Department Newsletter, Fall 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition
Support the Department
Stay Connected

Message from the Chair

Welcome from our new home at 38.89942°N, 77.04636°W. Samson Hall.

In case you’ve been keeping track, the Geography Department moved again in August 2018, this time from Phillips Hall to what we believe will be our permanent “forever” home in Samson Hall. In the three months since we moved in, the space has become a dynamic and energized home. Faculty are all on the same floor and interact even more than before. Undergrads have found our kitchen/study area an inviting hang-out and we have already had several study breaks for geography and environmental studies majors, featuring morning bagels and afternoon pizza. Our graduates also have a dedicated office where they can work in solidarity into the wee hours of the night and on the weekends. The photos below offer a brief virtual tour, but we invite all of our alumni to come check out our new home in person. We’d be delighted to give you a tour!

It was another good academic year in 2017-2018! Our faculty taught more than 2000 students again last year; we pride ourselves on the attention and care we give our students. Our faculty published 15 journal articles and six chapters in books; and collectively were awarded seven new research grants.

Our graduate students conducted research on topics like the role of adult soccer leagues in immigrant communities, the impact of wildfires in the West, climate change impacts on the Arctic, reprecincting in Texas and protecting mangrove trees in Costa Rica. Our students presented their work at geography conferences, and continue to do collaborative research with faculty.

Lisa Benton-Short on a chair lift
Department Chair Lisa Benton-Short enjoys a brief fall break on a chair lift in Vermont.

Our undergraduates continued to excel and many have gone on to graduate study. A highlight for many undergrads last year was the short-term study abroad class to Botswana, organized and led by Professors Joe Dymond and Richard Hinton. We’ve profiled that trip here in the newsletter.

Finally emails, Facebook posts and Linked-In messages sent from alumni around the world testify to amazing travels, life adventures and meaningful experiences in love, family and work that make up the years after GW. Join our new GWU Geographers Network LinkedIn GroupWe’re always happy to reconnect with you and hope you know you will always have a home in geography—no matter what building we occupy!
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Department Spotlights


Professor Hurley on a beach next to a seal
Professor Hurley doing field work in Hawaii.

This fall, the department welcomed Brendan Hurley as our newest full time faculty member. Professor Hurley is an assistant professor in GIS, teaching Introduction to Cartography and GIS, Techniques of Spatial Analysis and Geospatial Statistics. Before becoming full time, he taught as an adjunct professor for the department, where he was selected as a finalist for GW's student-athlete Professor of the Year. 

Professor Hurley’s research interests include spatial clustering of events, the underlying spatial theory behind them and how those events affect decision-making. He has published in a wide array of peer-reviewed journals, from PloS One to Marine Ecology Progress Series, and has accrued over 600 citations to date.

Before joining the department, Professor Hurley was a Science Fellow in the United States House of Representatives, and spent 15 years doing conservation and GIS work around the country. This included right whale conservation research in Woods Hole, Mass.; Hawaiian Monk seal field work in Hawaii; and aerial surveys in the Arctic Chukchi and Beaufort seas with the National Marine Mammal Lab in Seattle, where he suggested renaming the project “Marine and Coastal High Arctic Marine Mammal Ecological Research”—or the MC HAMMER project. Sadly, this was declined. He currently lives in Alexandria with his Rottweiler Bruce Wayne, who probably wants a walk right now.


Back row (from left): Professor Richard Hinton, Anna Guiseppe, Joseph Politano, David Zaro, Kira Witt, Jacob Milley, Fernando Zambrano, Patrick Nahhas, Peter Aloys, Professor Joseph Dymond. Front row (from left): Ms. Maggie Cawley, Helena Iserhard, Emma Tyrrell, Siri Knudsen, Shannon Kelley

In December 2017, 12 GW students accompanied by Professors Joseph Dymond and Professor Richard Hinton flew into Maun, Botswana, to begin a two week geography course called Botswana: Culture, Environment, & Economic Development. During the course, the students maintained detailed field journals which comprehensively covered their experiences during the course. The first significant component of the course involved students living with the San Bushman in the San community of Dekar to learn more about their culture and their challenges. They participated in two service-learning exercises; first, students mapped the community using the on-line open platform, OpenStreetMap; and then they painted several guest lodges owned and operated by the San led Kuru Development Trust. The group then moved on to the San-run Dqae Game Farm, where students learned about the San’s intimate knowledge of the Bush, and many San practices from starting fire to trance dancing.

The final and culminating event of the two week course was a trip to the Okavango Delta, which included a two-day wildlife safari. Here the students were able to experience the natural resource-centered economy they learned about from the course readings and class discussions. They were able to directly witness how the tourism economy worked and they were able to interact with the Batswana, San and other communities who managed the tourism infrastructure.

Several students then produced a video of the experience.



For the past six years, Professor Marie Price has worked closely with the Dream Project–VA, a not-
Marie Price with one of the Dream Project’s scholarship recipients.

