2023 AAG Awards Recognition

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AAG members are recognized for their work throughout the year and for their dedication to the discipline. Of the hundreds of nominations received, AAG committees, groups and leadership choose exemplary members who contribute to the field of geography in many different ways and celebrate their role in advancing geography. Following is a compilation of all of AAG’s awards conferred in 2023.

AAG Honors

AAG Honors are offered annually to recognize outstanding accomplishments by members in research and scholarship, teaching, education, service to the discipline, public service outside academe and for lifetime achievement.

2023 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Li An 

Photo of Li AnThe 2023 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors goes to Li An, Professor of Geography at San Diego State University and fellow of the AAG and the American Association for Advancement of Science. An is an internationally recognized geographer known for his pioneering contributions to agent-based modeling and space-time analysis that strengthen our ability to understand spatiotemporal variability of complex human-environmental processes. His work is motivated by his longing for peace and strength in human-environment interactions through improved sustainability—a motivation inspired by his name: Li, his first name, means strength or power, and An, his last name, means peace or safety. An has contributed to this mission by using geovisualization, modeling, and simulation to bridge the division between social science and ecological modeling that previously limited the capacity to address environmental issues that are inherently human influenced, for example, panda conservation and invasive species. 

An’s innovations on spatial analysis and modeling tools both increase our capacity for representing complex processes and draw inferences in the temporal dimension. One such innovation is the development of a digital, high performance, and 4-D holographic methodology for space-time representation and modeling. An actively applied these methods to address challenges spanning climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services, wildlife habitat degradation, urban transition, and more. A broadly applicable innovation for the field of geography is An’s work addressing the grand challenge of spatial autocorrelation in space-time data. An developed a methodology fusing the eigenvector spatial filtering approach and geography latent trajectory analysis to filter out bias arising from spatial autocorrelation, introducing a new methodology to GIScience and transforming the field. A third example of An’s many innovations is his having creatively weaved survival analysis—typically used in social science disciplines to study the timing of discrete events—with modern GIScience methods to generate a subfield called land survival analysis.  

An recently published a book, Conservation Effectiveness and Concurrent Green Initiatives, in which he presents his discovery of concurrent green efforts—overlapping conservation efforts that may have positive synergies or negative interactions that may hamper conservation efforts. The work reflects An’s exceptional interdisciplinary approach to addressing problems in sustainability. An’s focus on merging the spatial and human-environment identities, in this book and across the rest of his work, concurrently advances subfields in geography while, more importantly, developing new subfields and methods that have greater capabilities for finding solutions for complex human-environment problems.  

Geraldine Pratt

Photo of Geraldine PrattThe 2023 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors is awarded to Geraldine Pratt for her contributions to the fields of feminist geography, economic geography, and labor. She does so by demonstrating how labor markets work, tracing the relationships between domestic workers in Canada and their transnational families, as well as the debates over the ethics of care at home and abroad. Pratt has served as an inspiration to human geographers, demonstrating that dedication to ethical collaborations can also lead to highly-cited and influential publications. It is particularly notable that Pratt has engaged in multiple modalities of inclusive scholarship and co-production of knowledge, including the media of film, art installation, and theatrical performance. Dr. Pratt has engaged in crucial work that lays out agendas for feminist geography, including 16 years in leadership with the journal Environment and Planning D: Society & Space and two editions as co-editor of the Dictionary of Human Geography. Over decades of innovative publications, Dr. Pratt’s body of scholarship demonstrates how unpacking the role of race, class, gender and nationality shape geographic relations of migration and work. Her single-authored book, Working Feminism, published in 2004, reveals the way that place and race shape late capitalism in the work of caregiving and temporary migration programs. Pratt’s subsequent monograph, Families Apart (2012), illustrates administrative state violence in the rules and regulations that migrant caregivers navigate in their displacement from the Philippines to live-in family care in Canada. In addition, Pratt has served as primary advisor to over 25 doctoral students, contributing to a more gender-diverse human geography along the way. Pratt’s innovative work on gender, care and migration is increasingly relevant in thinking through how wealthy countries like Canada manage care of their aging populations, as well as the rising need for live-in caregivers that the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic portends. 

