Graduate Students Honored During AAG Regional Division Annual Fall Meetings for Outstanding Work

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) announces the recipients of the 2016 Council Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper at a Regional Meeting. Graduate student AAG members from around the U.S. participated by submitting to their region’s paper competition and attending their regional division fall meeting. A student paper from seven out of nine AAG regions was chosen by a jury of AAG regional division leaders and the honors for this inaugural award were given at each of the division meetings.

The award is designed to encourage graduate student participation at AAG regional division meetings and support their attendance at major AAG annual meetings. Each awardee will receive $1,000 in funding for use towards the awardee’s registration and travel costs to the AAG annual meeting.

Jacob Watkins, recipient of the East Lakes (ELDAAG) division’s award, is a master’s student at Western Michigan University. The award was presented by AAG President Glen MacDonald and ELDAAG Regional Councillor Patrick Lawrence.

Paul Miller, recipient of the Southeast division’s award, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia.

Melody Lynch, recipient of the  New England\St. Lawrence Valley division’s award, is a master’s student at McGill University.

Ashley Marie Fent, recipient of the Pacific Coast division’s award, is a Ph.D. student at the University of California – Los Angeles.

The Middle States and Mid-Atlantic regional divisions did not issue an award in this category this year.

Learn more about submitting a paper next year

Kathleen Epstein, recipient of the Great Plains/Rocky Mountains (GPRM) division’s award, is a master’s student at Montana State University. Her paper is titled, “The multiple meanings of ecosystem management: A historical analysis of modern environmental conflict in the Greater Yellowstone.” Pictured from left to right are AAG Executive Director Doug Richardson, Vice President of GPRM Brandon J. Vogt, awardee Kathleen Epstein and AAG Past President Sarah Bednarz.
Stephanie Mundis, recipient of the Southwest (SWAAG) divisions’ award, is a master’s student at New Mexico State University. Her paper is titled “Spatial distribution of mosquitoes that vector Zika, dengue, and West Nile Virus in New Mexico” and included co-authors: Michaela Buenemann, Kathryn A. Hanley and Nathan Lopez-Brody.
Jason LaBrosse, recipient of the West Lakes division’s award, is a master’s student at the University of Northeastern Illinois. His paper is titled, “The Relationship Between Concentrated Commodified Pets Populations and the Urban Environment of Chicago.”

AAG Welcomes Fall 2021 Interns

Three new interns have joined the AAG staff this fall! The AAG would like to welcome Juliana, Zachary, and Sreya to the organization.

Julianna Davis is a senior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, pursuing a B.A. in Political Science along with a minor in Geography and Environment. Her main interests include human geography, geopolitics, and community organizing for more equitable futures. Julianna has previously interned with the ACLU of Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network, and Athens Partnership. Supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at her university, she is currently completing a faculty mentored qualitative research project regarding Greek geopolitics, ethnic identity, and migration. Julianna hopes to earn her Masters in geography or a closely related field and continue building on the education she is receiving at UH. In her free time, she loves swimming in the ocean, hiking, and spending time with her friends and family.

Zachary Jarjoura is a senior at University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing a B.S. in geographical sciences with a minor in sustainability studies. Zachary previously interned for Anne Arundel County’s office of information technology, where he used GIS to analyze traffic and route buses and emergency vehicles to address the safety of the county’s citizens. After graduation, he intends to pursue a Master of Community Planning and become a city planner, continuing to work for the improvement of the community. In his spare time, Zachary enjoys exploring new places, hiking, spending time with friends and family, and playing music.

Sreya Juras is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University where she received a BS in International Development while minoring in Environmental Science and Spanish. Additionally, she completed her undergraduate thesis in Geography. Sreya is interested in researching agrarian communities in Latin America and understanding their future in the face of the climate crisis; focusing on adaptation, resilience building, and forced migration. During her internship, Sreya will work on various projects including, but not limited to: writing promotional tweets for our journal publications, creating our next Guide to Geography Programs, and preparing for the annual AAG meeting. In her free time, Sreya enjoys hiking, traveling, and listening to a good true crime podcast.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for an internship at the AAG, the AAG seeks interns on a year-round basis for the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Currently, due to COVID-19 safety regulations in Washington, DC AAG interns are home-based employees. More information on internships at the AAG is also available on the Jobs & Careers section of the AAG website at:


AAG Welcomes Summer 2021 Interns

Two new interns have joined the AAG staff this summer! The AAG would like to welcome Eliana and Jacob to the organization.

