Newsletter – September 2020


An Interview with AAG Executive Director Gary Langham (Part 1)

By Amy Lobben

“While the AAG membership elects some of its governance (i.e. president, vice president, Council), the temporal constant in leadership is the Executive Director (ED). Historically, his tenure spans multiple presidents and many dozens of councilors. Since COVID-19 has prevented our new ED, Gary Langham, from meeting the membership and vice versa, I decided to interview him as an introduction into learning a bit about his perspectives, goals and personal history that led him to AAG.”

Continue Reading.


Present Your Work at #aagSEATTLE

The AAG is now accepting abstracts for all presentation types at the 2021 AAG Annual Meeting to be held April 7-11 in Seattle, Washington. All abstracts for both in-person and virtual presentations will be accepted. For those participating in the annual meeting virtually, registrants may opt to present their work in either a paper or a poster session and participate in virtual panels. Virtual participants may organize paper, poster, and panel sessions. In addition, in-person attendees may also choose to showcase their work in either a lightning paper or guided poster session. Deadlines vary by presentation type.

View the Call for Papers.

Volunteer as a Career Mentor at the 2021 AAG Annual Meeting 

The AAG seeks panelists, career mentors, workshop leaders and session organizers for careers and professional development activities at the 2021 AAG Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. Individuals representing a broad range of employment sectors, organizations, academic and professional backgrounds, and racial/ethnic/gender perspectives are encouraged to apply. If interested, email careers [at] aag [dot] org, specifying topic(s) and activity(s) of interest, and attach a current C.V. or resume. For best consideration, please submit your information by November 20, 2020.

Get involved with the AAG Jobs and Careers Center.

Seattle, WA to Host Hybrid 2021 AAG Annual Meeting

Dusk view of the skyline, Seattle, Washington

Registration is now open for the 2021 AAG Annual Meeting to be held April 7-11 in Seattle, Washington. The Early Bird registration rates offer the lowest rates across all levels of meeting participation. But hurry, Early Bird rates expire on September 14th!


NEW Annals Alert: Articles with topics ranging from forest-based carbon offsetting to postcolonial Marxism to atmospheres of diplomacy

The most recent issue of the Annals of the AAG has been published online (Volume 110, Issue 5, September 2020) with 19 new research articles on contemporary geographic research. Topics in this issue include urban floodssafety in urban peripheriesqualitative GISgeosurveillance of crimeasylum seekershousing financializationbandwidthGillian Hart, and race & resilience. Locational areas of interest include UgandaIndiaChinaYellowstone National ParkKenya, and Bangladesh. Authors are from a variety of research institutions including Syracuse UniversityUniversity College DublinUniversity of Texas, and University of St. Andrews.

All AAG members have full online access to all issues of the Annals through the Members Only page. Each issue, the Editors choose one article to make freely available. In this issue you can read Embodied Intersectionalities of Urban Citizenship: Water, Infrastructure, and Gender in the Global South by Farhana Sultana for free for the next two months.

Questions about the Annals? Contact annals [at] aag [dot] org.

In addition to the most recently published journal, read the latest issue of the other AAG journals online:

• Annals of the American Association of Geographers
• The Professional Geographer
• GeoHumanities
• The AAG Review of Books

New issue of African Geographical Review

The latest issue of the journal of the Africa Specialty Group of the AAG, the African Geographical Review, has recently been published. Volume 39, Issue 3 (September 2020) is available online for subscribers and members of the Africa Specialty Group. Each issue, the Editors choose one article to make freely available. In this issue you can read The African COVID-19 anomaly by Joseph R. Oppong for free.

See more about the journal.


New AAG Career and Research Mentors Program

As part of the AAG’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force, AAG members proposed the creation of a mentoring program in a time when students and colleagues may have limited access to previous peer and professional contacts and mentors, while also facing new challenges. In response, the AAG has created a new mentoring program with the goal of facilitating more connections in our community and keeping students and early career geographers energized and engaged with their geography education, research, and careers.

How does it work? AAG members may volunteer to be a mentor by signing up online and providing information about their areas of expertise and interest. Students and early career geographers seeking a mentor can view the current list of volunteers and reach out through the provided contact information to start a dialogue. An active AAG membership is required for volunteer mentors only, not those seeking a mentor.

For more information, to sign up as a mentor, or to view the list of volunteer mentors, visit For questions, contact us at mentoring [at] aag [dot] org.

Updates to 2020 AAG Regional Meetings and Regional Division Student Awards

Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, many of the Regional Division Meetings of the AAG have shifted to a virtual format, presenting an opportunity for engagement within and beyond your Regional Division. Find the most up-to-date information about the 2020 fall meetings, which will occur from mid-October to mid-November, on the AAG Events Calendar.

