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

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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

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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

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2021 AAG Honors Announced

Each year, the AAG invites nominations for AAG Honors to be conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the profession. The AAG Honors Committee and the AAG Council are pleased to announce the following AAG Honorees.

2021 AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors

Dr. Carol Harden, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Carol Harden, the 2021 recipient of the AAG’s Lifetime Achievement Honors, is the quintessential field scientist, professional association leader, and effective science communicator. She has been at the forefront of advancing geography’s role in the natural sciences, whether in the AAG, National Research Council, National Geographic Society, or National Science Foundation. Over a half-century career, Harden has established herself as one of the leading figures in contemporary physical geography and environmental science. More broadly, she has had a tremendous influence across our entire discipline, owing to the many roles she has played at the University of Tennessee, AAG, National Research Council, and National Geographic Society, and as editor of Physical Geography.

Since the 1980s, Harden has done fieldwork in the Andes, including a year on a Fulbright to Ecuador. Her commitment to international fieldwork and diversity in geography and other field disciplines and her encyclopedic knowledge of physical geography allows her to evaluate critically, and advocate for support of, fieldwork, especially by diverse scholars from around the world. In addition to her Latin American research, she has generated a substantial body of research in the U.S., mainly in Appalachia, on soil erosion, watershed hydrology, water quality, and human impacts.

Harden is currently the Chair of the Geographical Sciences Committee and a Member of the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, both for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). She was recently a member of the prestigious and influential Committee on Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society. She has also served as a member and Chair of the Nominations Committee, Geology, and Geology Section, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Harden was a member (2017) and then Chair (2016-2020) of the Geographical Sciences Committee (GSC-NASEM). In 2010-2012, Harden served first as Vice President and then as President of the American Association of Geographers. She is a compassionate listener and a fair-minded leader. Harden is a mentor with an impact on cultivating new and early-career disciplinary leaders. She does this with a clear vision of geography’s role in science, higher education, and society, allowing her to see and realize new opportunities and build new initiatives. A strong sense of collegiality and caring has allowed her to engage in constructive and productive dialog across several disciplinary divides. For these qualities and achievements, the AAG recognizes Carol Harden as the 2021 recipient of the AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors.

2021 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Cindi Katz, City University of New York (CUNY)

Cindi Katz is internationally renowned for her scholarship on social reproduction, children’s geographies, political ecology, global economic restructuring and the connections between the production of space and nature. As a pioneering scholar of Marxist feminist theory, Katz was one of the first geographers to investigate the important contributions of feminist theory to questions of space and time in the discipline. Her academic record testifies to her history of innovative work, theory-driven insights, and field-shaping interventions.

One of Katz’s most influential scholarly contributions lies in the realm of social reproduction. Her scholarship has convincingly shown how capitalist accumulation depends heavily on the unpaid or low paid labor of women. This feminist insight, which Katz highlighted and made prominent in geographical scholarship, has been one of the most critical ideas in Marxist feminist theory of the past three decades. Katz has compelling demonstrated the uneven effects of capitalist accumulation from the relational standpoint of women, children, and marginalized communities who bear the burdens of social reproduction even as their lives and livelihoods become increasingly precarious.

In a series of theoretical interventions and empirical studies, Katz also helped to establish and develop the field of children’s geographies. Her work interprets the political economy of development in relation to personal development (from childhood to adulthood), arguing that neither form of development can be understood without the other. Her seminal contributions in this area include improved understandings of how place and space shape children’s lives, and in terms of how the gendered, raced and classed experiences of children shape place and space. Katz has also made sustained and significant epistemological contributions to Marxist feminist theory, developing two theoretical concepts that have had far reaching impacts on geography and cognate disciplines. The first of these is the concept of “minor theory” which engages with the ways power and authority shape how geographic knowledge is practiced and produced. Here Katz’s theorization is noteworthy for offering a way of working through the contradictions and limits of mainstream theory to develop more engaged and accurate accounts of the everyday world. Her other theoretical advancement is that of counter-topography, which is a means of recognizing the historical and geographical specificities of particular places while recognizing their analytic connections to specific material social practices. These theoretical contributions illustrate one way in which Katz’s scholarship has shaped the course of debates within the discipline, as well as influencing the research agendas and inter-subjective practices of other scholars.

In sum, Katz’s has made an immense impact on contemporary human geography. Her theoretical and empirical contributions to geography and beyond are of the highest quality. Her enthusiasm for her field and relentless efforts to identify and transform exploitative power relations have had a profoundly positive influence on geographic theory, practice, and education. Katz’s scholarship is among the most significant in the discipline. For these reasons, the AAG recognizes Cindi Katz as the 2021 recipient of the AAG’s Distinguished Scholarship Honors.

James Tyner, Kent State University

James A. Tyner models the best practices of engaged and relevant scholarship in critical human geography. In more than two decades of professional work, the majority of them at Kent State University in Ohio, Tyner’s academic productivity has been prolific—more than twenty books; at least one hundred and twenty refereed articles; and myriad conference presentations, panels, and keynotes. The distinction of his scholarship extends beyond conventional quantitative assessments, however; Tyner’s evolving scholarship has provided a powerful moral and ethical voice for those who study social justice, conflict, and violence.

His book War, Violence, and Population: Making the Body Count provides a grounded analysis of violence and conflict in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Rwanda. It received the prestigious Meridian Book Award in 2010. Tyner’s work on conflict and violence has become more focused on South East Asia, specifically Cambodia. He provides novel and innovative analyses of the places, landscapes and experiences of violence. Tyner’s approach to this work is profound as he couples a continued theoretical journey with, as one essayist, Sabina Lawreniuk in the AAG Review of Books, puts it, “the fortitude to trace meticulously through the material, nonmaterial and never materialized fragments of Cambodia’s past—texts, landscapes, bodies, bones and memories” to ask how Cambodia’s violence was made. Explorations of memory and memorialization appear elsewhere in Tyner’s individual and shared work, always with an insistence and invitation for moral and ethical analysis on the part of the reader. As one of the letters of support noted, his “broader research trajectory takes the lives of the marginal and vulnerable seriously.” Reviewers of his work, elsewhere, describe it as accessible, powerful, timely, vivid and compelling.

Tyner’s approach to scholarship reveals an engagement with place-based fieldwork, archival work, but also, the applications of remote-sensing and hydrological analyses. His research has been supported by two significant National Science Foundation grants and has been recognized repeatedly by his peers inside and outside of Geography. He has also been recognized as a researcher by several AAG Specialty groups and has received both the Glenda Laws Award, the Jim Blaut Award, and the Julian Minghi Book Award.