Eliana Peretz is a senior at Mount Holyoke College pursuing a B.A. in Geography and Gender Studies. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in her main field of interest, climate migration, specifically studying the relationship between climate-induced displacement and social and cultural categories such as class, gender, and race. In her spare time, Eliana likes to make post-it art, read murder mystery novels, and watch stand up comedy.

Jacob Tafrate is a senior at the George Washington University pursuing degrees in Geography and International affairs, with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. He is most interested in Arctic geography and the application of GIS techniques to further understand the unequal impacts of climate change. After graduation Jacob hopes to continue his Geography education in graduate school. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with friends and family. While Jacob is originally from West Hartford, Connecticut his favorite place in the world is New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for an internship at the AAG, the AAG seeks interns on a year-round basis for the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Currently, due to COVID-19 safety regulations in Washington, DC AAG interns are home-based employees. More information on internships at the AAG is also available on the Jobs & Careers section of the AAG website at:


AAG Announces 2020 Book Awards

The AAG is pleased to announce the recipients of the three 2020 AAG Book Awards: the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, the AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, and the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. The AAG Book Awards mark distinguished and outstanding works published by geography authors during the previous year, 2020. The awardees will be formally recognized at a future event when it is safe to do so.

The John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

This award encourages and rewards American geographers who write books about the United States which convey the insights of professional geography in language that is both interesting and attractive to lay readers.
Adam MandelmanThe Place with No Edge: An Intimate History of People, Technology, and the Mississippi River Delta (LSU Press, 2020)

Adam Mandelman’s The Place with No Edge: An Intimate History of People, Technology, and the Mississippi River Delta offers an engagingly written interpretation of one of North America’s most unique cultural landscapes. Probing the environmental history of the lower Mississippi Delta, Mandelman reveals the intimate interplay of people, technology, politics, land, and water in a setting that for centuries has challenged and frustrated Euro-Americans. What he discovers is a rich story of how humans modified the delta environment as sugar cane farmers, rice producers, timber harvesters, oil drillers, and petrochemical manufacturers dramatically transformed the regional landscape. He documents how the technologies they utilized actually brought the Delta’s culturally diverse peoples into more intimate, interdependent relationships with their complex natural setting.

Rejecting the simple argument that this was merely another example of people destroying an environment they did not understand, Mandelman encourages us to appreciate the complexity of that human-land relationship. He argues that people need to look more closely at the interplay of technology and nature and to responsibly intervene in respectful ways where possible.

Mandelman’s nuanced narrative explains why this is so important and he suggests how it is necessary to understand and make sustainable this exotic setting for the people, plants, and animals that call it home. Mandelman’s work is indeed an excellent example of the kind of geographical research and writing recognized by the AAG John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize.

The AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

This award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that conveys most powerfully the nature and importance of geography to the non-academic world.

Alison Mountz, The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020)

Alison Mountz’s monograph The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago is an important, timely and critical intervention in debates over the deadly curtailment of refugee rights globally.

By carefully charting the hidden geographies in which forced migrants are increasingly detained, Mountz provides a clear account of how contemporary states are using territory and off-shore management sites to deny access to asylum. While drawing on sophisticated geographical theories in its analysis of these deadly developments, the book is never intimidating. It is certainly sobering and overwhelming at moments, but by drawing readers in with compelling and sometimes surprising stories it remains at once accessible and alluring. It shows how a wide array of works by other geographers – from scholars of migration and borders to theorists of geopolitics, precarity and spaces of exception – can help us and a wider public come to terms with the practical death of asylum as a human right.