2023 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors

John Strait and Ava Fujimoto-Strait 

Photo of John Strait and Ava Fujimoto-StraitThe 2023 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors is awarded to John Strait and Ava Fujimoto-Strait for their joint teaching, mentoring, and pedagogical accomplishments at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). As Pat Harris, Chair of SHSU’s Department of Environmental and Geosciences stated, “Individually, John and Ava are great ambassadors for geography … it is hard to talk about one without talking about the other because their course and teaching styles are so intertwined.” Not only is the breadth of their teaching impressive, but they also offer innovative instruction that is engaging, place-based, and student-centered. Collectively, they have taught several different courses at SHSU, many of which are recognized for their academic community engagement, due to their emphasis on community partnerships and service-based learning opportunities. Since 2006, they have coordinated and co-directed a host of immersive field courses, both within the United States and abroad. These field courses offer students hands-on interdisciplinary experiences in such diverse locales as the Mississippi Delta, Hawaii, Spain, Italy, Morocco, as well as other locations. These transformative travel experiences, in conjunction with field-based activities incorporated within their traditional in-class courses, directly immerse students into relevant subject matter, ultimately creating strong bonds and facilitating a passion for geographic inquiry. 

At SHSU, Fujimoto-Strait delivers workshops on creating “Engaging Classrooms” and has received multiple teaching awards, including the Staff Excellence Award in 2019 and the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2014. Strait regularly offers a popular seminar on the Blues culture of the Mississippi Delta, a field-based course that uses the region’s musical culture as a lens to focus attention on various linkages between musical evolution and the geographic dimensions of the Civil Rights movement. He also shares his expertise with music and-place-based pedagogies in summer teacher workshops and institutes, including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer K-12 Teacher Institute hosted by the Mississippi Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. Since 2008, his lectures and field endeavors at this Institute, entitled The Most Southern Place on Earth, have been exceptionally well-received and highly rated by participating teachers from private and public schools from across the country. 

Strait and Fujimoto-Strait’s co-authored 2017 paper in The Geography Teacher, focused on the cultural and environmental diversity across Hawaii through field-based learning, was recognized by the National Council for Geographic Education as the year’s “Best Content” article. They both have been contributing faculty on the SHSU-directed “Pacific Undergraduate Research Experience in Mathematics,” a NSF-funded academic program based in Hawaii designed to increase the representation of Pacific Islanders in STEM-based degree paths. More recently, with other SHSU geography faculty, they received a National Geographic Society grant entitled “Building an Engaging Place-Based Geography Community in Metro Houston.” This endeavor entailed developing workshops with K-12 educators to demonstrate how place-based field endeavors, combined with the use of geospatial technologies, can enhance student learning and engagement, and increase interest in higher education among under-represented communities across Houston, Texas. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, John and Ava serve as mentors and academic advisors for numerous students and teachers, many of whom provided enthusiastic letters in support for this award.

Lifetime Achievement Honors

David R. Butler 

Photo of David ButlerThe American Association of Geographers awards AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors to Dr. David R. Butler. Over his 37-year academic career, Butler’s influential work at the interface of geomorphology and biogeography has advanced knowledge and understanding in physical geography. He has displayed exemplary devotion to teaching and mentoring both at the college and K-12 levels, putting diversity and equity principles at the forefront of his program. He has promoted and strengthened physical geography through his scholarship and his leadership and service. 

Butler’s extraordinary publication record includes hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, as well as monographs, book chapters, edited books, and special issues of journals. His award-winning book, Zoogeomorphology: Animals as Geomorphic Agents, laid the foundation for this subdiscipline of physical geography and is widely considered a classic text. His comprehensive works on alpine treelines have advanced our knowledge of the ways in which topography and geomorphology, including geomorphic hazards such as avalanches and debris flows, shape plant communities at high elevations. These insights have bolstered our understanding of the forces that drive stability and change in mountain ecotones. He led and edited the AAG Annals special issue on The Anthropocene (2021). 

David R. Butler also merits this award for his exceptional commitment to education. He has mentored dozens of successful master’s and doctoral students, many of whom are now professors, and has co-authored numerous publications with them. For his teaching effectiveness, he has received many honors and awards, among them the Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award from the National Council for Geographic Education. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have always been core tenets of Butler’s mentoring program, and he is widely recognized by colleagues for seeking to increase the presence of underrepresented groups in graduate programs and beyond. 

Coupled with exceptional scholarship, teaching, and mentoring, Butler has an impressive record of professional service, including editorial and leadership roles within the AAG. Despite his emeritus status, he continues to be AAG Annals Editor for the Physical Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences section, editor for Progress in Physical Geography, and an editorial board member for Physical Geography and Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. As Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium Steering Committee Chair, he worked to diversify the board and include more early-career scholars. Within the AAG, he has chaired the Geomorphology and Mountain Geography Specialty Groups and been on the Executive Board of the Biogeography Specialty Group

Mark Monmonier 

Photo of Mark MonmonierThe American Association of Geographers awards AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors to Mark Monmonier. Over the course of five decades, he has made outstanding contributions to geographic research, most notably in the fields of cartography and geographic communication. He also has an extensive record of distinctive leadership at national and international levels, and in service to the discipline of geography and the AAG. He is a valued colleague and esteemed mentor and inspiration to hundreds of students, many of whom have become leaders in the academic community, government agencies, and industry. 

Monmonier’s scholarship in the history of cartography, environmental cartography, geographic information, and map design has resulted in a plethora of articles, book chapters, and books, including three titles that received the Globe Book Award and the Outstanding Academic Books by Choice for Public Understanding of Geography. Monmonier’s works are timeless and have transformed how people see, analyze, and interact with maps. For example, his widely acclaimed and classic text How to Lie with Maps (1991, 1996, 2018) continues to inform how the maps we produce and circulate represent unique perspectives on the places where we live. This single book has been translated into Chinese, Czech, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish, evidence of its global research impact. With the explosion of the field of data visualization, lessons learned from Monmonier’s research are as relevant today as they have been in the past. 

Monmonier’s professional leadership and service to the discipline of geography and to the AAG is exemplary. He served as vice president and president of the American Cartographic Association and on the Coastal Elevation and Sea-Level Rise Advisory Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Within the AAG, he twice served on the editorial board of the Annals, and he chaired the Cartography Specialty Group. Monmonier’s peers and those whom he has mentored describe him as “a model of organization and administration, trailblazing, and generous.” He has received the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award by Syracuse University.

Linda Peake 

Photo of Linda PeakeThe 2023 AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors is awarded to Linda Peake for her scholarly contributions to feminist and urban geographies and for a career dedicated to extending equity, diversity, and inclusion at her institution (York University, Canada) and across the discipline of geography. 

Linda Peake’s four decades of scholarship have spanned feminist, social and urban geography, studies of race and racism and mental health. Her early research was focused on feminist urban geography and led toco-edited volumes such as Women, Human Settlements, and Housing (1987) and Women in Cities (1988). In the 1990s, her perspective broadened to include race and sexuality, and engaged the idea of intersectionality—a hallmark of Peake’s scholarship—long before this term came to be commonly used and understood in geography. Peake has also helped shape these fields through her editorship of Gender, Place and Culture (GPC) and Social and Cultural Geography. 

Peake’s later research has expanded to the exploration of comparative urban feminist theorizations. This work has been funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and is reflected in co-edited volumes that include Rethinking Feminist Interventions into the Urban (2013), A Feminist Urban Theory for our Time (2021), and The Elgar Handbook on Gender and Cities (forthcoming). In 2017, as Director of the City Institute at York University, she assumed leadership of a multimillion-dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant: “Urbanization, gender, and the global South: A transformative knowledge network (GenUrb). “This project expands understanding of urban place ecologies of precarity and violence, engaging a transnational team of researchers working in six cities across the global South. This research project includes many early career and non-academic researchers and exemplifies Peake’s commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion. 

Linda Peake’s commitment to social justice is demonstrated by her engagement with activist organizations and in efforts to transform the discipline and the academy. She has worked with the grassroots women’s organization, Red Thread, in Guyana to train women scholars and build local research teams. She serves as an expert witness for U.S. law firms representing Guyanese deportees. In partnership with Beverley Mullings and Kate Parizeau, Peake has organized conference sessions and workshops to raise awareness of and prompt action on mental health issues in U.S. and Canadian universities. 

For her work, she has received the 2004 Julian Minghi Outstanding Research Award from the Political Geography Specialty Group (together with Eleonore Kofman and Lynn Staeheli). She is also a recipient of the Jan Monk Service Award from the AAG Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group (2015), the Distinguished Scholar Award, Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group (2016), the Inaugural Solidarity Award (2019) from the AAG Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group (as an editor of GPC), and the 2022 AAG Diversity and Inclusion Award (with Mullings and Parizeau). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2022).

William Wyckoff 

Photo of William WyckoffWilliam Wyckoff, a recipient of the AAG’s Lifetime Achievement Honors, has played a leading role in research focusing on the historical evolution of interactions among people and places in the American West. While serving on the faculty of Montana State University since 1986, Wyckoff conducted a continually evolving set of research projects focusing on several important segments of this vast territory and its diverse population. Some of his research focused on specific places, while other projects were broader regional examinations. Wyckoff’s research built on traditional historical geography themes and approaches, but he employed new perspectives and techniques to provide novel insights into the complex interactions among people and places across the region. 

