University of South Carolina

USC geographers earn top honors

Contact: Peggy Binette 803-777-5400

Dr. Susan Cutter and Dr. Dave Cowen, researchers in the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences, have been honored for their contributions in the field of geography.

Cutter, a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography, has been awarded the Association of American Geographers Lifetime Achievement Honor. Cowen, a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography Emeritus, was appointed chairman of the U.S. National Geospatial Advisory Committee by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He also has been named a “GIS Hero” by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), the world leader in GIS technology.

The AAG recognized Cutter for her research, public service and academic leadership. She was described as the leading social scientist in the area of natural and technological hazards and risk analysis and for her research, which impacts societies throughout the world.

Cutter is a specialist in understanding the vulnerability and resiliency of communities, states and nations struck by disaster, from earthquakes to terrorism. Through various leadership roles, she has guided the expenditure of public funding in ways that are most likely to benefit the greatest number of disaster victims. She also has played a pivotal role in significant national studies on disaster management, human dimensions of hazards, behavioral approaches to decision-making for environmental issues and earth science applications of satellite technology.

She is the director of USC’s Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute and is a former president of the AAG. She serves on an advisory committee for the National Research Council and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Cowen has served as a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) since 2008. As chairman, he will preside over the most important federal advisory committee for the management of national geospatial programs and the development of the national spatial data infrastructure. Geospatial technologies include GIS (Geographic Information Systems), GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and remote sensing.

He has been instrumental in building USC’s reputation as a national leader in the field of GIS and remote sensing. In 2004, Cowen was named a national associate by the Council of National Academy of Sciences for his “extraordinary service” to the National Academies. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in GIS by Esri in 2005.

Cowen succeeds NGAC chairman Anne Hale Miglarese, who earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in geography from USC.

As an Esri GIS Hero, Cowen was cited for his research, teaching, development and implementation of GIS technologies and techniques. For more information about Cowen’s work go to


By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 05/05/11 @ 4:10 PM | Updated: 10/13/11 @ 1:50 PM | Permalink



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