Meet the Executive Committee
Michael Longan (President) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Meteorology at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. He currently serves as the faculty sponsor for the Alpha Xi chapter. Mike attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned a B.A. in geography. He earned is MA degree in geography at the University of Arizona and returned to the University of Colorado where he completed a Ph.D. in 2000. Prior to teaching at VU he taught for two years at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. His interests are centered in the geography of Internet communication and the media. He teaches a broad range of courses in cultural, urban, and rural geography. He has published research on the Community Networking Movement, the representation of places online, the geography of video games, and the geography of social networks. He is currently working on a project about rural identity and country music.
Susy Ziegler (First Vice President) is Head of the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences at Northern Michigan University where she is an Associate Professor. She majored in Geography at Dartmouth College after discovering physical geography during her first term on campus. Susy earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in graduate school she became a charter member of the Theta Lambda Chapter of GTU. Since moving from Minnesota in 2010, Susy has been the faculty sponsor of Northern Michigan University's Eta Chi Chapter of GTU. She enjoys participating in events and taking field trips with the motivated GTU students who are eager to explore and learn outside the classroom. Susy promotes geography whenever possible by visiting elementary school classrooms and presenting at workshops for teachers. At NMU Susy teaches biogeography, introduction to geographic research, and environmental science. Her research and recreation interests are in the Northwoods.
Harry J. "Jimmy" Wilson (Second vice President) is Assistant Professor of Management and GIS in the Dicke College of Business Administration at Ohio Northern University (ONU). Jimmy's educational background includes a B.A. (Anthropology/Archaeology, Florida State University), an M.A. (Historical Archaeology, University of West Florida), and a Ph.D. (Historical Geography/GIS, Louisiana State University). Shortly after his arrival in 2007, Jimmy took steps to acquire a GTU charter at ONU, which was granted to the university in 2009. He is the faculty sponsor for this chapter. Jimmy's research interests are many and diverse, and extend into other disciplines such as marketing, anthropology, archaeology, history, criminal justice, biology and civil engineering. His teaching demonstrates the application of spatial analysis and GIS within these and other fields, and also the utility of civic engagement within geographic inquiry. He is often seen with his students and his two golden retrievers outside doing field research throughout northwest Ohio. Aside from his professional responsibilities, he is active in local government and is a member of several local service organizations.
Burrell Montz (Immediate Past President) is Professor and Chair of the Geography Department at East Carolina University. She received her BA in Geography from Mary Washington College, where she was initiated into the Delta Mu Chapter in 1972. After receiving her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Burrell joined the faculty at Binghamton University, where she served as Faculty Sponsor for the Zeta Rho chapter for many, many years. She was instrumental in the formation of the New York Geographic Alliance, for which served as Coordinator and co-Coordinator during the 1980s. Burrell moved to East Carolina University in 2009, where she teaches courses on environmental hazards and water resources management and planning. Burrell’s research interests center on natural hazards, resource management, and environmental analysis. This has led her to field work in New Zealand, Slovenia, and various locations throughout the United States. When not working (which apparently is not often, according to her family), she loves exploring eastern North Carolina, reading, and thinking about how to landscape her yard.
James Lowry (Executive Secretary) is Associate Professor of Human Geography at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA. James was initiated into the Beta Iota chapter at East Carolina University in 1986 while working on his MA degree in geography. Subsequently he was president of the Zeta Upsilon chapter at the University of Arizona in the late 1980s while completing his Ph.D. studies. In 1996 James played a key role in reactivating the Alpha Pi Chapter at East Central University where he served as faculty advisor until 2002. Dr. Lowry also served as Southwest Regional Councilor from 1998 until 2007. In 2002 James moved to Stephen F. Austin State University where he served as faculty sponsor for the Kappa Gamma Chapter. In 2006 he joined the UNO Faculty where he reactivated the Zeta Lambda Chapter. James was elected 2nd Vice President in 2007 and in 2008 became GTU’s Executive Secretary. His teaching and research focuses on cultural ecology and the perception of hazards. James is an animal lover and lives with his very sweet beagle Ruthie.