A complement to Tyner’s powerful and relevant academic scholarship is his public scholarship at Kent State University and beyond. Tyner has been recognized by his colleagues at Kent State for his leadership in organizing scholarly events related to memory, violence and conflict. He was recently appointed as Director of the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Tyner’s commitment and generosity extends to his mentoring and encouragement of graduate students and junior scholars, which has been repeatedly recognized at his home institution. The professional pathway of Tyner reveals a significant and enduring contribution to transformative and grounded research, an indefatigable productivity for formal academic and public scholarship, and a deep and enduring commitment to social justice and human dignity. For these reasons, James A. Tyner is the 2021 recipient of AAG’s Distinguished Scholarship Honors.

2021 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors 

The AAG awards the Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors for 2021 to Joseph Oppong for his exceptional service and commitment to the discipline of geography and geographers. Oppong has served generously and effectively in numerous support and leadership roles within the AAG and beyond. Oppong’s service, research, teaching, and graduate advising has focused energy and attention on the geography of Africa and on the superb work of African scholars from around the world. He is further
credited, through his own research and tireless support of numerous organizations and individuals, with having played a key role in helping to bring medical geography to the forefront of our discipline in recent years.

Oppong’s contributions to the AAG’s African Specialty Group (ASG) are difficult to capture in a few words, but suffice it to say that he has been a pillar of the ASG since the early 1990s. He helped to popularize the group, expand participation, and further internationalize membership for both the ASG and for the entire AAG. Under Oppong’s leadership, the ASG become not only a preeminent forum to discuss scholarship on the geography of Africa, it quickly became the preeminent place to meet and discuss African geography with African scholars and students. Oppong has helped guide the ASG to become one of the more active specialty group communities within the AAG as well as a dynamic professional bridge between AAG members and African geographers from around the world. While serving in leadership roles in the ASG, Oppong also helped in the effort to revive the scholarly journal the East African Geographical Review, renaming it the African Geographic Review and quickly establishing the journal as a robust and preferred forum for cutting-edge research related to Africa.

Oppong also played a key role in the recent expansion of medical geography through his own research, his graduate advising, and his unflagging service to the AAG’s Medical Geography Specialty Group (MGSG). Oppong served as chair of the MGSG from 2002-2005 and he has been an active member ever since. His own pioneering work on HIV/AIDS in Africa remains critical to the subfield. In short, Oppong’s medical geography research is fashioned as a therapeutic to a public health crisis that continues to ravage communities around the world, but with particularly egregious effects on the people of Africa. In addition to his unique contributions to the ASG and MGSG, Oppong has served on the editorial board of the Professional Geographer, served on multiple NSF panels, and been a steering committee member and US representative, for the International Geographers Union’s Commission on Health and Environment. Oppong’s commitment to our discipline, to supporting its practitioners, and to supporting the AAG’s internationalization, especially among African geographers, stands as an example to all AAG members and therefore warrants the 2021 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors.

Patricia Solís, Executive Director of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) and Research Associate Professor at Arizona State University

The AAG’s Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors for 2021 is awarded to Patricia Solís, Executive Director of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) and Research Associate Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. Solís is an international leader in facilitating geospatial collaborations around local and global sustainability in novel ways that involve partners in higher education and institutions around the world.

Solís is truly innovative in her approach to develop and execute transformative programs. She has developed more than 50 programs promoting innovations in research, education, and community collaboration, funded by substantial support from federal agencies. Many of these programs seamlessly combine service to local and global communities with advancing the discipline of geography. One example of this is Solís’ work to fund and co-found YouthMappers, an international network of university students and faculty working to support the creation and use of open geospatial data for humanitarian and development assistance. In YouthMappers, Solís strives to help youth develop their leadership skills through mentoring and training in geospatial techniques. Meanwhile, these youth leaders join what Solís refers to as the geospatial revolution, which supports improving the quantity and quality of open geospatial data and geographic knowledge to support improved decision making and policies that lead toward greater resilience.

Solís is now serving as director of KER, where she once again demonstrates her innovative programming. KER is a program that aims to build community resilience in Maricopa County, Arizona, by linking multi-sector community needs with research innovations. Most recently, KER worked to bridge the community and university to improve the area’s resilience to COVID-19.

Solís has served the AAG for many years, including as Deputy Director, Director of Research and Outreach, and Director of Strategic Initiative. In these roles she implemented activities—including revitalizing specialty groups, supporting developing regions, and embracing diversity and inclusion––that transformed the organization, caused membership to surge, and aligned geography within the context of major global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. During this time, she also played a part in establishing a multimillion-dollar endowment for the AAG, improving the organizations’ productivity and visibility—yet another way in which she has contributed to be transforming the lives of youth and advancing geography. As Ron Abler himself said of Solís’ service: geography’s future will “continue to brighten thanks to her manifold contributions throughout the Americas.”

2021 AAG Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors

Timothy Trainor, US Bureau of the Census

Timothy Trainor, the 2021 recipient of the AAG’s Gilbert F. White Public Service Honors, has devoted more than four decades to public service. He worked at the U.S. Census Bureau from 1980 to 2018, rising from a senior cartographer position to become chief of the geography division and chief geospatial scientist. Over that time, Trainor helped develop and refine multiple waves of innovations that consistently delivered statistically sound collection, integration, and application of geographic and demographic data for those who use this critical public resource. His accomplishments served as the basis for continuous improvements in the work of the census bureau and provided a model for work carried out in numerous nations around the world.

Especially noteworthy during Trainor’s career at the census bureau, he championed the creation and enhancement of the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) System, the first seamless, topologically integrated map of the nation. He promoted the publication of TIGER data through multiple media, and he instituted the ongoing update of the bureau’s Master Address File (MAF), a national list of all housing units in the nation. He led efforts to ensure each address record in the MAF was linked to a geospatial coordinate in TIGER. These datasets build the foundation for accurate census and survey taking and the production of reliable statistics at local levels of geography across the United States.

Concurrent with his work within the census bureau, Trainor actively and consistently engaged colleagues in open, collaborative, and productive ways. He played a key role in advancing the organization and activities of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, and he was an effective voice for
both the federal and commercial sides in inspiring and advancing the Geospatial Data Act of 2018.

Trainor made strong contributions to international efforts to advance geographic methods and inquiries. He held leadership positions in a number of international organizations, including the International Cartographic Association, of which he was vice president from 2007 to 2015 and is president from 2019 to 2023. He also helped institute the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, which he co-chaired from 2015 to 2018. Following his retirement from the census bureau, Trainor continues to serve as a consultant to the United Nations, helping to guide the development of the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework, an effort destined to change the way that countries collect, manage, and disseminate geographic information.