Graduate and undergraduate students attending Regional Division Meetings can submit their work for consideration for an AAG Council Award for Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Student Papers at a Regional Meeting. These awards offer monetary prizes meant to help offset the costs of attending the virtual or in-person 2020 AAG Annual Meeting. For 2020, the AAG has expanded these awards to support in-person and/or virtual attendance of the 2021 or a future AAG Annual Meeting, in order to accommodate awardees as they make plans in these times of COVID-19.

Participatory Forum on New Requirements for Ethical Geographic Science in Rapid Research

COVID-19 calls upon researchers to navigate a fast-paced scientific inquiry process under enormous public scrutiny. As a member of the AAAS Science and Human Rights coalition, AAG will host an experimental virtual forum to initiate conversations among interested researchers regarding challenges faced from rapid funding mechanisms, abundance of geographic data from emerging technologies, and the “real-time” expectations and needs of governments in a rapid research environment. Participants will connect with other scholars and actively contribute to discussions concerning topics such as human subjects in research in a time of automated location tracking and facial recognition; the collective Rights of “places”; and who carries the burden of rapid COVID-19 research. The participatory forum will be held on October 1, 2020 at 1:00 PM EDT.

More information and registration.

Nominations Sought for AAG Council Positions

The AAG Nominating Committee seeks nominations for Vice President (one to be elected) for National Councilor (two vacancies), and for International Councilor (one vacancy for an inaugural, 2-year Observer position on Council) for the 2021 election. The AAG encourages nominations of a broad range of colleagues who reflect different disciplinary specialties, regional locations, gender, race, ethnicity, diverse ability, stage in career, etc. Those elected will take office on July 1, 2021. AAG members should submit the names and addresses of each nominee and their reasons for supporting nomination to any member of the AAG Nominating Committee no later than September 18, 2020. As part of your nomination statement, please confirm that the person is willing to be considered for the position for which you are recommending them. Nominations by email are strongly preferred.

Please send nominations or questions regarding these positions to the AAG Nominating Committee: Kate Berry (Chair), Becky Mansfield, and Daoqin Tong.

Geography Awareness Week 2020 Is Coming

November 16-21, 2020 will be the 34th annual Geography Awareness Week. If you have ideas for how AAG can celebrate this year, we want to hear from you! Email Lisa Schamess at lschamess [at] aag [dot] org with your suggestions.


Census Deadline Adjustment Could Affect Communities of Color

In early August, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would be ending its official count one month earlier than planned. The new deadline means that the agency has until September 30th to count every household and individual living in the country. This comes during a year when the Census faced unexpected challenges, at times having to halt and delay counting efforts until they could safely continue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with one month less than planned, there are fears that the data may yield inaccurate results. Many stakeholders and experts have expressed concern over this change in procedure, including a group of former Census Bureau directors who have served under nine past presidents. Of particular concern is the risk of undercounting communities of color. Many of these communities have lower self-response rates, and the shortened counting period makes in-person enumeration harder to accomplish. Undercounting communities of color would not only have lasting damage on statistical accuracy, it would undermine fair representation in subsequent Congressional redistricting and jeopardize the allocation of much-needed federal funds. While certain leaders have spoken out and demanded an extension to the deadline, including Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), agency officials are currently operating under tremendous pressure to meet the accelerated deadline. The Census Project has released a toolkit for individuals who want to take action in support of a fair and accurate 2020 Census. They encourage advocates to post to social media using the hashtags #SavetheCensus and #DontRushtheCensus.

In the News:


Profiles of Professional Geographers

Xiaohui-Liu-photo-e1598902703368-249x300-1Geography was Xiaohui Liu’s favorite subject in middle school. Now Xiaohui is a geospatial analyst and health disparity researcher as a Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Awardee at the National Institutes of Health! While Xiaohui values her core skill set in spatial thinking, she also emphasizes the need to continuously adopt and learn new spatial data science practices in her career. She recommends Coursera, Data Camp, and all the technology-related workshops at the AAG annual meetings to help those seeking geospatial careers stay on top of technological changes in the field.

Learn more about Geography Careers on the recently updated AAG Jobs & Careers website.

September Member Updates

The latest news from AAG Members.

Brittany D. Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in The University of Toledo Spatially Integrated Social Science Doctoral Program in the College of Arts and Letters, is one of four winners of a 2020 MAXQDA Research for Change Grant from VERBI Software and the Global Nature Fund. Her research project is titled “Empowerment Through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership and Black Food Geographies.” Her co-advisors are Dr. Neil Reid and Dr. Sujata Shetty, professors in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning. Read more.

