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AAG Specialty and Affinity Group Awards

Deadlines: vary

Each year many AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups confer travel grants, hold paper competitions, and bestow honors and awards to their faculty and student members at the AAG Annual Meeting. Notices for these competitions may appear on the relevant specialty group’s website or listserve, or on the AAG News site.

For more information about a specific competition, please contact the chair of the relevant AAG Specialty or Affinity Group. Contact information for chairs and links to group webpages are available in the AAG Specialty and Affinity Group Directory.

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AAG Affinity and Specialty Group 2017 Awardees

Awardees are listed by group, awardee name, affiliation, award title/description, and name of paper or project (if applicable). Accompanying photos indicate that awardees were presented their honors at the awards luncheon at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Boston, Mass., on April 9, 2017. 


  • Anna Solberg, Kent State University. Florence Margai Student Paper Award, "International Tourist Perceptions of their Environmental Impacts in Tanzania"
  • Isaac Luginaah, University of Western Ontario, Kwadwo Konadu-Agyeman Distinguished Scholar Award in African Geography

Asian Geography

  • Ritwika Biswas, Travel Award
  • Tyler Harlan, Travel Award
  • Tyler Harlan, Student Paper Award
  • Rupak Shrestha, Student Paper Award
  • Cindy Fan, University Of California Los Angeles, Distinguished Service Award

Asian Geography/ Regional Development and Planning

  • Pronoy Rai, University of Illinois
  • AK Chakravarti, Best Paper on South Asia

Bible Geography

  • Nicole De Pue, Salem College, Amy Mather Student Scholar Award
  • Nicole De Pue, Salem College, Jonathan Lee Student Travel Award


  • Maegen Rochner, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, PhD Student Research Grant, "Critical Physical Geography of Whitebark Pine in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem"

Business Geography

  • Joseph Tokosh, Kent State University, 2nd Place Paper Award, "Creating a Shopping Mall Typology for the City of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania"
  • Joshua Bova, University of North Texas, 1st Place Paper Award, "David vs. Goliath: Asymmetric Competition Among Power Retail and Small Retail Businesses A Case Study in Denton Texas"


  • Emory Shaw, Finalist in Illustrated Paper Competition
  • James Baker, Finalist in Illustrated Paper Competition
  • Qingyu Ma, Paper Award
  • Chelsea Cervantes De Blois, 1st Place, Student Illustrated Paper Award
  • Chung Truong, 2nd Place, Student Illustrated Paper Award
  • Eric Nost, 3rd Place, Student Illustrated Paper Award


  • Yimin Zhao, London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Travel award, "Space as Method: Field Sites and Encounters in Beijing's Green Belts"
  • Pan He, University of Maryland, Travel Award, "Linking Nutritional Quality of China's Diet to Environmental Impacts"
  • Cheng He Guan, Harvard University, Travel Award, "The Concept of Urban Intensity and China's Townization Policy"
  • Tyler Harlan, University Of California Los Angeles, Travel Award, "A Green Model: Transnational Model-Making in China's Small Hydropower Training Programs"


  • John A. Harrington, Kansas State University, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Justin Maxwell, Indiana University, John Russell Mather Paper of the Year, "On the Declining Relationship Between Tree Growth and Climate in the Midwest United States: The Fading Drought Signal"
  • Neil Debbage, University of Georgia, 2nd Place, Student Paper Competition, "The Influence of Urban Development Patterns on Streamflow Characteristics"
  • Kyle Mattingly, University of Georgia, 1st Place, Student Paper Competition, "Impacts of Atmospheric Moisture Transport on the Surface Energy Budget of the Greenland Ice Sheet"
  • Paul Miller, University of Georgia, 3rd Place, Student Paper Competition, "A Climatology of Weakly Forced and Pulse Thunderstorms in the Southeast United States"
  • Liyan Tian, Texas A&M University, Honorable Mention, Student Paper Competition, "Analysis of Spatial-Temporal Patterns of Drought in Oklahoma"