For the past six years, Professor Marie Price has worked closely with the Dream Project–VA, a not-for-profit organization which serves immigrant youth from Virginia. As a board member, Marie supports the mission of the organization which is to empower students whose immigration status creates barriers to entering college. Through mentoring, scholarship, advocacy and family engagement, the Dream Project was able to award 95 scholarships in June 2018. The majority of the scholarship students have been recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Marie finds her commitment to the Dream Project blends her long-term academic work on Latin America and immigration with her nearly 30 years of experience in higher education. To be able to improve the opportunities available to immigrant youth from Latin America is her way of giving back to people from this region where she has worked since the 1980s. It also enables her to give back to youth in Virginia, where she resides, noting, “It has been a great privilege to help talented young people who might have had their educational opportunities cut short, if not for the work of the Dream Project and its many volunteers.”

In the spring of 2018 GW Cisneros Scholar and geography major Ivana Mowry-Mora received a Cisneros Undergraduate Research Fellowship to begin a longitudinal study on the impact of programs like the Dream Project on immigrant access and success in college. The collaborative study, with Dr. Elizabeth Vaquera, director of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at GW, and Professor Brendan Hurley, the newest geography faculty member, will examine administrative data from the Dream Project to statistically measure factors that contribute to students being able to stay in college and eventually graduate. Ivana and Marie will present some of their early findings at the Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference in Austin, Texas, on October 24. Their paper is titled “The Socio-Economic Impacts of Higher-Education on Dreamers/DACA-holders in a New Destination State.”



DC flag

We’ve all taken Uber, Lyft, Via or an equivalent but have you ever wondered what it’s like to drive for Uber? How does it work? How is it regulated? When will we have flying Ubers?!

Uber has gone from a small tech startup, to multi-billion-dollar company, to a verb that has changed how we even talk about transportation. Like it or not, The Economist claims, “we’re all on the road to Uberworld.” But what will that world look like?  Professor Declan Cullen and his colleagues are trying to figure out that answer.

His research is aimed at figuring how Uber has transformed one of its key markets: Washington, D.C. He and colleagues Katie Wells (Georgetown University) and Kafui Attoah (CUNY) interviewed 40 drivers and a range of key actors and stakeholders from city council members to Uber representatives.

The results were surprising. Driving for Uber, it seems, has its advantages but also many pitfalls. Drivers face a number of challenges to stay profitable, often work multiple jobs and struggle to make more than minimum wage. They also have a difficult time generating steady income and worry that the ratings we passengers give them will endanger their job security.

In addition, the study found that Uber has an increasing role in the District’s overall transportation system, especially as Metro continues to experience problems that require substantial overhaul and funding. Uber and “Gig-Economy” companies have a growing role in city-life. The study, however, suggests that we need to have a much more open conversation about such platforms, the types of jobs we want to have and the type of city we want to live in.

Their research has been profiled in several online publications, including Dissent magazine.



In the summer of 2018, two geography master’s students, Nina Feldman and Olivia Napper, along with Vasiliy Tolmanov from Moscow State University, Raven Mitchell from Michigan State University (MSU) and Kelsey Nyland, a GW alumna and MSU doctorate candidate, conducted field research in Alaska. Throughout the month of August they traveled from the city of Fairbanks, north to Toolik, Prudhoe Bay, Barrow, and finally the western city of Nome. 

At each stop they collected data using metal probes to measure the active layer depth of the permafrost, taking measurements at designated poles across established research grids, often totaling more than 100 points at each grid.

Research in the field included helicopter rides, ATV driving and hiking throughout the beautiful tundra of Alaska. In Nome, they explored the Carrie M. McClain Memorial Museum and the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve NPS Visitor's Center. In Barrow, they spent time in the Iñupiat Heritage Center and the Tuzzy Public Library's rare book collection. They also toured an ice cellar where they were able to climb down and learn about its traditional construction, use and cultural significance from Native Village of Barrow employee, Joe Levitt. The field research trip is part of the ongoing NSF-funded research revolved on the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) and headed by two GW professors, Dmitry Streletskiy and Nikolay Shiklomanov.

Students standing on runway next to small plane
Students heading to the remote site Ivotuk that is only accessible by plane. From left to right: Raven Mitchell, Kelsey Nyland, Vasiliy Tolmanov.
Three department members standing in front of an "Arctic Circle" sign
On the border of the Arctic Circle on the drive from Fairbanks up to the North Slope. From left: Raven Mitchell, Vasiliy Tolmanov and Nina Feldman.
Students Raven Mitchell and Kelsey Mitchell collecting data at the CALM Barrow Grid
Man on ladder surrounded by snow and ice
Vasiliy Tolmanov descending down into an ice cellar in Barrow, Alaska


Professor Ginger Allington’s research takes her—literally—to Inner Mongolia. This area was once primarily steppe vegetation, thousands of square kilometers of grasslands and desert shrubs. Today, large portions of these landscapes are degraded due to overgrazing, land conversion and climate change. In an attempt to restore degraded lands, the Chinese government has funneled billions of dollars into massive afforestation projects (tree-planting in places where there weren’t trees before) all across China, and in particular in dryland regions. These efforts are what some are calling China’s “Great Green Wall.”

However, as Professor Allington’s work shows, in order for the trees to establish and persist in the region they require substantial amounts of water; a limiting resource in arid lands. Most successful tree plantations are irrigated. This irrigation, along with that directed to agricultural intensification, is contributing to the depletion of groundwater reserves and the disappearance of surface waters such as lakes and rivers. It’s a complex issue.

