UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Karl Zimmerer, professor and head of the Department of Geography, has received the first Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal from the American Geographical Society (AGS). The Melamid Medal is given for outstanding work on the dynamic relationship between human culture and natural resources. It was established in 2002 by a gift from Ilse Melamid, in memory of her late husband Alexander Melamid.
“I feel extremely honored to receive the Melamid Medal from the American Geographic Society in recognition of my work on human environmental change and its impact on not only ongoing research and scholarship but also real world decisionmaking, biodiversity and development policy, resource management, and real people’s landscapes and livelihoods,” Zimmerer said. “I also feel like I’m being welcomed into an exquisite group of geographers and environmental thinkers and doers including E. Willard Miller and Ruby Miller, Rachel Carson, and -- one of my heroes for numerous reasons including the creation of such environmental initiatives as the Soil Conservation Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps program that led to greater public awareness and wiser management of the nation's natural resources -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
“Dr. Zimmerer has received numerous awards and honors, including the C.O. Sauer Award from the Conference of Latin American Geographers, a Guggenheim Fellowship and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,” noted Jerome Dodson, president and director of the American Geographical Society. “His numerous publications have been cited extensively, and he is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of political ecology and development. For these reasons and others, he is exceptionally well qualified to receive the first Melamid Medal.”
Alexander Melamid joined the AGS Council in 1975 and was one of the longest-serving members of the council. Research, consulting, and visiting professorships took him to Nigeria, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Cyprus, Turkey, Ethiopia, Iran and a stunning assortment of other locations throughout the Middle East. His usual practice was to bring back locally produced maps and publications for the AGS library from the most out-of-the-way places he traveled; because of that, the society is in debt to him for some very unusual maps, books and journals, almost impossible to acquire by other means.
The American Geographical Society is an organization of professional geographers and other devotees of geography who share a fascination with the subject and a recognition of its importance. It is internationally important as one of the two largest professional geographic organizations in the United States and is also the country’s oldest national geographical organization.
Zimmerer will receive the medal and give a public address at a ceremony to be held in the main auditorium of St. Francis College in New York City on Dec. 6. His talk to this audience is based on new research and is titled “Giving Rise to Sustainability: Tropical mountain landscapes and cities.” Additonal information on Zimmerer’s Melamid medal and his public address will be posted at the AGS website.