Research in the Department of Geography and the Environment spans a range of topics across our core focus areas. From South Asia to South America to the Middle East, geography faculty are widely published experts in regions across the world. Faculty are also dedicated mentors to students, helping them pursue awards, present at research conferences and gain the skills they need to pursue competitive careers.

Undergraduates engage in independently funded projects under faculty guidance and can travel abroad for short-term research classes around the globe. Graduate students work closely with faculty on grant-funded projects and as research assistants in the topic areas that interest them. Recent student research projects have examined 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. On campus, students also take advantage of the department’s state-of-the-art Spatial Analysis Lab and other research centers.

Research Expertise Areas

The Department of Geography and the Environment represents a vast diversity of research expertise across the main three subfields of the discipline: physical, human and techniques. The department spans both the natural and social sciences and is engaged in research and teaching that addresses the world’s most critical issues, in six areas of notable strength. Collectively, these research areas holistically address a more sustainable and just future using qualitative and quantitative analytical approaches.

Many of these six areas are intersectional and interconnected: work on urban stormwater also addresses issues of sustainability; research on poverty integrates theory and geospatial application; and study of climate change also analyzes its impact on urban infrastructure.


"In my time here, the professors' doors have always been open. ... I've always felt that I had the support I need to pursue the research that I'd like to pursue."

Kean McDermott
MA '17

Department Initiatives and Centers


Geographers in the Field

Geography Research in Action

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Arctic Researchers Partner with Indigenous Communities

Professor Vera Kuklina will lead a team of researchers in an investigation of the shifting Arctic landscape’s impact on Indigenous peoples and local communities

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GW Geography Alumna Named George J. Mitchell Scholar

Former geography major Maura Welch, B.A. ’13, plans to study comparative social change at Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin after receiving a scholarship.

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Researchers Follow Social Distancing’s Path

Associate Professor of Geography Michael Mann is using GPS data to create a block-by-block map of the Washington, D.C., region, pinpointing social distancing.