In collaboration with her colleagues in China, Dr. Allington is investigating ways that local governments and individual landholders are trying to restore these landscapes and combat desertification. In order to understand the impacts of these choices the team is using remote sensing imagery and field plot data to understand changes in land cover and species composition over time. They will use surveys and statistical yearbook data to understand how regional socio-economic conditions and policies are impacting decision-making by individuals and policy makers.

Profesor Allington and colleagues standing in front of rock formation in Mongolian desert
Professor Ginger Allington and her colleagues during research in Inner Mongolia, China
Aerial shot of fencing degraded lands in China
An example of fencing degraded lands in China

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Department Announcements


Dr. Dimitry Streletskiy received tenure and promotion to associate professor. He was also elected a president of the USPA to become a president after AGU.

Dr. Lisa Benton-Short was promoted to full professor.

David Rain was awarded the 2017-2018 GW Honors Program Faculty Fellowship to extend his sabbatical for the entire 2018-2019 academic year.

As part of her NSF-funded research project titled “The impact of poverty mapping on the geography of poverty” Dr. Mona Atia has organized a symposium in Tinghir, Morocco, to discuss the results of her research in this community. The community is particularly interested in the data her team produced on the relationship between poverty and remoteness and the model she developed with two geography master’s students. The all-day symposium took place on October 21. In continuation with the theme of accessibility and remoteness, and in collaboration with The Humanitarian Mapping Society and the University Partnership Program at Radiant Solutions, this semester the team will be mapping bridges in Tinghir using high-resolution satellite data. The information can assist rural communities in demonstrating the precise need for better infrastructure as part of local development plans.

Dr. Marie Price gave the key note talk to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development in New York City on April 20, 2018. Her talk was on "Urban Settlements as Global Immigrant Gateways."  In September 2017, she participated in a two-day U.N. Expert Group Meeting on “Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration." That work led to her invitation to speak to the General Assembly Meeting of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development. Learn more about her talk.

Drs. Lisa Benton-Short and Melissa Keeley published a book Urban Sustainability in the US: Cities Take Action (Palgrave, 2019). In the United States, much of the good news on matters of sustainability is coming from the local level: cities are taking action to address climate change, manage natural resources, grow sustainable economies and assure that the benefits from these actions are shared among residents more equitably. In their newly published book, Urban Sustainability in the US: Cities Take Action, Professors Keeley and Benton-Short examine trends and best practices from over 50 cities, large and small, spanning the country. A significant take-away is the advantage of holistic and integrated planning (for instance, developing projects that can provide multiple benefits, like a new playground facility that also manages stormwater). They also highlight the need for cities to carefully consider how new innovations like smartphones, increased data availability and the sharing economy can be advantageously harnessed yet might exclude low income or elderly residents. While some of these changes feel inevitable, cities have the power to shape and direct these innovations, and we encourage them to do so.

Drs. Benton-Short and Keeley would like to thank the many geography and environmental studies students who have contributed in some way to this effort. In the last year, undergraduates Anna Zhu and Tomas Lane worked as research assistants taming Zotero and book citations while graduate student Sam Guilford used his expert graphics skills to create numerous maps, charts and visuals for the book.


Below is a selection of faculty publications over the last year.

Allington, G. R. H., M. E. Fernandez-Gimenez, J. Chen, and D. G. Brown. 2018. “Combining participatory scenario planning and systems modeling to identify drivers of future sustainability on the Mongolian Plateau.” Ecology and Society 23(2):9.

Atia, M. and Herrold, C. 2017. “Governing Through Patronage: The Rise of NGOs and the Fall of Civil Society in Palestine and Morocco.” Voluntas.

Chacko, E. and Gebre, P. 2017. “Engaging the Ethiopian diaspora: Policies, practices and performance.” Chapter 8 in Africa and its Global Diaspora: The Policy and Politics of Emigration. Edited by J. Mangala. Palgrave McMillan, pp. 219-249.

Olimb, S. K., Dixon, A.P., Dolfi, E., Anderson, K., and Engstrom. R. 2017. “Prairie or pasture?: Using time series NDVI to monitor grassland phenology and characteristics in Montana.” GeoJournal

Emma Violand-Sanchez and Marie Price. 2018. “Mentoring and Retaining College-Bound  Dreamers: Establishing the Dream Project, a Non-profit Organization in Virginia” in Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for Teaching Dreamers & Undocumented Students, S. Wong, E. Sanchez Gosnell, A.M. Foerster Luu and L. Dodson, editors. New York: Teachers College Press. pp 98-107.

Shiklomanov N.I. and Laurele M. Norilsk, 2017 “A truly Arctic City.” Polar  Geography,

Nyland K.E., Shiklomanov N.I., Streletskiy D.A. 2017 “Climatic- and Anthropogenic- Induced Land Cover Change around Norilsk, Russia.” Polar Geography,

Streletskiy, DA, Biskaborn, BK, Nötzli, J, Lanckman, J-P., Romanovsky, VE, Schoeneich, P, Shiklomanov, NI., Smith, SL, Vieira, G, Zhao, L. 2017. “Permafrost thermal state” [in "State of the Climate in 2016"]. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 98(8):19-21.


