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ORNL corporate research fellow earns medal from Association of American Geographers

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 18, 1995 — Dr. Thomas J. Wilbanks, a corporate research fellow in the Energy Division of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was recently awarded the James P. Anderson Medal of Honor in applied geography during ceremonies at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Chicago.

This award is the highest honor bestowed by the profession of geography in recognition of distinguished service in applying geographic knowledge and perspectives to real-world issues.

Wilbanks was cited for his contributions as an international leader in the field of energy problem solving for developing countries. According to the award citation, Wilbanks' leadership has been characterized by his ability to forge special partnerships between the lab, private sector, federal government and similar institutions in these countries.

The citation further states Wilbanks' influence "has been felt in many regions of the world as people have improved their access to energy services, enjoyed a more secure environment and achieved a higher standard of living."

Wilbanks has managed ORNL's programs in developing countries since 1982. His most recent activities have included advising Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary and coordinating the department's action planning related to encouraging energy cooperation and trade with developing nations.

Wilbanks, who served as president of the AAG in 1992, received the organization's highest Honors Award in 1986 for distinguished research and professional achievement. Wilbanks also received the 1993 Distinguished Geography Educator Award from the National Geographic Society (NGS). He is only the third person to receive both AAG honors and the Anderson Medal and to be elected AAG president. Wilbanks is the only individual ever to receive the NGS geographic educator award, as well.

Prior to joining ORNL in 1977, he served on the faculties of Syracuse University and the University of Oklahoma. Wilbanks earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Trinity (Texas) University, and master's and doctorate degrees in geography from Syracuse.

Wilbanks and his wife, Kay, live in West Knoxville. They have three grown children.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.