Summer 2019 Newsletter from Geography, Environment & Society

Dear Alumni and Friends,

We’ve had an eventful year and I want to share some exciting developments in the Department of Geography, Environment & Society. What follows is only a sample: faculty, staff, and students in the department are far too active – and far too successful – to fit everything in! You can also jump ahead to stories on the Borchert Map Library, Dr. Laura Matson’s research on tribal jurisdiction and resource management in Minnesota, Kurt Kipfmueller's research team of undergraduates, and Chelsea Cervantes De Blois’ reflections on the importance of cultural connections in research.

Let me begin with news about new appointments in the department:

We’re thrilled to welcome two new faculty who will join GES in fall 2019.

  • Assistant Professor Madelaine Cahuas (PhD, Toronto, 2018) is a specialist in urban geography, social movements, feminist theory, and the experience of racialized migrant communities in North American cities. She is a co-founder of the Latinx Geographers AAG Specialty Group.
  • Assistant Professor Adam Bledsoe (PhD, North Carolina, 2016) is a specialist in black geographies, diasporic communities, political geography, and critical race studies. He currently teaches in the Department of Geography at Florida State University.
  • Dr. Ivan Bialostosky has joined GES as Departmental Adviser. Ivan holds a PhD from our department and is an enthusiastic advocate for Geography with ambitious goals for the advising office.
  • Professor Steven Manson's term as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the CLA has been extended for an additional two years. Steve has been working diligently on graduate funding strategies for the College.
  • Vice Provost Robert McMaster served as Acting Executive Vice President and Provost of the University from January to March 2019. We are thankful for the service Professor McMaster has provided at the highest levels of the University for the past decade.
  • On a sadder note, we lost a valued friend and colleague, Emeritus Professor Joseph (Joe) Schwartzberg, who died peacefully at his home on Wednesday, September 19, at the age of 90. Joe taught in the department from 1964 until his retirement in 2000. In addition to his academic work as a cartographer and his publication of the celebrated Historical Atlas of South Asia, Joe was a tireless advocate for global justice and founder of the Workable World Trust, dedicated to improving institutions of global governance. A well-attended celebration of Joe’s life was held at the First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Our faculty continue to receive major honors and awards. Just a few examples:

  • Professor Steven Manson was awarded two NSF grants as co-PI, one which creates, curates and disseminates harmonized population data for 1940-2000 ($999,000), and another that does the same for harmonized human-environment data for 1790–2000 via the NHGIS ($2,924,060).
  • Associate Professor Kate Derickson has received a CLA Seed Grant for the Social Sciences to support her multi-city study of changing home-ownership patterns since the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Associate Professor Kathryn Grace has been named “Scholar of the College” in CLA from 2019-2020 through 2020-21. She was also awarded a Talle Faculty Research Award for her work on the impact of exposure to heat waves across the reproductive life course in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  • Richa Nagar, affiliate faculty in GES, received the 2019 James Blaut Award for her contributions to radical geography, social activism, and her ability to bridge theory and practice in her work. 
  • Map Librarian Ryan Mattke and his colleagues at Borchert Map Library were awarded the Governor's Geospatial Commendation Award for their Minnesota Historical Aerial Photos Online (MHAPO) website. A celebration of the award was held in Wilson Library on Friday, Nov. 9.

Finally, our top-tier graduate program continues to train future leaders in geography, with impressive results:

  • In the past year four students graduated with their MA degrees! Congratulations to Mitch Grace, John Kendall, Liam Martin and Sophia Strossberg.
  • 10 other students completed their Ph.D. degrees (Kai Bosworth, Damien Carriere, Julia Corwin, Ding Fei, Jessica Finlay, Asli Ikizoglu, Laura Matson, Gwen McCrea, Bryan Runck, and Meagan Snow). Our doctoral graduates have moved on to faculty, research, or administrative positions at leading institutions nationally and internationally, including, among others, the London School of Economics (UK), Brown University, Arizona State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Sabanci University (Turkey), University of Arizona, American University (DC), and Université Paris Diderot (France).
  • Gabe Schwartmann and Alex Sclafani were awarded prestigious 3-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, while Ateed Ahmed and Brittany Krzyzanowski were awarded Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowships from UMN. Aaron Mallory was awarded our 2019 Brown Fellowship, which will allow him to complete his dissertation on the role of evidence based medicine in changing the landscape of HIV/AIDS activism in Atlanta. This only touches on the many awards received by our talented and ambitious graduate students.
  • Finally, Kevin Ehrman-Solberg's work was featured in a Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) documentary titled "The Jim Crow of the North" and he was invited to deliver a TEDx Minneapolis talk on his work.

We value your ongoing support of our program and I wish you the best in your summer endeavors.

Bruce Braun
GES Department Chair 

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