Coastal and Marine

  • Clifton Barrineau, Texas A&M University, Norbert P. Psuty PhD Student Paper Merit Award, "Desertification and Dune Activity in South Texas"
  • Carl Green, Texas A&M University, H. Jesse Walker Student Illustrated Poster Merit Award, "NDVI Greening of Recently Deglaciated Land in Kenai Fjords National Park"
  • Jesse Miller, Hunter College CUNY, H. Jesse Walker Student Illustrated Poster Merit Award, Citizen Science and Enterococci: Investigating the Contributing "Factors of Water Quality in New York City"
  • Thomas Calella, LaGuardia Community College, H. Jesse Walker Student Illustrated Poster Merit Award, "Citizen Science and Enterococci: Investigating the Contributing Factors of Water Quality in New York City"
  • Jory Fleming, University of South Carolina, Norbert P. Psuty Undergrad/Grad Student Paper Merit Award, "Employing GIS and Geovisualizations to Explore Socio-Economic Dimensions and Policy Responses to Sea Level Rise"
  • Courtney Thompson, Psuty Competition Participation
  • Joshua Kelly, Psuty Competition Participation
  • Mayra Roman-Rivera, Psuty Competition Participation
  • Li-Chih Hsu, Psuty Competition Participation
  • Kayla Geier, Psuty Competition Participation
  • Michelle Ritchie, Psuty Competition Participation


  • Christopher Pessell, R.S. Tarr Poster Award
  • Sasha Leidman, R.S. Tarr Poster Award
  • Kelsey Nyland, R.S. Tarr Poster Award
  • Shubhechchha Thapa, R.S. Tarr Poster Award
  • Analyse Gaspich, R.S. Tarr Poster Award

Cultural and Political Ecology

  • Willie Wright, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Paper Award, "As Above So Below: Anti-Black Violence and Environmental Racism"
  • Alice Arnold, University of South Carolina, Student Field Research Award, "Driving Disrupted: Road Infrastructure in the West Bank and its Impact on Mobility"
  • Trey Murphy, University of North Carolina, Student Field Research Award, "Veering the Geographic Gaze Underground through Subsurface Property Ownership in Texas"

Cultural Geography

  • Alexandra Giancarlo, Queen's University, Terry Jordan-Bychkov PhD Paper Award
  • Michelle Padley, University of North Carolina, Masters Research Grant
  • Son Ca Lam, Clark University, Denis Cosgrove Research Grant

Cyber Infrastructure

  • Shao Hu, Arizona State University, 1st Place, Robert Raskin Student Competition, "A Comprehensive Optimization Strategy for Real-Time Spatial Feature Sharing and Visual Analytics in Cyberinfrastucture"

Development Geographies

  • Kaitlyn Spangler, Virginia Tech, Gary Gaile Travel Award


  • Phillipa Gardner, University of Sheffield, Meridian Research & Consulting Inc. Travel Award

Economic Geography

  • Luis Felipe Alvarez Leon, University Of California Los Angeles, Best Dissertation in Economic Geography, "Assembling Digital Economies: Geographic Information Markets and Intellectual Property Regimes in the United States and the European Union"
  • Thomas A. Loder, Texas A&M University, Best Student Paper in Economic Geography, "Homo Dakoticus: The Creation of Energy Citizens in North Dakota"
  • Kelsey Johnson, University of British Columbia, Graduate Research Award in Economic Geography, "Blood money: race and capital in the US blood plasma industry"

Energy and Environment

  • Trey Murphy, University of North Carolina, Dissertation Data & Field Work Award
  • Tyler Harlan, University Of California Los Angeles, Dissertation Data & Field Work Award
  • Tyler Harlan, University Of California Los Angeles, Earl Cook Award for Best Student Paper, "Shades of Green Energy: Geographies of Small Hydropower in Yunnan China and the Challenges of Over-Development"
  • Monica Salas-Landa, Lafayette College, Professional Geographer Award, "Crude residues: The workings of failing oil infrastructure in Poza Rica Veracruz Mexico"

Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography

  • Xun Li, Student Travel Award
  • Connor Martin, Student Travel Award
  • Aaron Russell, Student Travel Award

Ethnic Geography

  • Audrey Lumley-Sapanski, Penn State University, Outstanding Student Paper Award, "Refugee Resettlements Divergent Outcomes: The Role of the Social Network in Housing Type and Location"
  • Kathryn Hannum, Kent State University, Outstanding Student Paper Award, "Ethno-linguistic Geography and the Classroom: Investigating Urban and Rural Schools in Galicia Spain"
  • Sean H. Wang, Syracuse University, Dissertation Proposal Award, "Chinese Birth Tourism Immigration Politics and Regional Racial Formations"


  • James Baker, Best Paper Award
  • Jesse Quinn, Best Field Research Proposal


  • Robert Briwa, Montana State University, Student Paper Award, "Examining the Confluence of History and Eternity in Pierre Magnan's Provence"

