GEOG and INFO College Celebrate Sergii Skakun’s Promotion to Associate Professor

UMD GEOG Staff - March 1, 2024

The Department of Geographical Sciences and the College of Information Studies (INFO College) gathered last week to celebrate the promotion of Sergii Skakun from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.

Artboard featuring Sergii Skakun.

From left to right, GEOG Chair and Professor Tatiana Loboda, Associate Professor Sergii Skakun and INFO College Dean Keith Marzullo.

From left to right, GEOG Chair and Professor Tatiana Loboda, Associate Professor Sergii Skakun and INFO College Dean Keith Marzullo.

The Department of Geographical Sciences and the College of Information Studies (INFO College) convened on Feb. 7 to celebrate the promotion of Sergii Skakun from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.

Skakun, who holds a joint appointment with GEOG and INFO College, attained this new position during the current academic year. To commemorate this significant achievement, faculty and students from both departments gathered on Feb. 7 at the River Road labs to attend Skakun’s presentation on his career journey and research.

As part of INFO College’s Tenure Talk Series, the event offered attendees insights into the work that secured Skakun’s tenure, particularly his research on “High-Impact Hot Spots of Land Cover Land Use Change: Ukraine and Neighboring Countries.” The celebration commenced with an introduction by GEOG Professor and Chair, Tatiana Loboda, who commended Skakun for his prolific research, which has garnered 8,940 citations. Notable attendees included INFO College’s Dean, Professor Keith Marzullo; Associate Dean for Research, Susan Winter; Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty, Mega Subramaniam; and Professor and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, Wayne Lutters.

Originally from Ukraine, Skakun joined GEOG in 2015 after serving as a senior engineer at Samsung SDI in South Kore and, before that, working at Space Research Institute in Ukraine. Since then, he has progressed from assistant research professor to associate research professor, then to assistant professor and now to associate professor. During the first half of his presentation, Skakun outlined his career trajectory and discussed how he balanced his focus among research, mentoring and teaching, and service obligations during the “tenure clock.”

“I think for me it was important to focus on the big picture of getting tenure, analyze your strengths and weaknesses,  and work to address the gaps,” Skakun said. “ Communication is key as talking to your mentors and other professors allows you to better understand expectations and build self-confidence that this goal is achievable.”

Sergii event collage

Top photo: From left to right, Ph.D. student Leonid Shumilo, faculty specialist Michael Adegbenro, Christian Abys, Associate Professor Sergii Skakun, postdoctoral associate Natacha Kalecinski and Ph.D. student Yiming Zhang. Bottom photos: Skakun speaks to the full room (right), and Associate Professor Kushuang Feng, among others, helps himself to the buffet spread in celebration of Skakun’s promotion.

Next, Skakun discussed his extensive work on land cover and land use change (LCLUC) in Ukraine within multiple NASA-funded projects, including NASA Harvest. His research has provided critical insights into environmental challenges confronting Ukraine and its neighboring regions, as well as the impact of the Russian full-scale invasion on Ukraine’s crop production.

“We showed the ultimate power of Earth observations from space in addressing challenging issues such as the impact of war on food security,”  Skakun added, referring to the work on LCLUC in Ukraine. “Also, what we have done so far have had a crucial impact on policy and the decision making process.”

Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to congratulate Skakun and express their well-wishes for his continued success in their new role as Associate Professor. As Skakun embarks on this new chapter in his academic journey, GEOG and INFO College  eagerly anticipate the continued growth and impact of his work in the years to come.

The original article was written by UMD GEOG Staff and published on the GEOG College website on February 2024.