Current Fellowship Recipients

SWG’s 2020-21 Fellowship Recipients

The Society of Woman Geographers is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2020-21 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 2020-21. We were able to grant 10 dissertation fellowships and two minority fellowships totaling $110,000. Congratulations to our new fellows!

Ainhoa Mingolarra Garaizar is a doctoral student in geography at Syracuse University. Her academic interests include political ecology of water and critical development theories. The Pruitt and New York fellowships will support her research that examines the urban-rural water governance in a transboundary space between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The northern part of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic provides an excellent opportunity to analyze historical and current socioeconomic, political and environmental asymmetries and how water governance intersects within the uneven development that has been shaped. Her project aims at informing national, binational and international policies and research on transboundary water governance while supporting current efforts toward improving binational relations. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Ainhoa worked for several years in various organizations within the United Nations in Ecuador, Haiti and Panama as well as in a local socioenvironmental nongovernmental organization in Madagascar. Born Basque and having studied and worked in different countries, she still believes in the understanding between peoples.

Pallavi Gupta is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She studies the intersections of gender, labor and space. Her doctoral research draws on labor geographies, racial capitalism, and Dalit and Black feminism to understand the workings of caste in India and specifically within urban public infrastructure. 

The Pruitt Fellowship will support her dissertation project titled "Visible Cleanliness Invisible Cleaners: Examining Caste, Waste and Space in the Railway Stations of Hyderabad City, India." Specifically, Pallavi will employ a mixed-methods approach and collaborate with local organizations to examine how the organization of labor, gender and space within railway stations in the city of Hyderabad, India, is predicated on the institution of caste.

Pallavi has a bachelor's degree in law from Indian Law Society's Law College, Pune, and holds a master's in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Prior to her graduate studies, she spent nine years working with nonprofit organizations in India on issues of nondiscrimination, law and social justice.  

Madeleine Hamlin is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where she earned her master's in public administration and master's in geography in 2017. An urban geographer, her work examines the intersections of housing and carceral geographies in U.S. cities. Using a range of qualitative methods, she has conducted studies on public housing and prisoner reentry in Chicago as well as housing for formerly incarcerated people in Syracuse. Her doctoral research examines the intertwined histories of policing and public housing in Chicago, where she previously worked as a policy analyst in the areas of public housing, criminal justice reform and police accountability. Deeply influenced by her time working with a college-in-prison program, she seeks out every opportunity to work with system-involved individuals. Her work has been published in CityLab, Environment and Planning D and Society and Space. Madeleine also holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Sadaf Javed is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, under the supervision of Dr. Asher Ghertner. Her research project aims to understand the politics of agriculture certification and standardization in the Global South. Her dissertation, "From Margins to Mainstream: Untangling the politics of agroecology and organic farming in Uttarakhand, India," looks at the tensions between a specific local agroecological practice — Baranaja (12 grains) — in the Himalayan state, Uttarakhand, India, and the state-sponsored organic certification scheme through an ethnographic inquiry. Her prior graduate research examined  climate change adaptation policies in Northeast India. She has also worked in environmental policy circles. Sadaf is committed to a career in academia to support and collaborate with local communities in order to bridge the gaps between local knowledge and policymaking.

Zahra Khalid is pursuing a Ph.D. in geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interest lies in the interconnection of militarism and capitalism's spatial regime of uneven development, with a focus on real estate development in geographies of war. Her doctoral dissertation will investigate a distinct geographical political economic form, provisionally termed the "military real estate state," by studying military-led residential enclave developments in Pakistan and associated—structures of feeling"-middle class desires, anxieties, and proclivities. It will rely on data analysis, archival and qualitative research focused on selected sites in Pakistan to illuminate what is distinct about the military real estate state here since 1999; its dialectical relationship with social and spatial formations; and how housing becomes a site to materialize capital flows. 

Lara Lookabaugh is a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is interested in feminist geography, temporality, digital humanities and participatory, activist and decolonial methodologies. Through an arts-based collaboration with a Mam Mayan women's collective in Guatemala, her dissertation project explores how collective members envision and enact alternative futures for their community through their art and organizing. 

Before beginning her Ph.D., Lara worked in libraries and archives, most recently as the research and instruction librarian in the Latin American and Caribbean Collection at the University of Florida. She earned a master’s in library science from Florida State University in 2011 and a master’s in Latin American studies from the University of Florida in 2015. Her thesis, “Talking About the Weather in Chiapas, Mexico: Rural women's climate change strategies in national and global context,” examined how women's place-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in Chiapas interact with processes and ideas operating at national and global scales.

Since 2012, Lara has worked on a collaborative internet radio show and audio zine — Female Trouble — which highlights music made by women and nonbinary artists in all genres. She is a volunteer radio DJ for WXYC Chapel Hill.

