Meet the Executive Committee
Thomas A. Wikle (President) is Professor of Geography and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University. Tom was initiated into the Chi Chapter at Oklahoma State while serving as chapter sponsor in the early 1990s. From 1994 until 1998 he served as Southwest Regional Councilor. At OSU Tom teaches physical geography and a senior/graduate field course exploring natural and cultural resource management in U.S. national parks. His published research has examined topics in human geography ranging from the diffusion of language to the adoption of cellular telephone technology. Dr. Wikle’s recent work with colleagues in OSU’s Center for the Study of Disasters and Extreme Events examined mass burial practices in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the establishment of shelters along the Mississippi coastline in the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina. His outreach and fieldwork has taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Vietnam and southeastern India. In his free time Tom works as a flight instructor at Stillwater Regional Airport.
Burrell Montz (First Vice 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.
Michael Longan (Second Vice 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.
Randy Bertolas (Immediate Past President) is Professor of Geography and Chair of the Department of History, Politics, and Geography at Wayne State College in northeast Nebraska. Randy was initiated into the Mu Chapter at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1979. In 2002 he chartered the Lambda Zeta Chapter of GTU at Wayne State College. Between degrees Randy taught high school math and earth science and coached collegiate and prep level wrestling. During the early 1990s, Randy conducted field research on the perception of wilderness from the perspective of Cree Indians in northern Quebec. His current research and teaching interests include natural disasters and recreation, tourism, and sports geography. In 2004, Dr. Bertolas became coordinator of the Geographic Educators of Nebraska, part of the grassroots network of state alliances affiliated with the National Geographic Society that is dedicated to improving and increasing geography education in the nation’s K-12 classrooms. Outside of his classroom teaching, Randy takes students to conferences, leads class field trips, and involves geography majors in the Nebraska State Geographic Bee. Each day Randy emulates his father’s wise advice: “…find a job you love and never work a day in your life!”
James Lowry (Executive Secretary) is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography at the University of New Orleans. 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 two beagles named Daisy and Ruthie.
Jeff Lash (Recording Secretary) earned a B.A. in Art History in 1992 from the University of Texas at Austin. He then studied in San Francisco at Transworld Teachers, earning a certificate to teach English as a Second Language. Jeff subsequently moved to San Jose, Costa Rica where he taught English. In 1994, Jeff began his graduate career at Texas State University at San Marcos, earning a masters degree in geography education (1996). Jeff then took a leave of absence from academic life, moving to Morocco where he taught geography at Al Akhawayn University. He returned to Texas State in 1997 and completed his Ph.D. in Geography (2001). Jeff’s dissertation was entitled “Exporting Education: The Case of the American University in Cairo.” He is currently Geography Program Chair and an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Houston-Clear Lake where he also serves as faculty sponsor of the Lambda Tau Chapter. Dr. Lash teaches a wide variety of geography courses and continues to conduct research locally and internationally on human development through education. His free time is consumed by cycling and parenting two young boys.
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.
Zachary Kalina (Senior Student Representative) currently attends the University of Southern Mississippi and is pursuing a Masters degree in Geography. Zach comes from Elkhorn, Nebraska and graduated from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska with a double major in Geography and Political Science. He was initiated into the Lambda Zeta chapter of GTU in the spring semester of 2010 and later served as President of the chapter in 2011-12.
Kenneth Syers (Junior Student Representative) is currently attending Western Michigan University in pursuit of a Masters degree in Geography.Ken grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he graduated with an A.A.S in Water Resource Management from Bay De Noc Community College. He then transferred to Western Michigan University where he doubled majored in Geography and Environmental Studies. He was initiated into the Alpha Gamma chapter of GTU in 2010 serving as the chapter Historian. Ken is currently serving as the chapter's Vice President.
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.