Over his career, Trainor repeatedly provided opportunities for others to learn, grow, and participate in the development of geographic data as a public good. His mentorship to many individuals, including many women and persons of color, enabled many of his colleagues to move into leadership roles and continue to advance the important work he has pursued. For these reasons, the AAG has selected Timothy Trainor as the 2021 recipient of the Gilbert F. White Public Service Honors.

2021 Distinguished Teaching Honors

Barbara “Babs” Buttenfield, University of Colorado-Boulder

Barbara (“Babs”) Buttenfield is an innovator in GIScience education. She established one of the first college curricula in GIScience and has been influential in the development of GIScience certificate programs. Buttenfield was also one of the founding members of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) and contributed to the advancement of UCGIS’s educational mission. In recognition of her exemplary contributions to GIScience education, UCGIS awarded Buttenfield the inaugural GIS Educator of the Year award in 2001.

Buttenfield is a gifted educator whose courses are well received by students and peers. She particularly excels in the design and instruction of laboratory classes, where she artfully balances theoretical concepts with technical skills. Her ability to explain complex concepts using examples and metaphors is legendary, and she exudes an infectious enthusiasm for GIScience. Buttenfield delivers cutting edge course content, in part informed by her own highly-regarded research. She also is a dedicated mentor and has advised over 60 PhD and Masters students, many of whom are now leaders in GIScience. Buttenfield is equally committed to undergraduate mentoring, and each semester invites undergraduate students to serve as teaching interns. To date, over 80 students have benefited from the additional experience in GIScience problem-solving and in-service learning available through this opportunity.

Throughout her career, Buttenfield has promoted the training and retention of a GIScience workforce and the development of best practices in GIScience teaching. She also co-edited the popular reference work, Map Generalization: Making Rules for Knowledge. Moreover, she has held leadership roles in GIScience-related professional societies, including serving as President of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. Buttenfield provides valuable consultation on GIScience, notably as a member of the National Research Council’s Mapping Science Committee and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee. These activities, coupled with her extraordinary teaching and mentoring and innovations in curriculum design, make Barbara Buttenfield the outstanding 2021 recipient of the AAG’s Distinguished Teaching Honors.

2021 AAG Media Achievement Award

Richard Campanella, Tulane University

The AAG’s Media Achievement Award for 2021 goes to Richard Campanella, Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture at Tulane University, where he also remains the only geographer on campus. As a scholar of New Orleans and the wider Gulf Coast, Campanella has authored seven monographs published by university presses and four popular books as well as dozens of journal articles and book chapters on the historical geography and cultural landscapes of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast.

Most pertinent to this particular honor, Campanella makes his research accessible to a general audience of avocational geographers, using popular media to engage the public in geographical scholarship. He combines historical maps, GIS, landscape photography, and accessible prose to explain for readers of his essays such quintessentially geographical topics as the origins of neighborhoods, street names, cadastral systems, settlement patterns, architectural styles, topography, hydrological engineering, and many other elements of the local landscape. His nearly 200 essays in the Times-PicayuneThe AdvocateLouisiana Cultural Vistas64 ParishesThe Atlantic, and other popular periodicals testify that the reading public appreciates geographical insights into the places they call home. For those more inclined to view than read, he has created an online video series called The Geographer’s Space, currently up to nine episodes of about five minutes long each, that reprise some of his essays in 64 Parishes, a project of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Augmenting that prolific output of newspaper columns, magazine essays, and videos, Campanella provides followers of his Twitter feed @nolacampanella near daily insights into the historical emergence of the Crescent City’s landscapes, often placing a street scene from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century in its present context. He is also a popular speaker, delivering not only keynotes at academic conferences such as the National Humanities Conference, but also public talks at venues throughout the region.

As one of his nomination letters puts it, “he has become the unofficial geographer laureate for New Orleans and has reached a broad swath of the local and regional reading public.” In fact, in bookstores all along the Gulf Coast, one will usually find at least one book by Campanella, and often a whole shelf full. He unquestionably exemplifies the letter and spirit of this award to recognize “exceptional and outstanding accomplishments in publicizing geographical insights in media of general or mass communication.” (Photo Credit: Paula Burch-Celentano of Tulane University)

Since 1951, AAG Honors have been 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. The AAG Honors Committee is elected by the AAG membership and charged with making award recommendations for each category, with no more than two awards given in any one category. This year’s Honors Committee members are Julie A. Silva, University of Maryland College Park (Chair); Amy Glasmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ronald Hagleman, III, Texas State University; Richard Kujawa, St. Michael’s College; Andrew Sluyter, Louisiana State University; and Julie Winkler, Michigan State University.

For more than 100 years, The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has contributed to the advancement of geography. Our members from nearly 100 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG’s Annual Meeting, scholarly journals (Annals of the American Association of Geographers, ​ The Professional Geographer,​ The AAG Review of Books ​ and GeoHumanities​)​, and the online AAG Newsletter. The AAG is a 501(c)3 nonprofit​ organization founded in 1904.

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Regional Divisions Announce Outstanding Student Papers During their Fall Meetings

While most of the 2020 AAG Regional Division Meetings shifted to an online format due to the effects of COVID-19, students continued to present outstanding work in their respective regions. An exciting addition to the student presentations this year was the creation of a new award to recognize the increased participation of undergraduate students at the AAG Regional Division Meetings.

The AAG is proud to announce the Fall 2020 student winners of the AAG Council Award for Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Student Papers at a Regional Meeting. The AAG Council Award for Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Student Papers at a Regional Meeting is designed to encourage student participation at AAG Regional Division conferences and support their attendance at AAG Annual Meetings. One graduate student and one undergraduate student in each AAG Regional Division receives this yearly award based on a paper submitted to their respective regional conference. The awardees receive $1,000 in funding for use towards their registration and travel costs to attend the AAG Annual Meeting. The board members from each region determine student award winners. This year, due to COVID-19, students can use their funds to attend the fully online 2021 AAG Annual Meeting with the remainder being put towards attendance at either their 2021 Regional Division Meeting or the 2022 AAG Annual Meeting.

The winners from each region will be presenting their papers in two dedicated paper sessions at the upcoming 2021 AAG Annual Meeting online.

MSDAAG: Sheovoney O’Bryan, Undergraduate Student, Church Teachers College: Mandeville; Paper Title – The Challenges of Farming in Manchester, Jamaica.

