Department Newsletter, October 2016

Notes From the Chair
Geography Students in Service: Teaching Others to Map
Dr. Marie D. Price: New President of AGS
Geography Students in Service: Tracing the Missing Maps
A Cold Summer in the Arctic 
As the World Turns: introducing our new Department of Geography Blog!
Faculty Kudos
Student News
Student Research
Graduation 2016
Alumni Updates/Class Notes 


Notes From the Chair

Department Chair Lisa Benton-Short

Dear Friends of the Department of Geography,
 
This is an exciting time to be a geographer! Graduates in geography and those with geospatial skills are in high demand to help solve real-world problems and enhance organizations' efficiency and effectiveness. A 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Labor noted that cartography was among the eight fastest-growing careers in the United States and that the need for people who gather and interpret geographic information to make maps will grow by 30 percent by 2024. A story by Time magazine said jobs in geography were among the five most creative jobs that pay well. 
 
The GW Geography Department continues to teach these important skills to a growing number of students. Last year we taught almost than 2,100 students. We boast 75 geography undergraduate majors, 80 environmental studies majors, 27 master’s students and more than 45 GIS graduate certificate students. Our students excel in research, and many undergraduates and graduates presented their research at professional conferences or published their work in refereed journals. Our newsletter profiles several of our outstanding students. 
 
Our big news is that starting with the class of 2017, the Department of Geography offers a Master of Science in geography. By changing from an MA to an MS, we are realigning our master’s degree to better reflect our faculty expertise, changes in the discipline and to provide our students with better career outcomes outside of academia. As a result of recent hires, the department expertise and breadth looks very different than it did only five years ago. The department is now better balanced in the three critical subfields of geography (physical, human, techniques) and the move to the MS degree reflects our faculty expertise and the emerging demand for quantitative geographic and geo-spatial analysis and research. 
 
The commitment to service remains a defining feature of the Geography Department. Over the last year, hundreds of GW students volunteered their time to assist in humanitarian mapping.  The GW Humanitarian Mapping Society, a student led organization, organizes monthly “Mapathons” using open-source mapping software to contribute towards international aid efforts. The society works with many partners including the Red Cross and USAID to map areas which are identified as at-risk for or have recently experienced disasters. 
 
The GW Department of Geography flourishes because of our engaged students, our dedicated faculty and our generous alumni who support student research and faculty development. We invite you to join us here at 1922 F Street to attend a speaker series talk, visit a class or have lunch with your favorite professors. You are always welcome!  
 
Don’t forget: Please update us on your life, your accomplishments and your travels. Drop us a postcard, send us an email, follow us on Facebook or keep in touch by reading our newly launched department blog, “As the World Turns.”
 
Photo: Department Chair Lisa Benton-Short 

Back to top


Geography Students in Service: Teaching Others to Map

Pictured here are the students playing a geographic version of the classic game Simon Says. Instead of shouting left/right or back/front, the students were challenged to figure out their cardinal directions, and turn north, south, east and west when Simon said so. They were so good, we added NW, SW, SE and NE as an extra challenge.

Congratulations to Marietta Gelfort, BA ’15, MA ’17, Ellie Davis, BA ’16,  and Arzo Malhotra, BA ’15. They received a 2015-2016 GW Eco-Equity Award for their project to bring mapping technology to underserved areas of D.C. Together, they created GIS for Youth Empowerment (GISFYE), a project to expose middle school students in Ward 8 of Washington, D.C., to geography and GIS. By training the students to collect and analyze geographic data, read maps and learn about key environmental and social issues, the GISFYE team hopes to help these young scholars (and future geographers?) identify assets and issues in their communities and to provide them the tools to be positive change agents, locally, regionally and globally. One of the program goals is to cultivate the students' basic spatial skills and thinking through fun games and projects that involve physical activity, Legos, maps and other less conventional teaching strategies. The GIS for Youth Empowerment project also produced some stop-motion films about geography that you can view here.
 
Learn more about this project on their blog
 

Photo: Pictured here are the students playing a geographic version of the classic game Simon Says. Instead of shouting left/right or back/front, the students were challenged to figure out their cardinal directions, and turn north, south, east and west when Simon said so. They were so good, we added NW, SW, SE and NE as an extra challenge.  

Back to top


 Dr. Marie D. Price: New President of AGS

Presidents Jerome Dobson and Marie Price at the American Geographical Society Council Meeting on June 24, 2016 where Marie became the society’s first female president.

“I’ve always enjoyed being a geographer and believe we have much to contribute. My hope is to share the joy of exploration and discovery with the next generation as President of the American Geographical Society.”
 
Dr. Marie Price became the president of the American Geographical Society (AGS) on June 24, 2016.  She is the first woman to hold this position. The society, which is based in New York City, has existed for 165 years. It is the oldest national geographical organization in the country.  As such it has been dedicated to advancing geographic knowledge and bringing together people from business, government, NGOs and academia. The society will hold its annual meeting, the Geography 2050 conference, at Columbia University on November 17 and 18.  The themed event will focus on “Envisioning a Sustainable Earth.”
 
Various members of the GW community will be participating in the Geography 2050 conference.  Dr. Nuala Cowan and Mr. Richard Hinton will lead a Mapathon on the morning of November 17 with 50 AP high school human geography teachers who received a grant to attend the conference.  Professors Michael Mann, Lisa Benton-Short and Wesley Reisser will be presenting at the conference.  And a GW Alumnus, Kristen Walker Painemilla, BA ’97, the vice president for social policy and practice at Conservation International will be participating in a panel on Conservation and Indigenous People.
 
