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2012-2013 Department Award Ceremony

The Geography Department’s 2012-2013 Award Ceremony was held at the Burchfiel Geography Building on Thursday, April 25, 2013. The reception was in Rm 405 from 3:30-4:00 pm followed by the awards presentations in Rm 301.


Undergraduate Awards

Michelle D. Pfeffer Outstanding Senior Award

Dakata Anderson Picture1Dakota Anderson: Graduating senior in Geography; President of Club Geography.
Dakota Anderson has shown the most leadership among our current undergrads. He did an independent study course with me and I was impressed by the degree to which he took responsibility and really challenged himself.



 Chaney Swiney: Graduating senior in Geography; Student assistant in Geography Cartography Lab; Honors thesis with Dr. Harden; An honors project in biogeography with Dr. Horn.
Chaney completed an honors thesis in geography entitled “Suspended Sediment Concentrations in Three Tributaries of the Little River.” He collected samples of storm water from three streams in Blount County and processed those samples in the lab to determine their suspended sediment concentrations. Chaney then compared those values to measures of suspended sediment obtained by others over the past decade and related them to the amount of rain in each storm event. Chaney was also awarded a National Geographic Society internship. He will intern with the society’s cartography group in Washington, DC this summer. award1303

Outstanding Graduating Senior Award

Erik Schmidt: Fieldwork assistant for Dr. Alderman’s project in New Orleans; Student assistant in Cartography Lab.
A poster presentation at SEDAAG made an important contribution to the plantation project.Erik’s research results provide an early and valuable glimpse into the data collected, especially the geographic origin of visitors to the River Road plantations. With the help of the UT Cartography Lab, he produced impressive maps in less than a month after receiving the cleaned survey data.I can think of few undergraduate students who I would trust with such a critical task and who could pull this off so effectively.Erik is obviously one of those students.




Neil Conner:
November 2012: Participation in the Geography Bowl @ SEDAAG for UT Geography Dept.
2012 – Present: Graduate Student Representative to the Faculty, Department of Geography, UT
2012 – Present: Graduate Student Representative, Gamma Theta Upsilon, Iota Theta Chapter,
2012 – Present: Member of the Ad Hoc College Awards Committee, Department of Geography
2011 – Present: Co-Chair of the Geographic Social Committee, University of Tennessee
2011 – Present: Administrator of the Graduate Program in Geography @ UT, Facebook Group Page, organized the monthly happy hour for grad students & faculty



Alex Dye
Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Justin T. Maxwell, Grant L. Harley, Niki A. Garland, David H. Holt, Carl Absher, B. Jacob Beale, Mathew S. Boehm, Kristen A. de Graauw, Anna-Maria Rautio, and Alex W. Dye. 2013. Dendrochronology Reveals the Construction History of an Early 19th Century Farm Settlement, Southwestern Virginia, USA.Journal of Archaeological Science 40(1):481-489.

Amy Rose
Jochem, Warren C., Kelly Sims, Edward A. Bright, Marie L. Urban, Amy N. Rose, Phillip R. Coleman, and Budhendra L. Bhaduri. 2012. “Estimating traveler populations at airport and cruise terminals for population distribution and dynamics.”Natural Hazards. doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0441-9.
Omitaomu, Olufemi A., Brandon R. Blevins, Warren C. Jochem, Gary T. Mays, Randy Belles, Stanton W. Hadley, Thomas J. Harrison, Budhendra L. Bhaduri, Bradley S. Neish, and Amy N. Rose. 2012. “Adapting a GIS-based multicriteria decision analysis approach for evaluating new power generating sites.” Applied Energy no. 96 (0):292-301. doi:

Christopher Underwood
Horner, J.D., Cross Steele, J., Underwood, C.A., and Lingamfelter, D. 2012. Age-related changes in characteristics and prey capture in seasonal cohorts of Sarracenia alata pitchers.The American Midland Naturalist 167: 13–27.

Erik Johanson
Johanson, Erik N. 2012.Predictive Modeling in Western Louisiana: Prehistoric and Historic Settlement within the Kisatchie National Forest.Special Publication Number 1. Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana.

Ingrid Luffman
Nandi, A., and Luffman, I., 2012. Erosion Related Changes to Physicochemical Properties of Ultisols Distributed on Calcareous Sedimentary Rocks.Journal of Sustainable Development,Vol. 5(1): pp.52-68.

Kelly Sims
Jochem, Warren C., Kelly Sims, Edward A. Bright, Marie L. Urban, Amy N. Rose, Phillip R. Coleman, and Budhendra L. Bhaduri. 2012. “Estimating traveler populations at airport and cruise terminals for population distribution and dynamics.” Natural Hazards. doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0441-9.

Latha Baskaran
Parish, E.S., M. Hilliard. L.M. Baskaran, V.H. Dale, N.A. Griffiths, P.J. Mulholland, A. Sorokine, M.E. Downing, R. Middleton, and N.A. Thomas. 2012. Multimetric spatial optimization of switchgrass plantings across a watershed. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. 6: 58-72.

