Tom Crawford, formerly the Banpu Endowed Chair of Sustainability at Saint Louis University, was welcomed as chair of the Department of Geography in July. Crawford follows Professor Bill Carstensen, who served as department chair until 2016, and associate professors Korine Kolivras and Lynn Resler, who jointly chaired the department’s executive leadership committee during the transition.

Crawford earned his bachelor’s in mathematical economics but says he was inspired to study geography by a post-graduation cross-country bicycle trip. “During that trip, I was exposed to so many different environments and groups of people, and I realized that studying geography could go beyond maps and would allow me to better understand how people interact with their environment,” he recalled. He went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in geography from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Crawford has served as a faculty member at Gettysburg College and East Carolina University. His recent position at Saint Louis University allowed him to engage in sustainability-related teaching and establish a master’s of science degree in geographic information systems.

He is looking forward to continuing his research in sustainability and human-environment interactions at Virginia Tech. “My research interests center around the geospatial analysis of human-environment interactions and sustainability issues, including coastal development, land-use changes, natural hazards, and public health,” he noted.

Crawford said his new role as department chair should prove to be both exciting and challenging. “In addition to the university’s great qualities, I am at a career stage where taking on an administrative leadership role will give me new opportunities to exercise existing skills and develop new ones.” He hopes to help the department reach goals already in place by providing leadership and coordination, as well as develop new goals to attract the best faculty and students.

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