Marie became involved in AGS as a graduate student, publishing her first paper based on her MA research in Belize in the society’s magazine, Focus on Geography. She has served on the council since 1995.  As president, she believes there is a public that is passionate about geography, in part due to advances in technology that have radically changed the way businesses, scholars, institutions and even the public at large experience maps and engage in spatial thinking. Yet, there is also serious geographic ignorance that can have dangerous implications for public policy and human understanding of a globalized world. 
 
Through social media, the AGS is exploring new ways to reach people and tell geographical stories. The society has an active Facebook following, especially for its map of the week. Focus on Geography became a fully digital and interactive publication this year with open access. Its GeoQuiz is especially popular. Check it out here.  
 
One of Marie’s goals as president is to build its membership, attracting people from government, business and academia who have a passion for geography and want to participate in the society’s activities. She would also like to see greater diversity and more young people involved in the society. One of the new initiatives is the creation of the Junior Service Fellow, open to students who get a 3, 4 of 5 on the AP Human Geography exam, earn a GeoBadge and complete 10 hours of geographically oriented service annual.  She observes, “I’ve always enjoyed being a geographer and believe we have much to contribute. My hope is to share the joy of exploration and discovery with the next generation of geographers as president of AGS.”
 
Read the GW Hatchet's profile on Professor Price here.

Photo: Presidents Jerome Dobson and Marie Price at the American Geographical Society Council Meeting on June 24, 2016 where Marie became the society’s first female president.

Back to top


Geography Students in Service: Tracing the Missing Maps

Grace Doherty, research assistant for poverty mapping & development, Professor Nuala Cowan and the many student volunteers with GW Humanitarian Mapping Society begin a long but productive night of mapping.

The GW Humanitarian Mapping Society (HMS), a student led organization, is an opportunity for GW students to use open-source mapping software to contribute towards international aid efforts. The society works with many partners including the Red Cross and USAID to map areas which are identified as at-risk for or have recently experienced disasters. Over the past year, they hosted speakers from USAID, the American Red Cross, Peace Corps, NASA and other organizations. HMS also participated in St. Lucia's first-ever mapathon, held several other solo mapathons and even helped with the Geography Awareness Week map off! Finally, HMS became a founding member of Youth Mappers, an international mapping organization. To finish the spring semester, representatives attended the 2nd Annual White House Mapathon in July. 
 
With the help of 40 young mappers, HMS started off fall 2016 by putting remote villages in Morocco on the map—literally. Tracing buildings and road in the online software OpenStreetMap, HMS established the foundations for Dr. Mona Atia and research assistant Grace Doherty's participatory mapping project in the rural province of Tinghir, Morocco. The efforts of HMS contribute to the researchers' new findings on data-driven development and participatory methodologies in places labeled as the poorest of the poor. In one evening, volunteers  mapped 2,144 buildings, 1,135 km of roads and 3,722 total edits in nine villages in Morocco. Kudos for such extraordinary effort!
 
Visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter: @HMS_GW  
 
Photo: Grace Doherty, research assistant for poverty mapping & development, Professor Nuala Cowan and the many student volunteers with GW Humanitarian Mapping Society begin a long but productive night of mapping. 

Back to top


A Cold Summer in the Arctic 

During August of 2016 GW geography graduate student Forrest Melvin, GW alumni Kelsey Nyland, BA ’13, MA ’15, and GW visiting Fulbright scholar Anna Abramova trekked to Alaska to conduct field research in Barrow, Nome, Prudhoe Bay and several other locations throughout the Arctic Alaska. Their research is part of the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) project funded by NSF Arctic Observing Networks program and led by Professors Nikolay Shiklomanov and Dima Steletskiy. CALM is a long-term program established to monitor the response of permafrost-affected landscapes to climatic variability and change operating in Arctic, Antarctic and high mountain permafrost terrain. 
 
The field work involved traveling to previously established CALM sites throughout Arctic Alaska including Prudhoe Bay, Barrow, Ivotuk and Atqasuk in the North Slope and Council, Kougarok and Nome in the Seward Peninsula. Students used handheld GPS units and high precision differential GPS systems to locate and monitor changes in surface elevation associated with melting of ground ice; installed and servicing data loggers for temperature monitoring, and probed the active layer. While there, they learned about the culture and history of each place through visits to cultural sites and museums, and had an opportunity to speak with community members and leaders about issues facing the rural communities of Alaska.
 
A highlight was the opportunity to view local landscapes from a variety of vantage points. Students flew over the thermokarst landscape of the North Slope, the Covil River and the foothills of the Brooks Range in charter planes. They took ATVs out to Point Barrow (the northernmost point in the United States at 71 degrees north) to see ice coming ashore and polar bear tracks amongst the backdrop of whale and walrus bones, the remains of the still present indigenous subsistence lifestyle. Helicopter flights offered opportunities to see grizzly bears with young cubs, muskox, and caribou.
A balmy day in Alaska. Forrest Melvin, Professor Streletskiy and Kelsey Nyland observe the ice drifting on shore from the Arctic Ocean on Barrow’s Coast.

Photo (left): A balmy day in Alaska. Forrest Melvin, Professor Streletskiy and Kelsey Nyland observe the ice drifting on shore from the Arctic Ocean on Barrow’s Coast.

