To commemorate the nation’s first chief geographer, the USGS established the Henry Gannett Award. This year’s recipient is Nicholas Mastrodicasa, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, for his leadership in the Alaska Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative and the development of an elevation requirements study for Alaska.
“Over the last 10 years, Nick has been a driving force behind efforts to map the State,” said Suzette Kimball, Director of the USGS. “And the fact that updated high resolution topographic data now exceeds 62% of Alaska is a testament to Nick’s leadership, perseverance and determination”.
As manager for the Alaska Aviation Safety Project, a 3-dimensional terrain mapping project for the State, Nick recognized the critical need for improved topographic data for Alaska to support pilot safety and rescue efforts.
He was a major promoter and participant in the creation of the Alaska Mapping Executive Committee and facilitated two significant public outreach events, Skybreaking I and Skybreaking II. These celebrations involved hundreds of visitors and dignitaries, members of the press, the private industry and members of high-ranking public offices. They brought high visibility to the many ongoing efforts to modernize Alaska mapping.
Additionally, as Suzette Kimball noted, Nick’s oft quoted remark that, “Mars was better mapped than Alaska”, found its way into the hearts of many Alaskans, and was heard loudly and clearly by the leadership at the USGS and the Department of Interior.
The National Geospatial Program presents the Henry Gannett Award biennially to commemorate the first USGS Chief Geographer, Henry Gannett (1882-1914), and his many contributions to American geography and cartography. Since 2009, USGS has awarded four individuals that have made a magnificent impact on topographic mapping. Associating the legacy of Henry Gannett with this award is designed to recognize and celebrate talented individuals for outstanding recent accomplishments to the USGS topographic mapping of the Nation.
Henry Gannett Award website: nationalmap.gov/gannett/