Michal L. LeVasseur (Comptroller) did her undergraduate and graduate work in anthropology, geography, and science education as preparation for a teaching and administrative career in geography, earth science, and science education at the university level. Having recently retired as Executive Director of the National Council for Geographic Education, Michal now works with the National Geographic Society as a liaison to ten state geography alliances. Gamma Theta Upsilon has been part of Michal’s life since her initiation into the Kappa Kappa Chapter at the University of South Florida (USF) in 1971. Upon joining the geography faculty at USF, she served as Kappa Kappa Chapter advisor. Dr. LeVasseur has served GTU as 2nd Vice President, 1st Vice President, President, and Past President. Michal’s passion is travel -- anywhere, anytime. Tibet and Inner Mongolia are special places for Michal. She describes Tibet in the early 1980s as being like another planet with a universal language that is not spoken but understood. She recalls a young women and two young men on a pilgrimage to the Potala taking her hand and including her with only a few soft-spoken words. Her trip through Inner Mongolia on horseback was magical, combining her love of horses, open spaces, and new cultures.
Dawn Drake (Historian), Missouri Western University
Dawn Drake is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Geography at Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph, Missouri. She received a PhD in geography from the University of Tennessee in May 2011. Her research interests include economic geography, industrial location, and precision agriculture. Her dissertation research examined the geographic manifestations of the business literature using a case study of the US farm machinery industry. Her research has most recently been funded by the Canadian Embassy. Dawn also serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Rural Geography Specialty Group of the AAG and is a member of the World Geography Bowl Committee for both the AAG and the Southeastern Division of the AAG. In her spare time, Dawn likes to collect and restore antique tractors. Dawn served on the GTU Executive Committee as Student Representative from 2002-2004 and 2006-2011. She was originally initiated into GTU through the Gamma Omega Alpha Chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2000, where she served as both Vice-President and President. Dawn also was instrumental in establishing the Lambda Sigma Chapter at the University of Delaware in 2006 and is one of its eight charter members. Dawn looks forward to working with the records of GTU to best serve the institutional memory of the organization.
Randy Bertolas (Outreach Coordinator) is Professor of Geography and Chair of the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Wayne State College in northeast Nebraska. He was born and raised in the perpetually frozen North Woods just south of International Falls, Minnesota. Dr. Bertolas attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was studying geography in his dorm room in 1975 on the night the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. Subsequently, he earned a Masterís degree in geography from the University of Vermont and a PhD in geography from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Bertolas chartered the Lambda Zeta GTU chapter at Wayne State College in 2002 and later served the GTU Executive Committee as International President in 2011-2012. He currently serves as Coordinator of the Geographic Educators of Nebraska, a grassroots Alliance affiliated with the National Geographic Society and composed of Nebraska K-12 teachers dedicated to improving the quality of geography education at all academic levels.
Howard Johnson (Development Coordinator)
Howard Johnson (Development Coordinator) currently holds the title of Emeritus Professor of Geography at Jacksonville State University. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Valparaiso University and his PhD from Michigan State. After teaching several years at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, he moved to Jacksonville, Alabama where he taught for thirty-four years and served as department head for thirty of them. He has served GTU as chapter advisor, regional representative, 2nd and 1st vice-president, president and past president. Howard originated the idea of including GTU undergraduate papers sessions at regional AAG conferences with the first one at a SEDAAG meeting.
His love of travel has taken him around the world and meshes nicely with his interest in photography. The global tapestry of cultures and landscapes never ceases to amaze him. His acquisition of a geographic perspective at Valparaiso has been a blessing throughout his life, although it might not have been so apparent at the time.
Steven Schnell (Editor, The Geographical Bulletin) is Associate Professor of Geography at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and editor of The Geographical Bulletin, the peer-reviewed journal of student research in geography published by GTU. Dr. Schnell was initiated into GTU while a faculty member at Northwest Missouri State University in 1998 where he served as GTU Faculty Sponsor. At Kutztown University Steve teaches courses in cultural geography, globalization, the geography of the US and Canada, the geography of sub-Saharan Africa, and a senior seminar. His current research interests focus on the creation of local economies in an age of globalization, including an emphasis on sustainable, local agriculture. In his free time Steve pursues interests in travelling, gardening, hiking, and letterboxing.
