By-Laws of the Coastal & Marine Specialty Group

Last Revised 4/2019


Article 1. Name. The name of this organization is the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group (COMA) of the American Association of Geographers. The organization shall be referred to as the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group, and it is understood that it is a component of the Association of American Geographers.

Article 2. Purpose. The purpose of the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group is to encourage the intellectual exchange of knowledge related to coastal and marine environments and resources.

Article 3. Membership. Any member of the AAG can become a member of the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group upon payment of dues. There are three classes of membership: Regular, Student, and Associate. Prior to April 12, 2018 dues were $5 for regular membership and $1 for student and associate memberships. Dues were increased beginning with the 2019 membership year to $10 for regular members and $2 for student and associate members. Only Regular and Student classes of members can vote at the specialty group meeting. Associate memberships are reserved for members not living in the United States who are members of partner organizations of the AAG (e.g., International Geographical Union or Canadian Association of Geographers).

Article 4. Officers. Elected officers must be regular members of the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group. Their duties are as follows:

A. Chair. The chair shall preside over the annual specialty group meeting, perform appropriate communication with the AAG central office regarding specialty group news, such as awards announcements and recipients, coordinate between other elected officers when appropriate, submit a column for the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group newsletter, and represent the specialty group at official functions. The term of chair is two years, determined according to the timing of AAG annual meetings.

B. Vice Chair. The vice chair shall assume the duties of the chair if the chair cannot or will not perform them. The vice chair serves as chair of the Student Paper Merit Award Committee, and should actively encourage student involvement. The vice chair also chairs and is a member of the R.J. Russell Award Committee. The vice chair may appoint regular members of the specialty group to judge student papers and to serve on the R.J. Russell Award Committee if the vice chair or any individual on the Board of Directors cannot perform his or her duties. The term of vice chair is two years, determined according to the timing of AAG annual meetings.

At the conclusion of the Vice-Chair term, the Vice-Chair is expected to assume the role of Chair for the subsequent 2-year period, unless an objection is voiced and a nomination for an alternate candidate is made by a COMA member in good standing prior to the annual business meeting, in which case, the membership shall vote for the Chair at the expiration of the term. (Added 4/2011)

C. Secretary-Treasurer. The secretary-treasurer shall record the minutes of the specialty group business meetings, keep membership records, coordinate and distribute the specialty group newsletter, keep financial records, and administer the specialty group's financial affairs. The term of secretary-treasurer is three years, determined according to the timing of AAG annual meetings.

D. Executive Board of Directors. The Board of Directors will consist of three four individuals. Each shall function as a judge for the Student Paper Merit Award, serving on that committee under the direction of the vice chair. Members of the board shall also evaluate nominees and select a recipient for the R.J. Russell Award. Three members of the Board of Directors will serve two year terms, determined according to the timing of AAG annual meetings. (Rev 4/2011) The fourth position will be filled by a specialty group member who is currently pursuing their doctoral degree. This position will be the student representative on the board, serve a one year term determined according to the timing of the AAG annual meeting, and will have all the rights and responsibilities of a regular Board Member.

E. Officer Elections. (Added 4/2011) Any COMA specialty group member in good standing may run for an available officer position (with the exception of the student board member).  All expiring or vacant positions will be announced to the membership at least one month prior to the annual COMA business meeting.  Members may self-nominate, or nominate another member (ensuring the nominated member is willing to serve if elected).

Vote will be by simple majority of those members present, and will be by open polling unless a secret ballot is requested by a member.  The current Chair will not vote, except to cast a deciding vote in the case of a tie.  All candidates must be members in good standing of the COMA specialty group at the time of election.

If there are no candidates for a position, the current board may elect to appoint a volunteer to fill the position until the next business meeting.  If the appointed officer is not a COMA member at the time of appointment, they must become a member within two weeks of the business meeting.

Article 5. Description of Awards. The Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group has a Student Paper Merit Award, Illustrated Guided Poster Award, R.J. Russell Award and Matthew Fontaine Maury Paper of the Year Award.

