Current Fellowship Recipients

SWG’s 2021-22 Fellowship Recipients

The Society of Woman Geographers is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021-22 fellowship awards. 

The Society is fortunate to be able to provide graduate students our prestigious SWG Pruitt and New York fellowship awards for the academic year 2021-22. We were able to grant 14 fellowships totaling over $110,000. Congratulations to our new fellows!

Evelyn L. Pruitt National Fellowship for Dissertation Research

Xiaoling Chen is a doctoral student in geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As a health geographer, her research interest lies in the intersections of healthcare and politics. In particular, she conducts ethnographic studies to examine the everyday experiences of patients and healthcare workers as they navigate hospital power dynamics.

Her dissertation investigates how healthcare reforms change medical practices and subjectivities of public healthcare professionals as well as patient-doctor relationships in China. Her recent work on COVID-19 response was published in Eurasian Geography and Economics, titled Spaces of care and resistance in China: public engagement during the COVID-19 outbreak. Her earlier work on refugee resettlement in the U.S. was published in Human Organization, titled Barriers to Achieving "Economic Self-Sufficiency": The Structural Vulnerability Experienced by Refugee Families in Denver, Colorado, findings of which were covered by KUNC and CU Denver News.

Xiaoling has a master’s degree in medical anthropology from University of Colorado, Denver; a master’s degree in biotechnology; and a bachelor’s degree in environment and resources from China Agricultural University. She spent five years working in the industry on the issues of environment, health, and safety; human rights; sustainability; and climate change.

Dayna Cueva Alegría is a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Kentucky and a former Fulbright-Hays Fellow. Her research explores the role of state and civil society in development, environmental democratization, citizenship, and social networks through a focus on water pollution governance. Drawing from scholarship on environmental democratization and the political ecologies of water, her dissertation research examines the political practices and environmental values of rural civil society and state institutions that underlie the implementation of sewage water treatment plants (SWTP) to mitigate Lake Titicaca’s water pollution in the Puno region of Peru.

Specifically, her research aims to understand how democratic political practices and environmental values may reflect synergistic engagements that can generate desired environmental governance outcomes like SWTP. Further, such synergistic analysis can illuminate on the potential for and consolidation of greater rural political empowerment and the advancement of environmental democratization. For this purpose, she combines qualitative and social network analysis methods. Informed and inspired by her experience with political organizing for environmental and educational rights advocacy groups and interactions with state actors, she believes her research can contribute to strengthening local-level water pollution governance and building supportive state-civil society political partnerships to improve rural communities’ livelihoods. 

Melissa Haller is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is an economic geographer interested in innovation, employment, and economic resilience in declining U.S. cities. Her dissertation, “Economic Crises, Job Displacement, and the Knowledge Economy,” broadly examines the employment transitions of displaced knowledge workers and their mobility across firms and organizations as well as across space. She is also broadly interested in better understanding how investing in innovation and technology can improve regional economic resilience in the face of a crisis, such as a recession. 

The Pruitt Fellowship will help fund her field work in Rochester, N.Y., as she studies the transitions of workers laid off by Eastman Kodak. Once one of the most innovative firms in the country, Kodak displaced more than 50,000 workers in the regional economy as film photography became obsolete. She hopes the experiences of Kodak’s workers will provide important lessons for workers in the 21st century. Melissa’s research is deeply influenced by her having grown up in Rochester. Melissa has also conducted policy research as a summer associate at the Rand Corporation and has spent extensive time working in student government at UCLA. 

Akemi Inamoto Orellana is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography and the Environment at Syracuse University. The Pruitt Fellowship will support her dissertation titled “Governing the Paddies: Gender, Race, and Environmental Governance in Rice Farming in Colombia.” Through a feminist political ecology lens, her primarily ethnographic project explores how gender, race, and class assemble to shape female rice farmers’ access to resource geographies in the departments of Tolima and Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Her research aims, approaches, and methods have largely been shaped by her collaboration with local policymakers and researchers at the National Rice Farmers Federation (Fedearroz) and irrigation districts in rural Colombia. Ultimately, Akemi aims to use her dissertation research to develop gender-transformative policy with relevant stakeholders to better support female rice farmers in Colombia. 

