The Rural Geography Specialty Group has several offices that are open this year. Terms are three years in length, with the exception of student representative, which is a two-year position.
Great Plains Rocky Mountains
Audrey Joslin is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Geography at Kansas State University. Prior to joining Kansas State University, she earned her PhD in geography from Texas A&M University where she was an active member of the Human-Environment Research Group. Her research focuses on the social, political and economic dimensions of natural resources and the environment. She is particularly interested how urban areas influence rural landscapes that are re-conceptualized as infrastructure providing ecosystem services. Latin America has been the site of much of her research, and she has most recently worked in the Ecuadorian Andes investigating the application and on-the-ground impacts of a Payments for Ecosystem Services program on rural communities sharing the watershed with the city of Quito. With reflection upon her work and research interests, she has recently discovered that she too is a rural geographer and is excited for the potential opportunity to serve the Rural Geography Specialty Group as a representative of the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain region.
New England and St. Lawrence Valley
Cheryl Morse is Assistant Professor of Geography and a member of the Food Systems Graduate Faculty at the University of Vermont. She has served on RGSG as the representative for NESTVAL since 2014, and this past year was co-coordinator with Chris Laingen for the RGSG Awards Committee. In 2015 she joined other rural geographers from the US, UK, and Canada for the Rural Quadrennial Meeting in Wales. Cheryl is a rural geographer who studies the interactions between people and nature, and how such interactions produce identities, social change, livelihoods, and place. Questions regarding the lived experience of rural people and sustainable socio-ecological functioning of rural landscapes drive her scholarly work. She has published in the areas of rural and landscape studies, migration, therapeutic landscapes, and youth geography. She teaches at all levels, from introductory World Regional Geography to intermediate Rural Geography to a seminar on nature-culture theory and sustainability, and a graduate immersion course in Food Systems. Service learning and learning in the field are central components in several of her courses. She holds two degrees from the University of Vermont (BA in Environmental Studies, 1989 and MA in Geography, 2000) and received her doctorate in Geography from the University of British Columbia (2006). In her free time she coaches youth lacrosse, renovates a 19th century farmhouse in the Green Mountains, and gardens.
Avantika Ramekar is a Geographer by profession. She likes to visit new places and explore new cultures. Traveling is her way of life. Avantika enjoys listening to people and their stories. Viewing the world through a geographic lens places her in a unique position, one that is both powerful and vulnerable. It is powerful because it gives her an opportunity to bring diverse and oft-marginalized views to the field. It is vulnerable because of the responsibility of learning, respecting, adapting and adopting, to some extent, a foreign culture. Negotiating this delicate position has broadened her outlook toward life. Avantika’s interest in rural areas comes from her extended family’s stories and experience in rural Kansas. The opportunities, challenges and interrelations in these areas are far from simple, and make them interesting to study. Studying rural sustainability in Kansas, where depopulation is a major issue, is one of her main interests. The chance to serve as an educator is one of the most fulfilling aspects of Avantika’s life. Helping others develop spatial and analytical reasoning skills to address the complexities of our world is an important role, and one to which she is dedicated. She has been fortunate to be an outlier among her colleagues. Avantika was born in India: a society where gender duties and roles are bound by expectations and rules. She grew up in a progressive family that challenged these societal expectations, and was given the liberty to pursue a career of her own choice, even if it was far from home. Avantika makes sure to use this opportunity with responsibility. Serving as a student executive member with the Rural Geography Specialty Group would be a welcome next step in her progression as a scholar, and a role she would perform with dedication.