Current Fellowship Recipients

2016-2017 Pruitt Dissertation Fellowship Recipients

Brittany Barrineau is a doctoral candidate in Geography with a graduate certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky.  Her research focuses on the relationship between international olive oil certifications, such as organic and geographical indications, and olive production in Jordan. The aim of her research is to understand how farmers and other key players in the Jordanian olive sector participate in and respond to international qualifications and certifications for olive oil and how this affects the physical and cultural production of Jordanian olive oil.



Laurel Bellante, School of Geography & Development, University of Arizona, is researching how farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, are affected by, and responding to, the dual challenges of climate change and neoliberal agricultural policies. By combining a political ecology and vulnerability framework, her research places agrarian struggles within their historical and global context; examines how experiences of environmental and political economic vulnerability lead to new processes of capital accumulation in agrarian spaces; and questions how these dynamics affect the future sustainability and viability of farming in Mexico. This research is but one component of her commitment as a scholar-activist to documenting food systems change and advocating for more just food policies.


Emily Bukowski is a third-year PhD student in Geography at Syracuse University. She earned her MA in Geography at Syracuse after completing her BA in Biology and Geography at SUNY Geneseo. Her work focuses on the intersection of biogeography and policy through a case study of Dutch elm disease in the United States. By using archival documents in conjunction with GIS mapping, she will be able to not only document the spread of the disease, but overlay the policy applications in order to better understand why the United States was unable to prevent loss of elm trees to the disease. She hopes the research will enable foresters, particularly those in urban contexts, to make improved policy decisions when fighting future invasive pests.



Kalli Doubleday is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Texas, Austin. Her research explores the socio-spatial realities associated with reintroducing Bangel tigers into Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, India through extended focus groups and interviews. The aim of this research is to better inform reintroducing endangered apex predators to benefit both social and ecological systems. This grant is supporting a third and final field visit to complete her dissertation. 


Azadeh Hadizadeh Esfahani is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography at Clark University. As an urban geographer, she is interested in inclusive and democratic urban setting for public participation. In particular, she is studying neighborhoods as socio-political sites that can play an influential role in local forms of governance that facilitate public participation. Given her interests in Global South, her doctoral dissertation focuses on Tehran neighborhoods. She studies policy and activism practices in Tehran’s neighborhoods in order to examine how and what forms and spaces of citizenship, identity, and belonging are constructed as the result of the collective and participatory actions in Tehran neighborhoods.



Chelsea Gardner, Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, University of British Columbia, is researching ancient cultural identity in the geographically remote Mani peninsula in southern Greece. She is working to unite the fields of Classics and Geography through the study of settlement distribution and identity formation in harsh landscapes. She will be compiling and synthesizing ancient historical, epigraphical and archaeological sources from the Archaic to the Roman periods (c. 600 BCE - 400 CE).


Nari Senanayake, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University investigates the shifting relationships between knowledge, disease, and agrarian livelihoods in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Drawing on a mixed-method research design, she explores how a mysterious new form of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) restructures human-environment interactions in areas where it is endemic. She will examine: 1) how ideas about the environment and its links to disease are formed, reinforced, and circulated; 2) how farmers’ cultivation practices and subjectivities are changing in the dry zone in response to the disease and debates about its cause; and 3) how the problem of CKDu intersects with the long history of agricultural modernization, public health campaigns, and state building projects in the dry zone and is active in redefining the region’s relationship to the Sri Lankan state. Her project is designed to directly contribute to the development of policies and programs that facilitate agrarian livelihoods in the context of disease.

2016-2017 Pruitt Minority Fellowship Recipients

Carmen Chelick is a Cree Métis student pursuing a Master’s in Biology at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus located in Kelowna, British Columbia. Her project will involve modelling the biodiversity patterns of native plant communities, taking into account the different roles species play in an ecosystem, the way they respond to disturbances, as well as the amount of evolutionary history that different species encapsulate. This work stems from the need for more effective means of meeting national conservation targets in Canada, especially those pertaining to area-based conservation measures. At her university, she has been involved with the women in science mentoring program, as well as mentorship with Aboriginal students. She is also an advocate for sustainability, being given the opportunity to participate in the World Student Environmental Network’s Global Summit this summer in England.


Karla Rascon-Garcia is a Master’s in Development Practice Candidate in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona. Her research interests are focused on the transboundary relationships between infectious livestock diseases and food security in Latin America. Her current research included a dynamic internship with Panaftosa-PAHO/WHO, working with the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and focusing on vaccinated bovine populations. Impacts of this highly infectious virus transcend geographic, economic and social realms, highlighted the need to support the development of FMD diagnostics across Latin America.


Shaloma Wagstaffe is a second year Master’s candidate at Binghamton University. Housed in the Graduate Geography Department at SUNY Binghamton, her thesis focuses on the implications of applying Green Infrastructure practices into public housing complexes. The aim of this research is to focus specifically on alleviating food security issues through Green principles such as community gardening, personal plots and green roofing. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York her thesis is motivated by witnessing the correlation between food desert communities and public housing.  



2016-2017 New York Group Fellowship

Julia Marrs received a BA from Barnard College, an MA from CUNY Hunter College, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Geography from Earth & Environment at Boston University. Her previous research spans topics from latitude-specific mechanisms of plant competition to the use of machine learning techniques to classify tree species based on co-registered LiDAR and hyperspectral data. Her future research interests include both spectral and fluorescence remote sensing of vegetation for investigating the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas flux. 

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