Akemi is originally from Nicaragua and holds a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of Florida. When not engaging in academic activities, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Goku, baking, and cooking. She also volunteers with Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation, assisting with the transportation, capture, and release of wildlife, and El Sol, Jupiter’s neighborhood resource center, which provides services to primarily immigrant families.

Kendra Kintzi is a doctoral candidate in Development Sociology at Cornell University, where she has been trained as a human geographer to critically examine patterns of uneven development and environmental change. Her research is rooted in the Middle East, drawing together theory and methods from political ecology, postcolonial feminist geography, and digital geography to question the relationship between energy and political power. The Pruitt Fellowship will support fieldwork for her dissertation, which is tentatively titled “Glittering Metropolis: Renewable Energy, Smart Grids, and Life beyond Oil in Jordan.” Questions of resource governance, urbanization, and the political economy of infrastructure development drive her research. She draws on ethnographic, archival, and digital geographic methods, and she centers intersectional feminist approaches in asking how urban communities in Jordan experience and shape processes of environmental and infrastructural change. Prior to coming to Cornell, Kendra worked on renewable energy and smart grid development projects across the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Originally from California, Kendra earned dual B.A. degrees in Development Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with highest honors in the major.

Anisa Kline is a Ph.D. candidate in the geography department at the Ohio State University, where she is also pursuing a minor in public health. Her academic background is in Spanish and Latin American studies, and her previous work focused on amenity migrants in Ecuador. Inspired by the summer she spent doing farmworker outreach, her current project examines the occupational health and healthcare access of Mexican agricultural workers who are in the U.S. on seasonal and temporary H-2A visas. She is specifically interested in understanding how H-2A workers in the state access healthcare and how their living and working conditions affect their health. The Pruitt Fellowship will support the administration of a survey to 400 H-2A workers throughout Ohio, providing much needed information about a population that is often invisible and remains uncounted in national studies of farmworkers. She aims to produce actionable data for farmworker organizations and stakeholders that can be used in advocacy and policy endeavors.

Alana Rader is a Ph.D. candidate in the Rutgers University Department of Geography and the Rutgers Land System Science Research Group. Her research interests lie at the intersection of ecology, land use, and landscape recovery across scales. The Pruitt Fellowship will support her current dissertation research, which examines how tropical forest recovery after hurricanes is driven by the feedback between biophysical properties and land use in the Mexican portion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Specifically, Alana uses a mixed methods approach, combining geospatial, ecological, and social data analysis in collaboration with local community members to frame a socioecological process of forest recovery. 

Prior to her doctoral program, Alana examined landscape recovery in the context of coastal sand dune systems while earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geography from the University of Victoria. She is continually inspired by the creative ways that geographic methods can be informed by local and diverse knowledges, toward a collaborative understanding of landscape recovery in an era of compounding global environmental change.   

Vivian D. Rodríguez-Rocha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at the Pennsylvania State University. She is originally from Mexico City. Her research charts the development of care-activism [activismo de cuidados] in the Movement for Women’s Lives and the organized struggle against feminicidio  through the study of feminist interventions that mobilize care as an instrument for public protest in urban contexts in central Mexico.  


Hannah Stokes-Ramos is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Their dissertation research engages theories of political ecology and environmental justice to investigate how procedural justice in processes of agro-food systems planning can contribute to social-ecological justice and climate resilience in Puerto Rico. Their master’s research investigated conceptualizations of food security among resettled refugees living in Vermont and its implications for food security measurement. Hannah’s research interests more broadly involve critical approaches to bridging the social and environmental sciences, previously through a master’s in food systems and a double major in anthropology and environmental studies and currently through co-leading a graduate pursuits interdisciplinary research project through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center. Outside of research, Hannah participates in local economic- and social-justice activism. After graduating, they plan to pursue a research career in academia or a policy-focused institute.

Saumya Vaishnava is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the Pennsylvania State University, with research interests in energy infrastructures, state and bureaucracies, and private capital in the global South. 