Richard A. Earl, Omega Omega (Alumni) Chair, was inducted into the GTU Theta chapter at Arizona State University in 1979 after active participation in the geography clubs at UCLA and Cal State University-Northridge. Upon completion of his Ph.D. he became chapter sponsor of the Kappa Xi chapter at New Mexico State. Since 1994 he has served as the sponsor of the Kappa Upsilon chapter at Texas State University that was selected the Chapter of the Year for 1997 and 2004. He has served as the Omega Omega (Alumni) chair on the Board of Directors since 1996. He began teaching at Texas State in 1991 focusing upon physical and environmental geography. Currently he is Professor and Undergraduate Program Coordinator in that burgeoning program with over 600 undergraduate majors. Over the years he has led a number of field excursions and for field trips for academic credit and professional conferences to Europe, Chile, the American Southwest, and the U.S. – Mexico border region. Besides travel and hiking in geographically “interesting” areas, his favorite activities include jogging, skiing-snow and water, and auto/boat restoration.
Our Regional Councilors
Peter Amos Kyem (New England/St. Lawrence Valley Regional Councilor) is a Professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University, (CCSU) New Britain, Connecticut, USA. Dr. Kyem was initiated into the Kappa Delta Chapter of GTU at CCSU in 1999 while serving as a faculty sponsor at the local chapter then under the leadership of Professor James Snaden. Dr. Kyem graduated from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA. At CCSU, he teaches courses on GIS, Physical Geography and Resource and Environmental Management. Peter also takes delight in leading students on summer field study trips to international destinations including Africa and the Caribbean. Dr. Kyem’s published research focuses on Participatory GIS, GIS and Conflict Management and Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Development in Africa. His articles have appeared in books and journals such as the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Cartographica, Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries and Transactions in GIS. A native of Ghana, Peter migrated with his family to the United States in 1991.
Susy Ziegler (West Lakes Regional Councilor) 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.
Lisa M. DeChano-Cook (East Lakes Regional Councilor) is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Western Michigan University (WMU). Lisa’s educational background includes a B.S. (General Physics, Juniata College), a M.S. (Space Studies, University of North Dakota), M.A. (Geography, Ohio University), and a Ph.D. (Environmental Geography, Texas State University, formerly Southwest Texas State University). Lisa was inducted into GTU in 1995 while at the University of North Dakota. She was actively involved in GTU at Ohio University and at Texas State. She has held every GTU office as a student and has been the faculty sponsor for GTU at WMU. Lisa’s research interests encompass physical and environmental geography, natural hazards and hazards perception, geographic education and sports geography. She is a co-author on a book focusing on natural disasters and education and is the co-editor of Research in Geographic Education (RGE). Lisa’s teaching responsibilities focus on physical geography and environmental impacts. She plays an active role in national and state organizations that promote geography through service on a National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) committee and as coordinator for the Michigan finals of the National Geographic Bee.
Tracy Edwards (Southeastern/Middle Atlantic Regional Councilor) is Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Frostburg State University (FSU) in Frostburg, Maryland. She has served for almost ten years as a Faculty Advisor for the Gamma Phi Chapter – the same GTU Chapter she was inducted into as an undergraduate at FSU. Tracy recently obtained her M.A. in geography from Syracuse University, also completing a Certificate in University Teaching. She is most interested in geographic education and media studies, enjoys advising students and reading AP Human Geography exams, and is devoted to getting undergraduates to national and regional conferences. Tracy is involved with the Center for Teaching Excellence at FSU, and teaches both lecture-based and online introductory physical and human geography courses. In her “spare time”, she helps with the local Girl Scout Troop, coaches youth soccer, organizes geo-caching events – and searches for the perfect Ph.D. program.
Juana Ibáñez (Southwest Regional Councilor) is Instructor and Undergraduate Advisor at the University of New Orleans. Ms. Ibáñez was initiated into Zeta Lambda Chapter at University of New Orleans in 2006 as the chapter’s faculty sponsor. Her background as an archaeologist is helpful in the cultural and physical geography themed courses she teaches. In her spare time she is renovating a Katrina flooded home with her husband. She also spends time quilting, visiting her sons and extended family, and reading mysteries, futuristic science fiction, and Newberry Award children’s books.
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.
Teresa Bulman (Pacific Coast Regional Councilor) is Professor of Geography at Portland State University. She earned her Ph.D. at UC Davis and today maintains a research focus on geography education.