Many of Wyckoff’s publications were directed at broader audiences, which has enabled students, scholars, and the general public to explore the transformation of landscapes and better appreciate those places; to explore the impacts of economic, cultural and environmental changes; and to enhance their capabilities to care for those places more effectively. Some of Wyckoff’s publications have employed historical photographs and contemporary images taken at the same locales to show changes over time. His book, How to Read the American West (2014), is a creative field guide that provides visual and textual interpretations of myriad landscape features and elucidates the significance of specific features and what they tell us about the region. 

As a professor, Wyckoff engaged students, scholars, and broader audiences in diverse subject areas through lectures that involved the expert weaving of maps, photographs, graphics, stories, and evocative description. Wyckoff’s excellence in the classroom was matched by his reputation for effective mentoring when he met with students individually or in small groups. In addition to his on-campus activities, Wyckoff was a part of a team that co-authored six editions of a leading college-level world geography textbook. 

In all of his endeavors, Wyckoff gave equal attention across the full breadth of humanity. His research publications, classroom presentations, and textbooks examined the actions and impacts of diverse groups. His interactions with students and colleagues made it clear that regardless of who they were, he was willing to discuss their interests and ideas and to give them honest and encouraging advice. Former students from groups historically underrepresented in geography commented that Wyckoff’s explicit attention to their situations and aspirations were critical in helping move their careers forward. 

Because of his innovative research, which has significantly expanded knowledge about the evolution of interactions among diverse groups of people and the broad mosaic of landscapes in the American West, his effective dissemination of new insights to both scholarly and popular audiences, his superior teaching in classroom and field settings and through a widely used collegiate textbook, his contributions to building a broader and more diverse set of scholars in geography through his research, teaching, and mentoring, the AAG honors William Wyckoff.


AAG Fellows

The AAG Fellows is a recognition and service program that applauds geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing geography.

The 2023 AAG Fellows selection committee: Anne Chin, University of Colorado Denver; Doug Allen, Emporia State University; Jovan Lewis, UC Berkeley; David Butler, Texas State University; Daniel Block, Chicago State University; and Heike Alberts, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Timothy Beach

Photo of Tim BeachDr. Timothy Beach is an internationally recognized leader in soils, wetlands, geomorphology, and geoarchaeology through hundreds of publications. His research — deriving from his soils lab at UT Austin and a range of field sites across the world including Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Turkey, Italy, and the USA — has substantially elevated our understanding of wetlands, geomorphology, human interactions with soils, and global change, especially relating to Maya civilization. Beach is recognized with major awards from several disciplines, universities, and numerous invited lectures including at the Vatican. The awards include the G.K. Gilbert Award and Ellen Mosely-Thompson Paper of the Year Award from the American Association of Geographers (AAG), the Kirk Bryan Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA), the Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Conference of Latin American Geography, and the Fryxell Award from the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). Beach also received fellowships from Guggenheim and Dumbarton Oaks (twice) and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The University of Texas at Austin honored Dr. Beach’s research with the C.B. Smith Centennial Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations. In addition, Georgetown University awarded Tim Beach with the Distinguished Research Award and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service Professor of the Year Teaching Award. Beach is also an Alumnus of the Year at California State University-Chico. An active member over four decades, Tim Beach has provided outstanding leadership and service to the AAG, most notably as chair of the Geomorphology Specialty Group and co-founder of the Paleoenvironmental Change Specialty Group. He has similarly held leadership roles in the GSA, SAA, and the American Quaternary Association. Beach’s long record of service to his discipline also includes the scores of special sessions that he organized or co-organized, that have produced special edited journal issues.

Martin Doyle

Photo of Martin DoyleDr. Martin Doyle is well known as a physical geographer, and he’s also very comfortable in the realms of environmental policy, finance, and aquatic ecology. He has won major awards for his ground-breaking research, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the AAG’s Meridian Book Award for The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade its Rivers and the AAG’s Geomorphology Specialty Group’s G.K. Gilbert Award. He is a strong mentor, including collaborating with and supporting female river scientists, and through his role as Associate Dean at Duke University, where he has been an advocate for female scholars and scholars of color. He served in President Obama’s Department of the Interior, and on the US Army Science Board. He is widely known as a “go-to” figure for interviews in the media, and is an important spokesperson for watershed protection and restoration. He is known as a powerful mentor of students as well as early-career scientists, and although no longer in a geography department, he remains a member and strong supporter of the AAG and the Geomorphology Specialty Group.