Welcome to Clancy Wilmott, and thank you to John Kelmelis: AAG representatives on the Board of Directors of the GIS Certification Institute

The GIS Certification Institute or GISCI was established in 2002 by member organizations: Association of American Geographers (AAG), Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA), National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), to provide the GIS community with a complete certification program, leading to Certified GIS Professionals. John Kelmelis has completed five years as AAG representative of GISCI’s board of directors and is succeeded by Clancy Wilmott, who assumes a two-year term on the board, and will join Mike S. Scott (Salisbury University) who is currently on the board.

Find out more about the GIS Certification Institute.


Nominate Inspiring Geographers: September Awards Deadlines

awardsAAG Grants and Awards make a huge impact on our community of Geographers and help maintain the legacy of geographers of the past while paying tribute to geographers thriving right now. September deadlines are approaching fast. Don’t miss your opportunity to apply or nominate someone deserving! Learn more about the following grants and awards before their due dates:
Sept. 15: AAG Enhancing Diversity Award and AAG Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award
Sept. 22: AAG Nystrom Award for Recent Dissertations

Climate Adaptation Research Symposium

On September 21, 2020, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will virtually host a free symposium on climate adaptation. The event will bring together leading scholars, policymakers, and practitioners on climate adaptation throughout the U.S., with the goal to expand knowledge and inform adaptation and resiliency policies and plans.

Register to attend.

Fellowships Available for Research in India


The American Institute of Indian Studies announces its 2020 fellowship competition, and invites applications from scholars who wish to conduct their research in India. Junior fellowships are awarded to Ph.D. candidates to conduct research for their dissertations in India for up to eleven months. Senior fellowships are awarded to scholars who hold the Ph.D. degree for up to nine months of research in India. AIIS welcomes applicants from a wide variety of disciplines. It especially encourages applicants in fields such as Development Studies, Natural Resources Management, Public Health, and Regional Planning. The application deadline is July 1, 2019. Inquiries should be directed to 773-702-8638 or aiis [at] uchicago [dot] edu.

Download the application.

News from the Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences Program at the NSF

NSF_logo2sThere have been several recent changes within the National Science Foundation (NSF) relevant to members of the AAG. In addition to annual changes in program staff, there has been a name change for the geography program from Geography and Spatial Sciences to Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences at NSF. Scott Freundschuh continues as HEGS Program Director with Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen (State University of New York-Buffalo) and Kendra K. McLauchlan (Kansas State University) joining him as Jacqueline Vadjunec returns to Oklahoma State University.

Read more about the name change.


The AAG is saddened to hear of the passing of these colleagues.

Marshall E. Bowen, an emeritus professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Mary Washington, passed away at his home on August 19, 2020. Professor Bowen received an undergraduate degree from Plymouth Teachers College (NH), a masters from Kent State University (OH), and his doctorate from Boston University. He joined the faculty at Mary Washington in 1965 and retired in 2001. Read more.

Frank Friedman, a member of AAG since 1959, died at his home in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, on May 30, 2020. He was 81. Friedman earned his Bachelor of Science in Education from Kutztown State College in 1960. He earned a Master of Education in Geography from Penn State University in 1965, and a Master of Science from Drexel University in 1980. He was a longtime geography teacher in the Conrad Weiser School District in Pennsylvania. Read more.

Robert (Bob) Wheeler Smith died on August 13, 2020 in Grantsville, MD. He was 70 years old. Smith received his BA degree from Bucknell University, in Political Science. It’s said that he was so taken with his political geography class textbook that he looked up its author, Louis Alexander at the University of Rhode Island, and subsequently went there to receive his Master’s degree in Geography. Smith joined the State Department just before the UN Law of the Sea Convention was finalized in 1982, and devoted his career to maritime boundaries. Read more.

Marvin Creamer, a geographer and skilled sailor who completed a two-year circumnavigation of the globe in 1984, without any instruments at all, died on August 12, 2020 in Raleigh, North Carolina, after a brief illness. He was 104 years old. Born in 1916 in Salem County, New Jersey, Creamer was a graduate of Glassboro State College, now known as Rowan University. He stayed on as a professor, establishing the Geography Department as its first chair in 1970 and received numerous honors up until his retirement in 1977. Read more.

Michael Freilich, former head of NASA Earth Science Division and a distinguished member of the United States Delegation to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), died on August 5, 2020. Under Dr. Freilich’s leadership, NASA was a vital, collaborative partner in worldwide study of the earth. Read more.