The AAG Hazards Specialty Group encourages students writing Ph.D. dissertations and masters theses to consider applying for the Gilbert F. White Award, which is presented to the author of an outstanding thesis or dissertation about natural or man-made hazards completed within the previous two years. Recipients of the White Award receive $500, a plaque, and an autographed copy of White’s two-volume Geography, Resources, and Environment.

Gilbert F. White was the Gustavson Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Colorado from 1980 until his death in 2006. Prior to that, from 1970 to 1978, he was Professor of Geography and the Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the university. He was also the founder and Director of the university’s Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center (now called simply the “Natural Hazards Center”) from 1976 to 1984 and again from 1992 to 1994.

Gilbert Fowler White was born November 26, 1911 in Hyde Park, Illinois. (In 2005 he celebrated his 94th birthday, in Boulder Colorado.) As a boy he spent his summers at his father’s ranch in northern Wyoming, an experience he often cited as one of the origins of his interest in geography. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago, and his doctoral dissertation, Human Adjustment to Floods, has been called the most influential ever written by an American geographer. “Floods are ‘acts of God,'” he wrote, “but flood losses are largely acts of man.”