Mathew S. Boehm
Grissino-Mayer, H. D., J. T. Maxwell, G. L. Harley, N. A. Garland, D. H. Holt, C. Absher, B. J. Beale, M. S. Boehm, K. A. de Graauw, A.-M. Rautio & A. W. Dye (2013) Dendrochronology reveals the construction history of an early 19th century farm settlement, southwestern Virginia, USA. Journal of Archaeological Science,40, 481-489.

Julie McKnight was a primary author of “The Water-Energy Nexus in East Tennessee,”White Paper 2-13 commissioned and published electronically by the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy.The paper is 50 pages long and has seven appendices. Authors of the paper are listed alphabetically, with professors listed first, followed by graduate and undergraduate students.So, even though she is listed sixth, Julieled the development of the outline and research questions for the paper, did much of the writing, and oversaw the work of the other students.A geography undergraduate student, Hope Tracy, also contributed to the project and was one of the listed authors.Julie presented a summary of this work at the AAG meeting in Los Angeles.

Christopher Clark (Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics); Carol Harden (Professor, Department of Geography); William Park ( Professor, Department of Agricultural& Resource Economics);John Schwartz (Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering); Caroline Ellis (Graduate Student, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics); Julie McKnight (Graduate Student, Department of Geography); Evan Betterton (Undergraduate Student, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics); Hope Tracy (Undergraduate Student, Department of Geography); Kelly VanCor (Undergraduate Student, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics)

Sarah Lewis-Gonzales
Delahunty, Tina; Lewis-Gonzales, Sarah; Phelps, J.; Sawicki, B.; Roberts, Charles; Carpenter, Penny. 2012. Landcover Change and Remote Sensing in the Classroom: An Exercise to Study Urban Growth. Journal of Geography, 111(3), 113-122.

Yang Xu
Xu, Y., Shaw, S-L. (accepted). Exploring Spatio-temporal Changes of Flickr Geo-tagged Photo Locations. Geo-computation.

Ziliang Zhao
D. Wang, S. Kang, J. Nichols, W. Post, S. Liu, Z. Zhao, (in press). A computational framework for spatially explicit agroecosystem modeling: Application to regional simulation. Journal of Computational Science.
D. Wang, Z. Zhao, S-L. Shaw, G. Ragghianti, Y. Wei, (accepted). Building a high performance ArcGIS cluster. ArcUser.

Niki Garland
Grissino-Mayer, H. D., J. T. Maxwell, G. L. Harley, N. A. Garland, D. H. Holt, C. Absher, B. J. Beale, M. S. Boehm, K. A. de Graauw, A.-M. Rautio & A. W. Dye (2013) Dendrochronology reveals the construction history of an early 19th century farm settlement, southwestern Virginia, USA. Journal of Archaeological Science,40, 481-489.
Garland, N.A., Grissino-Mayer, H.D., Deagan, K., Harley, G.L., Waters, G. 2012. Dendrochronological dating of wood from the fountain of Youth Park archaeological site (8SJ31), ST. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A. Tree-ring Research 68, 69-78. 

7-Graduate Student Publication Award winners


Sarah Jones was selected to intern at the National Geographic Society for a very competitive position. This spring semester, she is part of their Education Programs for Curriculum Development and Outreach where she is editing activities and lesson plans and uploading these to the webpage. She is doing so well that her supervisor offered her a contract (paid) position in the Education Programs for the summer and possibly beyond, but I believe she will be turning this down sadly so that she can concentrate on completing her master’s degree this coming fall semester. 9-Professional Accomplishment award to Sarah Jones

Ziliang Zhao was selected to be a research assistant at the National Institute for Computational Science (NICS) from the fall of 2012. His research at the NICS is funded by Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). Ziliang’s work at NICS includes benchmarking the most-used scientific applications and identifying the optimized configuration for each application on Kraken (the most powerful supercomputer in the world managed by academia, it ranks 25 in the Top500 List). Ziliang’s research outcome in the first two quarters was highly appraised by XSEDE, which authorized to extend the work to other six supercomputers, including Blacklight, Gordon, Keeneland, Longhorn, Stampede, and Trestles. This research would help high performance computing (HPC) users select the optimized configuration to build scientific applications and save a large amount of research budget on scientific computing for various projects.8-Professional Accomplishment award to Ziliang Zhao


John Eads has received exceptionally strong evaluation scores and comments from students, peers, and faculty for his work as a GTA in Geography 131 and 132.In Fall 2013, John’s SAIS average evaluation score for the four major questions applicable to lab GTAS was a whopping 4.7 out of 5, highest of all GTAs.On the paper evaluation forms we distribute in lab, 95% of students marked John as“excellent” across the board in being prepared for lab, helping students understand the lab, speaking understandably, and contributing positively to student learning in Geography 131.Open ended comments described John as engaging, enthusiastic, very helpful, and always displaying a great attitude.He made lab enjoyable but also made students work, as revealed by these comments:“John made lab entertaining, he always helped a lot but he still made us think before he gave us the answer,” and “He was extremely helpful in lab without being overbearing or just giving away the answers.”John’s goal upon graduating in 2013 (from the vitae in his thesis) is to share his love for Geography with the rest of the world in any way he can.Thanks, John, for sharing that love (and your knowledge) with our 131-132 students!  10-GTA award to John Eads

