Our Faculty Is:
Passionate. Committed. Intellectually curious. Playful. Dedicated. Active.
But don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself…
Syracuse University’s 17 geography professors do more than excel in their fields of research—they stand out in the classroom as well. The award-winning faculty members make themselves especially available to undergraduates by making a point to dedicate their time to helping students learn, teaching both large lecture-based courses and smaller discussion courses. The department curates an inclusive environment for students of all ages to allow them to succeed in both the classroom and the discipline. The faculty has created programs like Community GIS to give the university’s rising geographers unique training experience prior to entering the workplace. Geography professors serve as mentors to undergraduate students, eager to help them advance into graduate school or into the field. We’ve highlighted five faculty members below to provide a glimpse of the dynamic educators housed within the department.
Natalie Koch: Urban/Political Geography
PhD, 2012 | Geography; University of Colorado, Boulder. http://nataliekoch.com/
Favorite Quote: “There is a will to essentiality which one should mistrust” -Michel Foucault
Dr. Natalie Koch is a world-class cyclist. She spends basically all her free time riding and racing bikes, and has raced for a number of teams around the US. She is on Team NovoNordisk’s—the world’s first (and only) all-Type 1 diabetes cycling team, which is composed of racers from all over the world. The team races at various points in the year in addition to its yearly training camp—this year’s was in Spain. Despite all the fieldwork and publishing that Dr. Koch does (she published six times in 2013 alone!) she still trains, even in places like Saudi Arabia!
Matthew Huber: Environment and Society Geography
Ph.D., Clark University, 2009.
Matt’s Book: 2013. Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press).
Professor Matt Huber is a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan. So all you students who like a good nine-inning game of baseball and talking about how capitalism interacts with the environment should consider taking one of his classes (as long as you aren’t a Chicago Cubs fan). He spends much of his leisure time playing guitar and reading books on music history. He’s even in a band that covers the music of the highly stigmatized, but amazing band called “Phish.” If you don’t know who Phish is then you probably should look them up right now…In fact, here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx1SfR9DV3k
PhD, 1978 | University of California, Los Angeles.
Professor John Western is a natural-born explorer, as evidenced by his boyhood hobby of hopping on a train to experience different areas within his native Great Britain. His interest in understanding how the history and physical geography of a place fit together put him on track to call many places home, such as the hillsides of Burundi and picturesque city of Strasbourg, France. But of all the places he’s lived, Cape Town, South Africa still captures his heart. Now in Syracuse, he brings his enthusiasm for the field to the front of the classroom with his classes on human geography.
Jake Bendix: Physical Geography
PhD, 1992 | University of Georgia
Jake Bendix brings science to the non-scientists in his courses. He knows the land—and its systems. His childhood experiences camping and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada sparked his interest in the discipline. When he isn’t translating scientific jargon into a common language for students in his introductory physical geography course, he’s playing basketball or rooting for his favorite college teams: Syracuse and the University of California. “I bleed orange out of one arm and blue and gold out of the other,” he says.
Jane Read: Geographic Information Systems
PhD, 1999 | Louisiana State University
Dr. Read was drawn to geography after living in Bolivia for four years where she witnessed illegal logging and many struggles between the local indigenous peoples and the Bolivian Government. With the desire to further understand and mitigate these issues, Dr. Read obtained her doctorate from Louisiana State University and specializes in Remote Sensing and Geospatial Information Science. Outside of the classroom Dr. Read enjoys kayaking on the Oneida River, gardening (she grows enough food to feed her family in the summer!), and spending time with her three-year-old daughter. Dr. Read also trains her dog, Flicka, in agility. The two compete in American Kennel Club shows across the state. Here’s a video of Dr. Read and Flicka in action!
There’s more to the geography department than the professors. Thirty-three graduate students also study geography at SU, often working with both the faculty and the undergraduate students as teaching assistants. In addition to completing their own research projects, the graduate students can serve as a key link between the geography majors and the faculty. They facilitate discussions for entry level geography classes, allowing undergraduate students to delve into the material on a deeper level. Some even partake in the same upper-level classes as the junior and senior undergraduates, bringing their experiences and advanced perspectives into the classroom.
Geography Office Staff
The Geography office staff keeps the department running smoothly for both professors and students.
How do they help the undergrads? The friendly staff members in the geography office (144 Eggers) are always willing to help students—feel free to drop in for a visit!
- Mary Collier, Office Coordinator, is one the first friendly faces you’ll see when you enter the office! She’ll answer any general questions you have related to courses, registration, and about the department itself.
- Joe Stoll, Cartographer, provides graphics and maps for the Geography department. You’ll also see him taking great photos for our events.
- Margie Johnson, Administrative Assistant for the Department Chair, helps the GEO 491 students prepare their event for Geography Awareness Week, from catering to ordering materials. She also makes sure you get paid if you have a work-study position with a Geography professor!
- Jackie Wells, Office Coordinator, is the go-between for the Undergraduate Director. She’ll introduce you to the Geography major by providing current course listings, informational pamphlets, and other useful materials.