Tigers, Tigers Everywhere!

Geography Student Maps COVID-19 Dispersal
Photo of Abby Hunt

Abby Hunt, Geography

Ashley Jones
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science

When Mizzou students left campus last spring, they spread out to places all over the country. It was that fact that sparked Abby Hunt’s idea. Hunt is an undergraduate student majoring in international studies and geography, and earning a minor in French. Could use her growing expertise to create a map that illustrated where all the geography students, faculty, and staff had gone?

That”s how “Mapping Majors,” was born. She set to work creating a map using an anonymous poll for geography students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Even though she limited her query to the geography department, Hunt thought of her map as a resource for anyone who would like to see how far spread out our Mizzou Tigers are whey they are not on campus in Columbia, Missouri.

“I liked the idea of geography students–we who study the idea of place–looking at how our understanding of place has changed in the wake of the pandemic,” Hunt said. “I thought it would be cool to see that we're still learning and working together even though we’re all part of very different communities in very different places.”

The map has 36 markers that anonymously indicate the places people went during quarantine. There are markers that are as far south as Florida, as far north as Minnesota, as far west as California, and as far east as Washington D.C. The map’s last update was made on April 30th, 2020. Different colored dots indicate which dot represents undergrads, graduate students, faculty, and alumni.

“One of my favorite parts about the geography department, and about Mizzou in general, is the community and camaraderie I experience with my peers and study groups,” Hunt said. “I’ve learned to cultivate that sense of community and togetherness through my work.”

Hunt’s map was a project for her role as a Jessie H. Wheeler Ambassador–a new program created to generate interest, support and awareness of what studying geography really means.

“Beyond the map Abby's work, even before the pandemic and before Mizzou shut down, was exemplary,” said Soren Larsen, chair of the geography department. “She has that charismatic personality, combined with she's sharp, she's intelligent and she's totally into geography, and so there's just this perfect combination.”

Hunt, along with one other ambassador, Carson Stone, will continue to spread excitement and encourage others to join the geography department. After all, she says, it’s so much more than looking at two-dimensional lines on paper.

“I think a pretty big misconception of geography is that it is just making maps or just looking at latitude and longitude locations,” Hunt said. “But really, it's looking at the culture and the history, the climate, all the things that coalesce to create a completely unique environment that living things exist in.”

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