Alexander C. Vias, associate professor of geography at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), died at the age of 51.
Vias was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. After beginning his academic studies at Rutgers University, he completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Denver in 1993. Vias then earned a master’s degree (1995) and a PhD (1998) in geography, both from the University of Arizona. Between 1998 and 2002 he was an assistant professor at Northern Colorado University. Since 2002, he had served as a member of the faculty of the Geography Department at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005. Vias coordinated the Urban and Community Studies Program on the Storrs campus and worked closely with the Institute of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut.
Vias was a widely respected population and economic geographer best known for his research on micropolitan areas, population change, economic-demographic linkages, and the settlement geography of rural America. He published over twenty professional articles and several book chapters. In recent years his research moved into the area of community health and health disparities, leading to a number of funded projects and the publication of several important research papers as well as close working relationships with the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Vias was an active organizer of rural geography sessions at AAG Annual Meetings and Regional Science Association conferences. He worked collaboratively with federal researchers from the USDA Economic Research Service and the U.S. Census Bureau. Among his many service activities, Vias was an editor of the Population Specialty Group Newsletter and a member of the AAG’s Census Advisory Committee.
Vias received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including being named a University of Connecticut Service-Learning Teaching Fellow in 2010, the Best Paper of the Year 2004 from the Great Plains Research Center, the Economic Geography Specialty Group Award for Best Dissertation (2000), and the 1998 Charles Tiebout Prize for Best Graduate Student Paper from the Western Regional Science Association. He received the National Hispanic Scholarship Award from the National Hispanic Society in 1996.
Alexander C. Vias (Necrology). 2011. AAG Newsletter 46(8): 44.