Lauren Stachowiak has quickly established herself as one of our very best Teaching Assistants. She consistently had the some of the highest numerical SAIS scores of all our GTAs in Geography 131, with an average score of 4.3/5 on the major questions. Just as important, the written scores by students in Geography 131 on our course evaluation forms reflected Lauren’s commitment to excellence as a TA, with her students giving her 133 “excellent” scores out of a possible 140 total, or 95% rating her as “excellent.” Students added the following sterling comments: “Lauren was very helpful in allowing me to understand problems without just giving me an answer”; “Was always welcoming and enjoyed answering questions, which made for a positive lab experience”; “She knows the material very well and was confident in what she taught”; “She was fantastic! I enjoyed her patience and kindness”; “Lauren was a great lab instructor, always willing to help”; “Lauren is incredibly helpful and worthy of a big hug.” 11-GTA award to Lauren Stachowiak

Alex Dye has consistently been given some of the highest possible scores among our Graduate Teaching Assistants in Geography 131, with scores that kept climbing higher semester after semester. His students have stated time and again that Alex was a thoughtful and considerate teaching assistant, characterized by patience and understanding, with an innate ability to explain the more difficult concepts in Physical Geography. In Fall 2012, students gave Alex 101 “excellent” scores out of a possible 116! His students had this to say about his teaching abilities:“He was great. He helped anyone that needed help and was very clear in his explanations”; “He was very helpful and would help explain something even if I had to ask a few times”; “He was very helpful and kept me interested!”; “He really knew his stuff”. One student sums up Alex’s teaching expertise succinctly: “Alex was extremely helpful for understanding the labs and has been a positive influence on my geography undergraduate studies. Give this man a trophy. Seriously.”12-GTA award to Alex Dye

Brenna Elrod has done an outstanding job completing her duties as the teaching assistant in Geog 310 and assisting when needed on projects in the cartography lab.In Geog 310 she is always available to assist students with class assignments and maintains a good, approachable relationship with them.She does an excellent job with her grading responsibilities, class communication, and independently maintains the class records quite well. Brenna participates in class and lab discussions, which add to a team style of teaching that greatly helps our undergraduates learn the finer points of mapmaking. Brenna is a very dependable and self-motivated worker.Her hard working, pleasant disposition makes her a pleasure to work with and I would have to rank her among the top workers I have had in this office.13-GTA award to Brenna Elrod

Kevin Krivacsy was a joy to work with.He required minimal direction.He was always willing to go the extra mile.He never dropped an assignment.He brought a fine intelligence to grading.He was diligent in carrying out his duties and popular with the students.In other words, he was the complete package plus, all wrapped in that singular and unmistakable Krivacsymystique. 14-GTA award to Kevin Krivacsy

Ruth Bowlingis always grading promptly and staying on top of her duties. She is also very kind and helpful with her students. She keeps them updated with her schedule, she is attentive and helpful in class, and, when reporting potential issues with students with me, always gives her students the benefit of the doubt. She really cares about her students and their success–and it shows! Basically, she is wonderful and any instructor would be lucky to have her as a TA.

15-GTA award to Ruth Bowling


Neil Conner

16-Outstanding Teaching Associate award to Neil Conner


Jesse Piburn has a perfect GPA of 4.0. He is a very good student and has made good progress in his MS program. As the lab GTA for GEOG 411 in Spring 12 and Fall 12, Jesse was in charge of all three lab sessions on Friday and he did a great job for both semesters. He developed a good relationship with students, so they felt comfortable to ask him any questions in and outside of the computer lab. He is an active graduate student in the department, always being willing to help others and the department if needed. He was the second author of a poster at the 2012 AGU meeting. He is also the second author of a manuscript submitted to ASCE Journal of Hydrologic Engineering.

17-Robert Long Award to Jesse Piburn


Derek Martin is an excellent student and has made good progress in his degree program. This spring, he completed both special field exams, and he will officially advance to candidacy as soon as he finishes some revisions to his dissertation proposal. In the past two years, he has presented results of his research at both AAG and SEDAAG meetings.

Derek has been a leader in the seminars he has had with me and has taken an active role in seminar discussions. He has been recognized as an outstanding GTA and GTAssociate and has received the department’s publication award, as well as an OIT award for improving teaching. Derek is an excellent teacher who has served as a GTAssociate for four semesters, teaching both Geog 131 and Geog 132. In addition, he has been a leader among the graduate students, having served as Treasurer, VP, and President of GARG. He was the student representative to the search committee for the position now occupied by Dr. Washington-Allen.

Derek has taken graduate courses in three different departments (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sociology, and Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science), in three different colleges, and represented our department well across the campus. I think he exemplifies the spirit of the Long award.”

18-Robert Long Award to Derek Martin


Derek Martin19-Hot Chili Pepper award to Derek Martin


Nicholas Nagle20-Faculty Teaching award to Nicholas Nagle