Shaowen Wang receives 2022 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors



Shaowen Wang, a 2022 recipient of the AAG’s Distinguished Scholarship Honors, has played a leading role in the development of cyber-based geographic information science (cyberGIS) as a transdisciplinary scientific approach that develops and integrates new computational methods, techniques, and instruments with geospatial knowledge, spatial analytics, and their applications in a broad range of research domains. Wang’s research has bridged a broad range of topics ranging from software enhancements to analyses of fundamental differences between serial and parallel computational architectures when addressing geospatial problems. Wang and his collaborators have disseminated their findings and insights through more than 160 peer-reviewed works.

Wang has a played a pivotal role in bold initiatives that brought together researchers from multiple institutions in geography, geographic information science (GIScience), computer science, and myriad other fields. A hallmark of his work has been his role in forming and leading research teams from multiple institutions and diverse disciplines that have garnered external funding and produced successive waves of cyberGIS enhancements. Wang has been a principal investigator for more than $30,000,000 in awards, with industry support complemented by funding from a diverse range of U.S. government agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Institutes of Health.

Wang’s transdisciplinary community-building skills has been evident in numerous different endeavors. As founding director of the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Wang oversaw projects that developed new software, research frameworks, and analytic approaches to address problems in hydrology, public health, agriculture, environmental sustainability, and other realms. Working with UIUC’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Wang spearheaded the development of the first supercomputer focused on geospatial computation. He led a broadly based effort to establish one of five new national institutes supported through NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution initiative. This institute will create an integrative discovery environment for harnessing geospatial data to increase understanding of interconnected interactions across diverse socioeconomic-environmental systems in order to enhance community resilience and environmental sustainability.

Wang has always demonstrated a strong commitment to interconnections among service, research, and teaching. He partnered with the AAG and other organizations to conduct a series of summer schools focused on developing the next-generation workforce for advancing cyberGIS and geospatial data science. He created a fellowship program to advance covid-19 research and education through reproducible geospatial science. He has had great passion for and extensive experience in leading and contributing to initiatives and activities focused on enhancing justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. His numerous research and education projects have engaged many scholars, students, and stakeholders with diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Because of his many significant accomplishments; his boundless energy, advocacy, and passion for GIScience and geography; and his remarkable ability to anticipate future needs and address them by building intellectual bridges and working across interdisciplinary boundaries, the American Association of Geographers awards Distinguished Scholarship Honors to Shaowen Wang.

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