LSU Hosts Regional Geography Conference

The LSU Department of Geography and Anthropology hosted the annual meeting of the Southwest Division of the American Association of Geographers October 4-6.  About 150 geography faculty, students, and practitioners from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico converged on Baton Rouge for two days of academic discussions and social activities.

The opening event was a presentation by the national association’s President, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach from the University of Texas.  Her presentation, “Hydraulic Society and Water Management in the Ancient Maya Lowlands of Mesoamerica,” highlighted recent contributions of interdisciplinary research teams using geographic tools and techniques to explore remote jungles.

Two days of papers and posters showcased research on topics spanning the breath of the field and included work on cultural and political geography, hazards in the gulf coast, GIS and remote sensing innovations, and biogeography and hydrology.  The event coincided with the department’s 90th anniversary.

 At the Friday luncheon, professor Craig Colten paid tribute to LSU alumnus Sherwood “Woody” Gagliano.  His presentation, before a packed house of of 160 guests, highlighted Gagliano’s role in mapping Louisiana’s coastal land loss and honored his seminal contributions to the discovery of this perilous situation.  His tireless efforts were a major factor in launching other studies of the processes that underlie land loss and  that ultimately gave rise to the state’s multi-billion dollar efforts to restore its coast.  Gagliano earned his Ph.D. in geography from LSU in 1967.  At the conference luncheon, he was presented with the department’s inaugural Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of his lifetime accomplishments.  In accepting the award, he acknowledged the influence of Fred Kniffen, one of the department’s founders, and recounted how Kniffen helped launch his career as a practicing geographer.

 An evening of lively music performed by the Lafayette band T’Monde, a three-piece Cajun music ensemble, capped off the conferences’ formal events.  A field trip of Baton Rouge closed out meeting before all returned to their home institutions.

 Sponsors of the event included the LSU Department of Geography and Anthropology, Staybridge Suites, Visit Baton Rouge, Texas State University Department of Geography, and the Southeast Arc Users Group.