By thereby connecting the fates of real human beings with the construction of spaces where being human is repeatedly denied to the point of death, the book also invites readers to reflect deeply on how their own human geographies are bound up with those of others deemed illegal and unwanted. It is an urgent indictment of our times, but also of the intersecting territories of sovereignty and security in which borders demarcate belonging with such deadly consequence.

The AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography

This award is given for a book written by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.

Chie SakakibaraWhale Snow (University of Arizona Press, 2020)

In Whale SnowChie Sakakibara pioneers a vision of surviving humankind and kin safely segueing a conjoined path in the future. On the frontier between tundra and ocean, she engaged in the kind of years-long fieldwork that exemplary geographers have pursued for generations in an effort to understand the why of where. Recognizing that whales and whaling remain integral to Inupiat lifeways, despite the onslaught of globalization and climate change, her work explores and elucidates the significance of bowhead whales to the persistence of Inupiaq culture and community.

This book offers a rare, qualified, and yet substantiated optimism to readers around the world. Hers is a vision of “being in a togetherness” that perseveres against myriad adversities on the near horizon, and that can continue to do so far into the future. This research is exemplary in its
sustained commitment to the community. It demonstrates the best of embedded, ethically-driven, and collaborative knowledge production. Those who seek, through their own studies with diverse cultural communities of practice, to overcome – as do the whaling Inupiat of Alaskan North Slope Borough, in unity with their animal kin — the existential threats of our unprecedented and contingent present will be inspired and transformed by reading this book.

In so many ways, Whale Snow epitomizes the essence of geography as an art, science, method, literary practice, and a way of understanding and relating to the world.


AAG Announces 2021 Grant Recipients

The American Association of Geographers congratulates the individuals and entities named to receive an AAG Grant. The AAG will confer these awards at a future event to be determined, once the travel and in-person meeting restrictions have been lifted.

The 2021 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.

Erik Johanson, Florida Atlantic University, will conduct paleoenvironmental research in Guayaquil, Ecuador with partner Jessie Johanson, and will lead a coring team with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) students associated with the FAU field school.

Max Woodworth, Ohio State University, will study historical urban geography with partner Namiko Kunimoto, in Tokyo for a project titled: Colonial Modernism in Datong, Shanxi.

2021 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.

Shamayeta Bhattacharya, University of Connecticut

Alicia Danze, University of Texas at Austin

Brandon Finn, Harvard University

Gengchen Mai, UC Santa Barbara

Scott Markley, University of Georgia

Sophie O’Manique, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Ruchi Patel, Pennsylvania State University

2021 Research Grant recipients ($500/each):

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

Ryan Burns, University of Calgary

Mei-Huan Chen, Pennsylvania State University

Jennifer Greenburg, Stanford University

Wenliang Li, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Anna Van de Grift, Texas A&M University

Qi Zhang, Boston University

2021 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.

Devon Michelle Borthwick, transferring from Front Range Community College to the University of Wyoming,

Constance Connors, transferring from Sinclair Community College to Arizona State University


2021 AAG Award Recipients Announced

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.

2021 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.

Jen Jack Gieseking, University of Kentucky

Jen Jack Gieseking is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky whose scholarship combines critical urban theory, GIS, and digital humanities to study queer, feminist, and trans geographies.

Having received his PhD in 2012, Dr. Gieseking has amassed an impressive research record including nearly two dozen peer-reviewed articles in high-impact outlets (many of them open- access) and a defining, cross-disciplinary reference text: A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queers. Dr. Gieseking’s scholarship extends beyond publications to include leadership of ACME: International Journal of Critical Geographies, where his recommenders hail the inclusive culture he fosters among editorial staff and contributors. He actively mentors junior scholars and pioneers innovative teaching strategies drawn from critical roots. Furthermore, Dr. Gieseking’s LBGTQ Heritage Initiative Theme Study for the National Parks Service demonstrates the broader societal impacts of his scholarship.