Matthew Walter, PhD Student, University of Delaware, Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences; Paper title – Invasive Species Mapping in Estuarine Wetlands Using High-Resolution Aerial Imagery

WLDAAG: Michael Cullen, Undergraduate Student, DePaul University, Department of Geography; Skateboarding, Urban Public Space, and Identity

Austin Holland, PhD Student, University of Iowa, Department of Geography and Sustainability Sciences; Paper title – Complying with Conservation Compliance? An Assessment of Recent Evidence in the United States Corn Belt

SEDAAG: Lilian Hutchens, Undergraduate Student (co-winner), University of South Carolina, Department of Geography; Poster Title – “Improving Conservation Planning for the Congaree Biosphere Reserve”

Sierra Moore, Undergraduate Student (co-winner), Virginia Tech, Conservation Management Institute; Poster Title – “Effects of Clearing Linear Features through Forest Patches in WV and VA”

Yasin Wahid Rabby, PhD Student, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Geography; Paper Title – “Exploring the effects of Mahalanobis distance-based absence data sampling method on the landslide susceptibility mapping”

NESTVAL: Shayla Peterson, Undergraduate Student, Southern Connecticut State University, Department of Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences; Paper Title – “Climate Change and the Green New Deal: Attitudes Towards Climate Justice in Connecticut”

Shaina Sadai, PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Geosciences; Paper Title – “Using climate modeling and interdisciplinary theory to analyze climate justice impacts of the Paris Agreement”

SWAAG: Madison Wilson, Undergraduate Student, University of Oklahoma; Paper Title – “Integrated analysis of fallow/idle cropland patterns and drivers of change in the United States Rio Grande Basin”

Daniel Silva, MA Student, University of Texas at Austin; Paper Title – “Climate oscillation effects on Brazilian soybeans yield, and the farmers’ response”

*Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, APCG and GPRM postponed their fall 2020 meetings to fall 2021. MAD did not have any paper submissions this year.

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AAG Announces 2020 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. Formal recognition of the awardees will occur at the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO during the AAG Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 10, 2020.

2020 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.

Dr. Jennifer Collins, University of South Florida

Dr. Jennifer Collins, a Professor of Geosciences at the University of South Florida, is described by her colleagues as a highly respected role model (especially for female students in STEM) and passionate about undergraduate education. Dr. Collins designs her courses to offer high impact learning experiences to her students. She has co-published with numerous undergraduate students, and routinely includes undergraduate mentoring and collaboration in her research grants. However, her impact goes far beyond her own students.  Dr. Collins engages in numerous well-recognized community outreach projects herself, such as providing workshops for K-12 teachers and promoting geography in the media. One colleague described her as “… not only [having] impacted the field, students, and the community at large, but [she] is also a good steward of the environment, imparting those values onto others.” Similarly, another colleague describes her as a “true collaborator” with a strong “devotion to the university, our students, and her profession at large”. For all these reasons, we are pleased to recognize Dr. Jennifer Collins with the 2020 AAG Harm de Blij Award.

2020 AAG Presidential Achievement Award

The AAG Presidential Award is given with the purpose of recognizing individuals for their long-term, major contributions to geography. The Past President has the honor of bestowing this distinction on behalf of the discipline and the association.

Nicholas Dunning, University of Cincinnati

Nicholas Dunning, University of Cincinnati, for his significant contributions in the areas of environmental archaeology, soils, physical geography, cultural ecology, and Latin America. Dr. Dunning’s contributions include keen insights into human ecology and the environment, especially as applied to the Ancient Maya. Dunning has three degrees in geography, yet the broader impacts of his work range far beyond geography into anthropology and archaeology, to epigraphy, soil chemistry, pre-Columbian Studies, and Latin American Studies.

He published his dissertation as the book Lords of the Hills: Ancient Maya Settlement in the Puuc Region, Mexico (Prehistory Press, 1992) and this volume remains one of the most influential and best cited works in our field. Dunning has since published more than 125 peer-reviewed papers and chapters and a dozen books, monographs, and special issues of journals, across different fields, from Culture and Agriculture in 1998 and the AAG Annals in 2002, to two articles in a special issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, to a paper applying LiDAR in Maya Geoarchaeology in a special issue of the journal Geomorphology.

Dr. Dunning has led his research teams and generations of students on an amazing journey, without ever thinking of rewards for himself. It is Dunning’s time to be celebrated as the most influential scholar in geoarchaeology, cultural ecology, and environmental and physical geography in our generation and many to come.

Sally Horn, University of Tennessee

Sally Horn, University of Tennessee, for her significant contributions in the area of paleoenvironmental change research in underexplored neotropical regions. Dr. Horn’s research contributes new knowledge in tropical environmental change, and in methodological advances for detecting and measuring change.

Her scholarship has been honored at university, national and international levels, including the Carl O. Sauer Award (Conference of Latin American Geographers, 2002) the AAG’s Barry Bishop Mountain Geography Award (2010), AAG’s James J. Parsons Biogeography Specialty Group Award (2014), the SEDAAG Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), and election as a AAAS Fellow in 2003.

Dr. Horn is also recognized for her enthusiastic devotion to educating the next generation of scientists, as evidenced by her many teaching and advising awards, and by her extraordinary productivity of graduate students. Dr. Horn has advised 34 Masters and 14 PhDs (including 6 in progress), and also served on the committees of 99 MA and PhD Students, in programs ranging from Geography to Anthropology to Ecology. The lasting impact of her scholarship is evidenced by her more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and edited volumes, and by her multiple grants from such sources as NSF, the Mellon Foundation, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The 2020 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.

2020 Best Paper Award

Keith Debbage, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, Non-Farm Proprietorship Employment by US Metropolitan Area

2020 Best Paper Award Runner-Up

Joseph Scarpaci, Center for the Study of Cuban Culture + Economy, Scarpaci, J.L., Coupey, E. and Reed, S. 2018; Artists as Cultural Icons: The Icon Myth Transfer Effect as a Heuristic for Cultural Branding. (Journal of Product & Brand Management. 27(3): 320-333) 

2020 Best Student Paper Award

Andreas Kuebart, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space, Open creative labs as providers of core functions within entrepreneurial ecosystems: Using sequence analysis to explore new infrastructures for startup processes in Berlin

2020 Best Student Paper Award Runner-Up

Yue Lin, The Ohio State University, A deep learning architecture for semantic address matching

The 2020 AAG Marcus Fund for Physical Geography Award

The objective of The Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography is to carry on the tradition of excellence and humanity in field work espoused by Dr. Melvin G. Marcus. Grants from the Mel Marcus Fund for Physical Geography will foster personally formative participation by students collaborating with faculty in field-based physical geography research in challenging outdoor environments.