Geographic Information Science and Systems

  • Li Xu, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2nd Place, Student Paper Award, "Predicting Demand for 311 Non-Emergency Municipal Services: An Adaptive Space-Time Kernel Approach"
  • Bo Yan, University of California Santa Barbara, 1st Place, Student Paper Award, "Beyond Coordinates: Incorporating Geographic Knowledge into Geocoding Services Using Linked Open Data"
  • Eun-Kyeong Kim, Finalist Paper Competition
  • Junyi Huang, Finalist Paper Competition

Geographic Perspectives on Women

  • Dianne Rocheleau, Jan Monk Service Award
  • Aparna Parikh, Glenda Laws Student Paper Award
  • Brian Kelsey, Pennsylvania State University, Susan Hanson Dissertation Proposal Award, "Assessing the Impacts of Global Amenity Migration on Land Use Livelihoods and Communal Identities in Talamanca Costa Rica"

Geographies of Food and Agriculture

  • Nicholas Robinson, Student Award
  • Cathryn Hancock, Student Award

Geography Education

  • Thomas Craig, Gail Hobbs Student Paper Award

Geography of Wine Beer and Spirits

  • Elizabeth Yarbrough, Student Paper Award


  • Evan Dethier, Dartmouth College, Reds Wolman Graduate Student Research Award, "Source Routing And Fate of Suspended Sediment in a Flood-Impacted Watershed"
  • Paepin Goff, Texas State University, Reds Wolman Graduate Student Research Award, "Rock Glaciers as Water Towers in the Wind River Gros Ventre and Grand Teton Ranges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem"
  • Frank Magilligan, Dartmouth College, Grove Carl Gilbert Award for Excellence in Geomorphological Research
  • Jonathan Phillips, University of Kentucky, Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award
  • Colin Doyle, University of Texas - Austin, Graduate Student Paper Award

Graduate Student Affinity Group

  • Melissa Bernardo, Professional Development Award
  • Wenjing Jiang, Clark University Professional Development Award
  • Azeezat Johnson, Professional Development Award
  • Dinesha Senarathna, Professional Development Award
  • Melva Trevino-Pena, Professional Development Award

Hazards Risks and Disasters

  • Md Abu Sayeed Maroof, University of Iowa, Gilbert F. White Thesis Award
  • Ronald Schumann, University of North Texas, Gilbert F. White Dissertation Award

Health and Medical Geography

  • Calvin Tribby, Ohio State University, Jacques May Thesis & Dissertation Award, "Activity Spaces Route Choices and Neighborhoods: Assessing the Built Environment Associations with Walking Trips"
  • Jochem Warren-Cristopher, University of Southampton, Jacques May Thesis & Dissertation Award, "Social and Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Arsenic Exposure and the Impacts on Respitory Health in Rural Bangladesh"
  • Amanda Rzotkiewicz, Michigan State University, Melinda Meade Travel Award
  • Peiling Zhou, Michigan State University, Melinda Meade Travel Award
  • Lydia Wood, San Diego State University / UCSB, Melinda Meade Travel Award
  • Jessica Li, George Washington University, Melinda Meade Travel Award
  • Katie Weimer, University of Colorado at Boulder, Peter Gould Paper Competition Award
  • Ian T. Kracalik, University of Florida, Peter Gould Paper Competition Award
  • Mark Rosenberg ,Queen's University, Melinda Meade Distinguished Scholarship Award

Historical Geography

  • S. Wright Kennedy, Rice University, Carville Earle PhD Research Award
  • Nicholas Lombardo, University of Toronto, 1st Place, Andrew Hill Clark Paper Competition
  • Margot Maddison-Macfadyen, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2nd Place, Andrew Hill Clark Paper Competition
  • Ian Spangler, University of Kentucky, Ralph Brown Paper Competition


  • Marie Louise Ryan, Pennsylvania State University, Best Presentation Award, "Khana khanu bhayo (Have you eaten)? Land tenure uneven development and traditional rice varieties in Nepal's Midhills"

Latin America

  • Mara Noguiera, London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Best Paper Award PhD Level, "Conserving the (segregated) city: the role of the middle-classes in shaping urban space the case of Belo Horizonte/Brazil"
  • Leila Donn, University of Texas at Austin, Field Study Award Masters Level, "Long-Term Human-Environmental Contributions to Landscape Formation in the Belize-Guatemala Transboundary Area"
  • Jared Van Ramshorst, Syracuse University, Field Study Award - PhD Level, "Transit Migration Emotion and Migrants’ Journeys from Central America to the U.S."

