Lunch on Geography! And a visit with an Air Force Chief Trial Judge to Boot

Undergraduate student Sarah Frost and Professor Matt Foulkes have lunch with Col. Bryan Watson in late February

Students and faculty enjoy alumni visit with award-winning Bryan Watson

Colonel Bryan Watson, a Mizzou geography graduate, visited campus in late February to meet with current faculty and students in the Department of Geography and receive the College of Arts and Science 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.

As part of his visit, he had lunch with geography grad and undergraduate students, as well as some faculty in the geography library, room 217 Steward Hall. In attendance were Rafa Gonzalez, James Kaemmerer, Sarah Frost, Matt Foulkes and Soren Larsen.

“What comes to mind when I think about the lunch with Colonel Watson (and geography in general) is ‘opportunity,’” said Frost. “Speaking as someone whose interests span the STEM-humanities divide (a gap I'd argue is smaller than we think), I never cease to be surprised and excited at what geography allows us to do. Before speaking with Colonel Watson, I'm not sure I would have seen the apparent ways studying geography helped him in his career as Chief Trial Judge in the Air Force; after hearing him speak about his experiences, though, the connect is obvious. The lunch left me all the more assured that geography is my ideal field. What can't geography help us accomplish?

She added Watson's visit spoke to the general opportunities geography presents as well as the opportunities specific to geography at Mizzou. “I'm just an undergrad, and a relatively recently switched (might I say converted?) geography major, yet I was able to have a lunch with the department chair, department faculty, graduate students, and the Chief Trial Judge of the United States Air Force! Now, when I meet with my (veteran) relatives who ponder: ‘Geography?... but, don't we already know where everything is?’ I can explain to them, in a personal way, how and why geography is important.”

L-R, Col. Bryan Watson, grad student Rafa Gonzalez and Chair Soren Larsen

Gonzalez was also impressed by Watson’s visit. He said: “I’m happy to have met Colonel Watson. He brings in a different perspective on how geography can help in other career fields in his case as a military officer and a JAG attorney. I hope to meet other geography alumni.”

Kaemmerer adds: “I think it always a great opportunity when alumni return to the geography department and share their post-geography experiences. Colonel Watson did not disappoint. He made a compelling case for how geography can be applied to and enhance other disciplines. He was also just a very warm, personable, and engaging speaker with some good stories to tell.”