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Highlights from the 2013 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles

The Association of American Geographers 2013 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles hosted more than 7,300 geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other registrants from around the world sharing the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. Of those attending, thousands, representing approximately one-third of all attendees came from countries other than the USA, which continues a steady trend toward increased international participation at AAG Meetings. For comparison, the 2006 meeting in Chicago registered approximately 20 percent international attendees, while the 1982 meeting in San Antonio had only 59 international attendees, or 2.8 percent of the registered total. 

Eric Sheppard, Audrey Kobayashi and Bobby WilsonAAG President Eric Sheppard, Past President Audrey Kobayashi and 2013 Presidential Award recipient Bobby Wilson gather before the plenary.
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This year, attendees came from 80 different countries. The largest participation of scholars from outside of the U.S. came from Canada, the UK, Germany, and China, with strong representation among geographers in developing regions. Many others attending from countries such as Austria, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ghana, France, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Spain, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and many more enriched the intellectual and social events throughout the week-long conference.

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Eric Sheppard's Opening Presidential PlenaryAAG President Eric Sheppard's "Emerging Asias" opening presidential plenary speakers included Anna L. Tsing, UC Santa Cruz; Jim Glassman, U. of British Columbia; Ananya Roy, UC Berkeley and Fulong Wu, University College London.

The AAG Annual Meeting also featured several diversely themed research tracks and special events, many with strong international dimensions. One major themed track focused on Global Urbanization and Symposium on New Geographies of Urban China, with more than 100 sessions during the course of the conference, beginning with the outstanding Opening Presidential Plenary, “Emerging Asias,” organized by AAG President Eric Sheppard.

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AAG Past President Audrey Kobayashi presents Bobby Wilson with the Presidential Achievement AwardDuring her Past President's address, Audrey Kobayashi presented the Presidential Achievement Award to Bobby Wilson.

Audrey Kobayashi's past presidential address "Dialectica Interrupta: The Idea of ‘Race’ in the Discipline of Geography," received a standing ovation, and she also presented this year’s AAG Presidential Achievement Award to Bobby Wilson. Additional distinguished awards, including AAG Honors, were conveyed during the AAG Awards Luncheon on the final day of the conference.

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 AAG International ReceptionAAG's International Reception connected friends and colleagues from around the globe.

The AAG sponsored an International Reception to celebrate the global character of the conference. Related international events included "Young Leaders Mapping Sustainable Development Challenges: My Community, Our Earth Beyond Rio+20." 45 posters were presented on site, while students in Bolivia, Ghana, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Puerto Rico demonstrated their work through a live Skype video conference. During the Diversity Ambassadors Networking Reception, representatives shared their stories of engaged students and discussed issues pertinent to minority students in higher education.

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Frontiers in Health plenaryThe Geography, GIScience, and Health: Spatial Frontiers of Health Research and Practice Symposium began with the “Opening Plenary on Geography, GIScience, and Health: Spatial Frontiers of Health Research and Practice.” Mei-Po Kwan of the U. of Illinois and Utrecht U was a keynote speaker.

Other themes developed for the Los Angeles meeting included Geography, GIScience, and Health: Spatial Frontiers of Health Research and Practice; Climate Change, Variability, Adaptation and Justice; Activist Geographies: Struggles for Social and Environmental Justice and Geographies of Hope Symposium; Borders; Milestones in Geography Education; CyberGIS Symposium; Land Systems Science Symposium; Spatiotemporal Thinking, Computing and Applications; Geographies of Media; and much more.

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Wide-ranging plenary addresses were delivered by Jack Dangermond, Esri president; authors Jared Diamond and Charles Mann; Michael T. Jones, Google’s chief technology advocate; Michael Dear, UC-Berkeley; Roger Sayre, USGS; and Gilbert M. Grosvenor, National Geographic.

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 Milestones in Geography sessionA discussion of Geography for Life featured a panel discussion with Gilbert M. Grosvenor, former Chairman of the National Geographic Society (NGS), Susan Heffron and Robert Morril of Virginia Geographic Alliance.

The above summary represents only a few of the many exciting sessions and international activities that took place at the 2013 AAG Annual Meeting. Numerous other paper, poster, and panel sessions and presentations highlighted geographic work organized by AAG members and AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups. Field trips, workshops, and a special emphasis on Careers in Geography also greatly enriched the experience of AAG conference participants. 

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Jack Dangermond with attendeesEsri's Jack Dangermond talked about GIS as a platform and leveraging the cloud/device pattern, while his colleague, Bernard Szukalski, demonstrated.
 Roger Sayre of USGSRoger Sayre of USGS introduced "A New Map of Standardized Terrestrial Ecosystems of Africa," a booklet of maps created by USGS and others and recently published by AAG.
Michael Jones of GoogleMichael T. Jones, Google's chief technology advocate, spoke about the possibilities of the next generation of mapping.
Robert SampsonRobert Sampson talked about his latest book, "Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect," and a panel comprised of James Dunn, Mei-Po Kwan, Elvin Wyly, Luc Anselin and Michael Dear gave critiques.
Jared Diamond and Charles Mann with attendeesAuthors Jared Diamond and Charles Mann discussed their latest books, as well as speaking to a broader audience.
Michael Dear with attendeesMichael Dear discussed his new book, Why Borders Don't Work.
 2013 World Geography BowlRegional teams competed for the 2013 World Geography Bowl championship title.
 MyCOE Young Leaders Mapping Sustainable Development Challenges poster sessionStudents presented their posters at the MyCOE Young Leaders Mapping Sustainable Development Challenges session.
 Career mentors sessionMentors offered advice to new and early-career geographers.
AAG Registration boothRegistration was busy as attendees checked in on the first day of the annual meeting.
2013 Exhibit HallThe exhibit hall was a popular stop for conference attendees, as was the special afternoon reception.
AAG Registration boothThe Annual Awards Luncheon was held at the Biltomore Hotel on April 13.
2013 Exhibit HallAttendees filled many of the larger session rooms.