Departmental News & Honors

The following is a list of some of the most important honors, awards and other recognition of geography faculty and students in the last year. We don’t try to list everything, but be assured there is much more than shown here.

UGA graduate students stole the show at the 2013 AAG Paleoenvironmental Change Specialty Group paper competition last spring. Danielle Haskett won the undergraduate/M.S. competition for her paper “A Chironomid-based Reconstruction of Late Quaternary Thermal Conditions at the Snowmastodon Site, Snowmass Village, Colorado” and Lixin Wang won the Ph.D. competition for her paper, “Holocene climate changes in northwest Madagascar: evidence from a two-meter-long stalagmite from the Anjohibe Cave.”

Binita KC won the poster competition at the Georgia Environmental Conference in August. If you missed that work, I understand she will be presenting this work at SEDAAG.

Postdoc Theresa Andersen’s work on “Brown Oceans” was featured in a number of news reports and in a NASA press release. (

Nancy O’Hare was selected for the Graduate School's Emerging Leaders Program.

Levi Van Sant received a research fellowship from the Harvard Program on the Study of Capitalism. He also received an AAG dissertation research award.

Marielle Abalo received a 2013-2014 Society of Women Geographers Pruitt Fellowship grant for her research in the Galapagos.

Mingshu Wang was selected for a one-year appointment to the Research Participation Program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD). This program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and EPA. Mingshu was also appointed to the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Student Advisory Council (SAC) as the deputy council chair. She also was one of two winners in the competition for the Cartography and Geographic Science Masters Scholarship Award.

Caren Remillard received the 2013 NASA Science Systems and Applications Incorporated (SSAI) Scholarship Award.

Maria Augutis was recognized as an Academic All-American. Maria is a member of the Track and Field team and an undergraduate major.

Castle Williams, one of our undergraduate majors, received a scholarship from the American Meteorological Society, and then he recently received an AMS graduate fellowship.

Marguerite Madden has been invited to serve on the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science’s (UCGIS) Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge Task Force Steering Committee. This is a key body for setting curriculum standard in Geographic Information Science.

Alexandra Horst received the Merle C. Prunty award at the Southeast Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG) meeting in Roanoke in November. This is the most prestigious student award given by SEDAAG. Congratulations, Alexandra!

A joint Georgia-West Virginia team emerged the Geography Bowl champions at SEDAAG, and Pete Akers was again named MVP.

Students from the UGA American Meteorological Society (AMS) student chapter had a tremendous showing at the annual meeting in Atlanta. The student chapter was an honorable mention in the Chapter of the Year competition, which is an impressive accomplishment. The chapter also received first place for their chapter poster, which is now in the second floor display case. Also, AMS students led the daily weather briefing at the annual meeting.

Minh Phan, Castle Williams and Andy Grundstein received third place in the AMS Weather Ready Nation poster competition.

Undergraduate CURO student Sara Black received an award from the Undergraduate Symposium Paper Competition at the Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky.

Jordan McLeod won first place in the student poster competition at the AMS 26th Conference on Climate Change and Variability.

Steve Padgett-Vasquez received the 2014 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Ta Liang Scholarship.

Caitlin Mertzlufft and Amy Nichols were featured in a story in the Franklin (TN) Press on their work with the Integrative Conservation (ICON) program and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee River.

Chris Strother was interviewed for a UNG article regarding the satellite component of the search for the missing Malaysian airliner. The piece was also picked up by local media outlets.

Genevieve Holdridge received a Geological Society of America grant last summer, and she now has a position with Peace Corps Response and the National Park Service in Mexico.

Kavita Pandit was re-elected to the board of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Marshall Shepherd has been interviewed and quoted in numerous media outlets, including an interview this week with The Weather Channel on the latest IPCC report. He was on CBS Face the Nation earlier this semester. Marshall finished his term as president of the American Meteorological Society at the annual meeting in Atlanta, and he now serves as past-president. He also had a key essay published in the National Urban League's State of Black America report. Marshall was also selected as the 2014 Wye Fellow by the Aspen Institute following his nomination by President Morehead.

The Center for Geospatial Research and the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History acquired a quadcopter UAV equipped with an HD video and still camera earlier this year and attracted the attention of the local media while they were collecting aerial photography over the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia. This attention resulted in a front page article in the Athens Banner Herald (Little flying machine is new research tool for UGA scientists), a feature on WUGA-TV news, and an article in the Red & Black (Drones Serves as Research Tools for UGA).

Marguerite Madden and Tommy Jordan served as co-technical chairs for the 2014 ASPRS Annual Convention. For this effort, they were each honored with the 2014 ASPRS Conference Management Award.

Postdoctoral research scientist Sergio Bernardes received a 2014 UGA Graduate School Excellence in Research Award. Sergio is also serving as chair of the Climate Change Committee under the Remote Sensing Applications Division of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Sergio also received the James L. Carmon Scholarship from the Office for the Vice President for Research. I believe he is the first recipient in geography in more than 10 years. Sergio also was awarded a U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) Scholarship.

The following geography majors were elected to Phi Beta Kappa: Sara Black, Alexandra Horst, Clara Nibbelink, and Castle Williams.

The UGA WxChallenge team finished third in the nation, tied for their highest-ever finish. Six different team members, spanning all four trophy-eligible categories, won eight trophies for placing first or second in their category for a particular city. Eight team members made it into the post-season individual tournament. Five team members advanced to the Round of 64. Four advanced to the Round of 32. Eight UGA team members qualified for the post-season tournament: Minh Phan, Jared Rackley, John Knox, Aneela Qureshi, Matt Daniel, Alan Black, Jordan McLeod, and Josh Wood. The UGA team also had individual trophy winners in the following categories: faculty/staff, graduate student, junior/senior and freshman/sophomore.

Neil Debbage won third place in the AAG Climate Specialty Group paper competition.

Shuvankar Ghosh is now the student director of the AAG Remote Sensing Specialty Group, and Danielle Haskett was elected as the student representative for the Mountain Geography Specialty Group for AAG.

Mu Lan has received a Sarah Moss Fellowship from the Center for Teaching and Learning.

John Knox received the M.G. Michael Award from Franklin College earlier this spring, and he was also part of the Center for Teaching and Learning's Award-Winning Faculty Series.

Catarina Passidomo has accepted a faculty position at the University of Mississippi; Graham Pickren has accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of British Columbia, and Seth Gustafson has accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of Bremen in Germany. UGA Geography Ph.D. and EPA employee Katie Price has accepted a tenure-track faculty position at Georgia State University.