Africa Flores of SERVIR Amazonia received the “Geospatial Woman Champion of the Year” award for her work to increase the use of Earth observations across environmental programs and inspire women around the world. Selected for being the undisputed leader of the year in her field, Flores’s award recognizes her for developing Earth observations capacities with enthusiasm and innovative thinking, especially in support of resource conservation in her home country of Guatemala and Latin America.
Flores will accept the award via livestream at the 2020 Geospatial World Awards ceremony at 8:00 a.m. ET on October 6, 2020. The award is presented by the organization Geospatial Media and Communications.
“Africa is a role model for women. She is dedicated to her science, to the people she works with around the world, and to her family. I’m proud to be her colleague and can’t wait to see what she’ll do next,” said Nancy D. Searby, the lead of the Capacity Building program area of NASA Earth Applied Sciences.
“We’re thrilled that Africa is receiving this award,” Searby said, adding, “not only because her work is exceptional, but because this organization is a leader worldwide in bringing together the private companies who work in and with geospatial data.”
Geospatial data builds a connection between information and location, often including statistical analysis or other techniques, and is commonly used in environmental sciences. According to the organization, their award is part of their dedication to raising awareness in stakeholders about the tremendous value of geospatial technologies. They recognize individuals and organizations every year behind remarkable innovation in the global geospatial industry. Flores will briefly speak at the ceremony to accept the award via videoconference.
“Congratulations Africa! A well-deserved award for her,” said Lawrence Friedl, the director of NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Program. "Her dedication to getting satellite data into the hands of people who can use the information is an inspiration for us all."
Flores’s projects use NASA Earth observations to monitor conditions on the ground and help local decision makers track issues that affect their communities. Flores is the regional science coordination lead for SERVIR Amazonia. Flores conducts much of her research through SERVIR, using NASA Earth observations to monitor ecological systems around the world and especially in her home country of Guatemala and the Amazonia. Satellite data like measurements of forest cover and water color from space can shed light on local issues like water quality in Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán, a vital food, recreation and tourism resource for the region. Flores hopes her career in science will serve as inspiration to young women back home – and everywhere – to pursue careers in fields historically dominated by men.
“I’m extremely honored to have been selected for the Geospatial Woman Champion of the Year award,” Flores said. “I hope to be making my small contribution so that Earth observations and geospatial data are more accessible and understandable to a broad community while demonstrating that we women are active and vital in the geospatial world.”
SERVIR is a joint initiative of the Capacity Building program area and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It works to empower local decision-makers around the world with tools, products and services to act locally on climate-sensitive issues like disasters, agriculture, water resources and ecosystems and land use.
“It’s amazing to work with Africa,” said Dan Irwin, head of SERVIR. “She’s a talented scientist, but also deeply connected to the mission of building capacity by empowering local decision makers to use these data and resources.”
More about Flores’s life and career can be found in her interview for NASA Earth Applied Sciences, Paying It Forward: 5 Questions with Africa Flores.