American Association of Geographers Elects UM Provost as Fellow

April 30, 2019

UM News Service

MISSOULA – University of Montana Professor Jon Harbor was recently selected as a Fellow by the American Association of Geographers.

AAG is a nonprofit scientific and educational society focused on the advancement of geography. It was founded in 1904 and has over 12,000 members. The AAG’s Fellow distinction honors outstanding scholars who have made significant contributions to advancing geography and is awarded to up to 0.2% of AAG membership annually.

UM Provost Jon Harbor conducts fieldwork in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.In recognizing Harbor, AAG noted he has over 200 publications jointly with students and colleagues spanning environmental science, glacial research, teaching and learning, and university administration. He has co-authored or edited three books, including “Glaciers and Glacial Landscapes in China,” for which he and his colleagues won a Scientific Excellence Prize. Harbor also was recognized for serving in editorial roles for top-tier journals, for serving his colleagues through leadership roles in several professional organizations and for founding several research institutes.

 “Other recipients are leaders in the field who I have looked up to throughout my career and who steer the direction of geographic research and thinking,” Harbor said. “I’m honored that the impacts of the work I have been able to accomplish jointly with my students and collaborators is being recognized in this way.”

Harbor, a geography professor, serves UM as provost and executive vice president and also has a joint appointment in geosciences. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from Cambridge University, his master’s degree in geography from the University of Colorado, and a doctoral degree in geological sciences from the University of Washington. He specializes in glacial landscape history and processes, environmental geography and environmental education.

UM’s Department of Geography is a unique program that capitalizes on the distinctive flavor of the Rocky Mountain West and offers undergraduate and graduate students outstanding opportunities for studies in mountain landscapes, community and environmental planning, and geospatial technologies. The geography curriculum blends education in the unique challenges of mountain environments, the organizing principles of sustainable development and community resilience, and the powerful analytic capabilities of Geographic Information Systems, while preparing graduates for meaningful careers domestically and abroad.

 “We are proud to see Professor Harbor selected to serve as an AAG Fellow,” said David Shively, professor and chair of the Department of Geography. “His impact and leadership in our discipline are well deserving of this distinction – it will be of great benefit to the department and our programs and students, the University and community of Missoula, and to the discipline and our broader geography community.”

Harbor has taught and conducted research worldwide – from Glacier National Park and the Front Range of Colorado to Scandinavia, Central Asia, New Zealand and Antarctica. Almost all of his research projects are with teams of students and collaborators, and he is intrigued by the dynamics and interactions of earth processes, landscapes and human activity.

Previous recognition has included an Honorary Doctorate from Stockholm University, a Fulbright Senior Scholarship, and selection as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (U.K.), and as an American Council of Education Fellow.

Harbor’s recent work includes co-leading international scientific teams using novel integrations of observational and numerical modeling techniques to study how glaciers and ice sheets have changed over thousands to millions of years in Antarctica and on the Tibetan Plateau. His current students are using indigenous research frameworks to enhance higher education and are examining the implications of high-resolution landscape data for computer models of watershed flooding.

Harbor was inducted as an AAG Fellow during a ceremony held April 7 in conjunction with the association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.


Contact: Jon Harbor, UM provost and executive vice president, 406-243-4689,