LaToya Eaves

LaToya E EavesDr. LaToya Eaves has established a record of transformative research, dynamic teaching, and dedicated mentoring in the field of geography. Her contributions to the fields of Black Geographies, Black feminism, queer geographies, and the U.S. South are particularly noteworthy. Dr. Eaves’ rigorous and accessible scholarship pushes geography as a discipline to engage with the importance of Black geographic thought and practices in the production of space and place. Her scholarship provides accessible entry points for students to engage with Black Geographies, and she has contributed foundational texts for scholars doing work within Black Geographies literature. Her research has been published in Geoforum, Dialogues in Human Geography, Gender, Place & Culture, The Professional Geographer, and Journal of Geography in Higher Education, among other journals and edited volumes. She has received numerous accolades within geography, including but not limited to Department of Geography’s Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Academic Advancement Award by the Tennessee LGBT+ College Conference, the Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors by the AAG, and the Enhancing Diversity Award by the AAG. One of the founders of the Black Geographies Specialty Group, Dr. Eaves’ organization and caring mentorship has transformed the discipline of geography and provided a space and academic home for Black scholars and scholars of Black Geographies.  She is a generous and caring mentor as well. Her reputation within the geography community broadly and within the Black Geographies community specifically speaks to her generous mentorship of students and junior scholars, much of which is invisible, uncompensated, and unrecognized work in institutional settings. She has been committed to recognizing and honoring senior Black scholars, organizing panels, special issues of journals, and award applications to assure that these senior scholars are recognized for their foundational contributions.  Beyond the subfield of Black Geographies, Dr. Eaves has served the AAG in the roles of National Councilor, Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. She also contributed to the AAG Harassment Free Task Force and the AAG Task Force on Diversifying the Curriculum in Geography, and she co-chaired the AAG New Orleans Featured Theme Committee. She has served as an editor for Dialogues in Human Geography and on numerous editorial boards.

A. Stewart Fotheringham

Photo of Stewart FotheringhamDr. A. Stewart Fotheringham has been described as the strongest researcher of his generation in quantitative geography and spatial analysis. He has been at the forefront of efforts to improve our understanding of spatially distributed phenomena, and of the social and environmental processes that operate in space and time. His publications on spatial interaction modeling have become the accepted authorities in the field for their theoretical and quantitative rigor and for the richness of their applications. Fotheringham has also significantly advanced our understanding of the problems of making statistical inference from spatial data across the health, social, and environmental sciences. More recently, his work on spatial process heterogeneity has led to powerful new insights from place-based analysis, a topic that he has pioneered through the development of geographically weighted regression and the creation of analogous versions of many standard statistical techniques. He has made these advances readily accessible to researchers in geography, and in the health, social, and environmental sciences more broadly, through software, tutorials, and workshops, and the development of appropriate inferential tests. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and he has done much to promote geography and spatial science across the social sciences and internationally. He has been a long-time member of the American Association of Geographers despite his long periods at European universities, and he has been a regular attendee at AAG meetings and a contributor to geographical debates on both sides of the Atlantic. His research, including numerous papers in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, is very heavily cited.

Nik Heynen 

Photo of Nik HeynenDr. Nik Heynen’s sustained and exemplary record of research, mentorship, and service has left an enduring impact on the discipline of geography. Dr. Heynen’s scholarship has been transformational and field-defining in the areas of urban political ecology, abolition geographies and ecologies, and geographies of neoliberalism and racial capitalism. His work theorizes and demonstrates empirically how racialized processes of capitalism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism produce structurally unjust geographies and ecologies. His work centers Black scholars and their scholarship to create a social justice-oriented research agenda that produces not only rigorous, theoretically sophisticated scholarship but also practical, justice-centered work. Dr. Heynen’s scholarship is only surpassed by his commitment to his advocacy for reparations and service within the discipline. Dr. Heynen has served as part of the editorial collective at Antipode and was the founding Chair of the Institute for the Geographies of Justice. He has served as an editor for Annals of the AAG and is the founding editor of the University of Georgia Press book series Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation, as well as a co-founding editor of Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. Dr. Heynen has a long-standing research and service relationship with the Gullah-Geechee community on Sapelo Island, where he frequently returns to support the restoration of traditional agricultural practices. Dr. Heynen’s service shows a sustained commitment to anti-racist, justice-oriented advocacy and action. Despite his over 100 publications, millions of dollars in external grant funding, and abundant service commitments, Dr. Heynen finds time to be a patient, caring, and selfless mentor within the discipline as well. His students have gone on to accept academic positions at some of the most prestigious institutions and departments in geography and are a testament to his caring, supportive, and effective mentorship. 