New Environmental Studies Director and Advising Team

Environmental studies major breakfast in the Samson kitchen/study space in September 2018
Environmental studies major breakfast in the Samson kitchen/study space in September 2018

Change is afoot for environmental studies! Professor Melissa Keeley is the new program director. Her area of research interest is urban sustainability and specifically the way that green infrastructure can be used to manage stormwater and provide other benefits in cities. She regularly teaches the gateway class to the major, Society and Environment, Field Methods, Urban Sustainability, and will begin teaching the environmental studies senior seminar class. Her goals for the major this year include reworking the senior seminar class, revisiting program learning objectives and organizing monthly get-togethers for students in the program. (So far, we have enjoyed a “major breakfast” and an EVS “Tea.”) Professors Allington and Streletskiy join Keeley as new academic advisors for the program.


GW's Newest Geographer

Baby Jacinta with a cat

Professor Dimitry Streletskiy welcomed daughter Jacinta on July 19, 2018.

Environmental Studies Improves the Student Experience with a Generous Gift

A generous multi-year gift from a GW alumna has enabled us to enhance research opportunities and support our environmental studies students. Starting this fall, students can apply for stipends to facilitate research projects that they undertake with faculty. These stipends will allow more students to take part in research and mentoring opportunities. Specifically, students can choose to engage in otherwise unfunded research—opening up new, evolving and more diverse research options, particularly in human geography and social sciences research methods. The gift will also be used to purchase enhanced field equipment, such as water quality testing kits and surveying rods which can be used in the years to come in our field and senior seminar classes.


Senior Mason Neck Field Trip

Dr. Ranbir Kang supervised 27 GW students from this Senior Seminar for the entire day in gathering d
Dr. Ranbir Kang supervised 27 GW students from this Senior Seminar for the entire day in gathering data related to Thompson Creek in Mason Neck, Va.

In the long-standing GW Geography Department tradition, seniors gathered soil samples and mapped tree fall along upper Thompson Creek as part of the Senior Seminar Mason Neck Field Trip. Professors Price and Benton-Short along with Dr. Ranbir Kang spent one day on BLM land found on the Mason Neck Peninsula, where Dr. Kang has a long-term research project examining soil erosion in the creek. The class divided into five teams and measured tree fall and collected soil samples. After a day of measurements and learning about the challenges of this protected space, we had dinner as a group in Occoquan.

Alas, the camping portion of the field trip did not occur. We were scheduled to camp on the weekend that Hurricane Florence made landfall. While our region received minimal rainfall, it was enough to close the park and we were unable to reschedule for another weekend. This year in Senior Seminar we are working on both physical and urban research topics and, in the process, building longitudinal data bases for tracking environmental and human change in the region. In November, we will conduct a study on how immigration is changing parts of the metropolitan area. This gives each of our seniors an opportunity to engage in original data collection and research that is supervised by faculty members.

Senior Environmental Studies Camping Trip

Environmental Studies 2018 class

In what has become a tradition for the Environmental Studies Department, the entire graduating class of 2018 spent the weekend of April 20-22 in the secluded woods of Camp Catoctin. The trip largely served to isolate environmental discourse from the context of the classroom and to separate students from the noise of Washington's urban landscape. Soon-to-be-graduates spent much of their days hiking and climbing nearby landforms with GPS units in hand, exploring the geomorphological playground of Catoctin Mountain.

Exploratory and leisurely activities were punctuated by intimate but intensive seminars led by Professor David Rain, the orchestrator and sole faculty member present on the trip. Discussions covered many of the same topics studied over the semester (food systems, urban sustainability, environmental thought and even career management), but when brought to the scene of a crackling campfire under a setting sun, or across a dish laden table; the subjects were examined with a different weight. Almost all of the students spent the final night sprawled across the marble floor of the main cabin, telling jokes and taking turns feeding a steady fire with newfound friends.

‘UN 360 Degrees’ Participants’ Visit U.N. Headquarters

Elizabeth Chacko posing with three students

Three geography undergraduates in the UN 360 Degrees program visited the United Nations headquarters, along with Professor Elizabeth Chacko. In the accompanying photo, they are pointing to the wall with Sustainable Development Goals. Four of the 23 students in the program are geography majors.


Spotlight on Adane "Eddie" Bedada

Adane “Eddie” Bedada made his way from a small transit-oriented hub 80 miles north west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to D.C. to focus on geospatial data science at GW. As an undergraduate college he took GIS and Remote Sensing classes and got hooked on the analytical and visual challenges. This quickly translated to a not-so-common passion for programming and problem solving. At GW, he has focused on taking as many analytical and programming courses as he could, bringing together classes from both the Geography Department and Data Science.

Eddie is now involved with research projects with Professors Ryan Engstrom and Mike Mann looking at how spatial texture can be used to estimate urban features (road, building density etc.) at a country scale. This type of information is critical to organizations like the World Bank that are interested in remotely identifying areas of poverty and lack of investment.

He has also taken the reins on a project with Professor Mann in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara looking at the use of automated feature extract to predict the likelihood of wildfires in California under variable climate conditions. Automated feature extraction is the process of summarizing time-series data into a series of metrics that range from simple to complex (e.g. means vs entropy). The models developed here will be used by the state of California to estimate carbon emissions from wildfires as part of their emissions trading system. And he still manages to find the time to assist our undergraduates as a Teaching Assistance in Geography 2104: Intro to Cartography and GIS. 

