before being able to complete your submission. You cannot save a partially completed form and return to it later, so it is important to have all materials ready before accessing the online Application Form. For questions please contact or call the AAG at 202-234-1450.

Donations: Donations to the Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography can be made at this link or by contacting Candida Mannozzi at or 202-234-1450.

Donate Now to the AAG Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in Geography

Award Recipients

In 2018 the Wilbanks Prize was awarded to Douglas Richardson for his research contributions to Geography, GIScience, and geographic technologies, which have transformed the discipline of geography, and science and society more broadly. Dr. Richardson was Founder and President of GeoResearch, Inc., which invented, developed and patented the first real-time interactive GPS/GIS mapping and data collection technology in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This technology is now central to the pervasive availability of what is now generally referred to as Big Data. As part of his leadership at the AAG, Dr. Richardson has developed research programs that advance the discipline in areas such as Geography and Health Research, Geographic Technologies and Sustainable Development, Space-Time Integration in GIScience, and Geography and the Humanities. Dr. Richardson has created new opportunities for geographers and GIScientists to play a role in health and medical research, and published these in the article titled "Spatial turn in health research" in Science in 2013. Doug Richardson embodies the ideals of Tom Wilbanks' own research, which also spanned the public, private, and academic spheres.



Tom WilbanksThe Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography has been established in memory of the late Dr. Thomas (Tom) Wilbanks, a former AAG President and long-standing AAG member, who earned the admiration and respect of colleagues around the world for his many years of scholarship and research bridging the academic, public and private sectors.

Wilbanks was a groundbreaking scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he conducted research and published extensively on sustainable development, energy and environmental technology and policy, responses to global climate change, and the role of geographic scale in addressing these issues.