COSAM News Articles 2024 06 Timothy L. Hawthorne joins COSAM as new chair of the Department of Geosciences

Timothy L. Hawthorne joins COSAM as new chair of the Department of Geosciences

Published: 05/31/2024

By: Maria Gebhardt

Timothy L. Hawthorne will unfold a new chapter in his journey as chair of the Department of Geosciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) at Auburn University. He will start on July 16 as full professor shadowing the current chair, Ming-kuo Lee, professor and the department’s current chair, and then Hawthorne will become the official chair on Aug. 16.

“I am looking forward to welcoming Tim to COSAM and the Auburn family,” said Edward E. Thomas, Jr., dean of the college. “Tim brings an inspiring and bold vision for leading the Department of Geosciences and the COSAM leadership team is very excited to work with him.   Under his leadership, the department will be able to create new opportunities for Auburn students and develop exceptional outreach activities for students throughout our state.”

Hawthorne earned his doctorate degree in geography from The Ohio State University. He is currently the Graduate Program Director at the University of Central Florida (UCF) Department of Sociology and associate professor of geographic information systems (GIS). Previously, he was an assistant professor of geography at Georgia State University and an assistant professor of geography at Columbus State University.

“I want to put people first,” said Hawthorne. “We have real game changers in this amazing department that can bring out the best in our students, and I am excited to lead the momentum.”

He wants to jumpstart his term as chair with his undeniable enthusiasm.

“In the first 60 days, I plan to visit every class in the department and kick-off our ‘Going Places with Geosciences’ campaign to show why geosciences is so important to our changing world,” he explained.

Hawthorne’s career was impacted by outstanding mentors such as John Krygier of Ohio Wesleyan University who mentored him and inspired him to pursue graduate school. Hawthorne wants to ensure that Auburn’s Department of Geosciences offers that same mentorship to students propelling them into rewarding career opportunities.

“My goal is to help students get where they want to be and bring out their absolute best,” said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne received the 2024 Undergraduate Student Mentoring Award from his department at UCF.  He also wants to develop a comprehensive learning community for students.

“Students need chances to network with leaders, gain mentoring and have the ability to grow,” he said. “The Department of Geosciences can offer a sense of belonging for everyone with an elevated student experience and unwavering commitment for student success.”

Hawthorne is a 2022-2024 National Geographic Explorer. He has received more than $4.75 million in funding, including eight awards from the National Science Foundation. He also has published more than 25 peer-reviewed articles and more than 1,000 publication citations on Google Scholar.

At UCF, he is renowned for driving change through outreach.

Hawthorne and his Citizen Science GIS research lab organized a team of public and private partners and led a project to create the nation’s first GeoBus--a remodeled 40-foot city bus turned into a mobile science lab to increase STEM skills throughout local communities in Florida. It is filled with interactive activities to encourage students to learn about science and even goes off the grid using solar power during its visits to schools.

Now, he is bringing that a similar philosophy to the Plains.

“As part of Auburn’s land-grant mission, I am excited to work with our Geosciences and COSAM partners to create a new type of mobile science lab for the Auburn community and surrounding areas where students will have hands-on experiences with STEM activities to prepare our next generation of STEM leaders,” he said.

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