Overall, the AAG Diversity & Inclusion Committee was excited to highlight the work of a queer, feminist, and trans geographer whose work fervently promotes the visibility of LBGTQ+ individuals, spaces, and place histories.

Pavithra Vasudevan, University of Texas at Austin

Pavithra Vasudevan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her feminist-inspired, participatory action research calls attention to environmental racism in Black communities in rural North Carolina. Despite only being in her second year on the tenure track, Dr. Vasudevan’s scholarly record includes peer-reviewed publications in Antipode, Area, and Environment and Planning C, several edited chapters, and a book manuscript in progress based on her field research: Toxic Alchemy: Black Life and Death in Industrial Capitalism.

Dr. Vasudevan engages creatively with community members, community organizations, and students, fusing ethnographic methods and performance arts (e.g., theater, music, and visual arts) with social science. Her recommenders include previous advisors, students, and colleagues who all testify to the extraordinary intellectual and emotional labor she invests in her activist research.

The AAG Diversity & Inclusion Committee felt strongly that Dr. Vasudevan’s research efforts not only exceeded the criteria of the Glenda Laws award, but that her inspirational pedagogy embodied the spirit of Glenda Laws’ own approaches to research, teaching, and advocacy.

2021 AAG Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism Research and Practice

The Rose Award was created to honor Harold M. Rose, who was a pioneer in conducting research on the condition faced by African Americans. The award honors geographers who have a demonstrated record of this type of research and active contributions to society, and is awarded to individuals who have served to advance the discipline through their research, and who have also had an impact on anti-racist practice.

John Frazier, Binghamton University

Dr. John Frazier has made crucial contributions to anti-racist knowledge and praxis in geography in his nearly four-decade long career. His leadership as the founder of the Race, Ethnicity, and Place (REP) Conference is a hallmark of his contributions to challenge racism in the discipline and beyond. REP, geography’s most diverse conference now in its second decade, features research across the discipline and provides unmatched opportunities for networking and mentoring. Frazier has been instrumental in bringing this conference to a wide range of universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to expose geography to more diverse audiences and students. He has also served as a stalwart leader in the AAG Ethnic Geography Specialty Group. Frazier has dedicated his academic life to advancing the research and careers of geographers of color, having long lasting effects on the discipline through this conference and the professional network he has fostered.

Frazier’s research has addressed core issues in contemporary racial and ethnic geography and immigrant experiences. His publications have become key resources for researchers and instructors. Notably, he has co-edited three editions of Race, Ethnicity and Place in a Changing AmericaThe African Diaspora in The U. S. and Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century, and Multicultural Geographies of the United States, and co-authored Race and Place: Equity Issues in Urban America. Widely used in teaching, Frazier’s work has paved a pathway into the discipline for generations of geographers.

Overall, John Frazier has played a significant role in institutionalizing a critical study of race, equity, and inclusion within geography and making anti-racism part of the official, programmatic life of geographers—as found in its conferences, knowledge communities, publications, and pedagogy.

2021 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.

Heather Bedi, Dickinson College

Dr. Heather Bedi is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Dickinson College where her teaching and research focus on peoples, places, and environments and the many connections between them. Students and faculty colleagues recognize her passion for teaching and her dynamic approach. She not only creates fresh ways for students to engage with course material in the classroom, but also provides opportunities for them to actively contribute to the local community using tools and knowledge obtained in the numerous courses she has developed.

Dr. Bedi’s teaching and community outreach are well-informed by her research into relationships among civil society, socio-environmental movements, and natural resource and landscape modifications. Moreover, she successfully obtains teaching related grants and student-faculty-community collaboration grants to advance the work.

Dr. Bedi is already making a strong mark on geography teaching and is poised to make an even more distinguished impact into the future.

2021 Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography

The AAG Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography will honor researchers from the public, private, or academic sectors who have made transformative contributions to the fields of Geography or GIScience. Provided there is sufficient availability of funds, the Wilbanks Prize will consist of a cash prize of $2,000 and include a memento with the name of the Prize and the recipient.

