Print Friendly

The 2016 AAG Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to Susan Christopherson and George Malanson.

The AAG Honors Committee chose to recognize Susan Christopherson as one of the awardees for the Lifetime Achievement Award for her considerable and long standing contributions to economic geography research, public engagement, teaching, and service. Her work on media, optics, agriculture, renewable energy, and manufacturing has included deep engagement with local economic development authorities to produce research that contributes to spatially and socially balanced economic growth. Christopherson’s more recent work on nontraditional energy sources has continued this tradition, including her appointment to a National Research Council panel to consider the implications of shale gas and oil development for local communities and the dissemination of policy reports on the risks and impacts of crude oil rail transport. As the first woman to be promoted to full professor within her department as well as the first female chair, she has also broken ground in terms of increasing diversity within the field of economic geography, which she has also done through her mentoring and teaching.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to George Malanson for his work tackling one of the most challenging and highly charged issues of our time — climate change. His work is exceptional in its recognition of the complexity of the factors impacting our rapidly changing environment — its response to natural disturbance and human impact. Indeed, he is regarded as one of the world’s leading scientists on the topic and has come to be recognized for his path breaking and thoughtful research, insights informed by science, creativity, scholarly productivity, and service. He is also widely respected as a mentor and instructor. Included among his many accomplishments is his 1993 book, ‘Riparian Landscapes’ (1993). It is regarded by many as seminal in landscape-ecological research. His work and contributions are praiseworthy and indeed he is highly deserving of the AAG Lifetime Achievement Award.

Citations for Susan Christopherson and George Malanson follow below. 


Susan Christopherson, Cornell University

Susan Christopherson
Christopherson

The 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award is being given to Susan Christopherson for her contributions to economic geography in terms of research and public engagement as well as her productive history of teaching and mentoring. The committee was most impressed with the way Susan has not only pushed the boundaries of academic inquiry but has done so in a way that addresses issues of public concern and provides information to policymakers and citizens alike.

Though not housed in a geography department, Susan has always identified as a geographer. Her work on regional economic development has focused on the importance of specific industries such as media, optics, agriculture, renewable energy, and manufacturing. She has been at the forefront of debates on the new regionalism, the creative economy, the precarity of labor, and learning regions, always emphasizing the importance of local context and networks in shaping and mediating national and global economic and social processes. Equally important, Susan’s work has included deep engagement with local economic development authorities to produce research that contributes to spatially and socially balanced economic growth. She has produced multiple policy reports for the Brooking Institution, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and state and regional authorities. Many of these reports have centered around frequently-cited statistics on job creation, trying to understand the precise economic impact of a specific industry to help policymakers make better choices and to simultaneously help households earn better livelihoods.

Susan’s more recent work on nontraditional energy sources has continued this tradition of integrating academic and policy research. This includes her appointment to a National Research Council panel to consider the implications of shale gas and oil development for local communities in New York and Pennsylvania (the governor of New York later banned fracking in the state). She has also disseminated research and policy reports on the risks and impacts of crude oil rail transport, an issue which is growing in importance within North America. She has been interviewed by multiple newspapers, as well as radio and TV stations for her highly relevant work.

Susan has also broken ground in terms of increasing diversity within the field of economic geography by pushing for the consideration of women’s labor and care work as part of our economic systems. She was the first woman to be promoted to full professor within her department, as well as the first female chair of that department just this past year. She is one of the founding editors for The Cambridge Journal on Regions, Economy and Society, which is very well-regarded for a relatively new journal. Susan’s mentoring and teaching have also been invaluable to the discipline, whether founding a study abroad program for undergraduates, teaching her own graduate students, or mentoring junior faculty at a wide variety of institutions. For all of these reasons, the Honors Committee is pleased to award the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award to Susan Christopherson.

George Malanson, University of Iowa

George Malanson
Malanson

The AAG Lifetime Achievement Award goes to George Malanson who holds the position of Coleman – Miller Professor in the Department of Geographical & Sustainability Science at the University of Iowa while simultaneously serving as Program Director, Population & Community Ecology Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Malanson began his career at Williams College where he took a Bachelor’s degree in Art. Prior to completing his Master’s in Geography at the University of Utah, he studied Hindi at the U. S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute. He earned his PhD at UCLA under the tutelage of W. E. Westman.

Malanson’s career trajectory has been wide ranging and varied. He served as an illustrator/draftsman with the US Army, a cartographic draftsman with the Wm Moore Survey and Mapping Co, and bio-geographer with the Archaeology Division of the ESCA Tech Corporation—all of which prepared him for his exceptional approach to scholarship which many have described as “transformative; inherently integrative and explicitly positioned within geographic traditions and debates.”

Professor Malanson Prof. Malanson has (co)-authored more than 170 journal articles, (co)-authored two books and (co)-edited three multi-author contributions. His work has been cited more than 2400 times and he has been involved research that has received nearly $3.5 million of external funding. Combined, these place Prof. Malanson in the very upper-echelon of physical geographers-indeed all geographers.

One of the striking characteristics of Malanson’s work is linking natural factors and processes at different scales (micro, local, regional) with human impact. It is this complex, synthetic view that is of major importance for truly understanding the rapidly changing environment. As one letter writer noted, George’s work tackles some of the biggest challenges of the decades to come – the relationship between conservation, human impact, and natural disturbance.

He has been described as a creative thinker, an innovator, and a researcher with extensive knowledge of both the literature and technical innovations. “Many physical geographers generate empirical results, but Dr. Malanson carries his work to the next phase and contributes new understandings to the theoretical and predictive patterns of natural landscapes.”

Based on these many accomplishments and the high regard he is accorded in the profession by his students and peers, we recognize George Malanson and award him the AAG Lifetime Achievement Award.