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Photo of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at night by Scott Chernis Photography, Barberstock-San Francisco TravelSan Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at night. (Credit: Scott Chernis Photography, from Barberstock-San Francisco Travel). 


Highlights from the 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco

The Association of American Geographers 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., hosted more than 9,000 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 37 percent of all attendees came from countries other than the U.S.A., which continues a steady trend toward increased international participation at AAG Meetings. For comparison, the 2007 meeting in San Francisco registered approximately 24 percent international attendees. 

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This year, attendees came from 87 different countries. The largest participation of scholars from outside of the U.S. came from the UK, Canada, China, Germany, Australia, France and Sweden with strong representation of numbers of geographers from the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Norway, Italy, Finland, Japan, among many others. The international attendance greatly enriched the intellectual and social events throughout the week-long conference.

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Opening Presidential PlenaryAAG President Sarah Bednarz's opening presidential plenary included Jenny Zorn, Elizabeth Wentz, Kavita Pandit, Yonette Thomas and Kristopher Olds.

The AAG Annual Meeting also featured several diversely themed research tracks and special events, many with strong international dimensions. The Opening Presidential Plenary organized by AAG President Sarah Witham Bednarz, titled "Thriving in a Time of Disruption in Higher Education," in which panelists discussed the challenges facing scholars and departments within the discipline of geography.

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AAG Past President Mona Domosh presented Audrey Kobayashi with the Presidential Achievement AwardMona Domosh presented the Presidential Achievement Award to Audrey Kobayashi.

Mona Domosh's past presidential address "Genealogies of Race, Gender, and Place," was well received with key discussants including, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Caroline Bressey and Derek Alderman. She also presented this year’s AAG Presidential Achievement Award to Audrey Kobayashi, Queen's University, for her foundational contributions to understanding the intersectionality of gender, race, class and all forms of socio-economic difference that have reshaped what geography is and can be, and for her insistence that geography and geographers reflect critically on their whiteness. Through her tireless work as editor, mentor, teacher, colleague, and friend she has strengthened geography by encouraging new and often challenging ways of seeing and understanding our world. 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 and emphasized the importance of international collaboration. Live top hits through the decades were performed by the Richard Olsen Orchestra, while a record number of attendees reunited with friends and met new colleagues from around the world. 

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Poster sessions were held during three days of the annual meeting.Poster sessions were held during three days of the annual meeting.

Other themes developed for the San Francisco meeting were: Thriving in a Time of Disruption in Higher Education; International Geography and Urban Health Symposium; and Symposium on Physical Geography: Challenges of the "Anthropocene." Poster session themes included Human Geography, Physical Geography and Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T).

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AAG Honorary Geographer Judith ButlerAAG Honorary Geographer Judith Butler addressed a packed house and encouraged a fascinating question-and-answer with attendees.
Authors Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Shapiro and David Lowenthal met between sessionsAuthors Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Shapiro and David Lowenthal met in between their back-to-back sessions.

Wide-ranging plenaries and special events included notable speakers, such as 2016 Honorary Geographer Judith Butler, authors Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Shapiro, and author David Lowenthal. Attendees learned the changing and future trends at leading geography organizations during a conversation with AAG's Doug Richardson, Esri's Jack Dangermond and National Geographic's Gary Knell. Those notable folks also appeared on a panel with Benno Werlen, Farhana Sultana, Ronald Abler and Lee Schwartz discussing "The International Year of Global Understanding." Other sessions included "The AAG-Esri GeoMentors Program: Increasing GIS and Geography in K-12 Education" with AAG's Candice Luebbering and Esri's Jack Dangermond, David DiBiase and Joseph Kerski, along with Sarah Bednarz; "Transformational Research in Geography" with Glen MacDonald, Michael Goodchild and Amy Glassmeier; and "The American Arctic: The United States as an Arctic Power in Science, Technology and Security" with Andrey Petrov, Coast Guard Vice Admiral Charles Ray, Fran Ulmer and AAG's John Wertman. Friends and colleagues also gathered to remember William Garrison, Daniel Gade, Susan Hardwick, Ruth Shirey, Edward Soja, H. Jesse Walker, among others, during several special tributes.

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AAG's first-ever mapathonA participant traces a road within OpenStreetMap's satellite imagery to contribute to the massive online effort.
The AAG held it's first-ever three-day Mapathon with 17 sessions, including an introduction, a keynote on mapping Second Cities with Lee Schwartz and Michael Goodchild, morning mapxercises, a mappy hour and capped off with a review of progress, just to name a few. Using satellite imagery and editing platforms, participants traced, edited, and labeled key infrastructure (buildings, roads, etc.), environmental features and other objects for the creation of openly available real data producing maps that assist humanitarian and community efforts.
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AAG - ISUH International Geography, GIScience, and Urban Health Keynote Plenary SessionThe AAG-ISUH Keynote Plenary Session included Doug Richardson, Mei-Po Kwan, Alex Ross, Andy Haines, Yonette Thomas, Jo Ivey Boufford and Shamim Talukder.