Girls on Fire: The Ladies of GIS Video on Forest Fires

Graduate students Frankie De Cristofaro, Nina Feldman and Jenny Mannix created a short video that features their research on wildfires in California. You can view it on our “Featured Videos.”

Campbell Research Awards for Graduate Student Research 2018

Each summer, the department supports graduate student research. This summer, two students received the Campbell Research Award. Here are profiles of the students and their projects:

  • Patrick Geiger: "Why Here, Why Now? A Qualitative Analysis of Homeless Encampments in Washington, DC." Funding from the Campbell Research Grant has assisted Pat’s research examining homeless encampments in Washington, D.C. Pat’s project seeks to better understand the spatial factors that influence the development of encampments and what the impacts are on residents when they are removed. Combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies, he is mapping the location of encampments in relation to important homeless services while also incorporating homeless voices into his analysis.
  • Christine MacKrell: "A 'More Inclusive National Parks System': Constructing National Identity through Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument." Christine MacKrell's thesis research examines Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument's history and designation process as well as the effects of its status as a national monument. It seeks to understand how the National Park Service intends to interpret this history, and how this monument will contribute to an expanded notion of American identity. Christine will travel to Birmingham, Ala., in the winter to complete fieldwork with assistance from the Campbell Award.

Welcome New Graduate Students


Mackenzie Allan

Mackenzie Allan is from Seattle, Wash., and graduated from GW in 2018 with a double major in geography and international affairs. Her interests include migration in the Americas, global public health, global development and agricultural geography. In her free time, Mackenzie likes to travel (especially to the Southern Cone!) and find delicious vegetarian recipes.

Lucas Belury

Lucas' principal research interests are housing, informality, and the U.S.-Latin experience. He currently works as lead GIS analyst at the affordable housing nonprofit NeighborWorks America where his work focuses on data visualization, equity analysis, and impact measurement.

Steven Chao

Steven graduated in 2018 from the George Washington University with a BA in international affairs (concentrating in International Environmental Studies) and geography and with minors in French and GIS. He is interested in using GIS and remotely-sensed data to support U.S. national security and foreign policy decisions. Outside of academics, Steven plays alto saxophone in the GW Colonial Brass Pep Band and is a member of GW Club Swimming and GW Club Water Polo.

Kieran Collinson

Kieran is originally from Britain and graduated in 2017 with a BSc in human Geography from Cardiff University. He has an interest in incorporating cultural and economic geographies to study corporate social responsibility and its implementation in aiding both environmental and social issues. In his free time, he play a lot of squash, cooks and enjoys exploring the city.

Carter Day

Carter Day graduated from the George Washington University in 2018 with a BA in geography and environmental studies and a minor in GIS. He is interested in the French Canadian cultural identity movement and Canada-Quebec relations. Carter is a member of the George Washington Cross Country team, and enjoys hiking and fishing in his free time.

Chris Hart

After spending his first 18 years in Westfield, Mass., Chris earned a BA in geography and international affairs from the George Washington University in 2015. From 2015 to 2018, he was employed as a contractor for the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. Chris is now returned to GW, pursuing an MS in geography. In his free time, he enjoys bicycling the trails of Greater Washington, cooking, reading and pub trivia. He is also a member of the Associate Board of the Washington English Center, an organization that provides English language instruction and employment services to adult immigrants.

Min Jaegal

Min Jaegal graduated from the Elliott School at the George Washington University in 2018 with a BA in international economics. Her research interests include the urban sustainability, economic geography and GIS.

Alex Michael

Alex is from Dayton, Ohio, and received his bachelor’s in environmental geography from Ohio University. He is interested in urban geography, sustainability, green spaces and gentrification. In his free time, Alex enjoys exercising, playing guitar and getting outdoors.

Tanni Sarker

Tanni Sarker is an MS candidate studying geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She holds another MEng and a BSc in civil engineering with a concentration on remote sensing and GIS techniques. Her research interests span the impacts of climate change on the distribution and thermal state of permafrost to the influential agents impacting the condition of permafrost in the arctic region.

Liyuan Zhang

Liyuan Zhang graduated from the Shanghai Normal University in 2018 with a major in GIS. She is a first year graduate student in geography at George Washington University. She is interested in the climate change and urban sustainability of China. Zhang enjoys swimming and singing in her free time.

The Following Students Presented Papers/Posters at the AAG Annual Meeting in New Orleans, April 2018:

The following students completed Geography MS theses in 2018:

  • Brendan Cox: Polling Place Closures in Medina and Galveston, Texas: Reprecincting without the Full Protection of the Voting Rights Act
  • Edward Painter: Social Capital and Soccer: Adult Soccer Leagues as Arenas for Immigrant Incorporation
  • Luis Suter: Climate Change Impacts on Arctic Infrastructure: Lifecycle and Damage Repair Costs in the Circumpolar Region



The Robert D. Campbell prize is presented to a geography senior for outstanding leadership and scholarship. This year’s award recipients were Sarah Chadwick and Cody Etlin.

