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Craig Coburn

Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Lethbridge

Meet Professor Craig Coburn, the Chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Lethbridge. Dr. Coburn works on fundamental aspects of remote sensing physics.

1. What advice do you have for early career researchers looking to establish themselves in the field of geography?

Be open to change and think geographically. Careers are long and if you're hyper-focused, you'll miss interesting research opportunities.

2. What skills do you wish you learned during your education that would have helped you in the job market today?

If I may switch the question - what skills to I see that are missing today is a better reflection than something that is very historical. With the increased emphasis on research, I see a lot of geographers that have not been given the opportunity to work on developing the craft of teaching and presenting with enthusiasm. Geographers used to excel at integrating and getting the big picture communicated. I'd like to see this valued again.

3. What motivated you to pursue a career in geography?

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The Earth is an infinitely complex place that is full of wonder. Being able to engage in a career that meshed with my curiosity and desire for life-long learning was a strong drive.

4. Could you share a significant moment or project from your early career that had a lasting impact on your research?

I was helping a graduate student understand why their lab results didn't work at all in field measurement and built a contraption to do the measurement and save their thesis. This has been the area of innovation for me that led to many paths that I would never have imagined. It is important to be the solution to problems and have an open mind.

5. What advice do you have for early career researchers navigating the challenges of academia and research?

Remember this is work that you love, and in the end, it may not be all that you do. Have an outside interest that grounds you and lets you reset your focus.

6. Can you share examples of how your research findings have been applied in real-world situations or policy-making?

The data I've collected allows Earth-observing satellites to provide accurate and traceable physical units that will stand for all time. Having world reference data sets from your research is a significant achievement.

7. Are there specific conferences, journals, or resources you recommend for staying updated with the latest trends and research in geography?

Attend your regional meetings. You're never too busy or important to help inspire the next generation of geographers. I learn as much from a regional meeting with student presentations as I do from an international conference.

8. From your perspective, what do you think the future holds for the field of geography, especially concerning emerging technologies and methodologies?

We will always matter. We need to celebrate our achievements and acknowledge that geographical perspectives enable many fields.

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