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WE ARE proud of the unique contributions, talents and skills of our faculty and students.

Recognition and Awards

Our faculty and students are often recognized for their important contributions to the field, from winning academic awards to publishing papers in prestigious journals. 

Todd Bacastow

Todd Bacastow Selected for Emeritus Academy

Teaching Professor Todd Bacastow was recently accepted into the Emeritus Academy at Penn State. The Emeritus Academy was “founded to promote the ongoing engagement of Penn State emeriti faculty in both scholarly and creative activities. It seeks to promote scholarly community​ among emeritus faculty, provide connections to keep emeritus faculty connected to the University, enhance the reputation of the University, and to benefit society at large.”

Here is a note from Professor Bacastow about his goals while in the Academy:

“It's a sad yet undeniable reality that conflict often drives innovation. The Emeritus Academy facilitates my studies of the innovations in geospatial technologies resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Recognizing and conveying the learnings from this conflict play a vital role in the sustained evolution of Penn State's online educational offerings. The research serves as a compass, directing the programs toward recent innovations and helps to solidify Penn State's reputation as a pioneer in the geospatial field.”


Yousre Odeh holding Esri award

MGIS Student Yousre Odeh Wins Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award

MGIS student Yousre Odeh, through his work with the City of Wilmington, Delaware’s Public Works Department, was one of the recipients of the 2023 Esri Special Achievement in GIS award. The winning organizations for the award "set new precedents throughout the GIS community" (ESRI). Mr. Odeh is the project manager for Wilmington’s innovative efforts to improve the city's aging water distribution infrastructure by identifying water mains for replacement, sharing findings with stakeholders, and efficiently documenting the installation of new mains.


Libbie Duskin

Esri Innovation Program Student of the Year

MGIS graduate Libbie Duskin received Penn State’s Esri Innovation Program 2023 Student of the Year Award. Our program is one of a small number of academic units around the world recognized as a participant in the Esri Innovation Program (EIP). The EIP seeks to promote GIS software and application development by providing students special access to Esri software and opportunities to be recognized for their accomplishments. 

For her MGIS Capstone research, Ms. Duskin explored the use of several geospatial tools to monitor movements of elephants in zoological facilities.

Recent previous EIP Student of the Year awardees are:

2021 - Sue Panton

2020 - Gene Trantham


Suarez and Gaertner award

Geography professors Suárez, Gaertner named TRELIS Fellows

Marcela Suàrez and Brandi Gaertner are among 15 female academics from across the United States chosen to attend the 2022 Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM-Geospatial Sciences (TRELIS) workshop. The four-day workshop focuses on building leadership capacity and skills to address career development, communication, conflict resolution and work-life integration. 

Anthony Robison

The research for this paper, SensePlace2: GeoTwitter analytics support for situational awareness, was led by Alan MacEachren, professor emeritus of geography and information science and technology, who retired in June 2022. Other co-authors include Anuj Jaiswal, Anthony Robinson, Scott Pezanowski, Alexander Savelyev, Prasenjit Mitra, Xiao Zhang and Justine Blanford.

Beth King

2021 UCGIS Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award: Beth King

Beth King, Associate Teaching Professor and Assistant Program Manager for Online Geospatial Education, received the 2021 Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award from the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) in June 2021. This award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exceptional mentoring abilities and practices. Ms. King advises students in the MGIS and MS in Spatial Data Science programs, working with them throughout their time in the program to help plan coursework and match them with advisors for their capstone research projects.

Karen Schuckman

New Executive Director of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing: Karen Schuckman

Karen Schuckman, Assistant Teaching Professor and lead faculty for the Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation, has been named Executive Director of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The executive director is the senior operating officer and reports directly to the society’s board of directors. Ms. Schuckman has been actively involved in ASPRS since 1990, has been elected previously to numerous positions, and received the ASPRS Outstanding Service Award in 2018.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award

Named in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN, a Medal of Honor recipient and distinguished Penn State alumnus, this award recognizes achievement by a Penn State Online Geospatial Education Master’s degree student who has served in the U.S. military or with the geospatial intelligence community and demonstrated exceptional contributions to the discipline.

The Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence is sponsored by Maxar, USGIF, Todd and Barbara Bacastow, Alan W. Scaroni (dean emeritus of the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences), and Richard DiEugenio, former special assistant to the president for governmental affairs in Penn State’s Office of Governmental Affairs.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award

Lt. Michael P. Murphy was a member of Penn State’s class of 1998 and the first University alumnus to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest award for military valor. A Navy SEAL, Murphy received this singular distinction posthumously for his courageous actions in 2005 during the war in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Siotame H. Latu 2023 Murphy Award Winner

2023 AWARD RECIPIENT: Lieutenant Siotame H. Latu

Lieutenant Siotame H. Latu currently serves as a platoon commander stationed in San Diego, California. LT Latu hails from Tonga and was raised in Eugene, Oregon. He attended the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), where he majored in Foreign Area Studies, with a particular focus on Middle Eastern Political Science. Additionally, he pursued a minor in Arabic Language and actively participated in Track and Field events. Following graduation from the USAFA, LT Latu received a cross-commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy. Throughout his Navy career, LT Latu has had multiple deployments to the USCENTCOM and USINDOPACOM areas of responsibility, assuming leadership positions as Squad Commander, Platoon Commander, and Operations Officer. LT Latu's service has been recognized with several awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Continuing his commitment to education, LT Latu pursued studies in Penn State's Master of Professional Studies program in Homeland Security with a focus on Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis.

Previous Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award Recipients

The Lt. Michael P Murphy Award has recognized many talented students in recent years. Previous recipients are listed below. 

2022 AWARD RECIPIENT: CPT Michelle Kokoski
2022 Recipient: CPT Michelle Kokoski
Daniel Selik
2021 Recipient: Daniel Selik
Lauren Maloney
2020 Recipient: Lauren Maloney