Our Regional Councilors
Dr. Patrick May (New England/St. Lawrence Valley Regional Councilor)
Dr. Ryan Weichelt (West Lakes Regional Councilor)
Dr. Karen Johnson-Webb (East Lakes Regional Councilor)
Nancy Hoalst Pullen (Southeastern/Middle Atlantic Regional Councilor) is Associate Professor of Geography and the Geographic Information Science (GIS) Director at Kennesaw State University (KSU). During the glorious decade of the 1990s, Nancy was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at Valparaiso University, and later graduated from there with a BA in Geography and a BS in Biology. Nearly a decade later, she received a PhD in Geography from University of Colorado at Boulder. While her teaching is commonly limited to either physical geography and GIS courses, her research is multifaceted and ever-changing - ranging from soil hydrology in tropical areas to application of GIS in built environments to the (global) geography of beer. Currently, she is writing a very special Atlas for National Geographic. Nancy served as the charter Faculty Advisor for the Mu Upsilon Chapter at KSU. When she can, she travels, gardens, enjoys classic family moments, ponders the existence of time, and tries to be quasi-crafty.
Brad Watkins (Southwest Regional Councilor) is an Associate Professor of Geography in the Department of History & Geography at the University of Central Oklahoma. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, University of Oklahoma (2000), a Master of Arts in Geography, University of Oklahoma (2002), and a Ph.D. in Geography from Oklahoma State University (2007). He serves as the director of the American Indian Studies minor and is the faculty advisor for the Geography Student Organization.
Dr. Watkins currently is pursuing two areas of research. The first is in biogeography, particularly the encroachment of invasive species (eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana) across mixed grass prairies. The second area is in historical GIS, particularly historical Choctaw settlement and resource use in Indian Territory. Human-environmental interaction and applied geography are central to his research and teaching.
James Doerner (Great Plains-Rocky Mountain Regional Councilor) is Professor of Geography at the University of Northern Colorado. Jim was initiated into the Chi chapter at Oklahoma State University in 1983 while working on his BS degree in geography. He earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. in geography from the University of Denver. Dr. Doerner started his career at the University of Northern Colorado in 1994 where he teaches courses in physical geography, biogeography, world geography, quantitative techniques, and a senior seminar. Jim is a biogeographer with research interests in palynology, dendrochronology, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, and landscape response to climate change. He has conducted fieldwork in the Southern Rocky Mountains and in southwest Turkey. Currently he serves as the GTU Faculty Sponsor of Kappa Zeta Chapter at the University of Northern Colorado. He was the Chair of the Geography Department at the University of Northern Colorado from 2001 to 2007 and he served the co-coordinator of the Colorado Geographic Alliance from 1999 to 2003.
Tim Hawkins (Middle States Regional Councilor) is an associate professor in the department of Geography and Earth Science and advisor to the Omicron chapter at Shippensburg University. He earned his undergraduate degree in geography from Colgate University and his graduate degrees in geography from Arizona State University. His teaching and research interests include hydroclimatology, urban climatology, and meteorological education. He especially enjoys advising undergraduate and graduate student research projects. Some of the results from these projects have been published in The Geographical Bulletin (a GTU publication). In his free time Tim enjoys traveling with his family, hiking, running, skiing, playing soccer, and reading.
Jessie Clark (Pacific Coast Regional Councilor) is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at the University of Nevada Reno. After receiving her PhD in Geography from the University of Arizona in 2012, Jessie returned to her alma matter, the University of Oregon, and worked for two years as the undergraduate program coordinator, instructor, and advisor. While there, she served as the faculty sponsor for the Theta Kappa chapter. Research-wise, Jessie looks at questions at the intersections of political geography, gender, and development. Specifically, Jessie works with collaborators in the Kurdish Southeast Turkey region to understand the role that women play in political conflict and nation-building processes. She teaches courses on political and cultural geography. Jessie's call to geography also regularly leads her to the mountains of the high desert and Pacific Northwest for hiking and backpacking. And, she is an avid runner and blue-grass stomper.