The AAG will confer AAG Honors, the Association’s highest honors, to nine individuals and one publishing press for their outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of geography. Each year, the AAG invites nominations from the membership, which are then presented to the AAG Honors Committee for consideration. The AAG Honors will be presented at the upcoming AAG Annual Meeting in Tampa, Fla., during a special awards luncheon on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

The following AAG Honors will be presented to:

AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors
Anne Buttimer, University College Dublin and
Alexander Murphy, University of Oregon

AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors
Meric Gertler, University of Toronto and
Amy Glasmeier, MIT

AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors
James W. Harrington, University of Washington – Tacoma and
Wei Li, Arizona State University

AAG Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors
Darrel Hess, City College of San Francisco

AAG Gilbert White Public Service Honors
Eve Gruntfest, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

AAG Media Achievement Award
Derek Alderman, University of Tennessee

AAG Publication Award

AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors

Anne Buttimer is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Lifetime Achievement Honors in recognition of her five decades of distinguished and prolific scholarship as well as extraordinary dedication, service, and perseverance in the name of the geographic profession.  In addition to being a stellar research scholar, Anne has served the field in a number of capacities, recently as President of the International Geographical Union (IGU) and most as Vice-President of Academia Europea, the first geographer to be so elected.  She has also played an active role in the AAG, serving on Council, on the Annals editorial Board, and on the Long-Range Planning Committee.

Anne’s distinguished career reflects major achievements in all three areas—research, teaching, service—generally recognized as constituting the role and duty of academic scholars.  In addition, her special linguistic abilities combined with her intellectual talents place her at the forefront in international geographical activities…a fact attested to, when, on 27 January 2012 she became the first woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of  Grenoble, France.

Professor Buttimer has also played an important role as a faculty member in geography—first at Clark University in the 1970s, then at Lund in the 1980s, and more recently at University College Dublin. She has been a leader at these institutions, most notably heading the University College Dublin Department of Geography for twelve years. She has also influenced countless students at the places where she has held long-term appointments, as well as at a number of other institutions where she has held shorter-term visiting positions. Her effectiveness as a lecturer can be seen in the wide range of invitations she has received to share her ideas with others. Over the years she has traveled all over Europe, North America, and beyond, giving featured and named lectures at a wide range of institutions of higher education.

Professor Buttimer is a highly respected geographer whose reputation is truly global in scope. In the early part of her career, she was at the forefront of efforts to expand beyond the quantitative approaches that were highly influential at the time. She went on to produce a body of scholarship that explored important philosophical themes at the intersection of the bio-physical and human sciences, that shaped research directions in social geography, and that served as a model for the ways in which geographers can bridge the theory-practice divide. On the latter front, Professor Buttimer chaired an EU-funded research network on sustainable development that had a significant influence on EU policy debates; her work provided important insights into the ways in which communication between scientists and planners can be improved. The extent of her scholarly impact can be seen in the many honors she has received from different universities and professional associations.

Alexander B. Murphy is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize his extraordinary contributions to understanding the world’s changing political-territorial order and the impacts of the political organization of space on geopolitical relations and ethno-national identities, his outstanding teaching and mentoring record, and his exemplary leadership and “disciplinary citizenship” in support of geography.

A few of Professor Murphy’s outstanding leadership roles include his service as President and Past President of the Association of American Geographers; chair of numerous AAG committees (including the Healthy Departments initiative); Senior Vice President and Councilor of the American Geographical Society; the National Geographic Society’s Advisory Committee for Geographic Education; conference organizer for the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers; and elected position as one of the few non-European members of the Academia Europaea. These and other national and international leadership roles have strengthened our discipline and made the world a better place.

Alexander has also made a long list of outstanding contributions to his department and university. Along with serving as chair of the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon, he has been appointed to a number of other important campus-wide leadership roles, including the university’s Presidential Search Committee. Professor Murphy has also long been committed to the importance of excellence in classroom teaching, academic advising, and mentoring students and early career faculty. These contributions, along with his numerous other leadership roles such as serving as the first Chair of the Advanced Placement Human Geography Development Committee for the College Board, provide abundant evidence of Professor Murphy’s commitment to the importance of teaching and to geographic education at all levels.

Professor Alexander B. Murphy’s has  made a number of significant contributions to scholarship in the subfield of Political Geography, provided expert teaching and mentoring of students and early career faculty, and served in leadership roles in support of the discipline of geography. These many contributions, along with his enthusiasm for the vital importance of geography education at the high school, college, and university levels; and efforts to carry the message of geography to the general public via newspaper articles, invited lectures in the public arena, and meetings with key educational and policy decision-makers in the U.S. and abroad, have made Alexander Murphy one of today’s most widely known and respected “geography ambassadors.”   Based on these extraordinary achievements and contributions to geography, it is an honor to recognize Alexander B. Murphy with the 2014 Association of American Geographer’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Meric Gertler is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Distinguished Scholarship Honors in recognition of a 30-year career in not only advancing theory in economic geography, but also in establishing benchmarks for the next generation of researchers. His scholarly contributions are wide-ranging and encompass the study of innovation systems, creative cities and the creative economy, industrial clusters, labor flexibility, institutional governance and regional economic development. His papers have been genuinely path-breaking, providing a firm analytical and empirical foundation for understanding the evolution of Canadian and American regional systems over the 20th century. What is particularly significant about Meric’s approach to economic geography is his willingness to engage, through case studies and field research, the scope and coherence of inherited tools and methods of analysis.

Meric is currently President of the University of Toronto. At the time of his nomination, he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto where he also held the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies in the University College and Department of Geography.  That position attests to his lifelong interest and commitment to crafting a distinctive Canadian approach to economic geography that has focused on resource industries and the notable Canadian capacity to develop urban innovation systems.  Meric Gertler’s scholarship and leadership in North American economic geography have been recognized with numerous fellowship positions and by major scholarship awards, both in Canada and abroad.  He has made all these contributions while, at the same time, holding significant posts as a university administrator.

Meric Gertler is an unusually creative scholar whose large body of published work is wide-ranging and widely cited.  In the most recent overview of economic geography scholarship, as measured by citations, three articles by Meric Gertler were among the top 25 most-cited articles in economic geography from 1982-2006.  No other author had more single-authored papers in the top 25.

The 2014 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors is presented to Meric Gertler for a truly outstanding career of scholarly achievement and intellectual leadership in economic geography.

AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

For her insightful and data-rich insights into the geographies of economic development and planning, for her research on patterns and trends in rural poverty in America, and for her outstanding efforts to understand and inform public policy we are delighted to award AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors to Amy Glasmeier.

Amy Glasmeier, Professor of Economic Geography and Regional Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT is recognized for her outstanding contributions to Economic Geography especially her work on rural economic development, poverty, and the geography of manufacturing.  Amy is the author and co-author of several monographs – including Manufacturing Time: Global Competition in the World Watch Industry 1750-2000; High-tech Potential: Economic Development in Rural America; From Combines to Computers: Rural Services and Development in the Age of Information Technology; and High Tech America – as well as the Atlas of Poverty in America. These books reflect the topics of her articles, book chapters and policy reports where she has provided important insights into the development of industrial complexes and high-tech industries, geographies of trade policy and globalization, the failures and successes of efforts to end poverty, and the landscape of inequality in the United States.  Her work assesses public policy through careful empirical analysis of economic and census data. One key contribution is Amy’s focus on the unintended effects of public policy, especially in rural America, documenting the impacts of NAFTA, high-tech industries and federal economic development programs on the poor and the prosperity of rural communities.

She is unusually committed to informing public policy in the United States and has completed a large number of policy reports for agencies and organizations that include the Ford Foundation, HUD, USDA Economic Research Service, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the Economic Policy Institute, the Aspen Institute, and the Department of Defense.  Her most sustained concern has been the economy of Appalachia where she twice served as the John D. Whisman scholar with the Appalachian Regional Commission and studied the causes of persistent poverty and the possibilities for renewable energy.

With a degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley Amy Glasmeier has taught planning and geography at UT Austin, Penn State and MIT providing an important link between urban and regional planning and economic geography. In her writing and presentations she has urged economic geographers to engage with policy, highlighting geography’s skills in understanding spatial impacts and equity and has trained many undergraduate and graduate students in the power of geographic thinking and techniques.

AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors

Through his research, teaching and service, James W. “JW” Harrington, Jr. has established himself as one of the leading figures in contemporary geography.  His work has had influence across wide areas of our discipline—economic geography, trade theory, regional development, professional development for early career faculty, leadership training, administration and so many other areas.  Currently Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington-Tacoma, Dr. Harrington has held leadership positions at many levels at the University of Washington Seattle; University of Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo); George Mason University; the National Science Foundation; the Association of American Geographers; within the North American Regional Science Council; and other professional organizations as well. From the earliest stages of his career, JW has gone out of his way to create, guide and shape programs which have had a lasting impact on our discipline and on every institution of which he has been a part.

Harrington’s contributions rest on three fundamental qualities he brings to all of his work and service.  The first is a clear vision of geography’s role in society, the economy, and higher education that allows him to see and realize new opportunities and build new initiatives.  Among many other acts of service to the discipline, JW has played a key role in the Geography faculty Development Alliance and in the AAG Healthy Departments Workshops.