A. The Norbert P. Psuty Student Paper Merit Award (Renamed 3/8/2006)

Eligibility. The Student Paper Merit Award is given for a meritorious student presentation in coastal or marine geography which meets the criteria specified in this description. Student participants must be members of the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group and of the AAG. Full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for student awards. Awards may be given only for oral paper presentations. Posters are not eligible for this competition. Recipients must be the first or sole author and the presenter of the paper. The same individual can receive the award twice.

Procedures. An application for the student paper award and a copy of the abstract of the paper must be received by the vice chair, who is also chair of the Student Paper Merit Award Committee, one week before abstracts are due at the AAG. This will enable the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group to organize and sponsor or co-sponsor one or more sessions that include these papers. Once the application is submitted, the award committee will determine if the content of the paper is sufficiently coastal or marine in nature to be considered.

Criteria. In order to receive the award, a student paper must meet certain minimum criteria which imply merit or excellence. This award is not a simple "best" student paper award, which might result in giving an award to a paper that does not meet minimal standards of merit. The evaluation criteria are based on the students verbal presentation, quality of supporting visuals, originality/quality of the research, and ability to answer questions from the audience. Applicants must present their paper in a Student Paper Merit Award session organized by COMA. Detailed criteria are published periodically in the specialty group newsletter or are available from the vice chair.

Student Merit Award Committee. This award committee will be chaired by the vice chair of the specialty group, with the Board of Directors serving as the committee members. If both cultural-human and physical geography papers are competing when the award committee consists of only physical or only cultural-human geographers, a geographer from the unrepresented field should be appointed to the committee. If committee members cannot attend the annual meeting or the student paper sessions, they should inform the committee chair so that a proxy can be appointed. Members of the student awards committee should not judge papers given by their current or former students, but they may participate in discussions during which final selections are made. At the discretion of the committee up to two awards may be given each year (e.g., undergraduate/Masters and PhD level, or best physical and best human paper).

Participation Incentive (Rev. 4/2015). The incentive stipend is designed to encourage the early submission of papers for the Student Paper Merit Award competition and is $50. Each year the COMA Board of Directors will decide whether or not an incentive stipend will be offered the following year and the amount and number of stipends (currently $50 for the first five accepted applicants). This incentive will be used to defray AAG and Coastal and Marine Specialty Group membership fees and travel expenses to the AAG annual meeting.

Award (Rev. 2/2007; 4/2015). The student award consists of a $250 grant to be used to defray AAG and Coastal and Marine Specialty Group membership fees and travel expenses to the AAG annual meeting, a certificate, and recognition in the newsletters of the specialty group and the AAG.

B. The H. Jesse Walker Student Guided Poster Merit Award (Added 4/2000; Renamed 4/1/2016 & 4/2019)

Eligibility. The Student Guided Poster Poster Award is given for a meritorious student presentation in coastal or marine geography which meets the criteria specified in this description. Student participants must be members of the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group and of the AAG. Full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for student awards. This award may be given only for an Guided Poster presentation. Standalone posters are not eligible for this competition. Recipients must be the first or sole author and the presenter of the paper. The same individual can compete and receive the award twice.

Procedures. An application for the student paper award and a copy of the abstract of the paper must be received by the vice chair, who is also chair of the Student Paper Merit Award Committee, one week before abstracts are due at the AAG. This will enable the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group to organize and sponsor or co-sponsor one or more sessions that include these papers. Once the application is submitted, the award committee will determine if the content of the paper is sufficiently coastal or marine in nature to be considered.

Criteria. In order to receive the award, a student poster must meet certain minimum criteria which imply merit or excellence. This award is not a simple "best" student poster award, which might result in giving an award to a poster that does not meet minimal standards of merit. To receive the award, a student's oral presentation and poster must earn at least 70 of the 100 points possible in the award committee's evaluation system. The weighted evaluation criteria are published periodically in the specialty group newsletter or are available from the vice chair. Applicants must present their paper in a Illustrated Paper session organized by COMA.

Student Merit Award Committee. This award committee will be chaired by the vice chair of the specialty group, with the Board of Directors serving as the committee members. If both cultural-human and physical geography papers are competing when the award committee consists of only physical or only cultural-human geographers, a geographer from the unrepresented field should be appointed to the committee. If committee members cannot attend the annual meeting or the student illustrated paper sessions, they should inform the committee chair so that a proxy can be appointed. Members of the student awards committee should not judge papers given by their current or former students, but they may participate in discussions during which final selections are made.

