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National Councillor

(two to be elected)


Stuart C Aitken

STUART C. AITKEN. Professor, June Burnett Chair of Children’s and Family Geographies, Department of Geography, San Diego State University. Ph.D. 1985, University of Western Ontario; M.A. 1981, Miami University; B.Sc. 1980 University of Glasgow. 

Service to Geography: North American Commissioning Editor, Children’s Geographies: Advancing interdisciplinary studies of younger people's lives 2001-13; Editor, The Professional Geographer 1997-2000; Editorial Board, the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2006-2010; Editorial Board, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 2012-present; Editorial Advisory Board, Global Youth Book Series, Temple University Press, 2010-present; Editorial Board, Norwegian Journal of Geography, 2007-present; Editorial Board, Aether: The Journal of Media Geography, 2007-present; Elected President, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 2008-9; Elected Pacific Coast Regional Councilor to the AAG, 2004-7; Co-Chair, Qualitative Methods Specialty group (AAG), 2001-3; Chair, Urban Geography Specialty Group, 1997-8;  Elected AAG Nominating Committee (Chair), 2010-11; Local Arrangements Committee, 1992 AAG Meetings.

Other Service: Co-Coordinator, California Geographical Alliance, 2013-present; Director and co-founder, SDSU’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space (ISYS), 2006-present; Patron, Knowing Children, 2012-present; Pearson Education Faculty Advisory Board, 2010-11; Helped establish an internship for geography students with SW Keys, a “detention” program established to help apprehended independent child migrants, 2010; Monthly program on substance abuse for juvenile offenders at Mira Mesa Correctional Facility, 2009-present.

Awards, Honors and Grants: Fulbright Research Scholar, 2013-14; SDSU’s June Burnett Endowed Chair, 2013-present; Honorary Professorship, University of Stirling, 2013-present; San Diego State University’s Distinguished Faculty Award, 2012; Inaugural Distinguished Lecturer in Human Geography, Simon Fraser University, 2010-11; The Awkward Spaces of Fathering (Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2009) was an Annual Celebrated Book by the AAG’s Geographical Perspective on Women (GPOW), 2010;  Distinguished Service Award, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 2009; Honorary Professorship, University of Wales, Aberystwth, 2007-12; Award for devoted and outstanding service to the AAG, 2000; Meritorious Performance and Professional Promise Award, San Diego State University 1987, 1990, 1995-7, 1999, 2000; Best Paper Award, Second International Conference on Quality of Life. Singapore, 2000; NSF Research Grants 1991-8, 2002-3, 2012-16; National Geographic Planning Grant, 2013; TKF Foundation Planning Grant, 2012; United Nations Research and Planning Grants 2008, 2010; Canadian Govt Planning Grant, 2008; Norwegian Research Council Research Award, 2004. 

Professional Experience: Assistant to Full Professor, San Diego State University, 1986-present; Department Chair, 2008-13; Lecturer, University of Arizona, 1986; Lecturer, Miami University, 1985.

Research and Teaching Interests: My primary research interests involve children, youth, families and communities, and also include film and media, critical social theory, and qualitative and feminist methodologies. In addition, I research and publish in critical and qualitative GIS, urban planning and the geo-humanities. My regional research foci are North America, Mexico, Scotland, Norway, China and, most recently, Slovenia. I teach undergraduate classes that focus on people, places and environments (i.e. Introductory Cultural Geography) and urban geography. My graduate seminars focus on philosophy, qualitative methodologies, family geographies and film.

Publications: My monographs, and single and co-authored/edited books include The Fight to Stay Put (Steiner Verlag, 2013), Young People. Border Spaces and Revolutionary Imaginations (Routledge 2011), Qualitative Geographies (Sage 2010), The Awkward Spaces of Fathering (Ashgate, 2009). Global Childhoods (Routledge 2008), Philosophies, People, Places and Practices (Sage 2004), Geographies of Young People (Routledge 2001), Family Fantasies and Community Space (Rutgers University Press, 1998), Place, Space, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film (Rowman and Littlefield, 1994) and Putting Children in Their Place (1994, Washington DC: AAG). In addition to 13 books, I have published over 200 articles in academic journals (including the Annals of the AAG, The Professional Geographer, The Canadian Geographer, Transactions and the IBG, Society and Space, Antipode, Environment and Planning A, The APCG Yearbook), as well as in various edited book collections and encyclopedias.

