Association of American Geographers
About AAG Membership Annual Meeting Projects & Programs Education Publications Calendar Of Events Jobs & Careers

William L. Garrison Award for Best Dissertation in Computational Geography

Deadline for Nominations: October 15, 2021

The biennial William L. Garrison Award for Best Dissertation in Computational Geography supports innovative research into the computational aspects of geographic science. The award is intended to arouse a more general and deeper understanding of the important role that advanced computation can play in resolving the complex problems of space–time analysis that are at the core of geographic science. The award is one of the activities of the Marble Fund for Geographic Science of the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

The Garrison award consists of a cash prize in the amount of $3,500 and a formal certificate of merit. The formal presentation of the Garrison Award will take place at the annual meeting of the AAG following the announcement of the award. If they so choose, the Trustees of the Marble Fund may elect to award one or more additional certificates of merit to non-awardee finalists whose work is, in their judgment, of exceptional merit.

Eligibility: There is no restriction placed upon the formal disciplinary area of the research so long as it is directly related to advanced computational approaches to the spatial-temporal problems addressed by geographic science. The award is open to candidates associated with any institution of higher education, anywhere in the world, that is authorized to award the doctorate.

Dissertations completed in the two-year period beginning on September 1st of 2019 and terminating on August 31st of 2021 will be eligible for nomination. In the context of this award, a dissertation is considered to be completed when the final version of the document is deposited with and has been accepted by the institution of higher education awarding the degree.

Criteria: Proposals should demonstrate high standards of scholarship. The selection committee will observe the general purposes noted above when evaluating proposals. It should be noted that the emphasis of the Garrison Award is upon innovative computational approaches and award applications based upon the routine application of standard software packages are not encouraged. All nominations will be carefully reviewed and those determined to be within the stated goals of the competition will be invited to make a full submission for consideration.

Initial Nominations

Dissertations to be considered for this award may be placed in nomination by either the candidate’s doctoral advisor or by a member of the dissertation committee.

Please gather all required supporting documents before completing the online Application Form at this link. The Application Form will require you to upload all supporting documents before being able to complete your submission. You cannot save a partially completed form and return to it later, so it is important to have all materials ready before accessing the online Application Form. For questions or difficulties, please contact or call the AAG at 202-234-1450.

The nomination documents must consist of:

  • A signed letter of nomination, prepared on institutional letterhead, that clearly sets forth the reasons for nominating the dissertation. The letter must also provide an objective assessment of the candidate’s future research potential,
  • A current and complete vita of the candidate, and
  • An extended abstract of the dissertation, including its full title, that addresses the selection of the research problem, the research methodology adopted (explicitly addressing the nature of the computational approach employed), and the anticipated contribution of the research results. The abstract is to be completed, without assistance, by the candidate. The abstract is limited to six (6) pages in length. The six page limit is exclusive of references and a limited number of figures. The text should be in a 12 point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins; references may be single–spaced.

All nomination materials must be received no later than the close of business on October 15, 2021 to be considered in the current competition. 

IMPORTANT: The initial nominating documentation is limited to these three items. Copies of the dissertation are not to be included.


Those nominees who have been selected by the Review Committee for final consideration must, when requested, submit the following materials:

  • A complete English language copy of the dissertation. If the dissertation was prepared in a language other than English then the submission must consist of a copy of the original document and a complete translation of the original document into English done by a professional translator. The submission must consist of an electronic copy (in PDF format) of the document.
  • A signed statement, on institutional letterhead, prepared by the relevant institutional representative, certifying that the final copy of the dissertation has been deposited and that the doctoral degree will be awarded. The document must explicitly certify that the date of deposit of the dissertation falls within the relevant award period. This statement must either be in English or accompanied by a certified professional translation into English. Transmission must consist of an electronic copy (in PDF format) of this document.
  • A statement, signed by the nominee, agreeing to participate in the AAG award ceremony. This will involve registration and attendance at the AAG meeting in the year of the award as well as preparation and presentation of the required research paper. Subsequent failure to satisfy this obligation will result in forfeiture of the award and its public withdrawal.

All of the required materials must be in the hands of the Trustees no later than the close of business on the date given in the letter informing the finalists of their selection. Incomplete applications will not receive consideration and will not be carried forward to the next period of competition. January 2022 is the target period for formal notifications of the Trustees' selection to be sent to the recipient of the Garrison Award and to the non-selected finalists.

Applications: All nomination materials must be in English, and submitted in electronic form. In addition, the originals of all signed materials and, for the selected nominees, a physical copy of the complete dissertation, must be made available upon request. Acrobat PDF format is required for all materials.

Nomination materials, or queries regarding nominations, should be directed to:

Reports and Acknowledgment: The recipient of the award is required to participate in the AAG meetings by taking part in an award ceremony and by presenting, as a part of the award ceremony, a paper summarizing the research making up his or her dissertation. The winner should acknowledge the award from the AAG Marble Fund for Geographic Science in subsequent presentations and publications arising from the dissertation.

Previous awardees:
2020 (Denver):
Taylor Anderson, Simon Fraser University, "Towards the Integration of Complex Systems Theory, Geographic Information Science, and Network Science for Modelling Geospatial Phenomena"

2018 (New Orleans):
Stephen Strader, Northern Illinois University, "Changes in the U.S. Tornado Disaster Landscape"

2016 (San Francisco):
Ying Song, The Ohio State University, "Green Accessibility: Estimating the Environmental Costs of Space-time Prisms for Sustainable Transportation Planning"

2014 (Tampa): 
Eric Shook, Kent State Univeristy, "A Computational Approach to Understanding Spatial and Temporal Granularities in Agent-Based Modeling," University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Yiyi Wang, Montana State University, "A New Spatial Model for Predicting Multivariate Counts: Anticipating Pedestrian Crashes across Neighborhoods & Firm Births across Counties," University of Texas at Austin

2010 (Washington, DC):
Dr. Mehdi Mekni, Sherbrooke University, "Automated Generation of Geometrically-Precise and Semantically-Informed Virtual Geographic Environments Populated with Spatially-Reasoning Agents"

2006 (Chicago):
Dr. Stephane Joost, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, "The Geographical Dimension of Genetic Diversity: A GIScience Contribution for the Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources"

Dr. William L. Garrison

This award was created to honor the outstanding research and educational activities of Dr. William L. Garrison who, following service in World War II, received his Ph.D. in Geography from Northwestern University in 1950. While a young faculty member at the University of Washington, Garrison became one of the leaders of the resurgence of geographic science and many of his doctoral students (including Duane Marble, Brian J. L. Berry, John Nystuen, Arthur Getis, Richard Morrill, and William Bunge) were subsequently instrumental in the evolution of geographic science and geographic information systems. Bill Garrison was also one of the first geographers to make use of computational approaches to the solution of geographic problems. The early work at the University of Washington of Garrison and his students involved such historic computing systems as the IBM 604 and IBM 650. Garrison is currently Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Emeritus Research Engineer in the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Trustees of the Marble Fund for Geographic Science

Dr. Jay Sandhu, ESRI

Dr. Donna Peuquet, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Elizabeth Wentz, Arizona State University


Go back to AAG Research Grants