Outstanding Geographers (10 Phenomenal Careers)

by Dave

Geography may be taught in early education as the science of the planet’s environment, but it is really much broader in scope. Even if you took Advanced Placement Human Geography in high school, you learned about the deep connection between the natural environment and human society. Today’s outstanding geographers are not simply interested in identifying mountain ranges and rivers nor in simply placing countries and capitals on maps. They seek to understand the impact of human society on their territory and vice versa.

In digging into the foundation of the field, these outstanding geographers are able to study and make predictions about social movements and political shifts, sustainability and climate change, food security and energy sources, and more. Their research reveals trends that engineers, politicians, and civilians alike should note in order to ensure a healthy, safe future no matter where they live in the world.

Juan Herrera, Ph.D. ⁠— Identifying the Role of Race in Geography

Juan Herrera, Ph.D. studies ethnic studies
Juan Herrera, Ph.D.

As an assistant professor at Oregon State University, Juna Herrera teaches ethnic studies. His research primarily focuses on urban geography, social movements, and transnational migration. As race continues to play a significant role in global politics, Herrera’s work will have major impacts in the realm of human geography.

Educated in the University of California system, he obtained his bachelor’s degree at the Los Angeles campus (UCLA) and his graduate degrees at Berkeley (Cal). As an academic, he has published a variety of research in academic journals. His work earned numerous awards, including the Center for Humanities Resident Research Fellowship, the University of Chicago Provost’s Career Enhancement Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Dean’s Normative Time Fellowship, the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, the Gates Millennium Scholarship, and the Chancellor’s Fellowship.

In addition to his publications, Herrera presents frequently. His list of past conference presentations includes speaking at the National Association for Ethnic Studies Annual Conference, the Association of American Geographers Conference, and the Critical Geography Mini-Conference. 

Moreover, he is part of several academic and community service events. These include being a Graduate Student Mentor, a Peer Reviewer for the Association of Mexican-American Educators journal, a Board President for Street Level Health Project, and a Program Assistant for Centro Legal de La Raza. Interestingly, Herrera is also bilingual in English and Spanish and proficient in Portuguese, allowing him to delve into community issues more directly. 

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Juan Herrera.

Brian Barker ⁠— Improving Food Security

Brian Barker is an outstanding geographer
Brian Barker

As a Senior Faculty Specialist in Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, Brian Barker’s primary areas of interest include agricultural monitoring and food security. Of note, he is a lead author for the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor for Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS). In this capacity, Barker is responsible for the development and production of all crop conditions maps and charts across 35 international parties.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Vermont. His master’s degree in geographical sciences is from the University of Maryland. For his graduate work, he analyzed the relationship between population and deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also gained experience working for the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, a USAID-funded project.

In addition to his teaching and research commitments, Barker is active in the university community. He was a member of the UMD Vice President Research Search Committee, a Chair on the Faculty Specialist Committee, a Panel Member on the New Professional Track Faculty Orientation, and a Faculty Representative on the UMD Senate-Academic Procedures and Standards Committee. 

Ultimately, Baker’s research is extremely important as population size around the world continues to increase. His work demonstrates the importance of having accurate records to estimate food availability for the future. Without this type of work, the potential of food shortages increases.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Brian Barker.

Tatiana Loboda, Ph.D. ⁠— Changing Global Warming

Tatiana Loboda, Ph.D. researches global warming
Tatiana Loboda, Ph.D.

As an Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Geographical Sciences Department at the University of Maryland, Tatiana Loboda researches the effects of climate change. Her topics of interest include the impacts of land use on human health and that of climate change on arctic ecosystems. Interestingly, she also investigates the impacts of socio-economic and environmental factors on fire occurrence. Ultimately, her work in geography looks at global warming as well as human sustainability in a changing world.

She completed her undergraduate work at the Moscow Pedagogical State University. After, she earned both her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Much of her academic and research work was funded by a variety of organizations such as the Institute for Global Health, the Gates Foundation, and the National Health Institute. 

Additionally, Loboda is well-published. Her collection of publications include peer-reviewed journal articles and research papers. Also, she is active in research both domestically and internationally.