CALM research is a collaboration of faculty and students from many different universities. Here Dr. Anna Klene from University of Montana and Clayton Queen of Michigan State are conducting their research at Prudhoe Bay Oil Field in the town of Deadhorse (note the pipeline in the background).

 

 

Photo (right): CALM research is a collaboration of faculty and students from many different universities. Here Dr. Anna Klene from University of Montana and Clayton Queen of Michigan State are conducting their research at Prudhoe Bay Oil Field in the town of Deadhorse (note the pipeline in the background). 

It takes planes, trains and RTVs to get around Alaska! Anna Abramova, Forrest Melvin and Clayton Queen (Michigan State) preparing for flight to do field work outside Barrow in our charter plane sporting the GW colors!

 
Photo (left): It takes planes, trains and RTVs to get around Alaska! Anna Abramova, Forrest Melvin and Clayton Queen (Michigan State) preparing for flight to do field work outside Barrow in our charter plane sporting the GW colors!
The research team en route to Invotuk, in the foothills of the Brooks Range. Front: Forrest Melvin, Kelsey Nyland, BA ’13, MA ’15, Dima Streletskiy, Anna Abramova.
 
 
 
Photo (right): The research team en route to Invotuk, in the foothills of the Brooks Range. Front: Forrest Melvin, Kelsey Nyland, BA ’13, MA ’15, Dima Streletskiy, Anna Abramova.  

 

 

Back to top


As the World Turns: Introducing Our New Department of Geography Blog!

Keep Learning!Fall 2016 marks the beginning of the Geography Department's new blog, As the World Turns! The blog is a space for our faculty, students and alumni to showcase their diverse and captivating research and highlight interesting developments happening in their fields. The honor of our first post goes to Professor Joe Dymond, who highlights the astounding growth that geography and geographic education have seen in just the last two decades alone. Visit  our blog site and please contribute!

Keep learning!  Find out what we’ve learned about our world… http://blogs.gwu.edu/geography/

Back to top


Faculty Kudos

Dr. Lisa Benton-Short published her book, The National Mall: No Ordinary Public Space (University of Toronto Press, 2016). The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is one of the most important and highly visible urban public spaces in the United States. By taking a holistic view of the National Mall and analyzing the unique 21st century challenges it faces, the book explores critical issues that are redefining and reshaping this extraordinary public space. Her work focuses on three contemporary and interrelated debates about public space: the management challenges faced by federal authorities, increased demands for access and security post 9/11 and the role of the public in the Mall’s long-term planning and development plans.  A short excerpt from her book was also feature in the online version of Time magazine.

 
Dr. Nuala Cowan and Richard Hinton were in the news again for the cutting edge work in humanitarian mapping.  Drs. Nuala Cowan, Ryan Engstrom, Mike Mann and Richard Hinton helped secure a partnership with USAID.  Read more here.
 
Joe Dymond was nominated as Professor of the Year by the GW Student Athletes. 
 
Dr. Ryan Engstrom  and geography MA alumna Sarah Antos, BA ’06, MA ’06, have been part of a team working with the World Bank to map vulnerable communities in Sri Lanka.  This work  was profiled in a Bloomberg article and on the  Brookings blog.
 
Dr. Ryan Engstrom’s work was also featured in GW Research Magazine in spring 2016.  See the story “Mapping the Miniscule.”    
 
 Photo: Ryan Engstrom sports a seasonally appropriate jacket for our annual December Holiday Party. 
 
Dr. Michael Mann’s work was featured on PBS news (online).  His new study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, suggests it’s not just the weather that's driving wildfires. He finds that "half of the changes in wildfire patterns over the last 25 years were determined by the location and the density of residential communities.” He also points out that policy makers need to take a more proactive approach to wildfire management and that local governments should rethink the way they plan communities. Read more about it here. Michael was also quoted in the UPI article "Study: Human activities are a major driver of California wildfires."
 
Dr. Marie Price spoke to The Fiscal Times for the article “Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Plan Would Close the Gateway to Muslim Refugees.” She was also Interviewed in Guatemala with Prensa Libre on the impact of Guatemalan migration  and she was quoted in the Portuguese newspaper Publico about President Obama’s trip to Cuba and its impact upon U.S.-Cuban Relations.  
 
Joe Dymond and Marie Price were guests of the Georgian Embassy last fall for the Georgian National Ballet's performance at Lisner Auditorium. They were invited by David Abesadze, who spent 2004-2005 as a visiting scholar in the GW Geography Department, working with Marie Price. He was sponsored by the Junior Faculty Development Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 
Photo: Pictured from right: Rob Crandall, Marie Price, David Abesadze, Joe Dymond, Maureen Dymond. 
 
Dima Streletskiy was elected as a new chair of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) Steering Committee. With more than 1,100 permafrost temperature boreholes and 240 active layer sites, maintained by personnel from 25 countries, GTN-P is a primary provider of data on two essential climate variables used by national and international environmental assessments on climate change in polar and high altitude regions. More info at gtnp.org  He was also interviewed on the National Geographic Channel about a possible “Alaskan Apocalypse.”   
 
Congratulations to Dr. Wes Reisser!  The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area awarded Wes the 2015 Allen "Tex" Harris Diplomacy Human Rights Award for promoting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Dr. Reisser, MA ’10, teaches our Political Geography courses, and Energy Resources. He is also senior foreign affairs officer, Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, International Organization Affairs Bureau, State Department. 
 
