Laurence W. “Bill” Carstensen, professor and former head of the Department of Geography in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive a copy of the resolution and a certificate of appreciation.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1983, Carstensen made significant contributions to geographical scholarship through his dedicated teaching across a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses on the topics of geographic information systems (GIS) and science, cartography, geographic visualization, spatial analysis, web mapping, GIS programming, and modeling.

At Virginia Tech, he was instrumental in developing, maintaining, and enhancing an innovative curriculum in geographic information systems and science. He demonstrated tremendous commitment and expertise to remain current with rapidly changing technology over his nearly four-decade career.

Carstensen has published more than 40 peer-reviewed research publications. He co-authored the Atlas of Virginia, a publication used widely by K-12 educators across the Commonwealth of Virginia, and published multiple modules of the GeoSim simulation software series.

From 2006-16, Carstensen served as department head and provided distinguished service to the department, the colleges in which he served, and the university through his involvement on numerous committees. His leadership was instrumental in the creation and success of the bachelor’s degree program in meteorology, and he co-directed the interdisciplinary doctoral program in geospatial and environmental analysis. He advised many master’s degree and Ph.D. students and helped them develop successful careers in both academic and industrial settings.

Carstensen also supported the university’s land-grant mission through outreach and service to the Virginia Geographic Alliance, an organization dedicated to supporting geographic education by facilitating partnerships between university faculty and K-12 educators and the Virginia State Geographic Bee.

Carstensen was honored by his peers when he received the Outstanding Service Award of the Southeastern Division of the American Association of Geographers for his service as chair of the World Geography Bowl for more than 15 years. In addition, he twice received the Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award of the National Council for Geographic Education.

Carstensen received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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