Frederick (Fritz) Nelson, Michigan State University

Project: Baseline Data for a Field-Based Critical Geomorphic Experiment in the Juneau Icefield Research Program’s Camp 29 facility on the Cathedral Massif near Atlin, British Columbia, Canada

The 2020 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.

Taylor Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Towards the Integration of Complex Systems Theory: Geographic Information Science, and Network Science for Modelling Geospatial Phenomena

The 2020 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.

Joshua Steckley, University of Toronto, will conduct community based research in Thailand with his partner, Marylynn Steckley, for their project titled: The Political Ecology of Coconut Water: how Thailand exports health, and imports obesity

2020 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.

Madeleine Hamlin, Syracuse University

Shannon Jones, University of Denver

Veronica Limeberry, American University

Maegan Miller, CUNY – Graduate Center

Audrey Smith, University of Florida

Yining Tan, Arizona State University

Greta Wells, University of Texas at Austin

2020 Research Grant recipients ($500/each):

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

Perry Carter, Texas Tech University

Sean Kennedy, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Aaron Malone, Colorado School of Mines

Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Bennington  College

Jennifer Rice, University of Georgia

David Trimbach, Oregon State University

2020 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.

Cassia Barnard-Royer, transferring from Santa Fe College to the University of Florida

Laurel Durbin, transferring from Shasta College to CSU Chico

Valeria Ferrufino, Irvine Valley College (awaiting responses from UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and CSUs)

Mary Anne Flier, transferring from Grand Rapids Community College to Aquinas College

Andrew Mendez, transferring from East Los Angeles College to CSU Northridge

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AAG Announces 2019 Book Awards

The AAG is pleased to announce the recipients of the three 2019 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, 2019. The awardees will be formally recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

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.

Robert Lemon, The Taco Truck: How Mexican Street Food Is Transforming the American City(University of Illinois Press, 2019)

Robert Lemon’s The Taco Truck is an evocative and penetrating look at a fascinating, often underappreciated part of urban America. The book is based on extensive field work, participant observation, and in-depth interviews in Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Columbus, Ohio. The immigrant Mexican origins of the taco truck are described and the author demonstrates how these moveable features on the urban scene have become important parts of Latino identity.

In this engaging, clearly written, and well-illustrated book, Lemon also explores some of the controversial urban politics that have surrounded, shaped, and sometimes limited the taco truck’s access to parts of the city. Lemon’s book marks a creative intersection of food geography, ethnic studies, and urban political geography and the result is a readily digestible, yet meaty appreciation for how taco trucks and their informal cuisine have created new, fluid, and mobile places in the cities we live in.

Simply put, Lemon’s appealing exploration of the taco truck—crafted in a wonderfully Jacksonian narrative—demonstrates the author’s success in making these street-side eateries a more legible part of the vernacular urban landscape and in highlighting where millions of Americans meet for lunch.

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.

Adam Moore, for his book, Empire’s Labor: The Global Army that Supports U.S. Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019).

Empire’s Labor conveys powerfully the nature and importance of geography to audiences beyond  academic geography. Clearly written and accessible to readers without training in specialist theory and vocabulary, the book nevertheless shows how extensive fieldwork and a critical geographical imagination can re-map the abstract and violently inhuman logistics of war-fighting in a profoundly humanizing way. As former AAG President John Agnew noted: “[Moore’s book]… displays the very best qualities of contemporary geographical scholarship in its synthesis of first-person experiences, wide reading of specialized literature across a range of fields, and a sophisticated but clearly expressed theoretical framing, particularly with its emphasis on the transfer of risk onto the shoulders of foreigners even as the objectives pursued are defined in Washington DC.”

Further, the prominent use of maps in the book helps to document a global geography of military infrastructure that is commonly ignored or obscured. What is especially impressive is the way in which Empire’s Labor conveys the human geographies and voices of the workers who toil in ‘someone else’s war’. This is a book that geographers will be able to recommend to non-geographers with pride.

 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.

Julie GuthmanWilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry  Industry (University of California Press, 2019)

Julie Guthman has earned the 2019 AAG Meridian Book Award for her innovative, timely and terrific tome, Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry.  This in-depth analysis of the California strawberry assemblage is about so much more than strawberries; it is about the socioecological consequences of corporate domination of scientific practice and the limits of chemical plantation agriculture. Based on extensive research that represents the best of the art and science of geography, Guthman’s masterful examination of the co-evolution of strawberry monocultures, soils, chemicals, climate, and labor, reveals that decades of narrowly-focused one-off solutions to pathogens and pests has had the effect of breeding ever more hostile growing conditions and requiring ever more extreme measures to perpetuate a deeply destructive agricultural practice on which ever more extensive food markets depend. Thus, the work exposes the limitations privatized science.  Moreover, the book not only documents the strawberry assemblage in exquisite detail, but also proposes solutions to “repair the repair”.

With lessons that resonate far beyond strawberries to the complex of industries and institutions involved in global chemically-intensive commercial food production, this book constitutes an unusually important contribution to geography as well as an empirically-grounded clarion call to fundamentally reorganize how we produce food, conduct research, and organize land and labor markets.  Wilted, then, will seem a “Silent Spring for our present moment” to many readers.

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AAG Announces 2020 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. Formal recognition of the awardees will occur at the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO during the AAG Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 10, 2020.

2020 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.

Jeffery Roth, Stephen F. Austin State University

The AAG Enhancing Diversity Committee, and the Committee on the Status of Women in Geography have selected Dr. Jeffery Roth of Stephen F. Austin State University to receive the 2020 AAG Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award.

Dr. Roth’s nomination materials speak to his excellent mentoring abilities in advising students from a variety of backgrounds and his commitment to supporting students both professionally and personally. He truly embodies the exemplary legacy of the late Susan Hardwick. Dr. Roth has served as Geography Club advisor, he continues to create lifelong learners, has received teaching awards, and actively participates, and encourages students to participate in community activities. It is clear that Dr. Roth has shaped the lives of faculty, students, and members of the community in remarkable ways.

The AAG is proud and pleased to present the 2020 AAG Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award to Dr. Jeffery Roth.

2020 Enhancing Diversity Award

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

Demetrice Jordan, Michigan State University

Demetrice (Dee) Jordan, has been a true change agent for diversity in our discipline.

Among Ms. Jordan’s many notable accomplishments, she founded and co-leads the Michigan State University Geography Department’s graduate student diversity recruitment initiative “Advancing Geography through Diversity,” which actively recruits and increases application submissions and acceptance among underrepresented minorities. Dee is a tireless mentor and advocate for creating an institutional climate that encourages the development of under-represented minorities as leaders in our discipline.