New Arctic PIRE Blog and website.  Stay current on geography faculty and students currently researching issues of urban arctic sustainability. The website for Arctic PIRE, features the work of international network of academics and professionals studying urban sustainability in the Arctic region. A highlight of the project is to develop an Arctic Urban Sustainability Index. The Arctic Urban Sustainability Index will be used to measure the effects of anthropogenic expansion, inform policy meant to mitigate these effects and assess progress towards sustainable solutions in Arctic cities that are growing due to resource development projects. The research is funded by GW’s first PIRE grant received in 2015.  Seven geography faculty are part of this research, including:  Nikolay Shiklomanov, Dmitry Streletskiy, Timothy Heleniak, Lisa Benton-Short, Melissa Keeley and Michael Mann. The $3.5 million grant is a prestigious award and will provide funding for research for the next several years.  Read more about it here.
 
Photo: Geography faculty spent a fall day on retreat at the Mt Vernon campus to plan future curriculum development. They took a long lunch break that included a ropes course, which they successfully conquered.  Pictured from Front R:  Mona Atia, Melissa Keeley, Dima Streletskiy, Ryan Engstrom, Marie Price, Elizabeth Chacko, Nuala Cowan, Qin Yu; in the Back: Andrii Berdnyk, Mike Mann, Lisa Benton-Short, David Rain, Joe Dymond, Richard Hinton.

Back to top


Student News

Meet the Graduate Class of 2018 

We are pleased to welcome 11 new master’s students to our department. They will spend the next two years learning about geography, conducting research and presenting their findings. We hope the coming year will be an exciting and productive one for them. Each has a profile at the link above. 
 
Photo: First year graduate students learn about Dr. Ryan Engstrom’s research in the Geographic Thought and Theory class. From left: Shannon Patty, JohnWilliam Caroll, Sam Guildford, Meghan Rorher, Brendan Cox, Luis Suter, Eddie Painter, Hannah Wang and Katie Cann. 
 
Geography Students Inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon, Spring 2016
 
Congratulations to Cody Eitlin, Max Grossman, Charles Christonikos, Stephen Conley, Jennifer Mannix, Rose Choi, Katie Cann, Sarah Chadwick and Shannon Kelley. These outstanding geography undergraduates were inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU), the International Geographical Honor Society. The inductees earned their place in the honor society based on their overall and geography major GPAs.
 
GTU, founded in 1928, furthers professional interest in geography, encourages geography student research, awards funds for graduate study in geography and advances the status of the discipline for study and investigation.
 
GTU occasionally meets to plan various activities including field trips to the United States Department of State and the National Geographic Society. We are very proud of our GTU inductees and wish them well as ambassadors for the Geography Department at GW and for the discipline of geography.
 
GW Geography Team Wins MAD Geography Bowl Competition, Places 3rd at National Competition
 
On Saturday, October 31, 2015, in Towson, Md., six students on the GW Geography Bowl Team competed against three other schools to come out on top at the Mid-Atlantic Division (MAD) Meeting Geography Bowl Competition. GW’s team captain Kean McDermott, a first year MA student, also won the MVP award for answering the most questions of any of the competitors. Professor Marie Price is the faculty representative for the team. Two GW players, McDermott and Patrick Nahhas, were selected to be on the region-wide MAD Team that competed in San Francisco, Calif., in March 2016 when the Association of American Geographers has its annual meeting.  They placed third overall.  And McDermott was co-MVP of the entire tournament!  Congrats Kean!  See the story in full here.
 
Photo (left): Holding the MAD trophy, the team members include (left to right): Forrest Melvin (MA student), Hannah Hassani (undergraduate), Patrick Nahhas (undergraduate), Kean McDermott (captain and MA student), Matthew Mittler (MA student) and Victoria Winch (undergraduate). GW competed against teams from Towson University, Salisbury University and Frostburg State University. 
 
Photo (right): AAG President Sarah Bednarz presents a National Geographic atlas to Middle Atlantic Division team member Kean McDermott for being co-MVP of the tournament.
 
Advancing Career Preparation: Dr. Marie Price secured a Shenkman Career Services Grant to foster better departmental career services for students in geography and environmental studies. With these funds, the department was able to organize a career panel in the fall, a senior alumni dinner for geography majors in the fall, a senior alumni dinner for environmental studies in the spring, two Mapathons (with President Knapp attending one of them) and a alumni portfolio review for graduate students in the spring.
 
Fall Geography Senior Alumni Dinner:  Thanks to several of our geography alumni for attending the annual Senior-Alumni Networking Dinner. Geography seniors have the opportunity to learn from recent alumni who share information about hiring trends, job search strategies and the importance of networking. To volunteer for a future dinner, please email Anita Ponchione, CCAS Alumni Programs (ccasalum@gwu.edu), and reference that you are interested in volunteering for the annual Geography Senior-Alumni Networking dinner.
 
Photo (left): From left:  Seniors Alex Rodgers and Jennifer Young meet with Sophia Fisher, BA ’03.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo (right): Alumnus Chris Hart, BA ’15, (left) discusses his experience working at the U.S. Department of State with several geography seniors.

 

 

 

Photo (left): Geography alumnus Ben Hyman, BA ’10, geography faculty Joe Dymond, Marie Price and alumnus Ekrem Dimbiloglu, BA ’05.  A big thanks to Ekrem who flew all the way from Atlanta, Ga., to attend the event (on Delta, of course!) 