Mei-Po Kwan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Mei-Po Kwan has had transformational impacts on how transportation specialists and geographic information scientists think about accessibility and activity-travel patterns analysis; how feminist geographers understand quantification and GIS; how geographers and geographic information scientists integrate quantitative and qualitative methods and insights from different theoretical traditions; and how health geographers, public health researchers, and scholars in other disciplines think about environmental exposure and the significance of the neighborhood.

Employing feminist perspectives, Dr. Kwan has dramatically altered geo-visualization, the inclusion of qualitative data through geo-narratives, and she has broadened geographic information science beyond a narrow “objective” standard to more humanistic standards that include perceptions, emotions, and behavior as core concerns. She has also advanced conceptualization of concepts like uncertainty and bias by promoting more dynamic perspectives that examine spatial contexts as rooted in everyday behaviors and experiences rather than as containers fixed in space and time.

Both the significant substance and impact of Dr. Kwan’s work have transformed the discipline of geography and geographic information science and infused the broader community of researchers and practitioners with more robust geospatial understanding, thereby making her a highly deserving recipient of the Wilbanks Prize.

2021 AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography

The AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography is given annually to an individual geographer or team of geographers that has demonstrated originality, creativity and significant intellectual breakthroughs in geography. The award includes a prize of $1,000.

Dawn Wright, Esri

Over her career, Dr. Dawn Wright has combined her expertise in spatial data science and oceanography to make creative and pioneering contributions to geography. She has authored or co-authored more than 180 articles and 12 books on oceanography and geographic information systems, including one of the first marine GIS books, Marine and Coastal Geographical Information Systems, co-edited with Darius Bartlett. Dr. Wright is no armchair scientist. Her saltwater fieldwork began with many expeditions on the scientific research ship, the JOIDES Resolution. Through those as well as subsequent expeditions which she joined and led, Dr. Wright has brought to the surface previously unknown ocean terrain in some of the most remote oceanic regions.

Dr. Wright began her academic career at Oregon State University and then joined Esri in 2011 as their Chief Scientist, the position she currently holds. She was a key leader of the joint Esri/US Geological Survey team that developed the first truly 3-Dimensional map of the waters within the world’s ocean, also known as the Ecological Marine Units.

During her distinguished career, she has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: 25 BadAxx Women Shaping Climate Action in 2021, the American Geographical Society George Davidson Medal, the Society of Extraordinary Women Science and Innovations Extraordinary Leaders Award, and the AAG Presidential Achievement Award. Dr. Wright has also been named a fellow of several notable societies, including: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, the American Association of Geographers, The Oceanography Society, and the California Academy of Sciences.

In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to science, pioneering and synthetic thinking about oceanography, geography, and GIS, and for her years of leadership, the American Association of Geographers confers the 2021 Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography to “Deepsea Dawn” Wright.

The 2021 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 AAG Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

2021 Best Paper Award

Qingfang Wang, University of California Riverside – Fostering Art and Cultural Entrepreneurship in Underserved Communities: A Case of Newark, NJ

2021 Best Paper Award Runner-Up

Örjan Sölvell, Stockholm School of Economics – The dark side of agglomeration, sustained wealth and transposition of trading institutions—the case of Bordeaux in the 18th and 19th centuries

2021 Best Student Paper Award

Nicole Bignall, University of North Carolina at Greensboro –
Self-Employment by US County: Key Predictors

2021 Best Student Paper Award Runner-Up

Elina Shepard (Sukaryavichute), University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Opportunities and Challenges for Small Businesses in New Transit Neighborhoods


AAG Welcomes Spring 2021 Interns

Two new interns have joined the AAG staff this spring! The AAG would like to welcome Ilan and Jennifer to the organization.

Ilan Gritzman recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Administration and a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. Ilan has previously interned for Smithsonian Libraries on the World of Maps project, participated in a GIS study abroad in Belize, and served as a research assistant for Citizen Science GIS. He currently also collects and maps data on apartment units across Florida as a city surveyor for One Hundred Feet Inc. Ilan intends to pursue an M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning and secure a full-time position in either urban planning or GIS upon graduation. In his spare time, Ilan likes to cycle, play tennis, travel, and watch sports.

