Jennifer L. Fluri

We returned to campus this fall for in-person classes. Mask and vaccine requirements helped to ensure more in-person interactions, while our faculty, staff, and students continue to face challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to extend my gratitude to the entire Geography Department for their ongoing perseverance. We are excited to be able to have our first in person commencement on December 16, 2021 since the start of the pandemic.

We welcomed a new instructor, John Adler, to the department this fall. Dr. Adler will teach courses in remote sensing and he is developing a new course on drones. Our faculty and students, continue to be recognized in various ways for their research, teaching, or service accomplishments. Assistant Professor, Colleen Reid, was awarded the Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award. Dr. Reid’s research focuses on health and climate change, and social epidemiology and her course on Global Public Health continues to draw students from across the campus. Additional accolades were awarded to Assistant Professor, Yaffa Truelove, who won best paper from the Urban Studies Journal, and Professor Emily Yeh received the Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award from the CU-Boulder’s Graduate School.

This newsletter features articles from faculty and students outlining their accomplishments and unique experiences. Professor Waleed Abdalati, had the opportunity this fall to take a canoe trip with Colorado Senator Michael Bennett and Utah Senator Mitt Romney to share his scientific expertise and perspectives on climate change. Assistant Professor, Katherine Lininger, discusses her recent National Science Foundation Grant to examine floodplain ecogeomorphic processes. Professor Emily Yeh, currently president of the American Association of Geographers, offers an overview of her role within this organization. Graduate students Katie Tyler and Katarena Matos discuss their research and recent awards. Katarena Matos was awarded a scholarship from the ARCS Foundation. The ARCS Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding US citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research. Katie Tyler won the GIS in the Rockies competition for the most promising graduate student enrolled in a university or college in the Rocky Mountain region. We also feature the outstanding work of undergraduate student Ally Fitts.

Just before the start of the this semester, the fall of the Afghanistan government and resurgence of the Taliban filled our news feeds. As a researcher who has been examining different aspects of conflict, development, gender, and women’s rights activism in Afghanistan for two decades, this semester has brought additional challenges. I have included a brief overview of opportunities gained, missed, and lost in Afghanistan in this newsletter. I also want to take this opportunity to extend my deepest and sincerest gratitude to many of my colleagues in the Geography Department and larger CU-Boulder community for their concern, encouragement, and assistance. Their generous support and understanding has and continues to be nothing short of inspiring. I continue to work with my research collaborators to assist our Afghan colleagues and friends in and outside of Afghanistan.

Our work has included building networks with other individuals, groups, and organizations. For example, there are several academics throughout the US who have also worked in Afghanistan on various US funded programs. Several leaders within the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) have developed a consortium of academics with ties to Afghanistan. This group shares information and works with the US government in an effort to provide more funding and assistance for Afghan schoars and students seeking refuge in the US. Human Rights First, is another organization focused on helping Afghans through a variety of projects including pushing for more congressional assistance. For example, I was part of several advocacy days that included meetings with staffers from Colorado Senators Bennett and Hickenlooper and Congressperson Joe Neguse’s office. I have also given several presentations at various Universities throughout the fall semester about this issue, and presented at the TEDx Mile High Rethink event in Denver on October 23, 2021.

I would like to extend special thanks to Rachel Rinaldo, Associate Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for Asian Studies for organizing a panel on Afghanistan at CU-Boulder and spearheading CU-Boulder’s first fundraising effort for an International Scholars-at-Risk Rescue Fund. This effort seeks to provide direct financial support to at-risk academic scholars impacted by disasters, civil unrest and other crises to allow them to continue their academic endeavors as visiting fellows at CU Boulder. I truly appreciate these and other efforts towards assisting many Afghan allies, and my Afghan colleagues and friends as the difficult and life altering process of leaving Afghanistan and hopefully immigrating to the US will undoubtedly be an arduous and multiyear endeavor.