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15 Mar 2021

CUHK Professor Mei-Po Kwan Awarded 2021 AAG Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography

15 Mar 2021

Professor Mei-Po Kwan

Professor Mei-Po Kwan, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Geography and Resource Management and Director of the Institute of Space and Earth Information Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has received the 2021 Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography from the American Association of Geographers (AAG).  Professor Kwan is the first Asian researcher to receive this honour.

Professor Kwan’s research interests include environmental health, sustainable cities, human mobility, urban/social issues in cities, and geographic information science (GIScience). Her recent collaborative projects include the development of a unified cyberinfrastructure framework for scalable spatiotemporal data analytics, the development of a Geospatial Virtual Data Enclave (GVDE) for sharing and analysing confidential geospatial data, the examination of health risks to female sex workers, adolescent and adult participation in high-risk drug use, individual exposure to air pollution and noise, and environmental influences on physical activity.

According to the citation by AAG, Professor Kwan has dramatically altered geo-visualisation, the inclusion of qualitative data through geo-narrative, and she has broadened GIScience beyond a narrow “objective” standard to a more humanistic standard that include perceptions, emotions, and behaviour as core concerns. She has also advanced the conceptualisation of concepts like uncertainty and bias by promoting more dynamic perspectives that examine spatial contexts as rooted in everyday behaviour and experiences rather than as containers fixed in space and time.

The significant substance and impact of Professor Kwan’s work have transformed the discipline of geography and geographic information science and infused the broader community of researchers and practitioners with more robust geospatial understanding, thereby making her a highly deserving recipient of the Wilbanks Prize.

Professor Kwan said, “I am truly honoured to receive the Wilbanks Prize, as all former recipients are highly respected scholars in the field. I will try my best to contribute to innovative research in geography to live up to this prestigious recognition.”

Professor Mei-Po Kwan is an internationally renowned geographer who is committed to engaging in innovative and forward looking research to benefit society and improve people’s livelihood. She received her first degree in geography from CUHK, and then pursued further study in the US. She obtained her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California at Santa Barbara, respectively. In 2019, she returned to her alma mater to serve as Director of the Institute of Space and Earth Information Science at CUHK, as well as Choh-Ming Li Professor of Geography and Resource Management. She is devoted to contributing to CUHK with her rich research experience and promotes the University’s research and international rankings to a higher level.

About the Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography

The Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography was established in memory of the late Dr. Thomas Wilbanks, a former AAG President and long-standing AAG member, who earned the admiration and respect of colleagues around the world for his many years of scholarship and research bridging the academic, public, and private sectors. This annual award recognises geographers whose research has made transformational contributions to geography, GIScience, or to science and society more broadly. All individual geographers are eligible to be nominated or to apply for this prize focusing specifically on geographic research.

Professor Mei-Po Kwan

Professor Mei-Po Kwan


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