Thursday, April 29, 2010

Announcing the winners of the Bizarre Map Challenge (BMC)

“Bizarre” – in this competition – refers to maps that are strikingly out of the ordinary. Public Voting for the Nationwide Bizarre Map Challenge (BMC) competition ended on April 26. There are 3269 valid votes total for all ten maps during the two weeks public voting period. All winners’ and finalists’ maps can be viewed at

The first place winner is an undergraduate student, Christopher Brown, from University of Alabama. He won the $5000 cash award for his bizarre map (Alligator Bayou), which is an investigation of French colonial longlots in coastal Louisiana using a NOAA land cover dataset and satellite imagery. The bifurcation shown in this map, between the Mississippi River and the Bayou Lafourche (the fork) looked very much like an alligator's head!

The second place winner is Martha Schnure from Middlebury College in Vermont with $1000 cash award. Her map (I Spy) shows the spatial distribution of the missed connections posted in the beloved “I-Spy” section of Seven Days, a local free newspaper out of Burlington, Vermont. Martha plots the encounters on a map of the “Old Town” section of Burlington with proportional symbols and uses the text of the posts to make up the base map of the city.

The third place winner is Jordan Valen, also from Middlebury College. He won $600 for his map (The United Constellation of America). His map shows some basic infrastructure therein (roads) in a fresh, novel way. It borrows conventions normally used for depicting features of the sky on a constellation map, and turns our normal perspectives of the earth and land features upside-down – we are now looking at the stars and sky that make up our country!

The Bizarre Map Challenge was a map design competition open to entries by high school, college, and university students in the United States. Five world-renowned judges (Keith Clarke, Mark Monmonier, Judy Olson, Mike Peterson, and Sara Fabrikant) – experts in cartography – then selected the top ten bizarre map entries. A public voting process decided the final winners of the Bizarre Map Challenge. This event was created and hosted by San Diego State University, Department of Geography, and the National GeoTech Center ( The GeoTech Center is funded by an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of producing a highly skilled and diverse geospatial technician workforce for America’s geospatial technology industry sectors.

Contact Person: Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou (, Department of Geography, San Diego State University. 619-594-0205.