Sarah Chadwick first fell in love with the environment during her family's vacations to the National Parks. This passion continued at GW where she studied geography and environmental studies with a minor in journalism and mass communication. During her time in D.C., Sarah focused on environmental policy. She completed internships with the Department of Justice's Environmental Law and Policy Section, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Currently, Sarah works as a project coordinating intern at Justice and Sustainability Associates, a management firm that focuses on sustainable development and community engagement. During her junior year, Sarah completed an environmental studies and sustainability program in Freiburg, Germany. In the future, Sarah plans to attend law school to help create and uphold effective environmental policy across the country.

Cody Etlin graduated with a double major in geography and international affairs with concentrations in Latin America and international economics, and a minor in Geographic Information Systems. He has been selected as a 2018 Rangel Fellow and is currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has worked at the Organization of American States, Una Chapman Cox Foundation and the Institute for International Economic Policy, and he has conducted research on campus. Cody lived in Uruguay between ages 10 and 17, and served as an English teacher in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 18. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese. He is glad to have majored in geography and minored in GIS because of the incredible bond with the faculty and the diverse student population, in addition to being able to look at the world through a “Humboldtian” perspective.

The Muriel H. Parry Award is awarded to a geography senior in recognition for scholarly excellence. This year’s award recipient is Steven Chao.

After discovering the GW Geography Department in his sophomore year, Steven quickly realized that there’s more to geography and GIS than memorizing state capitals and making pretty roadmaps. As a double major in international affairs and geography with minors in GIS and French, Steven’s most memorable geography experiences include helping plan the 2015 Earth Day Rally on the National Mall, conducting fieldwork at Mont Saint Michel with his French geography classmates while studying abroad and presenting his NASA DEVELOP team’s light pollution project to NASA officials. While he looks forward to studying GIS in graduate school and further solidifying the link between geography and US foreign policy, he will always treasure the memories and friendships made in the tight-knit GW geography community.

The Dorn C. McGrath, Jr. Award is presented to a geography graduate student in recognition for scholarly excellence and leadership. This year’s award recipients are Samuel Guilford and Katherine Cann.

Katie found her home at the Geography Department during her time as an undergraduate at GW and six years later, she cannot believe she’s being forced to graduate and leave it! During her time with GW Geography, she has studied human-environment interactions, discovered a love of cartography and GIS and engaged extensively with the urban environment, culminating in a presentation and a co-authored paper on demographic shifts in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown. Katie has held internships at the U.S. Travel Association, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the State Department where she contributed to policy research in tourism and environmental management. With support from the Campbell Summer Research Grant and the American Geographical Society Council Fellowship, Katie’s traveled to Pedasí, Panama, where she studied community conservation and ecotourism through community surveys, stakeholder interviews and landscape observation. After graduation, Katie headed down to San Jose, Costa Rica, to present her thesis research at the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, and then back to Pedasí to share her results and assist the community in drafting a management plan for a local coastal and marine wildlife refuge. In the future, Katie hopes to continue working in conservation research and eventually pursue a PhD in geography. She would like to thank the faculty and staff of the geography department for helping her find her place as a student of the world

Sam is from a small town in coastal Maine, where he spent a great deal of time outdoors. He has an undergraduate degree in art & visual culture and music, and has worked in graphic design, carpentry, disaster relief and green infrastructure, from New Orleans to Guatemala. In the Geography MS Program at GW, Sam was able to combine his various environmental and humanitarian interests into a wide-reaching and purposeful discipline. During his time at GW, Sam has worked as a teaching assistant, interned with the National Geographic Society and produced maps and graphics for various projects and organizations. His capstone research was undertaken in partnership with the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, and looked at the spatial distribution of fishing strategies along the Maine coast. Sam is interested in oceans, cartography, environmental and humanitarian issues and work that uses both sides of the brain.

The Thomas Foggin Award is presented to an Environmental Studies senior in recognition for scholarly excellence. This year’s award recipient is Christina Sivulka.

As a northern New Jersey native, Christina Sivulka spent her childhood exploring neighborhood woods and nearby parks. As a GW student majoring in environmental studies with a double minor in sustainability and communications, she then began advocating for those very same parks and others across the United States as an intern for the National Parks Conservation Association. Sivulka went on to work for the Environmental Defense Fund where she supported initiatives for sustainable agriculture, wildlife conservation, and water resources management. She also served as a Student Fellow at GW’s Sustainability Collaborative and Food Institute where she aids in food related research and works on tackling food security issues both on campus and within the greater D.C. community. Sivulka is thrilled to continue on as a Colonial as a master’s student in the Environmental Resource Policy Program.


We regret to announce that Dr. John Lowe, a former professor in the Department of Geography, passed away on February 9, 2018 at 82 years old.

Dr. Lowe received his BA in 1958, and his MA in 1960 from GW and his PhD in geography in 1969 from Clark University.

Dr. Lowe was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Geography & Regional Science in 1967. He was promoted to associate professor in 1973 then to professor in 1978. He also served as chair for the Department of Geography & Regional Science from 1983-1988.

Professor Lowe served as a regular and special advisor in the Columbian College (1972-1976); as a member of the Faculty Senate Committee on Admissions and Advanced Standing (1972-1978); and as a member of the Committee on Programs and Curriculum of the School of Public and International Affairs (1976-1984).

