Fall 2019

The new academic year is off to a good start. We are currently advertising for three new faculty members in the areas of Human Dimensions and GIS. Over the summer three new faculty members joined the Department, Sinead Farrell (Associate Professor), Laura Duncanson and Sergii Skakun (Assistant Professor) and we have one more hire at the Associate Level in process, all associated with the new International Center for Remote Sensing. These new faculty members will fill the gaps created by the retirement of senior faculty over the past few years. The Academic Ranking of World Universities recently ranked UMCP the #2 University in the World for Remote Sensing. Discussions are underway with a number of universities about affiliating with our new Center. The GEDI instrument on the international space station, led by Ralph Dubayah is continuing to collect data.  

We have a cohort of 12 new PhD students joining the Department and we are pleased to see the second cohort of students in our Masters Degree program with Nanjing Normal University. During the summer Dr. Kathleen Stewart, Dr. Liaxiang Sun and I joined Dr. Mengxue Li, Assistant Dean for International Affairs from our College in a visit Beijing Normal University and Wuhan University in China to discuss international collaboration.

At the end of last semester we had a number of Faculty receiving awards. The prestigious international Helmhotz Award was given to Ralph Dubayah, Peter Potapov received the Provosts Excellence Award for PTK Faculty and George Hurtt received the Campus Distinguished Scholar Teacher Award.  Adjunct Professor Eric Vermote and his team of scientists from our Department received the Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Science. The NASA Harvest Consortium program, which is run out of this Department, held its first All Hands Meeting over the summer, with over 200 attendees which included a keynote address from the NASA Administrator.

We lost a number of people from our ranks during the summer, Allen Eney retired after more than 30 years. He entered our graduate program in 1983 and was later appointed Lecturer in the Department by John Townshend. He taught Human Geography and our writing course (GEOG 305) and became our Undergraduate Intern Advisor. I would like to thank Allen for his contribution to the Department over so many years and hope that his health improves. Belen Franch left our Research Faculty and took a position at the University of Valencia, with the intention of continuing to collaborate with a number of our faculty and serving as external examiner for our PhD students. Belen was an integral part of our team of scientists working with Dr. Eric Vermote at NASA GSFC. This summer, Klaus Hubacek and Christina Prell moved to the University of Groningen, Holland. Klaus joined our Department in 2011 from the University of Cambridge and was instrumental in building the Human Dimensions part of our Department. We wish Klaus and Christina well in their new positions. We look forward to an exciting new academic year. We will be undertaking an external review of the Department which will be the focus of our Fall Retreat. We will need to vacate the Hartwick Building which has been the off-campus home for a number of our Research Faculty for more than a decade. We will be looking for an opportunity to re-unite the Department in new space which will allow us to continue to grow.

-Christopher Justice