Ms. Jordan was named MSU’s 2018 Excellence in Diversity, Individual Emerging Progress recipient, as well as the 2018 Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association’s Graduate Student Emerging Leader recipient, becoming the first Geographer at MSU to hold these honors.

The AAG is proud and pleased to award Ms. Demetrice Jordan its 2020 AAG Enhancing Diversity Award.

2020 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.

2020 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.

Brian J. L. Berry, Lloyd Viel Berkner Regental Professor and Dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas

Professor Berry is one of the most influential figures in the disciplines of geography, urban studies, and regional planning. Berry’s early urban and regional research helped spark the quantitative revolution that occurred in geography and urban research in the early 1960s, making him the world’s most frequently cited geographer for more than 25 years. Throughout Professor Berry’s distinguished career he has successfully bridged theory and practice and has been heavily involved in urban and regional planning in both developed and developing countries.

In addition, the AAG recognizes Dr. Berry’s service to the discipline, including as AAG President (1978-1979) and as dean of the former University of Texas at Dallas School of Social Sciences, transforming it during a period of rapid growth into the (now) School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. Professor Berry’s over 500 books and countless significant awards speak volumes on the impact of his research in geography, and its recognition in other scientific fields.

2020 AAG Honorary Geographer

The AAG annually selects an individual as the year’s Honorary Geographer. The award recognizes excellence in research, teaching, or writing on geographic topics by non-geographers. Past recipients include Stephen Jay Gould, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Krugman, Barry Lopez, Saskia Sassen and Maya Lin.

Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan, geologist, former NASA astronaut, NOAA Scientist, and 2017 Charles A. Lindbergh Chair of Aerospace History

The AAG Executive Committee recognizes Kathryn Sullivan’s distinguished career, including being the first American woman to walk in space, serving as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and as a NOAA Administrator. The direction in which Sullivan steered Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities is immediately recognized and welcomed by geographers. Sullivan also led NOAA with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses. As a woman scientist and role model, Kathryn Sullivan mirrors many of the values the AAG also actively pursues in our discipline and our association.

2020 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.

Dr. Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University

Dr. Kobayashi exemplifies the ideals of the AAG Harold Rose Award, with a decades-long commitment to anti-racist research that has reshaped the discipline with impact far beyond university walls. In terms of research, Kobayashi has published on anti-racist practice in top field journals and in her Presidential addresses to the AAG “The Idea of Race in Geography,” and to CAG “What’s Race Got to Do with it? The Geography of Racialization in Canada.”

Kobayashi’s writing is frequently taught in graduate courses, thus impacting the next generation of geographers in the project of building an anti-racist geography. She is an impressive model of anti-racist praxis, from her work advocating for employment equity in Canada to her involvement authoring commissioned reports on anti-racist practice, to her mentoring of early career underrepresented scholars and efforts to consult with university administrators. We will end with the words of one of the letters of support, “Rose’s effort to confront the “Geography of Despair” remains unfinished. However, as exemplified by the steadfast work of scholar-activists such as Professor Kobayashi, this work continues.

The 2020 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.

Jacob Bostick, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

Nathan Fiscus, University of North Alabama

Chelsie Perkins, East Tennessee State University

2020 Community College Travel Grants
Provides financial support for students from community colleges, junior colleges, city colleges, or two-year educational institutions to attend the Annual Meeting.

Martha (Kennedy) Masanzi, Santa Barbara City College

Ozer Ozturk, Lone Star College

Brenna Strawn, Lone Star College

Stuart Watts, Montgomery College

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Regional Divisions Announce Outstanding Graduate Student Papers During their Fall Meetings

The AAG is proud to announce the Fall 2019 student winners of the AAG Council Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper at a Regional Meeting. The AAG Council Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper at a Regional Meeting is designed to encourage graduate student participation at AAG Regional Division conferences and support their attendance at AAG Annual Meetings. One graduate student in each AAG Regional Division receives this yearly award based on a paper submitted to their respective regional conference. The awardees receive $1,000 in funding for use towards their registration and travel costs to attend the AAG Annual Meeting. The board members from each region determine student award winners.

The winners from each region will be presenting their papers in two dedicated paper sessions at the upcoming 2020 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Matthew Walter (far left)

MSDAAG: Matthew Walter, Masters Student, University of Delaware; Paper title – A Rapidly Assessed Wetland Stress Index (RAWSI) Using Landsat 8 and Sentinel-1 Radar Data

GPRM: Cheyenne Sun Eagle, Masters Student, University of Kansas; Paper title – Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Land Allotment on the Pawnee Reservation

SWAAG: Katherina Kang, Masters Student, University of North Texas in the Department of Geography; Paper title – Vegetation and land use effects on the spatial distribution and accumulation of soil black carbon in an urban ecosystem

Junghwan Kim

WLDAAG: Junghwan Kim, Ph.D. Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Paper title – How Neighborhood Effect Averaging May Affect Assessment of Individual Exposures to Air Pollution: A Study of Individual Ozone Exposures in Los Angeles

ELDAAG: Rebekka Apardian, Ph.D. Student of Spatially Integrated Social Sciences, University of Toledo; Paper title – Exploring the Relationship Between Pedestrian Crashes and Walkability

Michaela Garland

NESTVAL: Michaela Garland, Master’s Student, Southern Connecticut State University; Paper title – Evaluating, initiating, and incubating Blue Economy development – Case of the Long Island sound region

Dustin Tsai (on right)

APCG: Dustin Tsai, PhD candidate, University of California Davis; Paper title – A Tale of Two Croatias: How Club Football (Soccer) Teams Produce Regional Divides in Croatia’s National Identity

SEDAAG: Jordan Brasher, PhD candidate, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Paper title – “Contesting the Confederacy: Mobile Memory and the Making of Black Geographies in Brazil”

Jordan Brasher (center)

MAD: Kelly J. Anderson, University of Maryland College Park, Middle Atlantic Division; Paper title – “Weather-related Influences on Rural-to-urban Migration: A Spectrum of Attribution in Beira, Mozambique”

 

 

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AAG is Proud to Announce the 2020 AAG Honors

Each year, the AAG invites nominations for AAG Honors to be conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the profession. The AAG Honors Committee is charged with making award recommendations for each category, with no more than two awards given in any one category.  This year, the AAG Honors Committee and the AAG Council are pleased to announce the following AAG Honorees to be recognized during the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon.

