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David Padgett

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David Padgett

YLACES announces David A. Padgett, Associate Professor of Geography and Director of the Geographic and Information Sciences Laboratory at Tennessee State University, as the winner of its sixth annual Youth Environmental Science (YES) Medal. The YES Medal will be presented at the GLOBE Annual Meeting on July 16, 2020, in Washington, DC, or at a subsequent GLOBE gathering should the in-person Annual Meeting be delayed. 

Padgett credits his love of science to his parents, both graduates of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) institutions.  After graduating from Morgan State University in Baltimore, his father, Dr. Joe L. Padgett, earned a Ph.D. in Physics and Chemistry from the University of Maryland.  His mother, a graduate of Coppin State University, enjoyed a long career in Baltimore City Public Schools as a mathematics teacher and principal. When David was 12 years old, his mother enrolled him in a Chesapeake Bay Foundation summer science camp. This experience opened young David’s eyes to scientific research and taught him that if you put urban youths in the right environment with the right people, they will find their passion and realize their potential. 

David graduated from Millford Mill High School, which at the time, was the only high school in Baltimore County with an environmental studies program.   His experiences in this class cemented his love of environmental science. 

David started his collegiate studies at Western Kentucky University (WKU) as an engineering major.  However, after taking Dr. Nicholas Crawford’s introductory physical geography class, Padgett found his true calling, and changed his major to Geography.  Crawford, a world renowned hydrogeologist, and other WKU Geography faculty members, inspired in David a love of geoscience and introduced him to early applications of geospatial technology.

When Padgett joined the faculty of Tennessee State University (TSU) in 1999, TSU was among the  HBCUs that did not have earth science or geospatial technology programs. Undaunted, in 2000, David founded the TSU Geographic Information Sciences Laboratory.  Over two decades as the lab’s Director, he and his many undergraduate research assistants have provided technical assistance in geoscience and geographic information systems (GIS) to environmental justice communities throughout the United States.


“It is a true honor to be selected for the 2020 YLACES YES Medal. My work within the environmental justice community and on the GLOBE program is consistent with the motto of TSU, “Enter to work, leave to serve,” that calls for all faculty members and students to serve the community,” says David.

In 2001, David became TSU’s GLOBE Trainer and Partner. He has trained and certified numerous TSU pre-service teachers and in-service educators in the GLOBE protocols. According to Dixon Butler, Founder and President of YLACES, “it is gratifying to recognize David who has engaged so many teachers from throughout the Nashville region in the GLOBE Program.”

David has designated two organizations to split the $10,000 YES Medal grant that he receives from YLACES—Earth Matters Tennessee, based in Nashville, and the GreenDoor Initiative based in Detroit. David selected these two community-based organizations because they have a long and successful track record training youth and young professionals in the areas of sustainability, technology, and environmental justice. 

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