Statement: The position of national councillor comes with the expectation to provide leadership and to put forward initiatives within the organization. Having spent the last five years as a departmental chair in a Californian university, I understand how economic doldrums can impact departments and disciplines. My sense is that the vibrancy and currency of geographic research enabled many departments to weather the last five years relatively unscathed. I am not sure if the same may be said for geographic education, where there is still a problem of students coming into university with no background or enthusiasm for the discipline. Of late my concerns in this arena revolve around geographic literacy and technology. In addition, troubling changes in higher education (and K-12) from neo-liberal focus on privatization (or, at the very least, a focus on new revenue streams that tie academia to corporate partnerships and private philanthropy creating constraints and proprieties that are troubling). My concern in this arena focuses on the vibrancy of our research and its relevancy to societal concerns. I do not have a panacea to offset the excesses of larger structural changes, but I think there are initiatives the AAG could take on to help ameliorate potential issues in education and research in these changing times. Some naysayers see education going the way of journalism with the advent of “massive open on-line courses” and distance learning, but I think the reality is far from that and there is huge potential for geography to embrace the technologies and social media that may well make higher education cheaper and more accessible, while pushing to maintain appropriate standards. In my own department, I have seen interest in geography soar with the propagation of good spatial technologies and geographic theories. One enduring problem is that enthusiasm for the discipline is not kindled sufficiently in K-12. As a co-coordinator of California Geographical Alliance I am gaining first-hand knowledge of the needs of K-12 teachers, and I think the AAG could do more with spatial technology in K-12 classrooms and Advance Placement options, to raise just two examples. In terms of research, a trenchant need continues for work that is not only relevant in terms of understanding social and spatial inequities, but also relevant to policy makers. If elected as national councillor, I would work with other members of the council, including the vice-, past- and current president, and the AAG staff to raise the broad importance of these changes and to think of specific ways to offset some of the troubling outcomes. I would also continue the good work that ensures the smooth running of the association and the annual meetings. The annual meetings and our journals are the backbone of the organization and, in combination with the newsletter, they help lubricate our critical interactions. To the extent that critical interactions push us to new educational contributions and relevant research outcomes, geography will remain a vibrant discipline. And we can do more. 


Florence M. Margai

FLORENCE M. MARGAI. Professor of Geography, and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Student Success and Faculty Development: Harpur College of Arts and Sciences; Binghamton University-SUNY. Ph.D. (Kent State University, 1991), M.A. (Kent State University,1987), B.A. Honors in Geography (Fourah Bay College, USL, 1985).  

Service to Geography and the AAG:  Lead Expert, AAG MyCOE /SERVIR Initiative in Ghana(2013); Distinguished External Reference Group Member: African Capacity Building Foundation (2012-present);  Editorial Board Member, African Geographical Review (2006-present); Editor, African Geographical Review (2003-2006). Director and Board Member, African Specialty Group (2002-2005), AAG Membership Committee (2007-1010); Member, Standards for Geographic Data Committee (2003-2006); Interim Chair, Standards for Geographic Data Committee (2005-2006); Member, Planning Committee-Race/Ethnicity and Place Conference (2002-2005); Editor, Research in Contemporary and Applied Geography (2004-2005); Contributor, U.S. Department of Labor ONET Data Collection Program (2006); Food Bank of the Southern Tier of New York (2008-present); INDEPTH Network (2009), MALAMED (2006); Board of Directors, Applied Geography Conference (1995-1999); Editorial Board Member, The Columbia Gazetteer of the World (1998-1999).