2020 AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Graduate Center, CUNY

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, the recipient of this year’s AAG Lifettime Achievement Award, is a public intellectual who integrates geographic scholarship with advocacy and activism. This award recognizes Dr. Gilmore’s transformational contributions to the discipline of Geography. Her scholarship has pushed the boundaries of geographic thought and influenced the trajectories of multiple areas of our field, including critical human geography, black geographies, and political economic geography. Dr. Gilmore is also an advocate for geographic thinking and the importance of space and place within interdisciplinary fields including American studies, carceral studies, and ethnic studies.

Dr. Gilmore is particularly known for her work in carceral studies, including her award-winning book, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opportunities (soon to be re-issued by University of California Press). Golden Gulag brought the theoretical and methodological tools of economic geography to bear on the interconnections of race, space and inequity, reshaping the national conversation on prisons. In this book and in related articles, chapters, and lectures, she pushed scholars, politicians and citizens to confront society’s highly inequitable valuation of different lives. In addition to her contributions on prison abolition, Dr. Gilmore’s research addresses racial capitalism, organized violence, and labor and social movements. She is known for her depth of knowledge, meticulous analysis and theoretical agility.

Dr. Gilmore’s powerful scholarship has been paired with deep engagement in public-facing scholarship. She is the quintessential intellectual-activist, engaging a wide range of audiences in the U.S. and internationally on the role of the state in taking and preserving life. Dr. Gilmore is also an extraordinary mentor of undergraduate and graduate students and of junior and mid-career scholars. She is described by her mentees as a “formidable, uncompromising, generous and greatly beloved scholar”. Through her mentorship, Dr. Gilmore has shaped a new generation of public scholars within Geography.

The discipline of Geography has benefited enormously from Dr. Gilmore’s scholarship, activism, and mentorship. She is a role model for all of us. (Photo credit ©DonUsner)

Michael Watts, University of California – Berkeley

Michael Watts, recipient of the 2020 AAG Lifetime Achievement Award, is one of the most influential nature/society scholars of the last fifty years. His foundational research on political ecology, vulnerability and resilience, agrarian political economy, the social production of famine, oil

and development, and environmental justice – all conducted through a fine-grained ethnographic, political, and deeply historical engagement with Nigeria and West Africa – continues to shape scholarly debates and research programs across the environmental social sciences, area studies, and humanities.

Watts’ work is widely cited and taught. He has written two powerful monographs – Silent Violence: Food, Famine, and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria (1983/2013 2nd ed.) and Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta (2014) – and more than 300 articles and essays. He is perhaps best known for his edited volumes, which have been no less than field-defining. He has set and then reset the intellectual trajectory of political ecology and critical nature/society research three times in twenty years with the various editions of Liberation Ecologies, initially published in 1996 and then entirely overhauled twice: first for a 2nd edition in 2004, and then again for a 3rd edition retitled Global Political Ecology, which was published in 2011. His 2001 collection Violent Environments (with Nancy Peluso), catalyzed a body of research focused on the role of armed conflict in environmental conservation world-wide which continues today in work on the role of armed drones in wildlife protection. His recent co-edited volume Subterraenean Estates: Life Worlds of Oil and Gas (2015) promises to play a similarly defining role in research on the environmental and political impacts of fossil fuel extraction. He has received numerous awards including the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors. In addition to funding from NSF and the National Geographic Society, his research has been funded by major foundations including Ford and Rockefeller. He has also received a Guggenheim.

As the Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at Berkeley, he supervised 90 Ph.D. students and served on the committees of 75 others. His service to Geography and academia more broadly includes co-founding and directing the storied Environmental Politics Workshop at UC Berkeley, and serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council for more than a decade and on the advisory board for the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. Beyond academia, Watts has worked at the highest levels of international development (serving as Chief of Party for the United National Development Program and working with the World Bank), corporate governance (arranging workshops on corporate social responsibility for companies such as Statoil and Genentech), statecraft (working with the U.S. Congress and State Department on oil issues), and community activism (collaborating with photojournalists and the environmental justice collective RETORT). These multi-faceted engagements with diverse stakeholders are a testament to Watts’ ability to impact both powerful and marginalized constituencies in and beyond academia.

2020 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Jamie Peck, University of British Columbia

The 2020 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Award is awarded to Jamie Peck, for his foundational and sustained contributions to the field of economic geography and to human geography, more broadly.
It is difficult to overstate Jamie Peck’s intellectual influence. Peck is one of the most productive geographers of our time. He is in the top 1% of social scientists in terms of citations, with an h-index of 83 and more than 40,000 citations. His published work, which is notable for both methodological rigor and deep theoretical insight, includes 6 monographs, 13 edited volumes, 93 book chapters and 200 articles. Over three decades, he has published transformative work on the dynamics of neoliberalization, the economic transformation of urban governance, the history of economic geography, changing labor markets and regulation, and policy mobilities. His research has been funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Ford Foundation, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and The Leverhulme Trust, among other sources. His many awards include the RGS-IBG Back Award and a Guggenheim, and he is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences (UK), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. One of the outstanding characteristics of his scholarship is his ability to frame complex problems in terms accessible to a broad audience. This is reflected in the reach of his work outside of the academy, as demonstrated by quotations and interviews in two dozen popular press outlets, including the Economist, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Peck’s extraordinary scholarship is matched by an extraordinary record of service to the field as an editor and mentor. In his remarkable and ongoing run as editor at Antipode and Environment and Planning A, and now as lead editor of the five Environment and Planning journals, he has shaped the intellectual conversation across Human Geography for decades. Beyond his own editorial work, he is currently on the editorial or advisory boards of 11 other academic journals, and is a tireless reviewer for the top journals in geography and regional studies. Finally, through his deep intellectual generosity to junior colleagues and students, including as founder of the Summer Institute for Economic Geography and as advisor to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, he has played a pivotal role in the development of generations of economic geography scholars. For these and his many other contributions to geography, Jamie Peck is the recipient of the 2020 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Award.

Qihao Weng, Indiana State University

Qihao Weng is a pioneer and leading scholar in the area of urban remote sensing. During his distinguished career, he has significantly advanced our theoretical understanding and empirical knowledge of urban heat islands and land surface temperature, urban sprawl, and environmental sustainability in the context of rapid urbanization. His originality, creativity, and significant intellectual contributions have resulted in 235 articles, 14 books, and funding support from NSF, NASA, USGS, NOAA, ESA, and the National Geographic Society. His academic record testifies to his history of innovative work and far reaching influence on a wide range of disciplines including urban geography, urban planning, landscape ecology, meteorology, and climatology.

Weng’s outstanding contributions to urban remote sensing and sustainability science include methodological innovations including novel algorithms and data analysis strategies and theoretical advances offering new perspectives on the urban environment and spatio-temporal aspects of urbanization processes. Taken together, Weng’s empirical and theoretical contributions have yielded significant new insights on some of the most critically important phenomenon influencing contemporary urban environments.

