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Tran Receives Faculty Academic Outreach Research Award

Each year, Dean Theresa Lee and members of her cabinet, with help from department heads, recognize faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences for their excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and lifetime achievements. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, however, we were unable to host the annual awards banquet in-person. Each faculty member received a plaque and congratulations from the dean. We posted a video to the college YouTube channel here, which features each faculty award winner.

Liem Tran, professor of geography, received a Faculty Academic Outreach Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions of faculty to the public that occur as an outgrowth of academic pursuits and are related to the university’s academic mission. It recognizes faculty whose research and creative activities advance knowledge through the pursuit of their scholarly interests while simultaneously addressing community problems and issues and benefiting the scholar, the discipline, the university, and society. 

Tran conducts research built on creating strategic collaborative networks with government agencies, major research labs, and other community stakeholders and leveraging innovative geospatial analysis. A number of Tran’s measures and spatial models are widely used by the EPA across the US. Recently, he has collaborated with the EPA to develop the EnviroAtlas, an interactive web-based platform used by states, communities, and citizens that provides geospatial data, easy-to-use tools, and other resources related to ecosystem services, their chemical and nonchemical stressors, and human health. Tran has used his expertise in geospatial analysis to develop a series transmission models posted on the Tennessee State Data Center’s COVID-19 dashboard that estimates coronavirus reproduction rates and hotspots in the state. 

Tran is also actively involved in meaningful public communication of science. For example, he has interacted with media to explain the metrics to measure the spread of COVID-19 and authored a policy brief in partnership with the Baker Center to educate the public on COVID-19 modeling and forecasts. Well before engaging in important research outreach to COVID-19, Tran had begun focusing state of the art geospatial technologies, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and web-based applications, to combat the opioid crisis. 

“The award is very important not only to myself, but also to my students and colleagues who have been working diligently alongside with me in various research outreach activities,” Tran said. “It shows the commitment of faculty and students in the geography department to serve the great state of Tennessee and its people, especially during this difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”