Association of American Geographers
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Vice President

(one to be elected)

Cerian Gibbes, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Marilyn N. Raphael, University of California, Los Angeles


Cerian Gibbes photoCERIAN GIBBES. Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). Ph.D., M.S., and B.S., Department of Geography, University of Florida.

Professional experience: Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2018-present); Director, Global Intercultural Research Center, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2019-present); Affiliate Faculty, Trauma, Health, and Hazards Center, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2014-present); Interim Director, Bachelor of Innovation Program, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2015); Visiting Researcher, National Center for Atmospheric Research (2012); Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2011-2018).

Awards and honors: Fulbright Fellow (2020);National Geographic Explorer Grantee (2019); Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2017); Outstanding Teaching Award for the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (2017); Fulbright NEXUS Fellow (2014-2016); National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity Scholarship (2016); ESRI and PCI Natural Resources Imagery Grant (2013); Coupled Human and Natural Systems Fellowship (2012).

Professional and public service: Program Reviewer (2020); American Association of Geographers, Student Award Committee (2020); American Association of Geographers, Editorial Board Denver and the Rocky Mountain West (2020); Topic Editor Land (2020); Big Brothers Big Sisters Colorado (2018-present); ASPRS-Regional Board Member (2016-2018); Reviewer, Graduate Research Fellowship Program, National Science Foundation (2016-2017); Collaborative Preparing Future Faculty Forum Panelist, UC-Boulder (2016); Climate Voices-Science Speakers Network Volunteer (2014-present).

Research and teaching: I am a faculty member at a comprehensive institution, UCCS, which is one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system (~10,500 undergraduates & 1,900 graduate students). My research and teaching are interconnected. My research primarily focuses on the social and ecological impacts of land use practices in spaces where agriculture and conservation overlap. My work relies on mixed methodological approaches which integrate social and environmental data with geospatial technologies. I purposefully bring research into my teaching of geospatial courses, statistics, urban ecology, and geography of Africa. One priority in my teaching is to create spaces where students can relate their stories to our current knowledge of how people, places, technology, and the environment are connected. I enjoy engaging in interdisciplinary research, and through my role as the Director of the Global Intercultural Research Center (GLINT) I am able to promote and support international, interdisciplinary and intercultural scholarship — research, teaching, and outreach.

Statement: I write this as a pandemic unfolds, systemic inequality is increasingly visible and challenged, and discord is high. People and communities are suffering, including members of our AAG community. Although this period in time will be remembered as traumatic, it also presents an opportunity to make fundamental and enduring changes. This action-oriented framing is important, and quite frankly, necessary for many of us. AAG members work in a range of arenas — academic, government, private — and our geographic expertise means that we are poised to effect change across these spaces.

This far-reaching applicability is, in part, what attracted me to the discipline. Yet, despite the centrality of spatial analysis and physical and cultural geography to understanding and responding to current challenges, seldom do we see the discipline of geography explicitly identified as essential for addressing current needs and generating future solutions. We must take this opportunity to emphasize the relevance of the discipline. We need a cohesive presentation of the field that enables us to create and bolster linkages across the public and private sectors, and academia – from scientific discoveries emerging at first-tier research institutions to transformative educational opportunities at comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. In short, we need to present ourselves in ways that clearly demonstrate geography’s value to society and how it enhances opportunity for individuals.

Seeking an interconnected presentation of geography also offers the potential to create a more inclusive discipline. We have the obligation at this time to look inward, to reflect on our own community, and identify pathways for improvement within the discipline. Past AAG leaders have contributed to this advancement through programs focused on professional development, department health, and diversity. In this time of reckoning with racial injustice we are situated to extend these endeavours and strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our discipline. Equity, diversity, and inclusion, must be integral to all facets of Geography — from student recruitment, through the pipeline, to the engagement of professionals. This will require increased transparency, recognition of the work involved, and purposeful action. But, if not now, then when will we act to make substantial change?

If elected I will focus on 1) creating a cohesive understanding of the relevance and value of Geography, from scientific discovery to individual opportunity, and 2) acting on the AAG’s stated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. I see these two foci as necessarily interrelated if we are to advance our disciplinary community to one that is genuinely shared and deemed pertinent.

We must transform the way we engage with each other and the way our discipline relates to the public. Geography is ideally positioned to lead during this unsettling time. Should we choose to, collectively we are equipped to take this opportunity to improve our discipline and reassert the societal value of Geography.


Marilyn N. Raphael photoMARILYN N. RAPHAEL. Professor, UCLA Department of Geography; Interim Director, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; Affiliate Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Ph.D., The Ohio State University: Geography-Climatology; M.A., The Ohio State University: Geography-Climatology; B.A., Hons., McMaster University: GeographyService to Geography: National Councilor of the Association of American Geographer 2010-2013, Member, AAG Long Range Strategic Planning Committee 2013-2016, Member, AAG Nominating Committee 2015-2017, Member, NSF Geography and Regional Science Advisory Panel, 2008-2010, Editorial Board Physical Geography (2014-continuing), and The Professional Geographer (2010-2016), Guest Editor Physical Geography, Member of the AAAS Section Committee on Atmospheric and Hydrology Sciences — representing Geography 2014–2019.

