Graduate students from the University of New Mexico’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies (GES) took home several awards at the annual conference of the Southwest Division of the Association of American Geographers (SWAAG), held in San Antonio in the first week of November.

The UNM contingent included three faculty members and ten graduate students from GES, competing in a variety of events.

Su Zhang, a GES master's student, won second place in the graduate-level paper competition. His paper, titled “Infrastructure Condition Assessment Based on Low-cost Hyper-spatial Resolution Multispectral Digital Aerial Photography,” reported results from his research on the potential uses of high-resolution aerial photography for accurate and cost-effective assessment of infrastructure damage on paved roads, bridges, and other large infrastructure. Zhang works with Professor Chris Lippitt in GES on this research, which will inform how infrastructure managers collect information and make rehabilitation decisions.

Graduate students headed to SWAAG Conference

“UNM made a great contribution at this conference, and I was really proud to see our students’ presentations showing the academic rigor and professionalism of UNM,” said Maria Lane, chair of Geography and Environmental Studies. 

UNM had hosted last year’s SWAAG conference at the Hotel Andaluz and Convention Center in downtown Albuquerque.

“It was great to have the conference right here in our backyard last year, but the San Antonio location was a great excuse for a road trip,” Lane said.

According to its website, SWAAG has existed for more than 60 years and has helped advance professional investigations in geography, encouraged the applications of geographic findings in education, government, and business, and has helped promote the public image of geography across the region.