AAG Announces 2022 Award Recipients

The American Association of Geographers congratulates the individuals and entities named to receive an AAG Award. The awardees represent outstanding contributions to and accomplishments in the geographic field.

2022 Glenda Laws Award

The Glenda Laws Award is administered by the American Association of Geographers and endorsed by members of the Institute of Australian Geographers, the Canadian Association of Geographers, and the Institute of British Geographers. The annual award and honorarium recognize outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues. This award is named in memory of Glenda Laws—a geographer who brought energy and enthusiasm to her work on issues of social justice and social policy.

Rebecca Torres, University of Texas at Austin

Photo of Rebecca TorresDr. Rebecca Torres is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a mid-career scholar whose research on migration and asylum connects to an array of pressing social issues including detention of unaccompanied children and youth, racialization of immigration law, cartel violence, climate change, immigrant policing, and refugee receptivity. Dr. Torres’ work is that of a scholar-activist who unites academics from the US and Latin America with policymakers and advocates to engage in qualitative and participatory field research. Her NSF-funded Geographies of Displacement project is a key example of this integrative work. In the words of one nominator, “Rebecca’s conception of research is never done in isolation of the wider social needs and issues facing marginalized communities.”

In the spirit of Glenda Laws, Dr. Torres’ commitment to justice and care for marginalized communities extends to her community service and mentorship roles. Several committee members recalled Dr. Torres’ co-organizing the 2018 Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference in Austin, for which she garnered NSF funding to fully integrate local activists in conference activities. In terms of mentorship, Dr. Torres not only supports a large cadre of graduate and undergraduate students in geography at UT Austin, but she also advises students from the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (also at UT Austin), which primarily recruits students from Mexico and Latin America. Earlier in her career, Dr. Torres served as academic advisor to the Workers’ Defense Fund in Texas, functioned as senior personnel in the AAG’s NSF-funded “ALIGNED” project supporting diversity and inclusion in geography, and initiated a dual language immersion collaboration (“Los Puentes” at East Carolina University) between local public schools and her university. These examples further illustrate her role as scholar-activist.

Dr. Torres’ steadfast advancement of social justice through scholarship and community bridge building is highly deserving of the AAG Glenda Laws Award.

2022 AAG Harm de Blij Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

This annual award recognizes outstanding achievement in teaching undergraduate Geography including the use of innovative teaching methods. The recipients are instructors for whom undergraduate teaching is a primary responsibility. The award consists of $2,500 in prize money and an additional $500 in travel expenses to attend the AAG Annual Meeting, where the award will be conveyed. This award is generously funded by John Wiley & Sons in memory of their long-standing collaboration with the late Harm de Blij on his seminal Geography textbooks.

Andrew Jolly-Ballantine, University of Connecticut

Photo of Andrew Jolly-BallantineDr. Andrew Jolly-Ballantine is a highly innovative teacher. He developed the University of Connecticut’s Sustainable Community Food Systems program and minor. This program helps undergraduates become food system leaders through an internship experience that focuses on issues of food justice, community action, food production, and sustainability. He supported this initiative by obtaining a 5-year $500,000 USDA-NIFA grant.

Jolly-Ballantine has also worked with the Center for Students with Disabilities and the University of Connecticut’s Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning to improve understanding of disabilities in the classroom through the development of materials that have helped faculty understand and better address the range of disabilities students may face in their studies. Among many other contributions to geography education, he developed a long-standing undergraduate service-learning partnership with the GrowWindham community garden in Willimantic, CT. Every year, this partnership has engaged University of Connecticut students in projects pertaining to issues of food security, organic gardening, and community building.

For these and many more reasons, the AAG is pleased to recognize Andrew Jolly-Ballantine with the AAG Harm J. de Blij Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Geography Teaching.

2022 AAG E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award

This annual award recognizes members of the Association who have made truly outstanding contributions to the geographic field due to their special competence in teaching or research. Funding for the award comes from the estate of Ruby S. Miller. More than one award may be awarded each year. Each award includes $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Anne Bonds, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Photo of Anne BondsDr. Anne Bonds, a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is selected to receive the 2022 Miller Award. Bonds is a scholar of urban and economic geography whose work undertakes critical studies of race, gender and poverty. Bonds’ scholarship has focused on prison expansion as a mode of economic development in the rural mountain West, and more recently on post-incarceration survival strategies of women in Milwaukee. Bonds has also contributed to collaborative efforts to transform important aspects of academic life: co-authoring a framework for “slow scholarship” that intervenes in the ongoing neo-liberalization of universities, as well co-authoring the brave and groundbreaking publication in 2019 entitled, “It’s time to recognize how men’s careers benefit from sexually harassing women in Academia,” published in Human Geography.

