A University of Saskatchewan (USask) professor says she felt “highly honoured” to be recognized by the Canadian Association of Geographers last month.
Dr. Xulin Guo (PhD), a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning in USask’s College of Arts and Science, received the John H. Warkentin Award on Sept. 28 from the Prairie Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers. The award is given to individuals who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the geography of the western interior.
Guo, who came to USask in 2001, studies the remote sensing of grasslands in an effort to monitor productivity and examine habitats for endangered species.
Guo has received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to examine the heterogeneity of grassland using temporal and spatial systems. One of Guo’s other projects, the Northern Ecosystem Monitoring Program, uses satellites to monitor an area over a number of years to observe the effects of climate change.
In 2016, Guo adopted a First Year Research Experience (FYRE) into her class, Geography 120: Introduction to Global Environmental Systems. Although hesitant to introduce research to relatively inexperienced students, Guo has since transformed her teaching practices to reflect the necessity of young scholars taking ownership of their classroom experience.
Guo believes it is essential for students to have one central “thread” from the beginning to end of a class, as it allows them to envision the potential application, impact or output of the knowledge and skills they learn throughout the semester. The “thread” she uses to guide her students is a research question; each student identifies a question based on human interaction with a geographical area of interest. They then collect and analyze environmental data on that area before sharing their findings with peers and the public by creating and presenting a research poster at Guo’s end-of-term symposium.
Guo received a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Beijing Forestry University in 1984, a master’s degree in agronomy from Beijing Forestry University in 1986 and a PhD in biogeography, remote sensing and geographic information science from the University of Kansas in 2000.