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UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography
UC Santa Barbara
Department of Geography

UC Santa Barbara Geography / About / Awards and Rankings

UCSB Geography is internationally recognized as one of the best Departments of Geography in the world, and we have been ranked among the top doctoral programs in the U.S. by a variety of indices for the last 15 years. Back in 1995, The National Research Council ranked us number 4 in the nation, based upon reputation by peer review. In its latest (2010) Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs, they used a new methodology designed to show the full complexity of the data and the difficulty of giving a unique ranking, and each program and department was given a range of possible rankings, depending on how much weight was given to the different components used in the ranking. Accordingly, our Graduate Division rated us number 2 in the nation, a ranking based on a "sort by S-weight 5th, then 95th percentile rank," while Cornell University concluded that UCSB Geography is number 1, using a ranking "sorted by R Mid." In the same vein, the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked us number two in the nation on its "Top Research Universities Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index" in 2008, ranked us the number 1 "large, prestigious program" among Departments of Geography in the USA" in 2009, and Geographical Perspectives ranked us the number 1 program for spatial careers in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Not surprisingly, Geography faculty hold a dazzling array of academic awards and honors, including Michael Goodchild's 2007 Prix Vautrin Lud, the "Nobel Prize" for Geography. "The First Law of Geography" is named after our Emeritus Professor Waldo Tobler; Reginald Golledge (deceased, 2009) is famous for pioneering the field of Behavioral Geography and, more recently, the field of Disabilities Geography; and Michael Goodchild, considered the father of Geographic Information Science, was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2010. Over the past few years, our faculty (and Department) have received the following national and international recognition:


  • David López-Carr named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Krzysztof Janowicz wins the Harold J. Plous Memorial Award
  • Joel Michaelsen given the Alumni Association's Chuck Graver University Service Award for exceptional leadership and service
  • Waldo Tobler received the 2014 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology
  • Rick Church selected for the 2014 UCGIS Research Award for his highly-cited "Maximal Covering Location Problem" paper and relevant fundamental contribution to GIScience
  • Keith Clarke awarded the 2013 Distinguished Career Award by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS)
  • Professor Emeritus Donald G. Janelle awarded the title of Researcher Emeritus by Chancellor Yang


  • Werner Kuhn hired as Director of the Center for Spatial Studies and holder of the Dangermond Chair for GIScience
  • Krzysztof Janowicz awarded a Hellman Family Faculty Fellowship
  • Krzysztof Janowicz awarded a Regents Junior Faculty Fellowship
  • Rick Church awarded the UCSB 2012-2013 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award
  • Dar Roberts awarded the Outstanding Contributions Award in Remote Sensing by the Remote Sensing Specialty Group of the AAG
  • Keith Clarke appointed by the Secretary of the Interior as 1 of 13 members of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC), which provides recommendations on federal geospatial policy and management issues and advice on development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)
  • Keith Clarke chaired the National Research Council’s “Committee on the Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence” which produced a report for the NGA, titled “Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence”


  • A study by Xingjian Liu and F. Benjamin Zhan, published in The Professional Geographer, ranked UCSB Geography first in the productivity of research doctoral geography programs in the United States over the twenty-year period from 1991 to 2010, fifth among the ten geography programs that placed the most doctoral graduates in faculty positions in research doctoral geography programs from 1960-2010, and sixth among the top ten programs in terms of relative placement productivity from 1960-2010
  • Rick Church elected to the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Science Association
  • Stuart Sweeney appointed Director of the UCSB Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research


  • Oliver Chadwick and John Melack (Affiliated Faculty) elected Fellows of the AGU
  • UCSB Geography awarded Education/Capacity Building for Geospatial Technology Citation by GIS Development, one of just six international awards given by GIS Development at the Geospatial World Forum 2011
  • Goodchild awarded University Consortium of Geographical Information Science Fellow status
  • Gautier elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


  • Rick Church Appointed Associate Dean of the Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences, part of the UCSB College of Letters and Science
  • The 2010 NRC Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs rates UCSB Geography as number one in the nation at best or number six at the very least, depending upon the weights given to the assorted criteria used
  • Affiliated Faculty member Frank Davis heads new report for the NRC Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
  • The Jack and Laura Dangermond Endowed Chair in Geography is established, and Mike Goodchild is appointed for a 2 year term
  • Goodchild Elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society
  • Goodchild selected as the recipient of the 2010 UCGIS Research Award
  • The Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science named its new Beowulf computing cluster after Professor Mike Goodchild to acknowledge his coining of the term geographic information science


  • Don Janelle selected to receive the Ronald F. Abler Honors for Distinguished Service of the Association of American Geographers
  • David Siegel elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
  • Reg Golledge selected as UCSB Faculty Research Lecturer for 2009
  • Reg Golledge elected a Fellow of the Regional Science Association International
  • Rick Church elected a Fellow of the Regional Science Association International


  • David Carr invited to the ATHGO International 5th Annual Global Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change 2007 as a Nobel Peace Prize VIP honoree member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Michael Goodchild became director of spatial@ucsb, a multimillion dollar, interdisciplinary research center devoted to spatial thinking
  • Kostas Goulias became joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Transportation Letters: The International Journal of Transportation Research
  • Hugo Loaiciga selected by the Water Resources Planning and Management Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers as the recipient of the Julian Hinds Award
  • Martin Raubal won the Best Paper of 2007 award for an article written for the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Journal
  • Martin Raubal won the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Journal's U.V. Helava Award for best paper in 4 years
  • Dar Roberts received the UCSB Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award
  • Tommy Dickey selected as Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Chair of Oceanographic Sciences
  • Libe Washburn appointed Chair of the UCSB Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science
  • Oliver Chadwick and David Siegel elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Reg Golledge selected to receive the 2008 Enhancing Diversity Award of the Association of American Geographers