Away from campus, Professor Lowe served for a number of years as consultant to the Morton Hoffman Company, working on land use, urban housing markets, neighborhood redevelopment and second home studies. In addition, he has served as an editorial consultant to the Houghton Mifflin Company, Duxbury Press, John Wiley & Sons, and Prentice-Hall.

Professor Lowe participated in national meetings that centered on his interest in urban and transportation geography. He published numerous peer reviewed articles, book chapters, notes and reviews. Professor Lowe made substantial contributions to the field of geography and was highly respected for his endeavors. For his contributions to GW and GW Geography  Dr. Lowe was awarded Professor Emeritus of Geography in 2001.

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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Richard Barad, BA ’14, recently started working as a GIS product manager at the World Resource Institute (WRI). He works closely with developers and WRI country teams to build open data and forest monitoring platforms. He recently returned from a trip to Madagascar.

Danielle Barlow, BA ’17, is working for Trimble as a GIS technician while pursuing her master's in GIS from Penn State University.

Rohan Bhargava, BA ’16, recently graduated from Utrecht University with a master's in sustainable development and environmental policy. He is now back in the U.S. volunteering as a fellow for the United Nations Environment Programme's flagship environmental report, GEO-6.

Kaimana Brummel, BA ’07, returned to Hawaii after graduating from GW and quickly started a family. She is the community engagement lead for the Blue Zones Project which works to make healthy choices easier in communities across the country.

Katie Cann, MS ’18, is working for the Port Authority on a one-year fellowship and living in Brooklyn.

Kimisha Cassidy, MS ’18, has moved to Montana where she is working for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship.

Sarah Chadwick, BA ’18, began working as an environmental consultant at Abt Associates after graduation. She works primarily on projects for the EPA covering a wide range of topics.

Emily Deanne, BA ’17, is currently the communications assistant at The Natural Resources Defense Council. She works on the Federal Communications team and assists with issues related to public lands, offshore drilling and energy efficiency.

Rosemary Eldridge, BA ’13, is the director of communications and programs at the Catholic Information Center, a nonprofit that equips lay Catholics with the tools they need to love the faith. She resides in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Evan Feeney, BA ’11, is currently a campaign director at the nation's largest online racial justice organization, Color Of Change. He has been at Color Of Change for three years and continues to lead campaigns to build a just and more equitable world for Black people.

Roisin Ford, BA ’05, and Nick Ford, BA ’05, a geography minor and major respectively, welcomed a son, Andy Arthur Ford, in early 2018.

Ian Garland, BA ’17, has been wandering and wondering, working on farms, fostering global and local food systems, cooking, eating, learning and playing. This fall, he will celebrate the opening of @its_teranga in Harlem and continues supporting local farming communities.

Katherine Garry, BA ’07, is a foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State.  She currently serves as a "line officer" on the Secretary's Executive Secretariat staff.

Paula Halicek, BA ’09, is a grant writer for a nonprofit organization supporting international development projects around the world. She has been lucky to travel to diverse countries and she continues to learn about new cultures and new topics every day.

Virginia R Hetrick, BA ’64, MA ’68, finished a PhD at the University of Washington and spent 18 years at the University of Florida before accepting a spot at UCLA managing its supercomputing applications consulting group.  She retired as archaeology's scientific computing manager in 1997.

Kathleen Hines, BA ’18, is currently working as a geospatial analyst for a federal contractor in Alexandria, Va. Her job involves collecting, processing and analyzing data both stateside and on OCONUS deployments.

Frederick Hoeschler, BA ’95, is retiring from the United States Air Force after serving for 21 1/2 years.

Alyson Holob, BA ’00, is the subrogation general counsel for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance.

Katherine Hurrell, BA ’15, received her master’s of environmental management with a concentration in energy from Duke University in 2017. She now works at Accenture as a senior energy sourcing analyst within their Procurement Team in Atlanta.

Sue Kyung Hwang, BA ’18, went back to Costa Rica, where she studied abroad in her junior year, to start her master’s program in Water Cooperation and Diplomacy. She will continue her program in the Netherlands and the United States to specialize in water conflict management.

Jeremy Iloulian, BA ’13, recently graduated from Duke Law school and got engaged. He now works at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Johnston, BA ’91, started a new job as vice president for research and collections at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago after 25 years at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Peter Joyce, BA ’14, currently serves as a transportation planner in the D.C. region focusing on public transit.

Haldon Lindstrom, BA ’08, MA ’14, is approaching 10 years with GW, and her second year with the Physician Assistant Program, working on a GIS analysis of clinical preceptorships in the greater D.C. area to better match students with learning opportunities.

Lokyee Lori Lui, BA ’13, works at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C., focusing on agriculture commodity supply chain risk research for leading food and beverage companies. She is also a first-year graduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Robert Mackinnon, BS ’92, is living in Orlando, Fla. He has been practicing law for the past 20 years.

Arzoo Malhotra, BA ’14, Cert ’16, completed an MSc in food security in 2017. He is now conducting GIS analyses as a consultant for Biosaline Agriculture, a Middle Eastern research organization focused on improving agriculture and natural resources management in marginal areas.