Awards, Honors, Grants: Kwadwo Konadu-Agymenang Distinguished Scholar Award in African Geography (2012, AAG, African Specialty Group). Merit Award (2006, Kroo Bay Area Development Committee, SL: for Research Initiative in Malaria prevention). Service Recognition Award, Applied Geography Conference (2000); Graduate Student Senate Dissertation Award (1991), Kent State University; Outstanding Student Award, Geography (1989), Kent State University. European Economic Community (EEC) Scholarship for Higher Education (1980-1984). Major grant funding sources include Stephen D. Ross Foundation (2013), Blackie Foundation Trust (2006), NSF_ILI (1997), and Environmental Action Coalition/NY DOS (1993).

Professional Experience: Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Binghamton University (2011-2013); Professor of Geography (2010-present); Graduate Director (2009-2011); Chair of the Department of Geography (2005-08); Co-Chair of Geography (1996-2004); Undergraduate Director (1995-1998); NSF GSS Division Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Advisory Panel; NIH Social Science and Population Studies (SSPS) study section; NIH Health Disparities and Equity Promotion (HDEP) Study Section. NIH (Reviewer): HIV/AIDS Predoctoral and Postdoctoral fellowship; NIH (Reviewer): AIDS, Clinical Studies, & Epidemiology Section (ACE).

Research and Teaching Interests:  Spatial Data Analysis, Assessment of Environmental Risks, Hazards and Health Outcomes; Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations; Environmental Justice; Disease Intervention and Health Promotional Campaigns; Women, Climate change, and Food Sustainability, Capacity Development Initiatives in Africa.

Publications: Author/Coauthor of three books: Environmental Health Hazards and Social Justice: Geographical Perspectives on Race and Class Disparities (2010); Multicultural Geographies: The Changing Racial/Ethnic Patterns of the United States (2003, with J.Frazier); Race and Place: Equity Issues in Urban America (2003 with J.Frazier and E.Tetteyfio). Author of two lab manuals: Introduction to Geography: Laboratory Exercises and Readings (2006, 3rd Edition); Environmental Health Disparities: Laboratory Exercises using ARCGIS and other Geospatial technologies (2008; 3rd Edition). Lead Author of nearly 40 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles in professional journals (such as the Professional Geographer, Social Science and Medicine, Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, Environment and Behavior, African Geographical Review, Journal of Environmental Management, Journal of Environmental Education) and several technical documents and sponsored project reports.

Statement: Geography is at a significant turning point with a promising future for our students, faculty, and practitioners in public and private sector organizations. Along with our ongoing commitment to excellence in geographic education and research, we are now frequently called upon to serve on international, national, and state advisory boards, interdisciplinary review panels and more, signaling the growing recognition of the value of the discipline and the importance of a place-based perspective in these endeavors. The occupational outlook for our students is also bright with a steady growth of job opportunities projected over the next decade. These positive trends are in stark contrast to the challenges we faced nearly two decades ago when I began my professional career. At the time, Geography was facing an uphill battle with the watering down of the subject matter in high school curricula and the shutting down of department doors at prominent institutions. We have since overcome these hurdles due in large part to our collective efforts to showcase the wealth of applications of geographic principles and methodologies in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. Our task is to build upon the positive trends that we now enjoy. Current initiatives such as MYCOE-SERVIR, AAG-NIH, EDGE, Enhancing Diversity, and Healthy Departments are all critical steps in the right direction. If elected as national councillor, I hope to use the knowledge and insights gained from my professional experiences to assist in these efforts, and help chart a roadmap for the future. My passion for service will be directed toward five major areas. Specifically, I hope to contribute to the ongoing efforts in i) Global Engagement/Internationalization; ii) Using geographic technologies and community-based participatory approaches to address complex societal challenges such as climate change, environmental hazards, group disparities, and health; iii) Closing the digital divide by seeking and expanding  knowledge, access, and use of geospatial technologies particularly among women and young girls in developing countries; iv) Reducing disciplinary silos and exploring ways to expand trans-disciplinary interactions during conferences. Inviting scholars from other disciplines to attend our national conferences to promote conversations across disciplines, possibly leading to fresh ideas, and potentially opening up new avenues for collaborative research; and v) Assisting with ongoing expansion of mentoring, leadership, and professional advancement opportunities for our scholars and practitioners. My overall plan will be to attend several business meetings of various specialty groups, to meet members directly, gain firsthand knowledge of the issues that matter most to them, hoping that this will lead to better representation at the council meetings. 