Reece Jones 

Photo of Reece JonesDr. Reece Jones is Professor and the Chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He has created influential research on borders and immigration and is dedicated to service within the AAG and the wider academic community. He is currently the Chair of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2024 Annual Meeting in Honolulu. He previously served as the president of the Political Geography Specialty Group (PGSG) of the AAG in 2013 and 2014, was the Secretary/Treasurer of the PGSG from 2011-2012, and served on the PGSG executive committee from 2009-2016. Reece has served the discipline of geography as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Geopolitics for the past four years. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, Reece was the Forum and Review Editor at the journal for two years. Reece is also on the editorial boards of the journals Political Geography and the Journal of Borderlands Studies and the editor of the Routledge Studies of Geopolitics book series with Klaus Dodds. In addition to Reece’s service to the AAG and the discipline, perhaps his most significant contribution is in his ground-breaking research on borders and immigration. In April 2021, Reece was named a Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His book Violent Borders, published in 2016, won multiple awards for the best book in political geography and has been translated into French and Slovenian. The citation from the British Royal Geographical Society called it “one of the most influential Political Geography books published in recent times.” 

David H. Kaplan 

Photo of David KaplanDavid H. “Dave” Kaplan is well-known both nationally and internationally for his work in political and urban geography. He has written or edited 14 books, ranging from sophisticated analyses of ethnicity and nationalism to textbooks on urban geography. He has published about 70 journal articles and book chapters, given over 80 invited presentations, and is editor-in-chief for the journal Geographical Review and editor of National Identities. Dr. Kaplan has served the AAG in numerous capacities, including as Council member, President of the East Lakes region, and Chair of the Healthy Departments Committee. Perhaps most significantly, Dr. Kaplan served as AAG President during two of the most significant events during the AAG’s recent history: the transition from AAG Executive Director Doug Richardson to Gary Langham, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter included the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Annual Meeting and the establishment of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force to minimize the impact of the pandemic. To list just one major contribution to the AAG that speaks to his engagement to increase the diversity of the discipline, Dr. Kaplan created the International Councilor position to ensure that AAG leadership also reflects the international membership of the organization. 

Robin Leichenko

Photo of Robin LeichenkoRobin Leichenko is an extremely creative, inquisitive, and giving academic and public scholar whose career has spanned economic and environmental geography, focusing over the past 20 years primarily on economic impacts and responses to climate change. She has been a professor at Rutgers University for over 25 years, where she has chaired 11 Ph.D. committees, served as department chair and graduate director, served as co-director of the Rutgers Climate Institute, and is currently Associate Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is an exemplary public scholar. She has served on multiple committees on responses to climate change, including serving as a review editor on the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), serving as co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, and serving as co-lead of the Society and Economy Sector of the New York State Climate Impact Assessment. Dr. Leichenko’s research journey shows her inquisitiveness and willingness to try new things. Early in graduate school, she was an environmental geographer, but during her Ph.D. program at Penn State, she became focused on economic geography, obtaining a M.A. in Economics along with her Ph.D. in Geography. After coming to Rutgers, she began to return to environmental geography, but combined the work with her knowledge of economic systems. Her ability to speak the language of scholars and practitioners across the various fields focusing on climate change has helped her to make immense contributions both to the academic study of climate change and to the debate on public responses to it. She has also been very active in the AAG itself. Among other things, she was chair of the Economic Geography specialty group. She has also acted as a mentor to many early and mid-career geographers, particularly women. Overall, Robin Leichenko is a model geographer, unafraid to cross boundaries, who works both inside and outside the academy.

Wei Li

Photo of Wei LiDr. Wei Li is a highly productive researcher who has published well over 100 academic articles and 10 books, edited books and special issues of journals, and delivered more than 75 invited lectures, with many focusing on urban and ethnic geography as well as highly skilled migrations. She is most known for her work on ethnic and racial settlement patterns, where she coined the now widely known term ethnoburb. Her work is well-respected both nationally and internationally, and she has held various visiting positions both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Li has provided extensive service to the AAG, including leadership positions in the Ethnic Geography Specialty Group, and serving as National Councilor and on the JEDI task force as well as other diversity-related initiatives. Beyond her own valuable contributions, she is also exceptional in drawing attention to and applauding the contributions of others. Dr. Li also deserves praise for her exceptional work in mentoring and advising graduate students and junior colleagues, including an extensive record of co-presenting and co-authoring papers with her students.