Another AAG first was a joint international symposium on Geography and Urban Health with the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH) to foster interdisciplinary and international collaborations in team science, geodesign for healthy urban environments, GIScience advances in health research and technology transfer, and geographic or biomedical research which addresses global health needs. It brought together national and international scholars, practitioners, and policy makers from different specialties, institutions, sectors, and continents to share ideas, findings, methodologies, and technologies, and to establish, and strengthen personal connections, communication channels and research collaborations and networks.

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The above summary represents only a few of the many exciting sessions and international activities that took place at the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting. More than 1,700 paper, poster, and panel sessions and presentations, including more than 6,600 abstracts highlighting 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. Peruse the highlights below and then view the full

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AAG 2016 MapathonMapathon leaders and participants gathered for a group photo at the culmination of AAG's first event of its kind.
AAG Past President Mona Domosh's discussants were Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Caroline Bressey and Derek AldermanMona Domosh's past president's address "Genealogies of Race, Gender and Place" discussants included Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Caroline Bressey and Derek Alderman.
Changes and Future Trends at Leading Geography Organizations: A conversation with AAG's Doug Richardson, Esri's Jack Dangermond and National Geographic Society's Gary KnellNational Geographic Society's Gary Knell, AAG's Doug Richardson and Esri's Jack Dangermond discussed Changes and Future Trends at leading geography organizations.
International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU) sessionThe International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU) session promoted better understanding of how the local impacts the global in order to foster smart policies to tackle critical global challenges such as climate change, food security, conflict resolution and migration. The session inlcuded Jack Dangermond, Esri; Lee Schwartz, U.S. Department of State; Gary Knell, National Geographic Society; Ronald Abler, International Geographical Union; Farhana Sultana, Syracuse University; Benno Werlen, University of Jena and Doug Richardson, American Association of Geographers.
Doug Richardson, Amy Glassmeier, Michael Goodchild and Glen MacDonald in the Transformational Research in Geography sessionSession chair Doug Richardson, AAG; Amy Glassmeier, MIT; Michael Goodchild, U. of California; and Glen MacDonald, UCLA gather for a group photo before the start of the Transformational Research in Geography session.
Andrey Petrov, Vice Admiral Charles Ray and Fran Ulmer were introduced by AAG's John Wertman for The American Arctic: The United States as an Arctic Power in Science, Technology and Security sessionAndrey Petrov, University of Northern Iowa; Vice Admiral Charles Ray, United States Coast Guard; and Fran Ulmer, U.S. Arctic Research Commission were introduced by AAG's John Wertman for The American Arctic: The United States as an Arctic Power in Science, Technology and Security session.
The AAG-Esri GeoMentors Program: Increasing GIS and Geography in K-12 Education sessionThe AAG-Esri GeoMentors Program: Increasing GIS and Geography in K-12 Education session featured panelists from Esri: David DiBiase, Joseph Kerski and Jack Dangermond, along with AAG President Sarah Bednarz (third from right) and AAG's Candice Luebbering (far right).
Welcome to the AAG annual meeting! A discussion on navigating and making the most of the conferenceThe "Welcome to the AAG annual meeting! A discussion on navigating and making the most of the conference" session gave new, early-career and international geographers insights into how to get the most out of the annual meeting.
AAG Careers teamThe AAG Careers team posed for a photo just before the start of registration for AAG 2016 San Francisco. They were ready to help guide attendees with answers to questions, advice, jobs and positions and anything else to help them navigate the annual meeting.
Career Mentoring sessionsAAG career mentoring sessions were scheduled throughout the annual meeting where experienced geography professionals provided small-group consultations about careers in a variety of industries and employment sectors.
AAG Jobs and Careers is THE source for geography jobs, grad assistantships and postdoc positions. Many attendees viewed the listings in the careers center. More than 40 attendees were hired for positions posted on the boards during the meeting!
Southeast Division Team takes 2016 World Geography Bowl TitleThe Southeast Division Team took the 2016 World Geography Bowl title.
Conference volunteersConference volunteers helped attendees navigate the meeting smoothly. There are many ways to get involved in the annual meeting, so visit the website once we know more for AAG 2017 Boston.
RegistrationThe registration and onsight badge pickup process kept queue times much shorter for the record-breaking attendance.
AAG GeoMentors information centerThe AAG Programs Center offered a wide variety of information and publications. Attendees learned about the many projects and programs of the AAG, like the GeoMentors program.
AAG communication centerAttendees spent time in what they fondly called "AAG Alley," where they could find out about communications available to AAG members and learn more about the organization.
AAG information center photo of couple looking at T-shirts.AAG swag sometimes brings couples closer together.
World map pinpointing AAG 2016 attendees' home basesAttendees came from 87 countries to participate during the annual meeting and some came to "AAG Alley" to pinpoint their home bases on a world map.
CAMP AAGCAMP AAG was popular again this year. AAG made an investment to provide full-time, professionally-managed and staffed onsite childcare services, which offered age-appropriate activities for children ranging from 6 months to 13 years of age, including curriculum-enriched, hands-on, creative activities, arts and crafts projects, active games and more.
Exhibit hallThe exhibit hall was a popular stop for conference attendees, as were the nearby poster sessions and the afternoon receptions.
Mobile appThe AAG mobile app made it much easier for attendees to plan and communicate during the meeting. There were almost 12,500 app users.
A fluffy white dog sits next to an attendee as they check in to the hotelEven canine geographers attended this year.