Back to top


Student Research

Participatory Research: Mapping Over Couscous
Over the summer, Dr. Mona Atia and graduate student Grace Doherty conducted the first in a series of participatory mapping projects in the remote rural province of Tinghir, Morocco. Over 100 participants showed up to learn how to map topics of interest to them, from broken bridges to traveling doctors to symbols of Berber culture and resistance. The research team continues their work this fall, as they teach more cartographic tools to local associations interested in development and poverty reduction for their rural communities.

Photo: Graduate student Grace Doherty in the field.
 
Green Building Research:  Undergraduate Luther Rice Fellow Sydney Goldstein worked with Dr. Melissa Keeley to chart green building trends across the United States. “I haven’t seen anybody look at green building in the way Sydney approached it,” Keeley said. “The implications are broad. If we can understand what cities are trying to achieve through their green building policies and where they are getting their information, it puts us in a better place to support them.”  To learn more, read about it here.
 
Geography Student Presentations at AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco, March 2016
The following undergraduate and graduate students presented their research as papers or posters at the 2016 AAG conference in San Francisco:
 
Graduate Student Research:  2016 Summer Campbell Research Awards.  
Each year, the Department of Geography awards research grants to enable graduate students to do research.  This year, five MA students were awarded the highly competitive Campbell Graduate Summer Research Grants. The grants assist with travel and other support for graduate research. 
Erik Bethke received the Campbell award for his research project "Evaluating the Efficacy of Stormwater Credit Trading Programs: A Case Study of the Washington, D.C. Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Program." His research will use census data to provide a spatial critique of the Stormwater Retention Credit Trading program.
Grace Doherty received the Campbell award for her participatory mapping fieldwork in rural Morocco. Her thesis research considers the implications of bottom-up and participatory alternatives to national and local development and the role that data plays within these alternative strategies, particularly in rural areas of remote access.
Marietta Gelfort received the Campbell award for her research on the applicability of lessons learned in the field of stormwater management via green infrastructure. Her research explores the responses of stakeholder in the field in Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wis., to determine potential challenges, benefits and transferability of lessons learned from Germany.
Forrest Melvin received the Campbell award to assist in her research of Alaska native migration in arctic Alaska. This award allowed Forrest to travel to Fairbanks, Barrow and Nome, Alaska, to conduct interviews with local professionals and community members. Her goal in this research is to gain a realistic understanding of the complex social and ecological drivers of migration in this region. 
Matthew Mittler received the Campbell award for his research project "Measuring spatial accessibility as an indicator of poverty in rural Morocco." His research explores the potential methods of measuring spatial accessibility in rural environments as a proxy for poverty while challenging current poverty measures that ignore the importance of space and scale.

Graduation 2016

On May 13, 2016, Columbian College students were recognized for their achievement in the arts and sciences as they completed their undergraduate and graduate degrees. We are very proud of their accomplishments of geography undergraduate and graduate students! We hope that enriching and fulfilling experiences at GW will lead them to wonderful opportunities to shape their future careers.

Photo (left): Graduates and their families gather in the Spatial Analysis Lab and conference room for the annual graduation celebration. 

Photo (right): Each year we celebrate our graduates in geography and environmental studies by hosting a Saturday lunch. This year some 150 graduates and their families attended. As is our tradition, each graduate receives a class gift.  For 2016, the gift was a tea mug or beer mug, with an etching of the Metrorail system. 
 
Photo (left): 2016 MA graduates Zhaohui Li, Ziqi Li, Qi Yang, Shiyan Zhang, Sujung Lee, Sarah Jackson, Jamee Ernst, Stephen Ross
 
 
 
Photo (right): A highlight of the graduation lunch is the presentation of student awards by the faculty. From left:  Joe Dymond, David Rain, Melissa Keeley, Ryan Engstrom, Lisa Benton-Short, Marie Price and Dima Streletskiy. 
 
 
 
GRADUATION STUDENT AWARDS 2016
The Robert D. Campbell Prize is presented to a Geography Senior Student for Outstanding Leadership and Scholarship. This year, the award was presented to Stephen Conley.
 
As an international affairs major, Stephen did not know anything about the discipline of geography at GW until his sophomore year. After taking Introduction to Human Geography and World Regional Geography with Professor Joe Dymond, Stephen not only recognized the applicability that geography had to international affairs, but he decided to add geography as a second major. While taking classes in the geography department, he researched the history of political conflict between China and Taiwan and the potential for nuclear energy in Kazakhstan. Stephen interned on Capitol Hill and at Fabretto Children's Foundation where he researched volunteer outreach opportunities to improve childhood health and nutrition in Managua during his sophomore year. During his junior year, he worked as a government relations and administration intern at the National Association of Broadcasters and this past year he worked as a government relations intern at the National Restaurant Association. Stephen joined Gamma Theta Upsilon, the national geography honors society, this spring and he has always been appreciative of the responsiveness of towards students and the tight-knit community that comprises the department.  
 
Photo: Stephen Conley
 
The Thomas Foggin Award is presented to an environmental studies senior in recognition of scholarly excellence. This year the award was given to Eleanor Davis.
 
