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UK's Sue Roberts Named Fellow of the American Association of Geographers

By Lindsey Piercy

Sue Roberts, associate provost for internationalization and professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky, has been named a fellow of the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

The AAG fellows program recognizes geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing the discipline. Fellows serve as an advisory body to the AAG — to discuss and create initiatives, advise on challenges and mentor early and mid-career faculty members.

The honorary title of AAG Fellow is conferred for life and is a testament to the leadership and devotion Roberts has shown in her field. “This is a huge honor for me, and it is a bit hard to believe it is happening,” she said.

Roberts' innovative research successfully bridges economic, political and feminist geography.  

For the past 27 years, her message has been consistent — geographers have the capacity to develop collective and global means to challenge how the world is hierarchically known and spatially organized.

To put it simply: Roberts is interested in how and why some places and people prosper while others don't. She asks, how and why is the development of capitalism uneven across space? Roberts' research, though it involves diverse themes, is driven by this overarching question.

According to the AAG, "Roberts' research represents the best of geographic scholarship. It is not only theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, but it also consistently pushes the boundaries."

Roberts was a pioneer in the development of the first published feminist geography collection, "Thresholds in Feminist Geography," a volume that significantly shaped the discipline and continues to be widely recommended today.

“In my research, teaching and mentoring, I have always tried to work for inclusion. I hope I have contributed in some small way to the opening up of geography," Roberts continued. "To develop geographical research around issues that were once marginalized, and to help build a discipline whose ranks are more representative of human diversity, have been important goals for me.”

Roberts' career-long dedication for advancing underrepresented members of geography stands as a model for building diversity within the profession.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.