Second is a strong sense of collegiality and caring which allows him to engage students and colleagues in constructive and productive dialog in all settings.  JW has always been a compassionate listener and fair-minded leader.  As one of his referees noted: “He listens intently, gathers facts, invites opinion, and then acts … a superb combination for a campus leader.”

Finally, it is impossible to ignore the energy, enthusiasm and commitment JW brings to all of his work.  His boundless passion has given him a remarkable ability to build intellectual bridges and work across interdisciplinary boundaries by drawing people together to focus on their common concerns.  Implied in all of his work is a sense that service, research, teaching, and administration are interconnected at a very fundamental level and that advances in one necessarily entail attention to the others.

These accomplishments have meant that JW has emerged as one of geography’s key public advocates.  His ability to speak with authority, depth and clarity on issues spanning the entire discipline has also made him one of our most influential diplomats in higher education and beyond.

Wei Li is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors in recognition of the impact of her extraordinary service to  geography.  Currently, Professor Li is a Professor of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program, School of Social Transformation and School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University.  She also serves as Affiliate Faculty in the Center for Asian Research, North American Center for Transborder Studies and the Center for Population Dynamics.

Professor Li’s many contributions include leadership roles in the AAG as chair of Ethnic Geography Specialty Group, president of the Population Specialty Group, and member of the Nystrom Award Committee.  Since 2003, Professor Li also has held several prominent memberships in the public sector including an inaugural membership in the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Race, Ethnic, and Other Populations.  She has held distinguished appointments and leadership positions for the Bureau including the Asian Race and Ethnic Advisory Committee (REAC), and she is a Steering Committee member for the International Metropolis Project.

Professor Li has served on several other prestigious international boards on behalf of geography including the Scientific Advisory Board and the International Advisory Board for the International Migration and Diaspora Studies Project.  In addition, she has made substantive and lasting contributions to the AAG through membership on the International Research and Scholarly Exchange Committee, the Affirmative Action and Minority Status Standing Committee, the Honors Committee, and as a co-leader for Geography Faculty Development Workshops funded by the National Science Foundation.

Professor Li’s high profile scholarly work on comparative immigration has added both breadth and depth to our discipline as well as to our understanding of Chinese and other Asian groups in North America and around the globe. For over a decade, her exceptional research, teaching and service have continued to help internationalize geography by focusing attention on Asian communities in Pacific-Rim countries and identifying new ways of understanding race and ethnicity in North American cities.

Due to her many contributions, Professor Li was selected for the Distinguished Ethnic Geography CAREER Award and she has served as a fellow for the Institutions of Humanity Research and as Research Associate for the National Bureau of Asian Research and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  Her influential work likewise has garnered the attention of the media including reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Washington Post, National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

AAG Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors

Darrel Hess is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors in recognition of over two decades of nationwide service to community college students.  In 2006, he established the AAG Hess Community College Geography Scholarships that support students who transfer from two-year programs to four-year institutions.  Darrel Hess also co-founded the AAG Community College Travel Grants in 2010 that support community college student travel to the AAG Annual Meeting.  Darrel directly supports both of these funds, largely through royalties received from his successful Physical Geography textbook.  These funds provide an important incentive for those students who discovered a love of geography during what they assumed would be a terminal two-year program and who may not have continued in the discipline without the added support.  Darrel Hess travels widely to share his teaching insights on geographic education and is a regular contributor to sessions at the AAG Annual meeting on this topic.

AAG Gilbert White Public Service Honors                                     

Eve Gruntfest is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 Gilbert White Public Service Honors in recognition of her career-long achievements in the study of hazard warnings and response to natural disasters.  A student of Gilbert White, Dr. Eve Gruntfest began her career with an important study of public response to the 1976 catastrophic Big Thompson Flood in Colorado, producing important insights into warning systems and human behavior.   As a faculty member at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs she brought compassion to her research, teaching and public service on extreme events and hazards.

As an expert on hazard warning systems, flash floods and social science aspects of atmospheric science she has served on National Research Council committees, the science advisory board for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and has spoken about her research and its applications to organizations that include the US National Weather Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and the Weather Channel.

She has directed several initiatives to bring the insights of social science to meteorology and train young scientists including the Social Science Woven into Meteorology (SSWIM) program at the National Weather Center in Oklahoma which focuses on issues such as improving forecasts and warnings, reducing social vulnerability to natural hazards, and understanding community and cultural adaptations to weather extremes. She also founded and directs the Weather and Society Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) that seeks to support early career people who want to make meteorology more socially relevant and was the co-director of the International Flash Flood Lab at Texas State University.   She has served as an associate editor for Weather, Climate and Society and the Journal of Flood Hazard Mitigation.