Wenwen Li

Photo of WenWen LiDr. Wenwen Li is a nationally recognized researcher at the forefront of geography, developing new methods for spatial pattern analysis and regionalization for solving real-world problems across disciplines. She is among the first to introduce classic inertia theory from physics to the measurement of spatial compactness patterns. Dr. Li has conducted innovative research on cyberinfrastructure, utilizing big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to enable geospatial intelligence for data-driven discovery and intelligent spatial decision making. For this
pioneering AI transdisciplinary expansion into the geospatial world, she has become widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading scientists responsible for the emergence of GeoAI research. Her approaches have been widely adopted in landscape ecology, climate research, geomorphology, urban studies, as well as in biomedical imaging, bioengineering, and toxicological science.

Dr. Li has a very strong service record to AAG and other research communities. This record includes serving on journal editorial boards, reviewing numerous manuscripts, and serving on multiple proposal review panels. She was a founding member of the AAG Cyberinfrastructure Specialty Group and has served as its treasurer, board member, vice chair, chair, and past chair. She has also organized and chaired several dozen activities at AAG annual conferences, and has collaborated with the AAG GeoEthics group to host an Ethics in GeoAI webinar.

Priscilla McCutcheon 

Photo of Priscilla McCutcheonDr. Priscilla McCutcheon has built an eminent record of innovative research, impactful teaching, and dedicated service in geography. Dr. McCutcheon’s work in Black food geographies and land politics weaves together geographies of religious organizations, environmental justice, land/food access, and Black geographies to interrogate the structural inequalities and racial disparities in land ownership, particularly in the U.S. South. Her scholarship on race and environment also highlights racially marginalized peoples as agentic actors rather than simply communities trapped in oppressive struggles. Dr. McCutcheon’s scholarship is an important and vital contribution to geography, food justice, and Black studies. Described as “one of the most important scholars of her generation,” Dr. McCutcheon’s research in many journals including Antipode, ACME, Gender, Place, and Culture, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and Annals of the AAG has led to numerous awards, including the inaugural Rickie Sanders Junior Faculty Award from the Feminist Geography Specialty Group, Emerging Diversity Scholar Citation from the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Diversity and Inclusion Fellow from the University of Kentucky, and Transdisciplinary Research Award from the University of Louisville. Dr. McCutcheon’s exceptional record of research is matched by her dedicated record of service within the discipline. She has served on the editorial boards of Progress in Environmental Geography, Environment and Planning E, and Agricultural and Human Values as well as serving as Chair of the Black Geographies Specialty Group and committee member on AAG’s Finance Committee, Awards Committee, and Diversity Committee. Dr. McCutcheon also serves as a dedicated and caring mentor and advisor to numerous graduate and undergraduate students as well as Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies for African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. Dr. McCutcheon is active in community service initiatives and has been generous as an unofficial mentor within the broader discipline to junior scholars and students.

Lindsay Naylor

Photo of Lindsay NaylorDr. Lindsay Naylor is an outstanding researcher, teacher, and member of the AAG who is extremely qualified to become an Early/Mid-Career AAG Fellow. In the past seven years, she has published 27 articles, mainly as a first author, as well as a book, Fair Trade Rebels, published by the highly regarded University of Minnesota Press. This book won the 2020 Julian Minghi Distinguished Book Award of the Political Geography Specialty Group of the AAG. She also has a second book under contract with the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on food systems, bodies, care, and agriculture, concentrating on stories and research on material subjects in particular places, and often involves partnering with local community organizations. She is quickly emerging as one of the premier scholars in both political geography and the geographies of food and agriculture. In addition, she is a strong teacher, serves as the current graduate advisor for the Geography program at the University of Delaware, and has been extremely active in the AAG. As a graduate student, she was one of the founders of the Geographies of Food and Agriculture specialty group. Lindsay was instrumental in the AAG Covid-19 Rapid Response and with AAG staff and a committee of AAG members developed the graduate student learning skills program (she is the current chair), which has been a tremendous support system for our members. She is also active in the Political Geography Specialty Group (as a former board member) and as a former board member of the AAG Middle States Region, from which she was elected as a Regional Councilor to the AAG. In sum, in her career to date, Lindsay Naylor has added an enormous amount to the field of geography as a researcher, a colleague, and a mentor.

