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Local Geographer Awarded for Yellowstone Project

Photo submitted Dr. Judith Meyer

By University Communications

Back in the 1920s and 30s, a 120-mile pack trail became one of the most traveled paths in Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately, in 1970, maintenance of the hiking trail was discontinued, and local ecosystem is being allowed to reclaim the area. Now, Dr. Judith Meyer, associate professor of geography at Missouri State University, and her project partner and husband Dr. Bob Pavlowsky, professor of geography and director of the Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute, are going back to this historic trail to map it digitally and to photograph it as it stands today.

“Our project centers on creating a digital map of a historical hiking trail in Yellowstone National Park by hiking the trail and re-photographing scenes that were photographed in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Meyer. “We then compare and analyze the photo-pairs for evidence, if any, of landscape change over time.”

Meyer recently received the Anne White award from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) for her work on the project. The award is given to life partners and married couples who are working together in the field of geography.

“Receiving recognition from the AAG, with its over 10,000 members from 60 different countries is, needless-to-say, an honor both for me personally but also for Missouri State University’s department of geography, geology and planning,” said Meyer. “Further, since the AAG’s Anne White Award Committee has always recognized same-sex couples as award recipients, I am proud that my primary scholarly organization is and has always has been forward-thinking and inclusive in its outlook on membership, scholarship and funding.”

Anne White was wife to Gilbert F. White, who is known as “the father of flood plain management.” White wasn’t just wife to a geographer, though. She was a geographer in her own right who worked as a field assistant and research associate to her husband. Meyer feels a special connection with White and is honored to be selected for the award baring her namesake.

“It feels wonderful to have been selected,” said Meyer. “I honestly feel a commonality or community of spirit with Anne White. Much like Anne, I have spent most of my life trying to balance my time and responsibilities to my children, spouse and other family members as well as run the house and meet my obligations to Missouri State.”

Award recipients receive $1,500 to help fund research in the field as well as national recognition from fellow geographers and other members of the field.

For more information, contact Meyer at (417) 836-5604 or