In 2009 she received the Kenneth E. Spengler Award from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) for her ‘30-year career dedicated to developing a collaborative interdisciplinary community and to creating linkages that have infused new perspectives into our knowledge and practice’. The award recognizes those whose efforts have contributed to the growth of the weather and climate enterprise while materially fostering a sense of community and creating synergistic linkages. She served on the board on outreach and public education for the AMS and as chair of their board on societal impacts for a number of years.

The enduring significance of her work was highlighted during the serious floods of 2013 in Colorado, when several media outlets noted the importance of her Big Thompson research that recommend signs telling people to ‘climb to safety’ during flash floods that are now found throughout the canyons in the region.

AAG Media Achievement Award

Derek Alderman is awarded the Association of American Geographers 2014 AAG Media Achievement Award for his extraordinary contributions to promoting the important role that geography plays in people’s lives through a diverse range of media outlets. Dr. Alderman and his research have been frequently cited in local, regional and national news outlets, including print, radio and television, over the course of his nearly two decade long career as a professional geographer. He is perhaps best noted for his efforts to highlight the significant and often controversial battles around street naming and commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy to diverse local and national audiences through public media engagements. Over and over again, Dr. Alderman has been the informed voice in stories detailing battles over King streets in one city and town after another. He has been quoted in a wide array of newspaper stories and radio reports – from the New York Times and USA Today to the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle. His research has been featured on MSNBC and the NPR programs Marketplace and Morning Edition, among others. In all of Dr. Alderman’s media engagements, he has consistently translated complex issues of social and spatial justice into readily understandable and digestible nuggets of information that help to inform and elevate public debate. Moreover, he has worked hard and successfully to narrow the gap, not just between the worlds of academe and journalism, but between the ivory tower and the street. In these efforts, he represents the very best of what U.S. geography can offer through public media outreach. Based on these extraordinary achievements and contributions to geography, it is an honor to recognize Derek Alderman with the 2014 Association of American Geographer’s Media Achievement Award.

AAG Publication Award

Esri, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, was founded in 1969 as a land-use consulting firm.  In the mid-1970s, Esri launched their first effort in the software development arena, developing the Polygon Information Overlay System (PIOS) for San Diego County.  Esri is a world leader in GIS software products, estimated to have better than 40% of the more than $1 billion global GIS software market share, about four times more than any other vendor.

As GIS technology has developed and its usage has grown, there has been a continually growing demand for instructional material, including introductory text books, technical materials describing newly developing applications of GIS, and in-depth discussions on detailed topics such as projections, color, and map design.  Through its Esri Press division, Esri has become a major player in the GIS-related publication arena, publishing more GIS-related titles than probably the next three publishers combined.  To date, their catalog includes nearly 100 titles.

Esri first entered the publication realm in 1984 with their annual Map Book, a collection of maps illustrating contemporary examples of cutting-edge mapping and analysis.  Since then they have continued to expand into publishing an array of both classic and new books dealing with mapping and geography.  They currently have about 100 titles available.  The Esri Press has reissued and made available such landmark works as Notes and Comments on the Composition of Terrestrial and Celestial Maps a classic 1772 work by Johann Heinrich Lambert and translated by Waldo Tobler.  More recent re-issued classics include Arthur Robinson’s 1952 The Look of Maps: An Examination of Cartographic Design, Eduard Imhof’s 1965 Cartographic Relief Presentation, and Jacques Bertin’s 1967 Semiology of Graphics; Diagrams, Networks, Maps.   In addition, they have published many new titles that complement the reissued classics.

In addition to publishing about the science, application, and technology of (GIS), Esri Press also has publications that support potential and existing users of GIS technology in a myriad of disciplines including health care, environmental science, geology, planning, sociology, political science, history, and ecology.

It is ironic that, in this era of the “paperless-office,” the leading developer and vendor of digital GIS materials is also a leader in the publication of print-media materials.  With the growth of GIS and its importance to the discipline of geography, we should celebrate Esri’s contributions to publications in Geography.  This AAG Publication Award is conferred on Esri in recognition of exceptional and outstanding contributions to Geography through a vigorous and prolific publication program.

Updated December 5, 2013

This article has been updated to correct Meric Gertler’s position at the University of Toronto. At the time of his nomination, Meric was President-Designate and had just stepped down as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He assumed the university’s presidency on November 1, 2013. We regret any confusion and congratulate Meric Gertler on his new appointment.