Honors, Awards, and Grants: Named to the Royal Society’s Women in Science List of 90 Women, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Women in Antarctic Science,  Winner of Atmospheric Science Librarian International Most Popular Book Award — The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change, A Complete Visual Guide, Marie Tharp Fellow, UCLA Graduate Student Adviser Award. PI or Co-PI on over $6.0 million in external grants and awards from NASA, NSF, NERC, and other sources.

Professional Experience: Assistant toFull Professor at UCLA; Chair, UCLA Department of Geography (2010-2013); Vice Chair, UCLA Department of Geography (2009 -2010); Interim Director Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (2020-); Member, numerous UCLA Academic Senate Committees and Faculty Advisory Committees; Chair, the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research’s Expert Group — Antarctic Sea ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt, 2009-present). Co-Lead of the (WCRP) World Climate Research Project’s Polar Climate Predictability Initiative (PCPI 2016-present); Member of WCRP’s Grand Challenge Committee on Near Term Climate Prediction (2017-present)

Research and Teaching Interests: I am a physical geographer with research interests in large scale atmospheric circulation dynamics and their influence on Antarctic sea ice variability and global climate change and variability. Climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere cryosphere has significant implications for global climate and climate change.  

Teaching is one of the most satisfying aspects of my career. It is my opportunity to introduce my undergraduate students to the exciting world of climatology in geography and environmental sustainability; an experience that, especially in these times, has potential to change their worldview. For my graduate students it is my opportunity make my science come alive and, in the process, introduce them to the joys of research, to sustain their interest and to bring them into the academy.

Publications: Co-author of award-winning The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change, A Complete Visual Guide, Author or co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles. Articles appearing in Nature Climate Change, Nature Geoscience, Nature Reviews. Nature Communications, Polar Geography, The Professional Geographer, Physical Geography, Geographical Analysis, The Cryosphere, Journal of Climate, Climate Dynamics, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research- Atmosphere/Ocean, One Earth, Geosciences, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Elementa, Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, Antarctic Science, Earth Interactions, Frontiers in Marine Science.

Statement: 2020 is a year in which we have seen how our global interconnectedness has facilitated the transmission of a deadly virus. The legitimate fear of infection has led to an abrupt change in the way in which society operates and communicates, exposing the realities of our inequality. We have also been sharply reminded of how much racial, social and environmental injustice continue to weaken the fabric of our society. This is all taking place against the looming backdrop of climate change-related catastrophes. The virus has taken a heavy toll, but the abruptness of the change has jolted us from our passivity and acceptance. It has enabled us to see our country in ways it was difficult to before but also gives us a chance to make changes that were difficult to do before.

Geography as a discipline and the AAG as the organization that oversees geographyis ideally placed to effect the change that is needed.

A fundamental way to reduce inequality and to address racial, social and environmental injustice, is through increased diversity, inclusion and representation of under-represented groups. As an individual who lives and works in a place and field where there are few like me — (Black, female, immigrant, first generation), I know firsthand the negative effect that a lack of diversity, inclusion and representation has. Because of this I have worked to make my environment more diverse. I am aware, that I bring more to the academy than my knowledge of climate. I have sought for and used my external funding to bring diverse undergraduate and graduate students into geography and I mentor them through successful completion of their degrees. I choose to work with groups at UCLA that focus on supporting diverse students so that they are successful in their academic pursuits. To me it is abundantly clear that a more diverse environment is a more just environment, a more creative environment, and simply a happier environment.  

Here is what I would do as vice president. I would have the AAG make a renewed commitment to diversity, inclusion and representation. The trio of diversity, inclusion and representation has been a focus and some ground has been gained, but it remains a critical issue and the AAG can continue and increase the effectiveness of its approach. The AAG can do more to ensure that geography as a discipline becomes more inclusive and equitable.

  1. Recognize and confront racial, social and environmental injustice first by looking within the organization to see where we can do better. We can then create and coordinate the implementation of solutions to address the lack and promote the solutions to the external world.
  2. Create a welcoming environment. Embrace diversity. This means encourage and support the diversity that already exists within the organization while reaching outwards to increase the same. Success here requires sustained effort. We can reach out and continue reaching out to the places where groups that are underrepresented in Geography exist. These include, for example Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  
  3. Promote discussion of these difficult issues among all of our members, among its affinity groups and specialty groups. Create opportunities for difficult conversations around these topics. These are the conversations that make us aware that we too have implicit biases, and often implicitly feel entitled. These are the conversations that allow us to imagine ideas that we can deploy to effect change. 
  4. Publish and promote scholarship on these topics — not just as a single special issue, as important as they are, but as a continuing thread because changes of this nature take time to develop, before becoming the norm.
  5. While our annual meetings can consciously reflect the work that is being done, the groundwork will take place in our regional meetings.  The AAG can initiate and support efforts at the regional level for diversity, inclusion and representation, reaching out to the regional leaders for answers and solutions. We can encourage them to have these difficult/uncomfortable conversations. 

The effect of creating and implementing successful solutions to diversity, inclusion and representation is manifold. It will create a stronger, more just AAG and discipline, making Geography a force for positive social change.