The Pruitt Fellowship will support her dissertation project titled “Circuits of power: Infrastructure and the techno-politics of electricity supply in Mumbai.” Specifically, Saumya will use a mixed-methods approach to examine how “reliable” electricity supply is made possible in the city.

Saumya has a bachelor’s in economics from Saint Xavier’s College, Mumbai, a master’s degree in economics and public policy from Sciences Po, Paris, and a master’s degree in geography from Pennsylvania State University. Prior to her graduate studies, Saumya worked for five years as a policy and energy researcher in India.

Anna Van de Grift is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. She studies water governance policy and everyday strategies to access and control of water resources. Anna’s doctoral research examines the barriers to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, WASH provisioning policy, and the experiences of insecure WASH access for urban residents experiencing homelessness in Seattle. Applying mixed methodologies, her research describes the empirical realities of WASH insecurity for unhoused Seattle residents. The project investigates how inadequate WASH access and stigmatization of homelessness are mutually reinforcing. She also holds a master’s in geography from Syracuse University, where her research examined the politics of participatory water governance institutions in the central highlands of Peru. As an undergraduate at Western Washington University, she researched ethics and practices of microfinance in Peru. Concerns for social equity and processes of marginalization are grounded in, and informed by, her background as an agricultural laborer in the Pacific Northwest and several collaborations with communities in Peru. A commitment to social justice and equitable access to resources continue to underpin her research approach as a scholar.

2021-22 Pruitt Minority Fellowship Recipient

Priya Patel is a graduate student in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto, and she has an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. Before starting grad school, she spent more than four years working as a consultant at a building science firm. Her research area is urban microclimates, and she is passionate about creating healthy sustainable communities that can withstand the negative effects of climate change.

Priya’s current research is focused on understanding how satellite data can be used to understand small-scale changes in urban air pollution. Aside from her graduate research, Priya is working with city planners in Toronto to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air quality across the city. Aside from her research work, Priya is passionate about mentoring other young women and encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM. She is an active member of the Department of Geography and is the lead editor for its academic journal. After completing her master’s degree, Priya plans to continue research work by studying how greenhouse gases can be tracked using microsatellites. Through this work, Priya hopes to provide a better understanding of where greenhouse gases are coming from and how these emissions can be reduced.

New York Fellowship Recipients

Jessica Stretton is a master’s student in the Geography and Environmental Sciences program at Hunter College. Prior to entering the master’s program in fall 2017, Jessica worked in development for international conservation and development organizations, writing grants and reports for a variety of donors. She currently works as a consultant for an organization based in the UK that convenes voluntary sustainability standards, working on human rights and environmental issues across a variety of sectors, including agriculture, forestry, and mining.

Her interests are in environmental sustainability, land use (particularly as related to renewable energy and agriculture), and the balance between community identity and larger societal needs, especially in the context of the changes that society will need to make in response to climate change. She is completing her thesis, which looks at the drivers and distribution of solar photovoltaic installations in New York state. A native of New Jersey, she holds a bachelor’s in English from Grinnell College in Iowa and participated in a study-abroad program in India.

Mishka Vance is a geospatial technologist, adjunct lecturer, and recent graduate who has worked with geographic information technology for over 10 years. In 2009, she received a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and in 2012 completed a graduate certificate in geographic information systems at Hunter College. As a native New Yorker, she started her career in public service, data management, and geospatial technology with West Harlem Environmental Action, Black Rock Forest, and the Department of Health GIS Center. In 2010, Mishka began managing the New York City Historical GIS Project at the New York Public Library Map Division, where she creates new digital public resources and conducts training workshops for staff, researchers, and volunteers.

Along with her work at the New York Public Library, Mishka teaches an undergraduate course in geospatial technology in the Hunter College Department of Geography and Environmental Science. She completed a Master of Science in geoinformatics at Hunter College in May 2021. Her thesis, “Digital Earth: The Impact of Geographic Technology Through the Ages,” examined the diffuse effects of geographic technology within the evolving relationship between technological and societal developments over time. Her interests include urban and indoor GIS and GIS education. 



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