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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, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm.

2020 E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award

This annual award recognizes members of the Association who have made truly outstanding contributions to the geographic field due to their special competence in teaching or research. Funding for the award comes from the estate of Ruby S. Miller. More than one award may be awarded each year. Each award includes $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Jennifer CollinsDr. Jennifer Collins, University of South Florida

Dr. Jennifer Collins of the University of South Florida, has developed an impressive record of high-quality scholarship, which has been matched by equally remarkable achievements in teaching, student mentorship, and public service. She has made significant contributions to the field of climatology; developing an international reputation for her work on hurricanes, while publishing numerous journal articles and three books.

Specifically, Collins’ research has helped increase understanding of how climate factors can have differential impacts on tropical cyclone behavior. Moreover, she has worked tirelessly to bridge the fields of geography and atmospheric science through her impactful efforts at the intersection of these two disciplines and is supporting the next generation of scientists through her teaching and effective student mentorships.

Collins’ high level of service leadership, in cooperation with the U.S. National Weather Service, has also enhanced community and general public awareness in relation to catastrophic weather events.

2020 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.

Martina Angela Caretta

Martina Angela Caretta, West Virginia University

Dr. Martina Angela Caretta works on the human-environment interactions of women and water, but that does not adequately describe the depth, breadth or impact of her work. One geographer who wrote a letter of support for her noted that she has been asked to serve as a Coordinating Lead Author of the forthcoming 6th UN Intergovernmental Panel on the Climate Change Assessment Report. This is indeed a charge of great significance and import. Caretta is as dynamic a teacher as she is a researcher. We believe Glenda Laws would wholeheartedly support Dr. Caretta as most deserving recipient of this award.

2020 Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in Geography

The AAG Wilbanks Award 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 Award will consist of a cash prize of $2,000 and include a memento with the name of the Award and the recipient.

Billie Turner

Billie Lee Turner, Arizona State University

Billie Lee Turner, Arizona State University, has been a leader in the field of land use change and a strong advocate for geography at the national level. Dr. Turner’s research has been transformative in two distinct areas, united by a geographic approach to land use change. First, his earliest work on Pre-Hispanic Mayan agriculture established a major new research strand in geography and elevated geographic research on land-use and land use change to a significant area of anthropological research. Dr. Turner and his graduate students have continued to build a substantial body of Meso-American research in which they have deepened understanding of environmental context and broadened methodological approaches to grasping the underpinnings of agricultural change. Second, Dr. Turner’s research on land use and environmental change has been influential in creating the emerging field of land systems science as a major component of global change and sustainability research. Dr. Turner is a highly deserving recipient of the Wilbanks Prize, as he exemplifies utilizing new geospatial technologies to complement traditional geographic field studies in advancing theory and analyses of land use change.

2020 AAG Award for Associates Program Excellence  

This annual award and cash prize honors Geography departments and Geography programs within blended departments that have significantly enhanced the prominence and reputation of Geography as a discipline and demonstrated the characteristics of a strong and engaged academic unit. The award honors non-PhD granting Geography programs at the associates, baccalaureate, and master levels.

Lakeland Community College

The AAG has chosen to honor the Department of Geography and Geospatial Technology, Lakeland Community College, Ohio, with its 2020 AAG Award for Associates Program Excellence. The Department of Geography and Geospatial Technology at Lakeland Community College is relatively new, having been founded as an independent unit at the College in 2011. It has developed strategic local partnerships and received external grant funding from the Cleveland Foundation Fenn Fund, the Dominion Foundation and the Ohio Space Grant Consortium/NASA CCStars program. At the center of its educational mission is an integration of geographical perspectives from across the discipline, with a focus on GIS and Geospatial technology. The committee was impressed by Lakeland’s strong and productive relationships with area stakeholders, from K-12 schools through to public and private sector employers, representatives of which serve on the program’s advisory board. Students in the Associate’s degree program have completed service learning courses with the City of Euclid, OH, and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, among others, and have participated in raising the profile of the discipline on campus at annual “GIS Day” events, and off campus through collaborations with the area’s North Coast Drone Alliance, Geospatial Professional Network, and have taken the lead to engage alumni and local professionals in a Women in GIS organization.

Honorable Mention:

The committee also recognizes the Geography Program at Grand Rapids Community College with an honorable mention, where Dr. Michael S. DeVivo oversees a program that has a demonstrable record of instructional excellence and student success.