Growing up, Ellie’s parents taught her about the natural world through hiking, canoeing and digging in the backyard of their home in Pennsylvania. As an environmental studies major with sustainability and GIS minors, she spent her undergraduate experience at GW continuing that childhood education. While interning at the GW Office of Sustainability for two and a half years, she created new engagement strategies, including the Sustainable Student Leaders Committee. Ellie was also the president of the Humanitarian Mapping Society, and led a team of students that taught geography and open source mapping to middle school students through the Eco-Equity Grant. Additionally, Ellie attended the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris after bringing together students from 10 universities for a mock climate negotiation in D.C. During her undergraduate career, she conducted research with NASA DEVELOP at Langley Research Center and with CSIRO while studying in Australia. Ellie is excited to continue her geography education as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, but will always consider her time in Old Main to be a defining influence in her education.
Photo: Ellie Davis 
 
The Muriel H. Parry Award is presented to a geography senior in recognition of scholarly excellence. This year, the award goes to Katherine Cann.
 
Hailing from the great state of New Jersey, Katie spent summers at the shore learning about coastal birds and photosynthesis from biologist parents that sparked her interest in the environment. After starting as an international affairs major, Katie stumbled across her love for geography after a freshman year science requirement showed her a new way to learn about humans interacting with nature. During her time at GW, she was involved with the Humanitarian Mapping Society, the Geography Bowl team and worked as a student research assistant. Additionally, she had the chance to intern at Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the State Department’s Office of Oceans, Environment and Science and spend a semester in Granada, Spain, studying demographics and urban sustainability. Katie has grown to love Old Main so much that is continuing her study of geography as a MS student this fall. 
 
Photo: Katie Cann
 
The Dorn C. McGrath, Jr. Award is presented to a geography graduate student in recognition of scholarly excellence. This year, Gloriana Sojo-Lara received the award.
 
A long-time Geographer at heart, Gloriana officially joined the department as a master’s student in 2014. But her ties with the department go back to her years as an undergraduate at GW, when she first began to do research on migration and development with various geography faculty members. Her research has taken her to India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Central America, including her home country, Costa Rica. Most recently, as part of her thesis she interviewed tens of undocumented students around the United States to understand how they have advocated for their rights amidst a heated immigration debate. She has interned at National Geographic, the Grameen Bank, the Migration Policy Institute and the Inter-American Dialogue, where she has contributed to research on migration and development. In addition to presenting her research at national and international conferences, her authored and co-authored work has been published in academic journals, international blogs and think-tank publications. As part of her mission to work with and advocate for youth world-wide, Gloriana spoke about leadership at the United Nations General Assembly to 1,200 young attendees from 120 countries, and most recently, she addressed five former presidents of Central American countries and top government officials on the lessons they could learn from the ambition and abilities of millions of young Central Americans who have had to leave the region. Gloriana plans to continue to do research on development in Latin America in a D.C.-based international organization.
 
 
Photo: Gloriana Sojo-Lara 
 

Alumni Updates/Class Notes 

Zand Bakhtiari, MA ’15, is a programmer analyst for the City of Newport News, Va., working on geodatabase administration and geoprocessing automation and creating web maps and apps. He is also an adjunct instructor of political science and geography at Old Dominion University. He writes: “I'm working a lot with the public works department mapping wastewater and storm water utilities.  But I am also learning a lot about web mapping (it's the future ya’ll!).” 

Harry Bergmann, BA ’12, earned a MA at UC Santa Barbara and is now working for the U.S. Department of Energy in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy group.
 
Rohan Bhargava, BA ’16, is pursuing an environmental sciences MSc degree at Utrecht University's Geosciences Department in the Netherlands. It's a two-year program focused on sustainable development, and he is excited to be in their Earth System Governance track. He writes: “I hope to learn some environmental policy wisdom from the Netherlands and EU to take back to the U.S.!”
 
Amber Boykin, MA ’14, is living in the Philippines and working for the Peace Corps.
 
Alyssa Bruns, BA ’15, writes that she accepted an Americorp position as a literacy coordinator in Hawaii! She’ll be heading up a program that focuses on getting students in grades 1st­3rd up to reading level. She also won a video contest hosted by the Lexicon of Sustainability and Natural Resources Defense Council to raise awareness about soil conservation. https://vimeo.com/137325171 
 
Katie Cann, BA ’16, is excited to be continuing her study of geography and GIS at GW in the Masters of Science program.
 
Allison Carr, BA ’16, is working as a GIS Specialist for AECOM in Arlington, Va. She primarily provides support for environmental assessments and environmental remediation projects. One of the most interesting places that she has had the opportunity to map so far is McMurdo Station in Antarctica!
 
Ellen Christiansen, BA ’14, works as a luxury travel advisor at Seven Lands and Seas Travel in Alexandria, Va., where she assists clients in planning custom trips all around the world. She loves having a job that allows her to travel often and apply her geography knowledge every day!
 
Stephen Conley, BA ’16, is in his first year of Law School at GW.
 
Damon Coppola, BS ’96, lives in Singapore and is principal at Shoreline Risk, a boutique risk management consulting firm. He’s authored over 15 emergency management and homeland security textbooks and professional books. He received his MEM from GW SEAS in 2003.
 
Jenlain Coyle, BA ’15, is currently pursuing her JD at Georgetown University Law Center.
 
Eleanor Davis, BA ’16, just moved to South Carolina to start graduate school at USC!
 
Ellie Davis, BA ’15, just finished her first month as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. She just attended the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference in Charlotte where she helped moderate sessions and got ideas for research! Additionally, she is working with the USC Geography Club to host their first mapathon this semester. Ellie's also excited because, unlike in D.C., she finally has space to grow a garden, have a compost bin and adopt kittens! Shown below are felines Amelia and Neil, which Ellie notes she is currently potty training!
 