Participation Incentive (Added 4/2019). The incentive stipend is designed to encourage the early submission of abstracts to the Student Guided Poster competition and is $50. Each year the COMA Board of Directors will decide whether or not an incentive stipend will be offered the following year and the amount and number of stipends (currently $50 for the first four accepted applicants). This incentive will be used to defray AAG and Coastal and Marine Specialty Group membership fees and travel expenses to the AAG annual meeting.

Award (Rev. 4/2015). The student award consists of a $150 grant to be used to defray AAG and Coastal and Marine Specialty Group membership fees and travel expenses to the AAG annual meeting, a certificate, and recognition in the newsletters of the specialty group and the AAG.

C. The R.J. Russell Award.

Nominations. Any person who is contributing or has contributed significantly to advancing coastal and marine geography may be nominated for the award, including people outside of the specialty group and outside the discipline of geography. Nominations may come from any member of the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group who is not a member of the selection committee. At least two letters of recommendation are required for each candidate; one may be written by the person nominating the candidate. (Added 4/2011) Nominations for the succeeding year are open through the close of the current years business meeting.

Selection Committee. The R.J. Russell Award Committee shall be chaired by the vice chair of the specialty group with the Board of Directors serving as the other three members of the committee. A person shall not serve on the selection committee if they have nominated a candidate being considered for that year's award. At least three individuals should be on the selection committee, and, if conflicts arise, the vice chair should appoint from the specialty group membership to meet this quota.

Criteria for Evaluation of Nominees. The award will be based on major contributions in one or more of the categories listed below. The appraisal of the nominee should be a concise summary of his or her achievements in and dedication to the field of coastal or marine geography. The subcategories listed below are not all-inclusive and should be considered as examples.

Categories of contribution and example subcategories include:

1. Research--Research programs (completed or in progress), publications, funding acquired

2. Education--Academic teaching, university and departmental activities, awards, nontechnical publications, public education

3. Policy development--public service/relations, committees, hearings, consulting, publications, workshops

4. Contributions to the AAG and to the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group

5. Appraisal of the impact of lifetime achievements/dedication to the field of coastal or marine geography

Award. The R.J. Russell Award will consist of a plaque, recognition in the newsletters of the specialty group and the AAG, and complimentary registration to the AAG annual meeting. Beginning in 2004, a nominee who has been selected to receive the award will be notified in the current year, and presented with the plaque at the following AAG annual meeting.

D. Paper of the Year award.

Purpose. The Matthew Fontaine Maury Paper of the Year Award, named after 19th Century scientist and author of Physical Geography of the Sea (1855) - the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography, is given to recognize a published, peer-reviewed paper that has made the most significant contribution to advancing coastal or marine geography, during the calendar year of the award.

Elligibility. All dues-paying members of the COMA specialty group are eligible and must be sole or first author on the paper (current COMA officers are not eligible).

Nominations. Nominations must be made to the COMA Chair no later than 31 January of the year following publication.

Recommended Addition Start 5/13/2015

Selection Committee. The R.J. Russell Award Committee will serve as the Paper of the Year Award Committee. The committee will review each nominated article and determine the winner. Papers will be evaluated based on the originality of the research, clarity in writing, and the quality of supporting graphics.

Recommended Addition End 5/13/2015

Award. The Matthew Fontaine Maury Award will consist of a plaque, recognition in the newsletters of the specialty group and the AAG, and letter of citation. The receipient will be notified prior to the AAG annual meeting and the award presented at the annual COMA Business Meeting.

Article 6. Nonmembers (Associate Memberships). Nonmembers of the American Association of Geographers and the Coastal and Marine Specialty Group may join the group as associate members. Associate members may attend and participate, but cannot vote, at Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group meetings. Associate members will receive mailings of the specialty group newsletter for a fee equal to the current student membership rate. Associate members may not compete for Student Merit Awards or to hold office in the organization.

Article 7. Amendments. The by-laws of the Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group can be modified, supplemented, or rescinded by a majority of the voting membership present at the annual Coastal and Marine Geography Specialty Group business meeting.