Özlem Ayse Özgür is a doctoral candidate in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona. Her research interests lie at the intersection of feminist political economy, migration and film. She uses qualitative, participatory and visual ethnography methods to study the socioeconomic well-being of refugee women as they participate in market and community economies — a kind of economy where the purpose is to sustain the collective well-being of community via "a set of practices that explicitly foregrounds community and environmental wellbeing" (Morrow et al. 2019, 56). In this sense, community gardens are part of community economies. Her research focuses on the dialectic relationship among community gardening, market and community economy and self and place through the case of Sub-Saharan African refugee women in the U.S. Refugee women have limited access to cultural capital. This limited access constrains their capacity to sustain themselves; therefore they live in what Özlem calls a "well-being gap," the yawning gap between their situation and the way well-being is usually described in the U.S. Özlem is also a filmmaker and an artist. Her film, "Taste Bud Memories," received an Emmy nomination in 2019 by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. You can see her art at

Kathryn Powlen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU). As a human-environment geographer, she draws from land systems science and social science to critically examine environmental governance and social justice in conservation interventions. Her dissertation research examines the degree to which biosphere reserves in Southern Mexico are just and effective by pairing a geospatial analysis of forest loss in biosphere reserves with on-the-ground qualitative data collection. The research aims to explore a range of potential factors representing procedural, distributive and recognition justice and the ways in which they shape forest conservation outcomes across different geographical contexts. A better understanding of the components that influence protected area performance will provide critical guidance to policy makers and conservation managers for the planning the establishment of new protected areas as well as the management of existing protected areas. Kathryn also works for the Center for Environmental Justice at CSU, where she has participated in transboundary water governance research. Prior to her doctoral program, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and completed a master’s at CSU in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources program.

Olimpia Montserrat Valdivia-Ramírez is a Mexican fourth-year doctoral student at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin America Studies (LLILAS), at theUniversity of Texas at Austin. She began the program after five years of work with at-risk migrant populations on the Mexico-Guatemala border through the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance, the International Organization for Migration-UN Migration and the Organization of American States. In Austin, she has worked with Justice for Our Neighbors, helping asylum seekers prepare for credible-fear interviews, and was an Applied Geopolitics Fellow at Stratfor, advising on Latin American geopolitics and security. Her research is focused on Central American adolescents ages 13 to 17 who are, or have been, gang members and who are searching for a way out of gang life and for new opportunities by seeking asylum in Mexico. In conversation with antiracist and feminist geographers and using a multisited/youth-centered ethnographic methodological approach, her research project intends to disrupt the binaries of violence that undergird asylum screening: of childhood as vulnerable, helplessness and innocent and youth gang members as always and only perpetrators of violence.

Karen Hudlet Vázquez is a Mexican doctoral candidate in the School of Geography at Clark University and a recipient of the New York Fellowship. She is interested in feminist political ecology, critical development, Latin American studies, legal geographies and energy geographies. Her dissertation focuses on diverse renewable energy justice imaginaries. The research will use a comparative study to examine how companies, state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and communities involved in renewable energy projects frame energy justice and create knowledge to support and advance their claims through accommodation, negotiation, resistance and the use of law in Mexico. Prior to arriving at Clark University, Karen received a bachelor’s in international relations in Mexico City and a master’s in international development studies from the University of Utrecht. Karen has also worked in national and local human rights organizations in Mexico focusing on strategic litigation, the defense and promotion of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Karen would like to continue working within academia and civil society on projects related to energy and environmental justice.

2020-21 Pruitt Minority Fellowship Recipients

Suzanne Nimoh is master’s student in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a critical and feminist geographer studying race, colonialism and memory in the Spanish Caribbean. Her geographic work analyzes the legacies of Spanish colonialism in the Dominican Republic and its relationship to 20th-century U.S. imperial projects on the island. She is ultimately interested in how these processes construct national identity around race and gender through shaping collective memory. Suzanne is a member of the Feminist Geography Collective at the university, collaborating with undergraduate students and faculty to support underrepresented scholars in their academic projects. She completed her bachelor's degree in international studies and Spanish language and Latin American studies from American University. Outside of academia, she enjoys gardening, baking bread and roller skating. 

Andrea S. Pimentel Rivera will begin a joint master's degree in fall 2020 in urban planning and geography at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in linguistics and communication studies from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus. The offbeat, car-centered infrastructures of her native Puerto Rico influenced her research interests. Her undergraduate research on the histories of incomplete urban growth projects in Puerto Rico deepened her interest in our connections with urban environments. Additionally, she has worked with the convergence of geography and gender studies in primary education by evaluating the current normative policies and practices of the Puerto Rico Department of Education. The breadth of perspectives accrued during her undergraduate education has led Andrea to acquire a critical interest in the transportation dynamics of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as a region. As a graduate student, she intends to work from the intersection of mobilities studies, transportation geography and environmental psychology. She plans to study how we shape and are shaped by the street through different scales of movement. Ultimately, she strives to work in creating new ways of understanding Caribbean mobility.

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