Luffman, who graduated from UTK in 2013 with a Ph.D. in geography with a concentration in spatial analysis and watershed dynamics, received the award in the Early Career category for individuals who graduated within the past 10 years.
Awards are also given in Mid-Career (10-25 years since graduation) and Lifetime (more than 25 years since graduation) categories.
“The award is a great honor, and my sincere thanks go to the faculty at UTK Geography who challenged and guided me during my time there,” Luffman said. “Upon reflecting on the past few years during grad school and since graduation, I identified three ways the department helped to nurture students.
“First, they inspired students by leading by example. Second, they included students in departmental activities so that we developed professional and personal relationships with faculty and students who now form part of our professional network. Third, they challenged students to explore areas of interest, present at conferences, and submit manuscripts for publication. These helped to set me off on solid footing to succeed in academia.
“My sincere thanks go to two professors who had a substantial impact on my success, my advisor, Dr. Liem Tran, and the then-chair of the department, Dr. Carol Harden.”
Luffman also holds a B.S. in mathematics and science and an M.S. in earth sciences from the University of Ottawa in Canada.
She joined the ETSU faculty in 1997 and teaches courses in physical geography, geomorphology, hydrology, natural resources management and spatial analysis.
She also co-teaches the Department of Geosciences’ field experience course and has led students on trips to such varied locations as the Colorado Plateau, Puerto Rico, the Rio Grande Valley, Hawaii and Ontario, Canada.
Luffman’s main areas of research are karst hydrology, watershed restoration, soil erosion and medical geography. Among her most visible projects is a “Citizen Scientist” effort using crowdsourced data on water depth from visitors to Johnson City’s Founders Park to analyze how Brush Creek responds to rainfall events.
Through her involvement with the Boone Watershed Partnership, which she has served as vice president, she has been instrumental in stream restoration projects at Sinking Creek and Beaver Creek.
In addition, she and Dr. Arpita Nandi, chair of the Department of Geosciences, have several ongoing research projects at ETSU’s Eastman Valleybrook Campus.