AAG Fellowship Recognizes Shaw’s Innovations in Geography
Written by: Randall Brown
Professor Shih-Lung Shaw joins a distinctive group of UT Department of Geography and Sustainability colleagues this month in his election as a Fellow of the American Association of Geographers (AAG).
Shaw is a UT Chancellor’s Professor and the Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor of Geography. This new designation enhances another long-held fellowship, adding appreciated depth of recognition to his accomplishments within his field and confirming his contributions as a geographer.
“It’s a great honor of being elected as a Fellow of the AAG, in addition to the honor of being elected as a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2008,” said Shaw. “The AAG Fellow reflects a recognition from my peers in the field of geography while the AAAS covers a much broader science community. It is very rewarding to be both an AAG Fellow and an AAAS Fellow.”
AAG’s fellowships recognize geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing geography through research, practice, and careers devoted to strengthening the field, including areas of teaching and mentoring. AAG fellows contribute to the association’s initiatives; advise on AAG strategic directions and grand challenges; serve on AAG task forces or committees, and/or mentor early and mid-career faculty.
“I have been doing some of these tasks for the AAG and anticipate doing more down the road to serve the field of geography and beyond,” said Shaw. “These works also are likely to further enhance the visibility of UT at the national level.”
AAG recognizes Shaw as a leader in the areas of time geography and applications of geographic information systems (GIS) to transportation. In his research, he has focused on the development of a space-time GIS framework, used to analyze a large variety of human dynamics phenomena. These include longtime issues such as travel dynamics and more recent phenomena such as COVID infection patterns. As modern technologies made it easier for people to carry out a variety of activities and interactions online in a virtual space (e-shopping, online social networks, e-education, telehealth, etc.), Shaw further proposed human dynamics research to study the interactions between what happens in the physical world and what occurs in the virtual world as a hybrid physical-virtual world.
“Shaw has been a visionary throughout his career in showing how GIS can better represent the reality of our lives,” said Nicholas Nagle, professor and head of the geography and sustainability department. “His demonstration of how to practically map and analyze human activities in space-time have been duplicated in commercial GIS and are now standard. Currently, he is pushing GIS into new frontiers where both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of space and place are represented.”
Shaw and his collaborators have organized a Symposium on Human Dynamics Research at the annual AAG meetings for 10 years. He also serves as the lead editor of a book series of Human Dynamics in Smart Cities published by Springer, which has published six books since 2018.
Beyond his innovative and important research, Shaw has been a leader in the AAG, serving as chair of the Transportation Geography Specialty Group, treasurer of the GIS group, and on the AAG membership committee. He has also been president of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) and has been a strong supporter of a project to promote the professional development of women in GIScience.
Nationally, AAG announced 17 geographers as 2024 fellows in a variety of practice areas.
“The breadth and depth of experience among this year’s AAG fellows is a tribute to their commitment and to the breadth of the discipline of geography,” said Gary Langham, executive director of AAG. “We are grateful for their insights and leadership in advancing AAG and the field.”
Patrick Grzanka, divisional dean for social sciences, noted Shaw’s high level of scholarship and leadership in his area, and the impact of such a fellowship on the UT community.
“Shaw’s election to fellowship in the AAG is a testament to his pathbreaking, field-shaping work,” said Grzanka. “He joins several other AAG Fellows in the department, which is a gem in the crown of the College of Arts and Sciences.”
Shaw’s election brings the total number of AAG fellows on the UT geography and sustainability faculty up to six, including Derek Alderman, LaToya Eaves, Sally Horn, Budhendra Bhaduri (UT/ORNL), and Carol Harden (Emerita).
“Geography is a diverse field that covers research from physical geography, human geography to geospatial technologies,” said Shaw. “The six AAG fellows in the department conduct their research with different focuses.”
Shaw’s research spans across human geography and geospatial technologies that complement the research of these colleagues, collectively covering many key research topics in geography and sustainability to form a strong AAG team at UT for moving the field forward.