Bond’s work as an innovative and creative scholar is exemplified by her leadership in a collaborative community-engaged project, Transforming Justice. This project brought together Milwaukee community leaders and abolitionist scholars to engage with the history and debates over mass incarceration in Milwaukee. Out of this project grew a series of workshops as well as a youth video collective focusing on safety, segregation, and justice in Milwaukee. The youth-produced films have been shown in classrooms across the city, community screenings, and formed the basis of a UWM Design Challenge. Through this work, Bond seeks to make Milwaukee a more racially and economically just place.

For all these reasons, the AAG is pleased to recognize Dr. Anne Bonds with the 2022 AAG E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award.

Heejun Chang, Portland State University

Photo of Heejun ChangDr. Heejun Chang, a professor at Portland State University, is selected to receive the 2022 Miller Award. Chang’s research focuses on human modification of the hydrological system and interactions among climate change, land use change, and water management as they affect water quantity, quality, demand, floods, and hydrological ecosystem services. As a broadly trained geographer, he uses multiple methods from process-based modeling to spatial statistics to field observations to interviews for understanding complex transdisciplinary water issues across scales.

Chang has an impressive publication record of more than 150 peer reviewed publications, and is known for stakeholder-engaged research. In the Portland Metro Area, his research often involves local community groups and governing bodies, and his research in the region has helped improve infrastructure, including green infrastructure, building a region that is more resilient to weather and climate extremes. Chang has been a very able scientific ambassador between the US and Korea. He has sponsored a number of Korean scholars to the US, has collaborated on Korean urban water issues, and has initiated comparative studies between cities in Korea and the US. Chang’s contributions to the field of geography have had real impact, and he strives for socially relevant outcomes to his research efforts and stakeholder engagements.

Professor Chang’s high-impact societally relevant geographic research make him a worthy recipient of the 2022 AAG E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award.

2022 AAG Award for MA/MS Program Excellence

This annual award and cash prize honors Geography departments and Geography programs within blended departments that have significantly enhanced the prominence and reputation of Geography as a discipline and demonstrated the characteristics of a strong and engaged academic unit. The award honors non-PhD granting Geography programs at both the baccalaureate and master levels.

Department of Geography and Geosciences’ Master of Science in GIS Management at Salisbury University

The Department of Geography and Geosciences’ Master of Science in GIS Management (MSGISM) at Salisbury University demonstrates strong innovation in addressing the needs of the profession and the training of students. Their approach is forward thinking and provides both students and potential future employers with a form of co-education and training that is remarkable. The MSGISM has achieved a platform to enable online and in-person degree formats, focusing on professional development as the core value.

The MSGISM is an excellent program that shows the value of focusing both on student needs and program strengths. By concentrating on management issues, Salisbury speaks to a very important need among online and in-person GIS programs. Many programs focus on the technology, more than the equally important human issues involved implementing new technologies like GIS. Professional development is front and center in the MSGISM and the faculty involved in the project are impressive.

The Master’s program at Salisbury is enviable by almost any measure. The AAG particularly recognizes their strong professional training and the working relationship fostered between students in the program and the challenges practitioners encounter in the real world. Students at Salisbury’s MSGISM program gain strong knowledge in GIS skills and management in preparation for fulfilling careers.

The AAG is pleased to recognize the Department of Geography and Geosciences’ Master of Science in GIS Management (MSGISM) at Salisbury University with the 2022 AAG Program Excellence Award.

Honorable Mention: East Tennessee State University

Embedded within the Department of Geosciences, East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Master’s Program in Geosciences has demonstrated strong growth and solid scholarship and professional training opportunities for the students. Additionally, the sheer variety and quantity of outreach being carried out by the program is impressive for a program its size. The leaders of the program have also worked hard to develop a positive department climate.

