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Geography is more than maps, terrains, and places. It’s also history, climate change, human rights, population, transportation, and human behavior.

Just in time for Geography Awareness Week, November 16-20, here’s a look at some fascinating—and very diverse—research being done by UT geographers. Department head Derek Alderman compiled this list of five things you should know:

  1. Geographers study climate change, meteorology, and natural hazards, and Assistant Professor Kelsey Ellis has been a storm chaser since her graduate school days at Mississippi State University. She makes an annual trip to the Great Plains each May to witness supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes firsthand. Read more here.
  2. Joshua InwoodGeographers study civil and human rights, and Associate Professor Joshua Inwood is tracking the continuing effect of racism on people and places. His recent work looks at the current movement to address human wrongs through truth and reconciliation commissions, specifically the burgeoning truth movement within the United States. Read more here.
  3. Van-Riemsdijk_MichelineGeographers study population and migration, and Associate Professor Micheline van Riemsdijk has taken students to Norway to study the experiences of highly skilled migrants such as engineers, nurses, and information technology specialists. Norway has been actively recruiting internationally for these types of workers. Read more here.
  4. Washington-AllenGeographic Information Science (GIS) is a fast growing job field, and Assistant Professor Robert Washington-Allen uses terrestrial laser scanning to study the resiliency of ecosystems. His research is helping solve to questions concerning possible land degradation, climate change, invasive species, conservation biology, and ecological restoration. He has conducted research in the drylands, coastal prairie, savannas, peatlands, and deciduous to tropical forests, with this work taking him to the Great Basin, the Mojave and Chihuahuan Deserts, the Bolivian Altiplano, Mexico, Mozambique, South Africa, Costa Rica, Colombia, Senegal, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Read more here.
  5. Shih-Lugn-ShawGeographers study trade, transportation, and travel patterns, and Professor Shih-Lung Shaw has been using people’s online activities and communications to analyze how, when, and where they move. In the past, researchers used surveys, interviews, laboratory experiments and participatory observations to shed light on human dynamics, but Shaw’s research is using data yielded from new technology, such as GPS systems, the Internet, and cellular phones. Shaw, the Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor and Arts and Sciences Excellence Professor, is also the director of UT’s Confucius Institute. Read more here.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,