Media and Communications

  • Willie Wright, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Stanley Brunn Student Paper Award, "So God Made a Farmer: Media Misrepresentations and the Crafting of Agricultural Imaginations"

Mountain Geography

  • Kathleen Epstein, Chimborazo Student Research Grant
  • Jessica DiCarlo, Maura Kea Student Presentation Award

Paleoenvironmental Change

  • Elisabeth Butzer, University of Texas at Austin, Karl and Elisabeth Butzer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Paleoenvironmental Change
  • Samantha Krause, University of Texas at Austin, 2017 Student Research Award, PhD Category
  • Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Ohio State University, Ellen Mosley-Thompson Best Publication in Paleoenvironmental Change
  • Bethany Walker, University of Colorado Denver, Student Research Award, Masters and Undergraduate Category

Political Geography

  • Isabel Airas, Travel Award
  • Elliott Child, Travel Award
  • Mia Bennett, Travel Award
  • Samuel Henkin, Travel Award
  • Sara Hughes, Travel Award
  • Casey Ryan Lynch, Travel Award
  • Killian McCormack, Travel Award
  • Galen Murton, Travel Award
  • Kuan-Chi Wang, Alexander B. Murphy Dissertation Enhancement Award
  • Jessica Lee Bolin, University of New Hampshire, Graduate Student Paper Award (MA), "Under-exposed to double exposure? Attitudes towards climate change and economic globalization"
  • Sara Hughes, Graduate Student Paper Award (PhD)
  • John Peter Preysner, Honorable Mention - Undergrad Paper Award
  • Elora Ward, Undergraduate Student Paper Award
  • Sara Koopman, Tampere Peace Research Institute & York University, Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award
  • James A. Tyner, Kent State University, Virginie Mamadouh Outstanding Research Award, "Nature and post-conflict violence: water management under the Communist Party of Kampuchea 1975–1979 [published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers]"


  • Maia Call, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Student  Paper Award
  • Emily Frazier, University of Tennessee, Student Paper Award
  • Clark Gray, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Research Excellence Award
  • David Lopez-Carr, University of California - Santa Barbara, Research Excellence Award

Qualitative Research

  • Shona Loong, National University of Singapore, Student Paper Award - MA, "Slow Violence at the Borderlands: The Uncertain Future of Migrant schools along the Thai-Myanmar Border"
  • Rachel Baker, Wayne State University, PhD Student Research Award, "A Lifetime of Grace: Urban Pedagoy in the 21st Century City"
  • Chad Steacy, University of Georgia, Student Paper Award - PhD, "Geographies of Attachment and Despair: Evoking the Ambivalence of Placement through Poetic Analysis of Urban Decline"

Regional Development and Planning

  • Kenisha Johnson, UCF, Best Undergraduate Paper Award

Remote Sensing

  • Su Ye, Clark University, 1st Place, Student Honors Paper Award "Monitoring Rubber Plantation Expansion Using Landsat Data Time Series and a Shapelet-Based Approach"
  • Jing Li, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences & University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2nd Place, Student Honors Paper Award, "Estimating algal biomass in a shallow eutrophic lake using a look-up table and spectrum-matching approach"
  • Dameng Yin, University at Buffalo, 3rd Place, Student Honors Paper, "Competition RSSG" Individual mangrove crown delineation using UAV-LiDAR"
  • Qiuyan Yu, University of South Florida, 1st Place, Student Illustrated Paper Award, "Understanding association between land surface temperature variation and tree biophysical and biochemical properties for urban heat island studies/assessment using LiDAR and Landsat TM"
  • Molly E Smith, Florida Atlantic University, 2nd, Place Student Illustrated Paper Award, "Sand Analysis Using a Combined Spectroscopic and Microscopic Technique"
  • David O'Brien, Clark University, 3rd Place, Student Illustrated Paper Competition, "GIS Validation for projects to Reduce Emissions due to Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)"
  • Christopher Justice, University of Maryland, The 2017 Outstanding Contributions Award in Remote Sensing


  • Gretchen Sneegas, University of Georgia, Research Award
  • Leslie Duram, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Donald Q. Innis Award for Research Excellence in Agricultural and Food Geography
  • Darrell Napton, South Dakota State University, John Fraser Hart Award for Research Excellence in Rural and Agricultural Geography
  • John Hudson, Northwestern University, Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Rural and Agricultural Geography

Sexuality and Space

  • Rae Rosenberg, York University Student Paper Competition Award, "The Whiteness of Gay Urban Belonging: Criminalizing LGBTQ Youth of Color in Queer Spaces of Care"
  • Eden Kinkaid, Pennsylvania State University, Student Paper Competition, Runner Up, "Re-encountering Queer Geographies: Sexuality Space and Their Residues"