Loboda is part of the International Association of Wildland Fire, the American Geophysical Union, and the Association of American Geographers. At her university, she served on several committees, including those affiliated with finding a Department Chair. She also worked with university Search Committees for several faculty positions.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Tatiana Loboda.

Jessica Graybill, Ph.D. ⁠— Contributing to Many Topics in Geography

Jessica Graybill, Ph.D. studies environmental ethics among other geographic interests
Jessica Graybill, Ph.D.

As an Associate Professor at Colgate University in New York, Jessica Graybill conducts a lot of research. Her research spans urban ecology, climate social science, energy geographies, participatory and cognitive mapping, and environmental ethics.

She holds three degrees in the field: a B.S. in geosciences from the University of Arizona, an M.S. in the same field Yale University, and her Ph.D. in geography and urban ecology from the University of Washington. Interestingly, she also holds a B.A. in Russian language and literature from Arizona. 

Graybill’s research garners support from several organizations. These include the Belmont Forum, the National Science Foundation, and the Center for Statistics, Demography and Ecology. She also received a prestigious Fulbright Award. Additionally, she received a research grant at her current tenure. Moreover, she was also awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

In addition to her professorship, Graybill is on various boards at Colgate University. She even holds the position of Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies. Graybill is also the University Professor for Global Engagements, the University Professor for First-Year Seminar, and the University Professor for Core Distinction.

Beyond those commitments, she also acts as Associate Editor for Polar Geography. Furthermore, she is highly active with the Association of American Geographers. Graybill is Vice Chair for the Polar Specialty Group and a Representative to the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Jessica Graybill.

Susan Cassels, Ph.D. ⁠— Preventing the Spread of Disease

Susan Cassels, Ph.D.studies health as it relates to geography
Susan Cassels, Ph.D.

Primarily, Susan Cassels is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is also a research associate with the Broom Center for Demography. Through Broom Center, she studies geographical health, demography, and infectious disease epidemiology.

Funny enough, Cassels return to UCSB is linked to her academic history. She actually earned her bachelor’s degree from the university before transitioning out of the state for her graduate work. Of note, her master’s degree is from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. is from Princeton University. Of note, Cassels has taken part in various National Institute of Health Study Sections and Center for Disease Control Study Sections, among others, as well. 

Cassels has earned a plethora of awards for her contributions to the field. Her collection includes being a Math and Science Teaching Fellow, earning the International Travel and Research Grant from Princeton University, receiving the Young Investigator Field Research Grant, and obtaining a fieldwork grant from the USDA Forest Service. Additionally, she was nominated to be the Young Investigator Representative for the Center of AIDS Research. 

She is also part of several organizations, including the Golden Key National Honors Society, the UCSB Honor Society, and Phi Beta Kappa. Also, she is a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and the International Union Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Susan Cassels.

Vena Chu, Ph.D. ⁠— Understanding Climate Change in the Arctic

Vena Chu, Ph.D. researches Arctic climate change and hydrology
Vena Chu, Ph.D.

Although she spends a lot of time in the Arctic, Vena Chu lives in sunny California. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Chu is no stranger to the UC system as she earned all of her degrees at UCLA. Her research on Arctic climate change and its impacts on hydrology are important to understanding how climate change affects the world’s landscape.

Chu is already a recipient of a plethora of awards. Her collection includes the AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award, the UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Award, and the AAF R.S. Tarr Student Illustrated Paper Award. Moreover, her work was recognized early on for its impact. She held the UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkley, and the Society of Women Geographers Fellowship. Plus, Chus was in the NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program.

Despite her young career, she has already refereed journal publications in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, GIScience and Remote Sensing, Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Chu is also actively involved in a variety of conferences. Her track record includes the Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment, the Ilulissat Climate Days, and Society of Women Geographers Triennial Meeting.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Vena Chu.

Patricia Lopez, Ph.D. ⁠— Improving Health through Geographic Studies

Vena Chu, Ph.D. is an outstanding geographer
Vena Chu, Ph.D.

With the goal of improving public health, Patricia Lopez researches and teaches geography. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Dartmouth College. Moreover, Lopez researches political geography, citizenship, critical race, gender, and global health and development. Her work is important to understanding how international health is impacted by policy and geography.