Jennifer Church is a senior at The University of Maryland, pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Land Use and a minor in Nonprofit Leadership and Social Innovation. After graduation, Jennifer hopes to have the opportunity to travel before applying for a Masters program in Geography. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, kayaking, and embroidering.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for an internship at the AAG, the AAG seeks interns on a year-round basis for the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Currently, due to COVID-19 safety regulations in Washington, DC AAG interns are home-based employees. More information on internships at the AAG is also available on the Jobs & Careers section of the AAG website at:


AAG Joins in Support for Faculty Rights

On Tuesday, January 26, AAG sent a letter to the Chancellor of the University of Kansas, asking him not to act on the recent Kansas Board of Regents’ decision to allow the suspension and termination of university employees, including tenured faculty, without formally declaring a financial emergency.

Chancellor Girod recognized our letter and thoughtfully acknowledged that AAG’s feedback would be incorporated as they chart a path forward in the days ahead.

We see the Kansas Board of Regents policy decision as a troubling signal and a potential threat for universities across the country as ongoing budget austerity measures and the crisis of COVID-19 converge. These circumstances leave vulnerable academic tenure as a whole, but especially the tenure of geography departments and professors. We will closely monitor this trend, and we call on our members to alert us to similar issues emerging on their campuses.

To support the University of Kansas faculty, please consider adding your name to the sign-on letter calling for a transparent process and shared governance for budget decisions in light of the current crisis.


AAG Holds Workshops on Public Scholarship at Virtual Regional Division Meetings

In response to the growing need and opportunity for geographers to enter into public scholarship, AAG recently developed a workshop to help our members–at all stages of your careers–share research and perspectives across different forms of public media.

Chief Scientist at Esri, Dawn Wright, often uses her LinkedIn page to share blog-style articles on topics relating to GIS and the practicing community.

Past AAG Presidents have often called for geographers to actively pursue opportunities to highlight their work in venues beyond academic journals. For example, Derek Alderman called for increased public communication and a broader publishing footprint under his geography is R.E.A.L. initiative, while David Kaplan argued that geographers must start developing alt-ac skills for the growing market.

To examine the challenges and options for public scholarship among geographers, the AAG staff members Coline Dony, Emily Fekete, and Lisa Schamess offered a fall workshop to respond to feedback from AAG members, in particular those who attended the AAG workshop on student recruitment at the 2019 Regional Division Meetings, as well as the AAG Regional Division Task Force. The workshop entitled “Getting the Word Out about Geography,”was offered at five Regional Division meetings held virtually throughout the fall: the Middle States meeting; the Mid-Atlantic Division joint meeting with the Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference; the Southeast Division meeting; the West Lakes Division meeting; and the Southwest Division meeting.

Special interest publication outlets like this example featuring maps made by cartographer Margaret Pearce from High Country News, offer opportunities for geographers to publish work that appeals to a particular segment of the public.

“Getting the Word Out about Geography” sheds light on the wealth of public scholarship opportunities beyond conventional academic publishing, with options suited to varied stages of career, purpose, capacity, and interest. From social media and blogging to speaking engagements and articles for newspapers and other public outlets, the workshop connects these approaches to geographers’ ability to secure grants and acquire “alt-metrics” suitable for portfolios and tenure files. The fall workshop emphasized the great potential of making local connections, such as with community organizations, local libraries, museums, food banks, or service organizations that likely have newsletters or public programs that fit the research agendas of many geographers. For those interested in reaching beyond the local community, social media, personal websites, blogging, and popular social platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram)were explored. The workshop also covered some aspects of how to gain notice from news outlets, neighborhood blogs, and local and regional magazines.

Meteorologist Marshall Shepherd is a frequent contributing author to Forbes, providing him a platform to explain how the work of geographers fits into current events.

During guided breakout discussions, participants exchanged ideas and offered support to one another from their own experiences. Participants were also asked to suggest ways that AAG can help them pursue public scholarship.