Tiana Diaz-Reyes, BA ’16, is enrolled in a dual degree program between the School of Divinity and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Wake Forest University in order to obtain a MDiv and a MA in sustainability.
 
Aurora Echavarria, BA ‘14, earned a MA degree from the London School of Economics in Urban Development, and returned back to Mexico City. Aurora writes: “I have started working in a transport consultancy doing mobility plans for cities. Living and working here is making me have a completely different relationship with the city, which is exciting.”
 
Galen Evans, BA ’09, is living in Berlin having completed last year his MBA at the European School of Management and Technology. He is now a manager in the digital strategy consulting practice at EY.
 
Jamie Fanous, BA ’14, is living in Boston and doing a joint degree at Tufts University. She will earn a joint degree in the Urban Environmental Policy and Planning School and the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at the Friedman School of Public Health.  
 
Evan Feinstein, BA ’15, writes that he is “a tank platoon leader in the 1st Battalion 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood Texas.”  In the photo below he is seated.
Chris Hart, BA ’15, has been employed as a federal contractor in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State, since graduating from GW. His job has taken him to Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa, but his home office is only two short blocks from Old Main and he now calls the District of Columbia home. 
 
Steven Herzberg, BA ’11, got married in May of this year and spent time in the South Pacific islands. He is currently working as a real estate development and transactional attorney for a Downtown Miami law firm.
 
Ryan Hickey, BA ’14, in June, completed the base camp trek on Mt. Everest. Spanning eight days, he hiked through the Himalayan Mountains to reach Mt. Everest Base Camp at over 17,000 feet. He also spent three nights near Durbar Square in Patan City of Kathmandu.
 
Jeremy Iloulian, BA ’13, is a 2L at Duke Law School, and he was an intern this past summer at the U.N. Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. He will be traveling to the UNFCCC COP22 in Morocco this November with one of his classes to advise member-states and NGOs.
 
Lauren Jacobson, BA ’12, is currently leading out part-time programs at General Assembly, a tech and education start-up located in D.C. and 15 other campuses globally. She also organizes the monthly Geo meetup, Geo DC! Sign-up to join: https://www.meetup.com/Geo-DC/
 
Christopher Kibler, BA ’14, will be enrolling in the MA/PhD program in geography at UC Santa Barbara. His research will focus on hyperspectral remote sensing of the environment.
 
 
Mitch Langley, BA ’14, continues to live in Washington, D.C., and works for HNTB, an architecture and engineering firm, as a transportation planner.
 
Lucy Lee, BA ’15, is at Clark University pursuing a MS in Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment. 
 
Haldon Lindstrom, MA ’14, works at the GW Physician Assistant department (SMHS) doing GIS analysis of clinical-based education programs and their competition over clinical education locations in the greater D.C. area.
 
Arzoo Malhotra, BA ’14, moved to Edinburgh to start a master’s degree in food security in the Department of Geosciences. 
 
Nicole McCloskey, BA ’10, writes: “Since graduating I spent a year teaching English in Daejeon, South Korea, and then a year teaching English in Rome, Italy.  In 2013, I decided it was time to make a move to the Big Apple and have been at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management working on strategy for the account opening process ever since.  I still remember the Senior Camping Trip to Va. and love the close friends I made from the geography program.”
 
Two alumni, Scott Miller, BA ’95, and Jon Moore, BA ’95, had a reunion in Salt Lake City.  Scott has a PhD in geology and is a research professor at the University of Utah. Jon has PhD in geography and is working for the Educational Testing Service in the History and Social Science Group. In particular, Jon works with AP Human Geography, one of the fastest growing AP subjects in the U.S.  In between the two is Scott’s daughter Sydney Marie Miller. 
 
Adam McCready, BS ’02, is a PhD candidate in higher education at Boston College. He hopes to defend his dissertation before the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.
 
Nick McClure, BA '11, is living in Cape Town, South Africa, on a joint research fellowship between Yale and the University of Cape Town. He is studying the harvest of the edible mopane caterpillar, specifically looking at the relationship between land governance regimes and the sustainability of the system. He writes: "I'm really enjoying living and working in Cape Town, and glad to get the chance to do some field work." (photo below)
 
Jon Moore, BA ’95, is a geographer for the Educational Testing Service, where he produces the AP Human Geography Exam. In 2016 AP Human Geography celebrated its one millionth test-taker, since it began in 2001. In 2017, over 200,000 students are expected to take the exam.
 
Paige Norman, BA ’16, paddled in a 1,000 mile race down the Yukon with her team mate Emma Burgeson. The team “Minnesota Gneiss” was the first all-female team to complete the Yukon 1,000, the world’s longest canoe race. 
 
Kelsey Nyland, MA ’15, is in her second year of the Michigan State University Geography PhD program where she studies periglacial geomorphology.  She has recently published in the Geographical Review work she conducted at GW titled, "Traditional Iñupiat IceCellars (SIĠḷUAQ) in Barrow, Alaska: Characteristics, Temperature Monitoring, and Distribution.”
 
