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Professor receives high honor for contributions to geography

Professor Wei Li
December 04, 2013

The Association of American Geographers has selected Wei Li, a professor in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for one of its highest awards – the 2014 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors. 

The award recognizes Li’s leadership roles within the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the U.S. Census Bureau, and other critical and prestigious international boards. In addition, it acknowledges her contributions to the field of geography.

“Professor Li’s high profile scholarly work on comparative immigration has added both breadth and depth to our discipline, as well as to our understanding of Chinese and other Asian groups in North America and around the globe,” explains the awards committee.

“For over a decade, her exceptional research, teaching and service have continued to help internationalize geography by focusing attention on Asian communities in Pacific-Rim countries and identifying new ways of understanding race and ethnicity in North American cities.”

Li will be presented with the Abler award at the upcoming annual meeting of the AAG in Tampa, Fla., on April 12, 2014.

As well as her role as professor of geography in the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning, Li is a professor in ASU’s Asian Pacific American Studies Program within the School of Social Transformation. She also serves as affiliate faculty in ASU’s Center for Asian Research and Center for Population Dynamics.

Within the AAG, Li’s many contributions include her roles as chair of the Ethnic Geography Specialty Group, president of the Population Specialty Group and member of the Nystrom Award Committee. In addition, she has made substantive and lasting contributions to the AAG through membership on the International Research and Scholarly Exchange Committee, the Affirmative Action and Minority Status Standing Committee, the Honors Committee and as a co-leader for Geography Faculty Development Workshops funded by the National Science Foundation. In recognition of these contributions, Li was selected in 2012 for the AAG’s Distinguished Ethnic Geography CAREER Award and was also named as Distinguished Scholar of Ethnic Geography by the AAG’s Ethnic Geography Specialty Group.

Li also has held several prominent roles in the public sector, including an inaugural membership in the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Race, Ethnic, and Other Populations. She has held other distinguished appointments and leadership positions for the Bureau as well, including membership in the Asian Committee of the Race and Ethnic Advisory Committee. She is also an International Steering Committee member for the International Metropolis Project.

Other international groups in which Li has served include the Scientific Advisory Board and the International Advisory Board for the International Migration and Diaspora Studies Project. She has served as a fellow for the Institutions of Humanity Research and as research associate for the National Bureau of Asian Research and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship at Queen's University, Canada. Her influential work likewise has garnered the attention of the media, including reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post, National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.