She obtained all of her degrees at the University of Washington. Since completing her academic coursework, Lopez authored and published in numerous journals. She also wrote book chapters. Moreover, she presents many of her findings at conferences. Her past speaking engagements include the Annual Meeting of AAF, the International Conference of Critical Geographers, and the Oecumene Symposium.

Lopez’s efforts have been awarded, too. That collection includes the Classroom Enhancement Grant, the Faculty Honorarium for Research, the Faculty Travel and Research Grant, the Presidential Graduate Fellowship, the Faculty Appreciation Award, and the Howard Martin Dissertation Fellowship.

Lopez has also helped organize conference sessions and panels. These include “Theorizing Economies of Death,” “Grieving Witnesses: The Politics of Grief in the Field,” and “Care Ethics and Social Movements: Multi-Species Interdependency, Intersectionality, and Radical Social Change.”

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Patricia Lopez.

Jonathan Winter, Ph.D. ⁠— Improving Agriculture in America

Jonathan Winter, Ph.D. researches regional climate change and agricultural impact
Jonathan Winter, Ph.D.

Not only is he an Assistant Professor of Geography at Dartmouth College, Jonathan Winter is a researcher. His ongoing projects include assessing precipitation changes and mechanisms in the northeastern US. Ultimately, this work aims to improve projections of US irrigated agriculture by modeling the effects of land-use change on regional climate. Moreover, it will enlighten the field about climate change impacts on agriculture and on water resources throughout the US. 

He finished his undergraduate work at the State University of New York in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Winter went on to obtain both his graduate degrees from MIT.

In short, his research focuses primarily on climate as an important driver of human activities. He aims to understand future water availability for irrigation and its potential effects on crop yields. Additionally, he is looking to develop of high-resolution, application-specific climate projections using global and regional climate models.

Ultimately, Winter’s research will be important as the world population continues to grow. With this growth come implications in understanding how food is impacted due to climate change.  This is key in ensuring we do not endure a global food shortage.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Jonathan Winter.

Garnet Kindervater, Ph.D. ⁠— Identifying the Impact of Humans on Geography

Garnet Kindervater, Ph.D. considers the intersection of geography with politics and philosophy
Garnet Kindervater, Ph.D.

Currently, Garnet Kindervater is a Visiting Lecturer in both the government and geography departments at Dartmouth College. His research seeks to understand the intersection of politics, human geography, and philosophy. He also investigates continental philosophy, critical theories, and political geopolitics.  

He earned his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. After, he went on to complete both of his graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota. His most recent academic endeavor is a book manuscript entitled Catastrophe and Human Survival: A Theory of Catastrophism.

Kindervater publishes frequently in peer-reviewed journals. For this work, he has held several fellowships. His collection includes the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth Fellowship, the Marbury Efimenco Fellowship, and the Robert T. Holt Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Furthermore, he presents at a variety of conferences. His past speaking engagements include the International Studies Association and the Perspectives on Global-Political Scholarship. He is also affiliated with the American Political Science Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and American Association of Geographers, among others.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Garnet Kindervater.

Guiming Zhang, Ph.D. ⁠— Using Data for Geographical Solutions

Guiming Zhang, Ph.D. is an outstanding geographer
Guiming Zhang, Ph.D.

An Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver, Guiming Zhang is an avid researcher. His research is primarily concerned with geospatial big data analytics. It is important for learning how to more efficiently process data to better understand geographical issues and solutions.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Beijing Normal University. Upon moving to America, he completed an additional master’s degree and his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Zhang has been awarded several recognitions. These include runner-up in the Best Paper Competition Award, the Whitbeck Graduate Dissertator Award, the Trewartha Conference Travel Award, the Campus-Wide Capstone Ph.D. Teaching Award, and the First-Class Undergraduates Scholarship Award. Moreover, his research is published in many journals. He has also presented his work at conferences. These include the Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Symposium, the International Conference on Geoinformatics, and the International Symposium on Spatiotemporal Computing. 

In addition to his professorship, he is a peer reviewer for Transactions in GIS and for the International Journal of Image and Data Fusion. Zhang is also a member of the Association of American Geographers and the International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Sciences.

Outstanding Geographer: Read about Guiming Zhang.