Katelyn Payne, BA ’10, recently traveled to Mbabane, Swaziland, to support a data for decision-making activity as a project support associate with Management Sciences for Health. Starting her MPH in epidemiology at GW this fall.
Lily House Peters, BA ’05, received her PhD in geography from the University of Arizona and is now an Assistant Professor at California State University, Long Beach. Her dissertation is titled “Desert Forests and Riparian Flows: Tracing Social-Ecological Transformations in the Transboundary San Pedro River.”
 
Maeve Pinto, BA ’06, married Sandeep Singh Sunny in August 4, 2016.  She lives in Haifa, Israel.
 
Alexander Pommer, BA ’13, since graduating, has worked in international governance development in Central & Eastern Europe. His work incorporates his background in geography, IR and GIS as he works with local actors to improve the representativeness of their democracies.
 
Gorgi Popstefanov, BA ’09, upon graduation moved to Macedonia and began bike racing. Since, he’s toured Europe with the national team, won two national championships and competed in two world championships. He’s balanced racing with completing a JD and now a full-time job at GW.
 
Kristen Pyne, MA ’14, is working in the Marketing Department at Publix Supermarkets Corporate Office as a GIS analyst in Florida. She has been working here for 1.5 years.
 
Sara Redd, BA ’16, is working as a transportation planner at AECOM in Arlington, Va., where she now lives. This fall she began a MA program in urban planning at Georgetown
 
Alexander Rogers, BA ’16, writes that he traveled to the United Arab Emirates and visited the emirates/cities of Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi. He is being considered for a placement in Peru with the Peace Corps beginning in 2017.
 
Patrick Ryan, BA ’05, MA ’07, lives in Taylorstown, Va., and is president of the local chapter of the Too Much Fun Club.  He says: “The community motto is ‘you ain't liven unless you got sh*t on your shoes.’ And I'm up to my neck in poop. For goat, pig and waterfowl sales, please contact patrick@lo-doun.com.  He writes” “This Thanksgiving I will celebrate nine years on the ‘farm’ in the hollow along the Catoctin Creek in Taylorstown, Virginia.  Lo’doun is growing and diversifying, with another good harvest this year - though every year has sad losses. Production over the last several years has averaged at: 2-3 does (mini-Nubian goats) each giving 5-6 pounds of milk per day for a 6+ month lactation; 4 sows (American Guinea Hogs) each having 1-2 liters per year of 6-9 piglets; a large semi-feral flock of geese (German Pomeranian) from which I take 12+ dozen eggs in the spring and process about a dozen in the fall; time did not allow for duck and rabbit this year. Growing on the agricultural pursuits, a neighbor and I started a small catering business last fall. This spring I was elected for my third (nonconsecutive) one-year-term as the President of the Taylorstown Community Association and am a founding member of a very active local history club that has been meeting monthly for 3+ years now. On top of all that fun, there’s work and bills to pay.  Building on my signals intelligence background in the Army and five years in the Geography Department, I have been working for 2+ years in the telecommunications industry at All Points Broadband, the largest wireless internet service provider in the Commonwealth.  It's a blessing to live and work with geography and GIS daily.  All Loudoun County field trip requests can be emailed to patrick@lo-doun.com.”  
 
Sam Salkin, BA ’08, in May, graduated from Harvard Kennedy School with his Master of Public Policy. Now he is working for the New York City Subway on their Recovery and Resiliency program to help fix damage from Superstorm Sandy and limit the impact of severe weather.
 
Avery Sandborn, MA ’15, is a geographer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her recent work includes classifying seasonal land cover, analyzing crop migration patterns, presenting at the 2016 Esri UC conference and preparing for the 2016 AGU conference.
 
Minna Scholl, BA ’07, started medical school in January 2016 at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine (NYCPM), as part of the class of 2020. 
 
Gloriana Sojo,  MA ’16, is living in Washington, D.C., and working for the InterAmerican Development Bank.
 
Michelle Stuhlmacher, BA ’15, is enjoying PhD life at Arizona State University. She's a second year geography doctoral student studying human-environment relations. Last year she was a TA for physical geography but this year she is a research assistant on a project that uses satellite imagery to determine the extent of urban areas.
 
Elizabeth Thebo, BA ’10, is currently a GIS manager at SCDOT in charge of all web-based mapping applications. She also has a feisty 2-year-old son!
 
Foster Thorpe, BA ’06, currently deployed to Afghanistan, living in Baltimore.
 
Jamie Worms, MA ’09, teaches economic geography, human geography and the introduction to landforms at GSU. This summer, she drove from France to Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland.
 
Qi Yang, MA ’16, after traveling with his parents to celebrate his graduation, started an internship at Arlington County, Va. He is in the process of designing and participating in a parking meters survey in the county area.
 
Rhys Young, BA ’16, worked as a senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton during her spring semester of her senior year on the GEOINT Professional Certification Team at NGA in Springfield, Va. There she helped manage a large-scale relational database as well as preform operations tasks for the Program Management Office. In September, she moved to the Humanitarian Information Unit at the U.S. Department of State, Intelligence and Research Bureau, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, as a contracted cartographer. In her new role, she is using her GIS experience and design skills to produce cartographic products for policy makers.  As a side note, she became an NGA GEOINT Professional Certification poster child. See the link featuring Rhys: https://www.nga.mil/Careers/Pages/GEOINT-Professional-Certification.aspx
 
Shiyan Zhang, MA ’16, is still living in the D.C. metro area. After graduation, she took a short travel to relax. Then she worked as a data visualization intern at HIP Consult for about two months. Now she is in the process of changing jobs.