Geography and the AAG depend on geographers like you. The more we work together to increase our visibility, the more opportunities will become available for geographers to take part in public scholarship.

For those attending the 2021 AAG Annual Meeting online, the workshop will again be held as part of the AAG’s professional development offerings. Information about the timing of the workshop will be available here as more details about the Annual Meeting schedule are released.



AAG Announces 2021 AAG 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.

2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award

The AAG Diversity and Inclusion Award (formerly the Enhancing Diversity Award) honors those geographers who have pioneered efforts toward, or actively participate in efforts towards encouraging a more diverse discipline.

Raynah Kamau and Whitney Kotlewski, Esri

Raynah Kamau and Whitney Kotlewski are both Esri employees and grassroots activists whose collaborative work has fostered increased visibility for community- engaged geography and greater inclusion within GIS professional culture.

The AAG is impressed by their work beyond academia, especially their service as role models for aspiring BIPOC and female geographers. They deploy an effectivene public outreach strategy using StoryMaps to support Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. Ms. Kamau’s and Ms. Kotlewski’s co-founding of “Black Girls M.A.P.P.” and “People 4 the People” are two such examples.

Equally important is their work in changing GIS and tech culture at Esri to incorporate a more diverse set of voices (e.g., women, women of color, the LBGTQ+ community). Within a few short years, these two awardees have built a bridge between geography and these diverse communities, which is a testament to their interpersonal skills and steadfast dedication to community members.

Ms. Kamau’s and Ms. Kotlewski’s efforts champion the ideals of diversity and inclusion of this AAG award, while demonstrating the transformative potential of geography. Read more from Esri here.

Jovan Lewis, University of California Berkeley

Dr. Jovan Lewis is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Berkeley whose efforts in research, teaching, mentorship, and service are bringing Black geographies (and Black geographers) to the forefront of the discipline.

We commend his integration of multiple facets of work to leverage and amplify Black Geographies within the AAG: he has taken a leadership position in the Black Geographies Specialty Group and led a symposium that resulted in the inclusion of Black Geographies as a theme of the 2018 AAG Annual Meeting. Locally, Dr. Lewis is changing UC Berkeley Geography’s intellectual culture in emphasizing Black studies and Black geographies. He has worked across departments and programs on his campus and beyond, to engage public groups. He is integrating this work into his teaching (e.g., he developed a symposium on the topic and is recruiting black students to his program), research (e.g., his co-edited volume, The Black Geographic), and service (e.g., his mentorship of other faculty and students).

His efforts are comprehensive and effective at multiple levels and with different audiences. Dr. Lewis’s dedication to his students and to the larger community is remarkable for a junior scholar and reflects the best of what Black geographies and the discipline have to offer.

2021 Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award

The AAG bestows an annual award recognizing an individual geographer, group, or department, who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments and in guiding the academic or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues. The late Susan Hardwick was the inaugural Excellence in Mentoring awardee. The Award was renamed in her honor and memory, soon after her passing.

Hilda Kurtz, University of Georgia

Dr. Hilda Kurtz’s mentorship strategies demonstrate variety, replicability, novelty, inclusivity, and community creation both within and beyond geography.

Her students benefit from her hands-on facilitation of quality research papers and proposals, with a high track record of funding success. Through journal editorship, she mentored diverse early career scholars with regard to academic publishing. Dr. Kurtz is co-Founder of the Franklin College Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Fellows Program, which establishes a local community of engagement around social justice. Multiple individuals commented on her success in mentoring focused on work-life balance through both formal and informal channels.

Finally, Kurtz developed a quasi-formal professional development workshop series in 2015, emphasizing job market preparation and tangible skills for success in academe. The workshops have since been integrated formally into the University of Georgia Geography Department’s required first year graduate student seminar.

For all these reasons, the AAG is proud and pleased to recognize Hilda Kurtz as the recipient of the 2021 AAG Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award.

The 2021 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.

Jessica Embury, San Diego State University

Daniel Council, Ball State University