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Henry Gannett Award Information

About the Award

Henry Gannett (1864-1914) was an early American explorer and geographer widely considered to the father of American topographic mapping. Hired by USGS under Clarence King in 1879, he began his career with the Hayden Geological & Geographical Survey to the Yellowstone region and quickly recognized the importance of geography as the cornerstone for other sciences. He was the Chief Geographer of USGS from 1870 to 1914. The USGS mapping program was established under his command and the bureau’s first topographic map sheets were produced. In addition to more than 50 USGS bulletins and annual reports, he also wrote several books for the general public and statistical atlases on demographics of the US, American forests, and the importance of conservation. To recognize these accomplishments, USGS established the Henry Gannett Award. Starting in 2017, the award alternates between USGS-only employees and the general public. In even numbered years, the award is given to non-USGS employees (Federal, State, Tribal, regional, and (or) local government, academia, or non-profit and professional organizations. In odd numbered years, the award is given to USGS employees or USGS retiree(s).

Award Recognition

The award consists of a citation and plaque, which are presented to the awardee(s) by the National Geospatial Program (NGP) Director and other USGS leaders at an appropriate public forum. The name(s) of the awardee(s) is also inscribed on a permanent plaque, which is displayed at the USGS National Center in Reston, VA.

Nomination Considerations and Selection Process

The National Geospatial Program Leadership Team will review all nominations and make a recommendation for the award to the NGP Director who will make the final decision on the award. Factors to be considered include those that have enabled ground-breaking, sustained, and noteworthy contributions to the topographic mapping of the Nation, to the science of geography and cartography. The nomination package must include:

  • A narrative no more than two pages that clearly documents significant mapping contributions
  • A complete list of the full names of organizations/teams/individual(s) who will receive the award
  • Names and contact information for the individual(s) preparing the nomination. For the 2017 internal award, any USGS employee or retiree or group of employees working as a team and contributing to USGS topographic mapping objectives and programs is eligible. Any employee can nominate an eligible candidate using the nomination form, submitted to the National Geospatial Program Director Dr. Michael Tischler by 5pm Eastern Time April 14, 2017 (mtischler@usgs.gov).

Previous Award Winners

2009 – Ms. Robin Carroll, Director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Geospatial Service and Technology Center, for her leadership in providing topographic and thematic data and maps to support Forest Service operations such as forest planning, fire suppression and rehabilitation, travel and recreation management, and other essential land stewardship activities. She ensured that her Center collaborated with USGS to share Forest Service base data to improve the quality of the USGS programs such as The National Map and the nascent US Topo.

2011 – Mr. Tommy Dewald (EPA) and Ms. Keven Roth (USGS, retired), for their collaborative efforts to develop the surface water dataset of the Nation called National Hydrography Dataset Starting in the 1990’s, they methodically canvased water scientists across the country to determine the elements that would create the 21st century solution they had envisioned. The workload was shared so that by combining the resources of EPA and USGS they could achieve what was impossible for each organization individually. In 2001 the vast complexity that was the NHD became a reality. The 1:100,000-scale database for the Nation became available to the American public in the public domain. The success of the initial nationwide coverage quickly grew into demand for more detailed coverage at 1;24,000-scale through an even larger consortium, including all 50 States and cooperation and funds from the U.S. Forest Service. By 2007 this effort had been completed with over 25 million features in the dataset covering 7.5 million miles of streams and 6.5 million lakes; the number of scientific applications taking advantage of NHD’s unique analytical powers had grown to cover all aspects of hydrology, pollution control, resource management, and fisheries biology.

2013 – Dr. Cynthia Brewer of Pennsylvania State University, for her contributions in the development of new symbology for the U.S. Topo. Dr. Brewer developed content and symbols for online devices and printed topographic maps with various display sizes and resolutions for a range of scales from 1:5,000 to 1:1,000,000. Her innovations in the use of color, symbols, and generalization are now embedded into USGS standards for generating the Nation’s civilian topographic maps.

2015 – Mr. Nicholas Mastrodicasa, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, for his leadership in the Alaska Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative and the development of an elevation requirements study for Alaska. The study’s recommendation was to collect 5-meter elevation data as the statewide topographic mapping base using IfSAR as it allows for the generation of 20-foot contours that meet National Map Accuracy Standards and would satisfy the most requirements for the best relative cost. As manager for the Alaska Aviation Safety Project, a 3-dimensional terrain mapping project for the State, Nick recognized the critical need for improved topographic data for Alaska to support pilot safety and rescue efforts. Without his leadership, USGS would not have been able to re-map Alaska.

2016 – Ms. Kari Craun, Director of the USGS National Geospatial Technical Operations Center, for her contributions to the Generation of new topographic maps, in the form of US Topo, for the 48 conterminous United States. Over the past eight years, she has lead the effort to establish a production capability to automatically generate more than 55,000 7.5 minute, 1:24,000-scale topographic maps on a repetitive 3-year cycle and to include the basic content of the traditional paper topographic map series that had previously required over 50 years to complete. The new US Topo quadrangles are generated in a GeoPDF format, ready for use on a computer system or for printing with standard USGS topographic map symbology. The process requires that all data be available and pre-staged to support the production of over 100 maps per day.

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