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ASU geography research professor recognized for service, teaching, scholarship


Patricia Solís, research associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

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December 17, 2020

Patricia Solís, research associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and executive director of ASU’s Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER), is the recipient of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) 2021 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honor Award.

AAG Honors are the highest awards offered by the American Association of 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. 

Solís is a leader in facilitating geospatial sustainability collaborations around the world. She has developed more than 50 programs promoting innovations in research, education and community collaboration, many of which combine service to local and global communities with advancing the discipline of geography.

Ronald Abler, the visionary geographer for which the award is named, says of Solís’ service, geography’s future will “continue to brighten thanks to her manifold contributions throughout the Americas.”

As the director of ASU’s KER, Solís leads programming aimed at building community resilience in Maricopa County, Arizona, by linking multisector community needs with research innovations. Most recently, KER worked to bridge the community and university to improve the area’s resilience to COVID-19.

“Serving our community of geographers has given shape and purpose to my work, intellectually, and satisfying a strong sense of personal commitment to collaboration,” Solís said. “It has been one of my greatest privileges. To be honored by my colleagues in this way is extremely rewarding, and I feel both humbled and motivated to continue to serve.”

Additionally, Solís’ is the co-founder of YouthMappers, an international network of university students and faculty working to support the creation and use of open geospatial data for humanitarian and development assistance. In YouthMappers, Solís helps students develop their leadership skills through mentoring and training in geospatial techniques. 

Solís says that, for her, this recognition underscores the importance and value of collaboration in the field of geography to benefit communities globally.

“This recognition not only belongs to me, but it truly sheds light on what we’ve been able to accomplish through many collaborative programs that bring people together to create geographic knowledge that matters,” Solís said. “Now more than ever, we need to make sure that our science is serving the needs of people at home and around the world.” 

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