Duane Nellis

Photo of Duane NellisDr. Duane Nellis has had an outstanding career as a leader in remote sensing in geography, and through his positions as leaders of major universities across the United States. Nellis forged an impressive career as a geographer and as a senior administrator at several public research universities. He has published numerous papers in the field of geography and remote sensing, and he has guided the continual growth of this field serving in his long-standing role as co-editor of Geocarto International. He has carried out this editorial work in addition to his university leadership roles as dean of arts and sciences (West Virginia University), provost (Kansas State University), and president (University of Idaho, Texas Tech, and Ohio University). In all these roles, Nellis crafted creative, joint-venture opportunities between the university and external foundations and corporations, shifting the narrative of public universities being victims of defunding to empowered agents of their own destinies. He also used his bully pulpit to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at every university in which he served. One powerful example of his efforts was the designation of Texas Tech University as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Nellis also served the AAG through his efforts in the Remote Sensing Specialty Group, and especially through his terms as Vice-President, President, and Past President of the AAG. He received many awards and commendations over the course of his distinguished career, and has richly deserved all the recognition. He received the Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors in 2001 for his distinguished contributions to geographic education. He also received the highest-level scholarly achievement award from the AAG Remote Sensing Specialty Group and the John Fraser Hart Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the Agriculture and Rural Land Use Specialty Group.

Bimal K. Paul 

Photo of Bimal PaulDr. Bimal K. Paul, a Fulbright-Flex Fellow, has an international reputation as a leading scholar on disasters, hazards, and health and is known for frequently offering deeper understandings of complex issues and debunking long-held myths. Stanford University identified him as among the top two percent of researchers in the world. His research expertise is not just evidenced by his long record of publications, which includes numerous articles and several books, but also by his selection as a member of the observer team at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, and more recently the Paris Climate Change Conference. Dr. Paul’s work is well-known and respected beyond North America, as proven by numerous invited talks in various Asian countries as well as his service as the external reviewer on 20 dissertations at foreign universities. Dr. Paul is recognized as an expert on South Asia both within and outside academia and is frequently interviewed by the media on a wide range of topics including natural disaster mitigation, disaster relief, and health. Dr. Paul has served the AAG in a variety of capacities, including leadership of the Asian Geography Specialty Group, the AAG Affirmative Action and Minority Status Committee, and the AAG Research Grants Committee. He has also held editorial positions for the Geographical Review, and The Professional Geographer (book review section) and has served on the editorial board for the AAG Review of Books. 

William Solecki 

Photo of William SoleckiDr. William Solecki is an internationally recognized geographer whose research has significantly advanced understanding of urban environmental change and transitions to adaptation and resilience in the face of a changing climate. Among Dr. Solecki’s sustained, high-impact contributions are his leadership roles in climate assessments at the international and national levels. For the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2006, he has served as contributing lead author, lead author, or contributing author for chapters in the 4th Assessment, 5th Assessment, and 6th Assessment reports. Solecki was also a lead author for “Chapter 1 Framing and Contexts” of the IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C. He was also a lead author for U.S. National Climate Assessment chapter reports, most recently for a chapter on the Northeast (AR4). Infusing geographical concepts, and transcending academic scholarship to co-involve policymakers and practitioners, are significant attributes of Dr. Solecki’s work. His engagement with climate change issues in New York City has provided a living laboratory for his research and teaching at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). He was the co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, founding director of the Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College, founding (interim) director of the CUNY-led, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, co-founder of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, and founding editor of the Journal of Extreme Events. Dr. Solecki received the 2020 Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors from the AAG for “outstanding work to improve the human condition through direct community engagement, wide-ranging public service, and salient, cutting-edge research.” 

David Wilson 

Photo of David WilsonDr. David Wilson is a distinguished urban geographer who has led the excellent urban geography program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 30 years. His research has focused on urban redevelopment, political economy, governance dynamics, and race in Rust Belt Cities of the global north, particularly in Chicago, Flint, Glasgow, and Cleveland. He both studies these cities and has become closely tied to them, particularly their Blues music scene. Dr. Wilson also excels as a mentor, both for urban geography students and for junior faculty. He is a giving scholar, with an open-door policy for all. He is also devoted to the promotion of diversity and inclusion at the University of Illinois and in the field of geography in general. In the AAG, he has been a leader in the Urban Geography Specialty Group, where he co-organizes the annual plenary lecture. He has also been on the editorial board of more than 10 national and international journals. 

Specialty and Affinity Group Awards

AAG’s specialty and affinity groups acknowledge members’ work within their specific areas of the discipline and interest.


More awards announcements coming soon.