Weng’s seminal research on urban heat islands, landscape effects on land surface temperature, and urbanization processes opened a critical new frontier towards understanding and measuring novel environmental risks in rapidly growing urban regions. He developed a methodology for estimating land surface temperature with satellite-derived measures of vegetation that has become a core technique for those investigating urban climates. His research has also demonstrated that urban sprawl and warming are not an isolated phenomenon, but instead are coupled with other risk factors, such as infectious disease. His scholarship has not only transformed the scientific understanding of remote sensing in geographical applications, but also has bridged methodological gaps between geography, spatial ecology, and environmental science.

Beyond the considerable impact of his own research, Weng’s production of educational materials and resources have played an important role in training future generations of urban scholars in remote sensing and GIS techniques. In particular, Weng’s An Introduction to Contemporary Remote Sensing is the standard textbook for many introductory remote sensing courses and has been adopted by numerous universities, community colleges, and technical schools around the world. He also has a long record of dedicated professional service to the AAG. In recognition for his outstanding contributions to scholarship in geography, Weng has received many honors and awards including the AAG Outstanding Contributions Award in Remote Sensing (2011) and Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award (2015). In 2018, Weng was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Senior Fellow at NASA, and member of the European Union Academy of Sciences.

Weng’s research exemplifies the multifaceted scholarship that is critical in bridging contemporary urban studies with spatial ecology and environmental science. He also continues to be a role model for exemplary practices in education, public service, and professional leadership for the next generation of geographic leaders. For these reasons, the 2020 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Award is awarded to Qihao Weng.

2020 AAG Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors

William Solecki, CUNY – Hunter College

The 2020 Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors is awarded to William Solecki for his outstanding work to improve the human condition through direct community engagement, wide-ranging public service, and salient, cutting-edge research. Solecki’s work sits at the nexus of geographic inquiry, social justice, and environmental policy. His work has transformed our understanding of the opportunities and obstacles of urban living in a changing natural environment, and has been deeply influential across communities and organizations.

Of particular note is Solecki’s deft ability to work at multiple geographic scales among myriad organizations to advance our understanding of, and ability to respond effectively to, climate change. At a local scale, Solecki has co-chaired the New York City Panel on Climate Change, served as the Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, served as the interim Director of the Science and Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay, and led several climate impact studies in the greater New York and New Jersey region. At a national scale, Solecki served as the coordinating lead author for chapters in the 2014 (Chapter 11: Urban, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability) and 2018 (Chapter 18: Northeast) U.S. National Climate Assessment reports. Internationally, Solecki has been involved in Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2006 and has made numerous contributions to the IPCC’s assessments of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for communities. He served as a contributing author for three chapters in the Fourth Assessment Report, as a lead author for the Urban Areas chapter in the Fifth Assessment Report, as a lead author for the Decision-Making Options for Managing Risk chapter in the Sixth Assessment Report, and as a coordinating lead author of the Framing and Context chapter of the IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5oC.

In addition to his extensive scholarly research and many contributions to climate change assessments, Solecki is co-founder of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, co-editor of Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability, and founding editor of the Journal of Extreme Events. He currently maintains numerous collaborative projects around the world. In 1975, Gilbert White wrote “that the human race is a family that has inherited a place on the earth in common, that its members have an obligation to work toward sharing it so that none is deprived of the elementary needs for life, and that all have a responsibility to leave it undegraded for those who follow (Stewardship of the Earth, p. 403-404). William Solecki is awarded the 2020 Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors for his unfettered devotion to those basic principles and his ability to put them into action.

2020 Distinguished Teaching Honors

Robert Lake, Rutgers University

Robert Lake, the recipient of the 2020 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors, is an extraordinary educator and mentor of graduate students and young scholars. He has provided generous, sensitive and supportive teaching and guidance both inside and outside of the classroom. Lake’s goal has been to teach students how to think rather than what to think. His selfless mentorship has allowed students to grow and flourish intellectually.

At Rutgers University, Lake served as dissertation chair or committee member for over 130 doctoral students, many of whom are now leading scholars in urban geography and urban studies. He is well known for his innovative course design, particularly in the area of geographic theory, and his ability to convey to students his deep understanding of the research process. Moreover, he has contributed, through numerous administrative positions, to the structure and organization of graduate education from the department to the university level. Lake has been the recipient of multiple teaching awards inside and outside of Rutgers University.

Lake also has provided discipline-wide mentorship for graduate students and young scholars. As a long-term co-editor of the journal Urban Geography, Lake guided young scholars through the publication process. In his role as organizer of the annual AAG Urban Geography plenary lecture, he provided a forum for intellectual discourse and mentoring. Over the last two decades, Lake has organized the Brooklyn Urban Reading Group, an ongoing, open and inclusive discussion involving faculty and students from nearby universities.

Through his devotion to graduate education and the mentoring of young scholars, Lake has contributed to a network of scholars (affectionately referred to as Bob-net) who are continuing to strengthen the discipline of geography. In the words of a colleague and mentee, Robert Lake’s commitment to “pluralism, engagement, and deep care for others” makes him an exemplary educator and a role model for the discipline of geography.

2020 AAG Media Achievement Awar

Keith Debbage, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Keith Debbage, recipient of the 2020 Media Achievement award, is a quintessential communicator of the scholarly ideas of applied urban and economic geography. His conceptual explorations run the gamut from local-scale planning issues, to regional examinations of economic decline and recovery, to the impacts of the so-called “Creative Class.” In every case, Debbage breaks the complexity down into jargon-free and readable packets of knowledge. Debbage draws on his scholarship, extensive professional service, including his appointment as a Coleman Foundation Fellow, and his lived experience when communicating with the public, such as in his recent columns on the power of local-scale entrepreneurialism and the role of higher education in the economic and cultural life of North Carolina. A disarming folksiness is underlain by decades of applied scholarship, much of it completed with external grant and contract funding.

As a role model for others, Debbage is prolific in his media presence and yet, by all accounts, seeks to share the spotlight with his student collaborators and to bring sophistication to his analyses even as they are accessible. From over a hundred newspaper columns, often against a backdrop of maps or graphics, to countless radio and television appearances, Debbage does the difficult work of communicating geographic scholarship to the public. For his consistent commitment to this important work, for repeatedly demonstrating that conceptual complexity doesn’t mean Geography has to be confined to the Ivory Tower, and for finding the right voice to bring Geography into the public sphere, Professor Keith Debbage is recognized with the 2020 American Association of Geographers Media Achievement Award.

 

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