Two geography professors to be recognized at American Association of Geographers annual meeting

Patricia Gober, research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and Billie Lee Turner II, Regents Professor and Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society in The College’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.


In preparation for its annual meeting, the American Association of Geographers, a global network of leading researchers, educators and practitioners in geography, recognized a select group of individuals for their outstanding contributions and accomplishments in the geographic field. Included in this year’s honors are two from Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning: Patricia Gober and B. L. Turner II.

“Both Pat Gober and Billie Lee Turner are strong leaders committed to advancing the understanding, study and importance of the field of geography,” said Trisalyn Nelson, director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “They are both well deserving of their distinctions and continue to contribute significantly to our school and the greater research community."

Lifetime Achievement Research Award, Population Specialty Group

Gober, a research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is the recipient of the Population Specialty Group, Lifetime Achievement Research Award.

She is being recognized for her considerable and long-standing contributions to climate adaptation and water resources management research in the United States and Canada, specifically in the use of science and visualization for real-world decision-making.

Her current research focuses on urban water use and how communities can achieve sustainable water use in the desert city of Phoenix. Gober uses urban growth and water models to support scenario planning and collaboration between water managers and water scientists.

“My career as an academic began 45 years ago with a dissertation about internal migration in the USA. Arizona, the destination of so many migrants, was a natural move for me from my home in the Midwest. I found a wealth of material for my demographic interests at ASU,” Gober said. “Although my research later evolved to focus on water science and policy, there has always been a demographic dimension to my work. I am deeply honored to be recognized by my home group in the AAG Population Specialty Group.”

AAG Honors are the highest awards offered by the Association of American Geographers. They are offered annually to recognize outstanding accomplishments by members in research and scholarship, teaching, education, service to the discipline, public service outside academe and for lifetime achievement.

AAG 2020 Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in Geography

Turner, Regents Professor, and a 2020 AAG Fellow, is the recipient of the AAG 2020 Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in Geography.

The award honors researchers from the public, private or academic sectors who have made transformative contributions to the fields of geography or GIScience.

For Turner, this award holds personal significance.

“Thomas Wilbanks hired me at the University of Oklahoma in 1976,” Turner said. “We were different in our research directions, his to service government and leading to application, mine to basic research and research agenda-setting. We crossed in our interest of human-environmental problem-solving.”

Turner is being recognized for his work investigating how changes in land use affect people and the environment and as a strong advocate for geography at the national level. His research on land change focuses on prehistory to present, urban land system design, vulnerability and resilience, and sustainability. He also works on deforestation, primarily in Mexico and Central America, and urban design in arid environments, especially the American Southwest.

“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,” the AAG said in its announcement of Turner’s selection.

Awards will be presented to both Gober and Turner at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Denver in April.

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