Greg PopeGREGORY A. POPE. Associate Professor, Department of Earth & Environmental Studies, Montclair State University (1996-present); Ph.D. Geography, 1994, Arizona State University; M.A., Geography, 1990, Arizona State University; B.A., Distributed Studies (Geography + Geology) 1987, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Member of the AAG since 1991.

Service to Geography and the AAG. President, Middle States Division AAG, 2001-2002 (preceded as VP and Secretary, 1999-2001); AAG Regional Councilor representing the Middle States Region, 2003-2006; Chair, AAG Geomorphology Specialty Group, 2004-2005 (preceded by Secretary); Awards Committee Chair, AAG Geomorphology Specialty Group, 2002-2003 (preceded as member); Member, 2006-2008, AAG Archives and Association History Committee; Local Arrangements Committees, AAG Annual Meetings in New York City (2000-2001 and 2011-2012), Philadelphia (2003-2004); Organizing Committees, Middle States AAG regional meetings, 1998, 1999 (in addition to three years in leadership positions with MSDAAG); Organized 10 AAG Annual Meeting special paper, panel, or keynote lecture sessions since 1993.

Grants. I’ve received research funding from National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Geography and Earth Science programs; two NSF instrumentation programs; the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP); and internal university grants.

Teaching and Research Interests. In the traditional classification of geographic studies, I am an “Earth Scientist,” but while I interact with Earth scientists from different fields, I’ve found most affinity with geographers and their appreciation of both human and natural worlds. I enjoy the advantages of knowing atmospheric science, hydrology, and ecology, not to mention the human-environment interface afforded by geography. Geomorphology is the umbrella for my research interests, with specific focus on systems of soil development and rock deterioration. Extensions from this interest allow interpretations of landscape evolution, environmental change, human impact on the environment, and conservation of historic and ancient cultural heritage. My ongoing projects as of this writing include forest fire impacts on soil and landscape, erosion and sediment history in watersheds, and deterioration of historic artifacts and building materials. I regularly collaborate with – in addition to fellow geographers – geologists, chemists, ecologists, anthropologists, and historians. Fieldwork is my strength and favorite way to collect data, but lab and computer-derived data are also necessary.

My teaching interests are broadly physical geography. I teach a regular rotation of soil science, geomorphology, weather and climate, and urban environmental science. (I am no longer needed to teach courses in GIS and remote sensing, but have previously.) Primarily due to my role as the advisor for our department’s geography B.A., I also teach undergraduate research methods and the senior capstone experience. My classes usually have a mix of geography, geology, and environmental studies students; the upper division classes are also cross-listed for graduate students. I’ve mentored seven masters or doctoral student theses, served or serving on many more graduate thesis committees, and mentored over 50 senior/honors theses.

Publications. I have authored and co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed publications since 1993 in the form of journal articles, edited book chapters, and conference proceedings. These include our flagship journals, the Annals, Professional Geographer, and Physical Geography, as well as Geomorphology, Quaternary International, Global Environmental Change, Antiquity, and Geoarchaeology. I was editor for, and contributed three chapters to, Volume 4 (Weathering and Soils Geomorphology) in the recently-released 14-volume Treatise for Geomorphology. In addition to the above, I wrote a significant entry for The Encyclopedia of Geography (Warf) and co-authored three field trip guides.