  • Samia Albotmeh, Blaut Award

Spatial Analysis and Modeling

  • Collin Branton, University of Waterloo, Travel Award
  • Yoo Min Park, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Travel Award
  • Kim Young-Long, Clark University, Travel Award
  • Hongyu Zhang, Western University, Travel Award
  • Ashkan Gholamialam, University of Columbia, John Odland Award Modeling Bikeability of Urban Environments
  • Wangshu Mu, John Odland Award
  • Cody Schank, University of Texas, John Odland Award, "Using a Novel Model Approach to Assess the Distribution and Conservation Status of the Endangered Baird's Tapir"

Stand Alone Geographers Affinity Group

  • Dawn M. Drake, Missouri Western State University, Helen Ruth Aspaas SAGE Innovator Award
  • Camelia Kantor, Claflin University, Helen Ruth Aspaas SAGE Innovator Award

Transportation Geography

  • Anna Bornioli, University of the West of England, Travel Award, "The Influence of Urban Built Environment and Place Perceptions on Psychological Wellbeing and Cognition during Walking"
  • Rafael Pereira, Oxford University, Travel Award, "Transport Legacy of Mega-Events and Inequalities in Access and Opportunities"
  • Elina Sukaryavichute, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Best Master's Thesis
  • Calvin Tribby, Columbia University, Outstanding Dissertation Award, "Activity Space Route Choices and Neighborhoods: Assessing the built environment associations with walking trips"

Urban Geography

  • Daniela Aiello, University of Georgia, Graduate Student Fellowship, "Housing Displacement in the Racialized City: Comparative Geographies of Eviction in Atlanta and Vancouver"
  • Nikolai Alvarado, University of Denver, Graduate Student Fellowship, "The Strategies of Non-Citizen Migrants to Secure Housing and Resources in Urban Informal Settlements of the Global South: The Case of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica"
  • Paula Jones, Texas State University, "Alternative Mode of Scholarship Award West Side Property Inventory"
  • Jess Linz, University of Kentucky, Graduate Student Paper Award, "Inhabiting the Impasse: Social Exclusion through Visible Assemblage in Neighborhood Gentrification"
  • Nate Millington, University of Cape Town, Dissertation Award, "Fluvial Urbanism in a City of Floods: Urban design and the Politics of Permeability in São Paulo Brazil"
  • Spencer Nelson, Macalaster College, Glenda Laws Undergraduate Paper Award, "A Tale of Two Gay Villages: A Queer Urban Political Ecology Approach to Globalization"
  • Nufar Avni, Travel Award
  • Sangeeta Banerji, Travel Award
  • Ritwika Biswas, Travel Award
  • Frances Brill, Travel Award
  • Joseph Danko, Travel Award
  • Annalena Di Giovanni, Travel Award
  • Sabrina Paskewitz Drew, Travel Award
  • Phillipa Gardner, Travel Award
  • Ben Gerlofs, Travel Award
  • Julia Giddy, Travel Award
  • Eric Goldfischer, Travel Award
  • Ryan Good, Travel Award
  • S. Wright Kennedy, Travel Award
  • Aida Nciri, Travel Award
  • Yoo Min Park, Travel Award
  • Will Payne, Travel Award
  • Caitlin Ryan, Travel Award
  • Christina Saldana, Travel Award
  • Emma Slager, Travel Award
  • Meagan Todd, Travel Award
  • Hannah Torres, Travel Award
  • Meredith Whitten, Travel Award
  • Kim Young-Long, Travel Award

Water Resources

  • Molly Klinepeter, University of South Florida, Student Travel Award, "An Assessment of Constructed Wetland Treatment System Cells: Removal of Excess Nutrients and Pollutants from the Municipal Waste Water in Lakeland Florida"
  • Janardan Mainali, Portland State University, Student Travel Award, "Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Water Quality parameters in Han River Basin South Korea"
  • Ashley Juric, Student Presentation Award
  • Rebecca Kauten, Student Presentation Award, "Hydrologic Footprints of Urban Micro-Watersheds in Cold Climates: Assessing Impacts of Winter Roadway Runoff"
  • Jana Archer, East Tennessee State University, Student Paper Award, "Identifying untapped Potential for Recycled Water Use Uing Geospatial Analysis: A Comparative Study of Florida and California in 2009"
  • Melissa McCracken, Oregon State University, McCracken - Olen Paul Matthews & Kathleen Dwyer Fund for Water Resources Award, "Defining Effectiveness in the Evaluation of Transboundary Water Cooperation: An alternative path for SDG Indicator 6.5.2"

View the 2016 Specialty Group Awards

View the 2015 Specialty Group Awards 

View the 2014 Specialty Group Awards