  • David Carr received the Harold C. Pillsbury Research Award for Best Health Presentation (North Carolina School of Medicine)
  • Oliver Chadwick selected as Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America
  • Reginald Golledge received the Lifetime Achievement Honors of the Association of American Geographers
  • Mike Goodchild received the Geospatial Information and Technology Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Mike Goodchild received the Prix Vautrin Lud, the Nobel Prize of Geography
  • Hugo Loaiciga elected a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers


  • Keith Clarke appointed Chair of NAS Mapping Sciences Committee
  • Keith Clarke received a UK Leverhulme Trust award
  • Keith Clarke received a Fulbright Distinguished Scholarship
  • Keith Clarke appointed to the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration
  • Frank W. Davis selected as Edward J. Taaffe Distinguished Lecturer, Ohio State University Department of Geography
  • Tommy Dickey elected AGU Fellow
  • Reginald Golledge selected as UCSB Outstanding Graduate Mentor
  • Mike Goodchild received Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award
  • Mike Goodchild Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Joel Michaelsen Elected Chair of the UCSB Academic Senate
  • Ray Smith received the R.J. Russell Award


  • Bodo Bookhagen received 2005 Publication Award of the Leibniz College at the University of Potsdam (Germany)
  • Richard Church was Plenary Speaker of the AAG Statistics and Applied Modeling Session of the Denver AAG Annual Meeting
  • Keith Clarke received the U.S. Geological Survey’s John Wesley Powell Award
  • Tommy Dickey was co-author of Journal of Geophysical Research paper which received the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s award for Outstanding Research Paper in an Externally Refereed Publication
  • Jeff Dozier (Affiliated Faculty) received the William T. Pecora Award
  • Reginald Golledge elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Martin Raubal won the Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions Award for the most innovative research paper at the Association of Geographic Information Laboratories for Europe
  • David Siegel selected as Plenary Speaker, ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Salt Lake City


  • Bodo Bookhagen received the Bernd-Rendel Award from the German Science Foundation and the 2005 Publication Award of the Leibniz College at the University of Potsdam (Germany)
  • David Carr won first place for best paper based on a dissertation at the AAG Annual Meeting
  • Richard Church was Keynote Speaker on Towards Sustainability, conference on sustainability, Zurich, Switzerland, 2004
  • Keith Clarke selected to status of American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Fellow for his contributions to ACSM and the professions of Cartography and GIS
  • Hallie Eakin awarded the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research Fellowship (University of East Anglia and Oxford University, UK)
  • Reginald Golledge elected to serve on the Decade of Behavior's National Advisory Committee
  • Michael Goodchild received an Honorary Doctor of Science, McMaster University (Canada)
  • Michael Goodchild received an Honorary Doctor of Laws, Ryerson University (Canada)
  • Ed Keller (Affiliated Faculty) received the Geological Society of America’s Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award
  • Christopher Still awarded University of California Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship
  • Christopher Still awarded NASA New Investigator Award
  • Waldo Tobler cited in Key Thinkers on Space and Place, pages 301-305 of P. Hubbard, et al, 2004, Sage: London


  • Keith Clarke selected as UCGIS Educator of the Year
  • Thomas Dunne (Affiliated Faculty) awarded the Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award by the Geological Society of America
  • Catherine Gautier awarded Goddard Space Flight Center's annual Teamwork Award for her work on the AIRS science team that is part of the Aqua Project
  • Michael Goodchild chosen for Royal Geographical Society's Founder's Medal
  • Michael Goodchild selected by peers to give UCSB Faculty Research Lecture
  • Libe Washburn elected Member, Steering Committee, Oceans. US High Frequency Radar Working Group; Member, Marine Reserves Science Advisory Panel, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary; and Member, Research Advisory Panel, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary


  • Jeff Dozier (Affiliated Faculty) made a Fellow, National Institute for Environmental eScience, University of Cambridge (UK)
  • UCSB Geography faculty averaged $487,000 in extramural funds per faculty member for the year 2002. This amount leads the whole Science Division at UCSB, $150,000 over the nearest rival (Physics)
  • Reginald Golledge received University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) 2002 Research Award
  • Reginald Golledge awarded the Grosvenor Medal for Geographic Education
  • Michael Goodchild elected to National Academy of Sciences
  • Michael Goodchild selected for membership in the Royal Society of Canada
  • Michael Goodchild chosen for University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) Educator of the Year Award
  • Hugo Loaiciga received the 2002 Service to the Profession Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute for his “longstanding contributions to research and technical activities”
  • Dar Roberts nominated for UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Ray Smith received the Jerlov Award in recognition of his contribution made to the advancement of knowledge of the nature and consequences of light in the ocean


  • Keith Clarke elected President of CaGIS
  • Frank W. Davis (Affiliated Faculty) made an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow
  • Jack Estes received NASA Public Service Medal posthumously
  • Reginald Golledge received Honorary LLD from Simon Fraser University (Canada)
  • Reginald Golledge received an Honorary PhD from Göteborg University (Sweden)
  • Reginald Golledge elected to the NRC “Committee on Thinking Spatially”
  • Reginald Golledge received the Distinguished Academic Alumni Award, College of Liberal Arts, The University of Iowa
  • Michael Goodchild received an Honorary Doctor of Science, Keele University (Canada)
  • John Melack awarded a Gleddon Fellowship by the University of Western Australia

For more about the Department, see our Department History page.

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