Nearly 300 geography faculty members and students are expected to attend the 2006 annual meeting of the Southeastern and Middle Atlantic Divisions of the Association of American Geographers hosted by West Virginia University. The conference runs Sunday through Tuesday (Nov. 19-21) at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown.

This will be the largest gathering of geographers in West Virginia in 20 years,said Gregory Elmes, professor of geography in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and one of the events organizers.We are certainly excited to be hosting this event that will feature a wide range of topics.

Panel discussion topics includeWorking Toward the Future: Geospatial Technology in the Curriculum,Political Geography,Human-Environment Relations,andUrban Growth, Gentrification and Development,among others.

Keynote speaker for the conference will be George Constanz, research and development manager for the Canaan Valley Institute. He will talk Sunday at 8 p.m. on his recent book,Hollows, Peepers and Highlanders: An Appalachian Mountain Ecology,published by the WVU Press.

Also attending will be Kavita Pandit, president of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) as well as Doug Richardson, AAG executive director. Pandit will address conference-goers Sunday evening. Mary Ellen Mazey, dean of the Eberly College, will offer welcoming remarks.

More than 100 papers and nearly 40 posters will be presented, Elmes said.

Another major highlight of the conference will be the World Geography Bowl competition.

This involves contests between teams of six geography students representing West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.,he said.Faculty members also are involved, so its quite exciting and a lot of fun.

During the conference, WVU geography professors Steve Kite and Ken Martis will guide field trips of the region.

Along with WVU s Department of Geology and Geography, the WVU Regional Research Institute, West Virginia View, West Virginia Geographic Information Systems Technical Center and Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. are helping.

More details, including the conference agenda, are available online at: