Geography and Planning's Dr. Maggie Sugg awarded prestigious medical geography award

BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Maggie Sugg, associate professor in the Appalachian State University Department of Geography and Planning, is the recipient of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group (HMGSG)'s 2023 Emerging Scholar Award in Health and Medical Geography. The award recognizes early career scholars who show significant potential for distinguished scholarship in health and/or medical geography.

Sugg earned her B.S. is Biology and M.S. and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. During this time, she conducted research at the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments at the University of South Carolina and the Southeast Regional Climate Center at UNC Chapel Hill and received a Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship in Public Health from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sugg joined the App State Department of Geography and Planning as an assistant professor in 2015 and was promoted to associate professor in 2021. Her research interests include climate and health, human vulnerability to environmental hazards, public health and spatial statistics. The recipient of the 2019 College of Arts and Sciences William C. Strickland Outstanding Junior Faculty Award and 2022 Provost's Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, Sugg has published over 65 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact scientific journals such as Science of the Total Environment and Journal of Adolescent Health.

Sugg integrates her research interests in climate and health into her courses, which include "Global Health and Disease," "Climate and Society" and "Advanced Quantitative Methods."

In 2021, she earned a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. Between 2021 and 2026, Sugg will receive over $400,000 to advance understanding of the relationship between geography and mental health illnesses. To learn more, see the article in Appalachian Today:

“Dr. Maggie Sugg’s cutting-edge funded research connects wide-ranging collaborators from the fields of geography, public health, psychology, climate services and government officials across North Carolina and the country to ensure her results will have a meaningful impact on peoples’ lives. Most impressively, Dr. Sugg is the first scholar at a primarily undergraduate institution to receive the nationally recognized HMGSG’s Emerging Scholar Award." - Dr. Saskia van de Gevel, chair of the Department of Geography and Planning.

Sugg devotes much of her time to research mentorship. In her 8 years at App State, she has advised over 20 students, many of whom have gone on to pursue degrees at leading research institutions. In 2019, she was recognized for her mentorship with the Office of Student Research's Undergraduate Research Mentorship Excellence Award. Beginning this semester, Sugg's climate and health research team - currently comprised of 9 students studying geography, biology and computer science - meets weekly to share and receive feedback on their projects.

Sophia Ryan, a second-year geography graduate student in Sugg's lab, is already the lead author of 6 peer-reviewed studies and a contributing author to 4 more, a rare feat for a student. "Dr. Sugg is an exceptional mentor. She fosters a supportive learning environment; encouraging students to challenge themselves and excel. Through Dr. Sugg’s mentorship, I have been exposed to numerous research opportunities and built confidence to pursue further academic endeavors. Dr. Sugg is incredibly deserving of this award and recognition," remarked Ryan.

Sugg's award was announced during the HMGSG Business Meeting at the 2023 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. She will receive the award at next year's AAG Annual Meeting.


About the Department of Geography and Planning
The Department of Geography and Planning promotes the understanding of the spatial dimensions of human behavior within the physical and cultural systems of the earth, and the role of planning in achieving improvement in those systems. The department offers degrees in geography and in community and regional planning. Learn more at

By Lauren Andersen
March 31, 2023

Dr. Maggie Sugg, associate professor in the Appalachian State University Department of Geography and Planning
Published: Mar 31, 2023 8:40am