The Master’s Program in Geography at University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Department of Geosciences is impressive in several areas. Most importantly, it demonstrates effective strategies for reviving and rebuilding a program that had faced major cuts. Furthermore, the faculty have cultivated student interest in Geography, as well as support among their Geoscience colleagues. This program clearly articulates the role and importance of Geography within the larger Geoscience Department.

The 2022 J. Warren Nystrom Award

Photo of Hilary FaxonThis prestigious annual prize distinguishes a paper based upon a recent dissertation in geography. Nystrom was the AAG Executive Director from 1966-1979, and an exceptional educator and professor of geography with a long and productive career in international relations as a senior official in Foreign Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an international relations consultant, and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. 2022 Nystrom Committee Members are Dawn Drake, Missouri Western University, Elvin Delgado, Central Washington University, and Richard Quodomine, City of Philadelphia.

Hilary Faxon, University of California Berkeley

Welcome to the digital village: networking geographies of agrarian change

The 2022 William L. Garrison Award for Best Dissertation in Computational Geography

This biennial award supports innovative research into the computational aspects of geographic science. The award is intended to arose a deeper general understanding of the important role that advanced computation can play in the complex problems of space-time analysis, that lie at the core of geographic science.

Gengchen Mai, Stanford University

Geographic Question Answering with Spatially-Explicit Machine Learning Models

The 2022 AAG-Kauffman Awards for Best Paper and Best Student Paper in Geography & Entrepreneurship

This award identifies innovative research in business, applied or community geography that is relevant to questions related to entrepreneurs and their firms as well as to practitioners and policymakers. Award winners and runners up will be invited to present their research in a session highlighting geography and entrepreneurship at the 2022 AAG Annual Meeting.

2022 Best Paper Award

Emily Yeh, University of Colorado, Boulder – The cultural politics of new Tibetan entrepreneurship in contemporary China: Valorisation and the question of neoliberalism

2022 Best Paper Award Runner-Up

Xuanyi Nie, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – The Connection between Healthcare and Innovation: Examining the Collocation of Public Tertiary Hospitals and Biotech Startups in Chinese Cities

2022 Best Student Paper Award

Sara Tornabene, University of North Carolina Charlotte – Rail transit investments and economic development: Challenges for small businesses

2022 Best Student Paper Award Runner-Up

Eleanor Davis, University of South Carolina – Deciphering small business community disaster support using machine learning

The 2022 Anne U. White Grant

This grant enables people, regardless of any formal training in geography, to engage in useful field studies and to have the joy of working alongside their partners.

Savannah Collins-Key, University of Tennessee, will continue dendrochronology studies with partner Jeffrey Collins-Key, for a project titled Knoxville Wood Anatomical Anomalies as Indicators of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestations in Eastern Hemlock, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Kathleen Epstein, Cornell University, with partner Michael MacDonald, will undertake a project titled Emotional dimensions of wildlife disease dynamics Examining the rural experience of biosecurity governance.

The 2022 Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geographic Science

The Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award recognizes excellence in academic performance by undergraduate students from the U.S. and Canada who are putting forth a strong effort to bridge geographic science and computer science as well as to encourage other students to embark upon similar programs. The award is an activity of the Marble Fund for Geographic Science of the AAG.

Matthew DeWitte, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Keegan Moynahan, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Zimo Xiao, University of Illinois

2022 Research Grant recipients

The AAG provides small Research Grants of $500 to support direct costs for fieldwork and research.

Mary Biggs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Zhengke Zhou, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Matthew Pflaum, University of Florida

Daniel Yonto, The University of Alabama

Romao Oliveira Wellington, Federal University of Ceará

2022 Dissertation Research Grant recipients ($1,000/each)

The AAG provides support for doctoral Dissertation Research in the form of grants up to $1,000 to PhD candidates of any geographic specialty.

Carlos Serrano, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Gabrielle Kirk, University of California, Davis

Lauren Fritzsche, University of Arizona

Anaïs Zimmer, University of Texas at Austin

Peter Nguyen, University of California Davis

2022 AAG Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarships

Outstanding students from community colleges, junior colleges, city colleges, or two-year educational institutions who will be transferring as geography majors to four-year universities receive support and recognition from this scholarship program, including $1,000 for educational expenses. The scholarship has been generously provided by Darrel Hess of the City College of San Francisco to 29 students since 2006.

Annalisa Hamm, transferring from Arapahoe Community College to University of Colorado Denver.