Expert on Latin American geography wins teaching award

Honored for two decades of research, teaching and mentorship at UC Santa Barbara, David López-Carr, a professor in the Department of Geography, has won the 2024 CLAG Teaching Award from the Conference of Latin American Geography.

Among López-Carr’s popular and highly rated courses, the Geography of Latin America is a favorite, he said, because “it’s a hybrid of physical and human geography that includes geology, climate, biogeography and geomorphology, and examines how humans have shaped their environments based on the natural endowments of the region and how they have responded to environmental change.”

I am grateful for the opportunities to teach exciting courses on human-environment geography for so many years at UCSB,” he added.

photograph of david lopez-car

López-Carr, whose parents were both public school teachers, studied abroad in Spain in high school, an experience that piqued his interest in geography broadly, he said, and particularly in the Spanish-speaking world. 

His area of expertise examines how humans impact the environment and also how they respond and adapt to environmental change. His research on human adaptation includes migration, land use, conservation, food security and health and their relationship to climate change. 

His fieldwork has taken him from sub-Saharan Africa and China to Latin America. Closer to home, in California’s Central Valley, his research looks at the impacts of extreme heat on migrant farmworkers. According to López-Carr, “The increase in frequency and severity of extreme heat events is negatively impacting both migrant farmworker health as well as reducing their labor productivity.” 

Founded in 1970, CLAG’s membership of more than 250 scholars worldwide fosters geographic education and research in Latin America.


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