Adam McCready, BS ’02, completed his PhD in Higher Education from Boston College in May 2018. He now serves as an assistant professor in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University.

Mikaela Moschella, BA ’17, is working for healthcare software giant Epic on their population health team. She has been able to use her degree in geography to help healthcare organizations inform decisions about the populations they care for.

Eddie Painter, MS ’18, submitted a research paper to The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and then began with the Peace Corps in Western China.

Evan Perkins, BA ’12, has found himself working in AdTech in San Francisco. Though he sadly isn't doing much geography, he still finds time to tell anybody who listens about the Columbian exchange and the nuances of map projections.

Michael Phillips, BA ’14, received his master’s in 2016 from Columbia University in urban planning and real estate development. Now, he lives in Los Angeles and works in commercial real estate development, master planning and redeveloping movie studio lots in Hollywood.

Joelle Pilette, BA ’03, has returned to geography after several years as a conference interpreter and translator. She now teaches international history, geography and English in a private high school in the south of France.

Patrick Ryan, BA ’05, MA ’07, married fellow GW alumna Martha Mulokoshi, MA ’17 at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Va., on April 20, 2018.  He is currently pursuing his PhD at George Mason University, and works in the telecommunications industry.

Richard Schmertzing, BA ’66, attained a doctorate in anthropology and education from Harvard University in 1997. After, he joined the graduate research faculty at Valdosta State University. He is in his 21st year teaching qualitative research and chairing more than 50 dissertations.

Regina Seetoo, BA ’89, has been happily married with two kids living in Northern Virginia for the past 25 years.  She currently works as a logistical analyst for a contractor for the United States Navy.

Laura Smith, MA ’06, is the deputy director of the Transportation Division and has contributed significantly to NYC planning for economic development and affordable housing construction. The Department of City Planning has released a video series highlighting the variety of expertise of their staff. View her story.

Elizabeth Thebo, BA ’10, is a GIS manager at SCDOT where she manages web-based mapping applications. She also has a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old to keep her busy!

Dana Thomson-Browne, BA ’08, is in the final year of a PhD in social statistics at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Dana’s research focuses on populations who are under-represented in household surveys, and development of tools to improve survey accuracy.

Joe Troutman, BA ’17, is currently working as a teacher for English as a Second Language (and also a geography elective!) at Konawaena Middle School on the Kona side of Big Island, Hawaii.

Lindsay Vidal, MA ’05, celebrated her seventh year of living in France this year. She is currently based in Paris and working for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Lauren Wilde, BA ’07, received a master's degree in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. After a long stint in Spain, she is now based in Brussels, Belgium, and works in Institutional Affairs and Communication for Italian utility, Enel.

Andrew Wiseman, BA ’02, is living in Washington, D.C., and working for Apple. He also teaches part time in GW's Geography Department.

Kaitlin Yarnall, MA ’08, was recently featured in the GW Alumni News article “Telling the world’s stories: Geography alumna thrives at National Geographic.” View her story.

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Donor Recognition

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

The Saint Paul Foundation

Gillian Acheson, BA ’94

Richard Z. Barad, BA ’14

Kelly D. Barnes, BA ’15

Kirsten Anne Berg, BA ’95

Susan G. Brome, BA ’65

Haynes H. Bunn, BA ’11

Joseph F. Chestnut, BA ’15

Dr. Catherine W. Cooper, BA ’99

Eleanor J. Davis, BA ’16

Catherine G. Doherty, BA ’18

Gabriela N Farias, BA ’12

Camille F. Galdes, BA ’12

Andrew F. Hart *

Christopher A. Hart, BA ’15

Gretchen D. Hasse, BA ’70

Frederick R. Hoeschler, BA ’95

Samuel G. Hudis, BA ’14

Benjamin H. Hyman, BA ’10

Jacob Kania, ~

Stanley S. Kidwell, Jr., BA ’51

John Patrick Leon, BA ’14

Yuting Luo, BA ’17

Dorn C. McGrath, Jr., FAICP *

Summer Louise Newman, BA ’12

Deirdre O'Leary, BA ’91

Murray Logan Pearson, BA ’66

Erin Elizabeth L. Poteet, BA ’13

Eleanor A. Rubin ~

Dasharatham Sayala, PhD, BA ’79

Evan R. Shaver, BA ’15

Jennifer A. Smith-Izzo, BA ’97

Ana V. Valenzuela, BA ’14

Elizabeth W. Westfall, BA ’65

John E. Westfall, PhD, BA ’69

Mahmoud A. Zawawi, BA ’68

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Support the Department

Gifts to the Department of Geography allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities.

You can make your gift to the department in a number of ways:

  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with the name of the department in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University

PO Box 98131

Washington, DC 20077-9756

  • By phone by calling the GW Division of Development and Alumni Relations at 1-800-789-2611.

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Stay Connected

  • Interested in representing GW in your region, mentoring current students, or becoming a social media ambassador? Become a GW volunteer! Learn more about these opportunities and grow your GW network today.
  • Join one of GW’s industry networks. Connect with fellow alumni professionals in person and virtually and expand your network. Learn more and join.
  • Connect with undergraduate and graduate students and fellow alumni through our new online networking platform, GW Career Connect, centered around industry areas of interest.

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