Statement. I realize, and strongly believe, that geography should not be confined as an academic pursuit – it offers a point of view and methodology to practically any career and world view, outside of academia. However, my experience as a geographer is in the academic sense, and that is where my contribution to the discipline lies. It is no surprise that I think geography, as an academic pursuit, offers a model discipline to address specific as well as general education needs, both career preparation and community, national, and global engagement. Geography trains students for an array of much-needed expertise in the evolving job market. This education experience applies at different intensities, from the undergrad who simply wants a quality, general degree, to the Ph.D. student who will revolutionize a segment of theory that rewrites a textbook, modifies a method, or initiates a policy. As the model academic discipline, geography does exactly what modern education requires, it demands sharing ideas, breaking through organizational barriers, while answering critical questions. If we are successful geography educators, the qualities of the model academic discipline translate to the non-academic world, by sharing ideas, breaking through organizational barriers, and answering critical questions. The secondary outcome of that success is that geography, as a discipline, is seen as an obvious, identifiable, and unquestioned component of education, work, and citizenship. We aren’t quite there yet in that kind of universal identification, but it is growing. My work as a geographer at my university, for my community, and in the AAG, has been to forward that outcome. 


Lesley Rigg

LESLEY RIGG. Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs (since 2011), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor, Department of Geography Northern Illinois University (Since 1998). Currently faculty associate in the Department of Biological Sciences and in Women’s Studies. Degrees in Geography: B.A York University, Canada (1992); M.A. University of Colorado, Boulder (1994); and Ph.D. University of Melbourne, Australia (1999). All degrees are in Physical Geography. 

Professional service: Within the AAG: the Committee on Publications in Geography (2012-present); chaired the Biogeography Specialty Group (2009-2011); and National Committee on the status of Women in Geography (2005-08). While Chair of the BSG, we successfully obtained funding from NSF for a project titled, Operation CRETE: fostering Collaborations, expanding Research horizons, and Establishing and Transforming networks for Early career Biogeographers, providing funds for 15 early career biogeographers to travel to the International Biogeography meetings in Crete, Greece, 2011. I have always been an active member of the BSG, organizing special sessions, participating in panels, serving as a board member and coordinator of the student grant competition (2003-2005). I have attended the AAG Leadership Workshop (2012) and this past year I was a facilitator for both the Early Career GFDA Workshop and the Leadership Workshop. It has been my pleasure over many years to sit on various panels at NSF and see what Geography has to offer! I have always been actively involved on campus, within my department, on several university level taskforces and working groups (including the Provost’s Taskforce on Student Success), as an active member of the Advising community, as the Chair of the Research subcommittee of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and many others. In 2009, I received the Wilma Strickland award for enhancing the climate for women on my campus. I am currently an Associate Editor for the journal Plant Ecology, I sit on the local planning committee for the Chicago 2014 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and I am the campus faculty advisor for the International Engineering Sorority (AOE). 

Awards, Grants, Research and Teaching Interests, Publications: The broad themes of vegetation dynamics, the role of environmental influence on vegetation communities, and the impact of humans on these communities have been the guiding influences on my research throughout my academic career. I have worked and studied in the temperate deciduous forests of the eastern United States and southern Canada, chaparral/heathland communities Australia, New Caledonia, and on Santa Cruz Island, CA, and tropical forests in New Caledonia and Belize. Currently I am working on several research projects in both North America and a new collaboration in Botswana linking dendrochronology with climate and remote sensing in savanna systems. I have published in both geography and ecological journals and received funding support from the National Geographic Society, the AAAS, NSF and the AAG. I am dedicated to student mentorship and graduate student excellence in research, and in 2009, I won the student-generated campus Excellence Teaching award.

Statement: As my career has progressed my ability to distinguish scholarly activity, education, and service as separate entities has decreased. If elected to serve as a national councillor, my primary focus would be to promote inclusivity at all levels. While inclusivity is a broad term, I refer to our ability as Geographers to navigate the uneven terrain of interdisciplinary education, collaboration and service. Within my administrative capacity I am committed to promoting faculty satisfaction and inclusivity resulting in greater research productivity. I have a strong history in programmatic research including a recent publication on gender, authorship and collaboration over 15 years in key Geography Journals. I am currently a co-P.I. on a Catalyst grant from the ADVANCE Program at NSF, assessing the NIU campus climate in the STEM fields and a co-author and part of the management team on a NSF REU (ETank) at NIU. I was recently the P.I. of a team submission to NSF facilitating the transition from Community College to NIU within the STEM fields. As a national councillor, my goal would be to contribute to the many AAG efforts to increase inclusivity within our discipline.