UO graduate student receives a National Geographic Award in Mapping

Christine Grummon, a master’s student in the Department of Geography, was awarded an honorable mention in the National Geographic Award in Mapping for her entry, “Mapping an epidemic: the spread of the mountain pine beetle in the American West.”

Grummon also received the Bill Loy Award for Excellence in Cartography, an award given annually by the Department of Geography to a deserving graduate or undergraduate geography student. The map grew out of Grummon's thesis work examining the mountain pine beetle epidemic in western North America with geography professor Christopher Bone. Bone and his interdisciplinary research team are creating a computational model to probe how forest governance and climate influence deadly insect infestations. The research, which began as a UO Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives (I3) Award, is funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“When I took a geography class my senior year, the concepts I had been studying suddenly clicked together,” said Grummon, who took undergraduate classes in environmental studies, anthropology and biology, and focussed on the interaction of human and environmental systems. “I’m fascinated by geography because of the wide range of problems it addresses, and the diversity of methods and theory the discipline draws on.”

The National Geographic Awards, which are administered through the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Cartography Specialty Group (CSG), were presented at the Association of American Geographers’ (AAG) annual meeting in Chicago. The awards recognize student achievement in the art, science, and technology of mapping and seeks to encourage student research. Submissions are judged by a panel of professional cartographers working at National Geographic. Last year, UO undergraduate Riley Champine won first place in the competition for his submission “A Cartographic Vision of Major League Soccer in 2014.”

We followed up with Grummon to learn more about the award and her future career goals in the field of geography.

Why did you choose the University of Oregon? How do you feel the UO will prepare you for your future?

The Geography Department at UO is really one of the best geography programs in the country, and it shows in the amazing work being done by the faculty and graduate students. In addition to getting great training here, I’m also getting to work with a lot of people doing really exciting research.

How did you come to apply for the National Geographic Student Map award?

Last term I was enrolled in Jim Meacham’s Advanced Cartography course. Jim (senior research associate and executive director of the UO InfoGraphics Lab) is an excellent instructor, and students from his course have won the National Geographic Award in the past. Jim encouraged all his students to apply and so I submitted my final project from that course.

What is the focus of the National Geographic award?

The National Geographic Award in Mapping invites submissions from undergraduate and graduate students who have created maps as part of their coursework. The award is meant both to encourage student research and also celebrate the long tradition of print cartography at National Geographic.

How do you feel the award will help you with your academic and professional development?

It was really exciting to get this award, and it’s only fueled my interest in cartography. I really hope to incorporate cartographic design and mapmaking into my future academic and professional work. I think that maps are a fascinating and exciting way to communicate about research.