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A fund established by former AAG President J. Warren Nystrom supports an annual prize for a paper based upon a recent dissertation in geography. There were 4 finalists in this year’s competition. They presented their papers in a special session on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 where the Nystrom Committee selected two Nystrom Awardees. The Nystrom Committee and the AAG are pleased to announce Bisola Falola of the University of Texas Austin and Qunshan Zhao of Arizona State University as the recipients of the 2018 J. Warren Nystrom Award.
Qunshan Zhao’s dissertation is entitled “Impact of tree locations and arrangements on outdoor microclimates and human thermal comfort in an urban residential environment.” His dissertation attempts to understand how to design tree locations and arrangements to improve the urban thermal environment in Phoenix. "What really inspired me at the very beginning is the summer weather in Arizona!" exclaimed Zhao. "Every time I hide under tree shade, I survive. This makes me want to explore more of tree shade and urban green infrastructure in the desert city. My spatial optimization background also contributes to my dissertation. I try to treat this question as an optimization question and explore the location aspects of urban trees."
Zhao's success being named a winner of the Nystrom Award continues a great legacy of ASU-connected winners.
"It is my greatest honor during my short period of academic career. Nystrom Award was established in 1980 for the most outstanding paper based on a recent dissertation within 3 years period, and many prestigious scholars were the winner of Nystrom Award, including faculty in our school such as Dr. Stewart Fotheringham and Dr. Wei Li. Also, I am the second winner of Nystrom Award from ASU after 19 years (Dr. Donald A. Friend, 1999 winner). I am also very happy to represent the Chinese scholars to win this award -- only three of them won this award before, including Kam-Biu Liu (1983), Wei Li (1999), and Xuwei Chen (2006)."
Zhao hopes his dissertation will help people think about tree placement. "The most important thing is to inform people that they need to plant their trees in appropriate locations and arrangements around their individual houses, and understand the tree benefits for their houses and the entire neighborhood," said Zhao. "Take home point are: trees should avoid canopy overlap to maximize shading benefits, do not plant trees to block existing wind tunnels and avoid tree shade on rooftops for potential solar panel installation."