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Maxwell professor Mark Monmonier to receive prestigious O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal for his contributions to the field of cartography
Maxwell professor Mark Monmonier to receive prestigious O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal for his contributions to the field of cartographyFebruary 22, 2001Jonathan Hayjhay@syr.edu
Mark Monmonier, Distinguished Professor of Geography in The Maxwell School of Syracuse University, has spent the past three decades getting lost in maps and finding himself excited to unfold another. His passion for the field of cartography will be recognized March 3 when he is awarded the O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal at the Yale Club in New York City. The prestigious medal is given for outstanding contributions in the field of cartography or geodesy. The Miller Medal was established in 1968 but has been awarded only five times. “This award is major and brings much kudos to Mark and the department,” says John Western, professor and chair of the Department of Geography. “This nomination is no accident. Mark addresses contemporary issues in cartography in a lively manner. He is one of the most widely-read authors in our field and writes with a great clarity of style–and his great sense of humor peeps through, too.” The Miller Medal is presented by the American Geographic Society (AGS), which Monmonier describes as a cross between the Explorers Club and an academic association. The AGS sponsors the Geographical Review, which published Monmonier’s first nationally recognized articles in the 1970s. Monmonier has been on the leading edge of cartography throughout his career. Early on, he was heavily involved in the development of computer algorithms for automated map analysis. More recently, he has been writing about mapping policy questions and the history of cartography in the 20th century. In his study of mapping policy, Monmonier is looking at government agencies’ use of maps. Governments are the top producers and users of spatial data, especially for national defense and economic development. Monmonier is currently researching surveillance cartography–the use of maps to keep track of people, armies, traffic and agriculture. Monmonier is working on one volume of a six-volume series based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and titled the “History of Cartography.” He is co-editor of volume six, which will spotlight 20th-century cartography. The series is supported by a National Science Foundation grant.
Along with research, Monmonier’s primary focus is in the classroom. This semester, he is teaching a pair of new classes–Geographic Information and Society and Multimedia Cartography. “I’m staying about two weeks ahead of students in the software package we use, which isn’t too bad as long as I can keep up,” Monmonier says. “We’ve got a great lab, and my links between teaching and research are very strong.” His use of technology in the classroom is indicative of the ever-expanding role of digital information in cartography. Monmonier says multimedia tools allow users to interact with maps in new ways. In the past, maps presented information that was already known in the form of textbooks and newspapers. Technology now allows geographic visualization, in which a dynamic map can utilize virtual reality, links with hypertext or other features. “We will probably find in the years ahead an even more intriguing use of maps,” Monmonier says. “You will possibly be able to let computers choose a route for you when driving. It’s a really fascinating time to be involved in cartography.”