Introduction to the 2012 Graduate Cohort!

Although a bit belated, as they are already in their third week of the quarter, we would like to extend a warm welcome to this year's new graduate cohort in the Department of Geography! As is clearly evident in their introductions below, each member of the new cohort has already accomplished a great deal up to this point. We hope that their success continues throughout their time here with us in Seattle! Megan Brown BA, Wesleyan, interdisciplinary humanities; MPP, Johns Hopkins, urban policy.  I have spent the last three years in the labor movement, working as a strategic researcher for SEIU Healthcare 775NW.  My research interests, broadly speaking, include the modern labor movement and social movements.  Specifically, I am interested in how collective action organized on the local level (the workplace, the neighborhood, or the community) is conceived in relation to and directed against global forces of capital mobility, neoliberalism, and globalization.  In my free time, I love to play racquetball and soccer, and you will frequently find me at local trivia nights.   Annie Crane B.A. Geography and Environmental Studies, Queen’s University  (Canada), 2011. My research interests are primarily focused on food, particularly using post-structural, anti-racist and feminist approaches in understanding alternative food geographies. Prior to coming to Seattle, I spent the last three seasons working on organic farms in Southern Ontario, with one year working within an urban farming collective based in Toronto. My past research looked at guerrilla gardening as a method of spatial intervention and its relation to normative conceptualizations of sustainability and spatial practice. When not writing or reading about geography, I can be found conquering Seattle’s hilly landscape on my bicycle, digging around in the dirt, and hunting through second-hand bookstores Lila Garcia B.A. International Affairs, History, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2008. After spending a couple of terms studying abroad in northern Italy and Barcelona, Spain, I completed an undergraduate research project that investigated the interaction between native and immigrant communities. I focused specifically on protests against the construction of Islamic religious structures in European cities. After graduation, I worked a variety of positions in higher education administration, including an internship with the Fulbright Commission in London to promote higher education abroad.  After taking a couple of geography courses as a non-degree student, I concluded that many of the issues I found most fascinating could be conceived as spatial problems. At the UW, I would like to continue investigating the importance of space, and how the use and control of public or urban space can be representative of underlying power struggles. Having lived primarily in the western US, I am a great fan of the outdoors and I am always excited by the prospect of exploring new places. Will McKeithen. B.S. Culture and Politics, Georgetown, Walsh School of Foreign Service, 2011.  My research interests fall in and around the field of queer ecology. At UW, I am interested in looking at the ways in which constructions of human sexuality and gender have been grafted onto animal/nonhuman subjects and how this process impacts social conceptions of "Nature." Specifically, I hope to focus on the histories of animal science, ecology, and reproductive science within European colonial zoo systems in the Middle East. Much of my undergraduate research centered on urban built and "natural" environments and their influences on city waste streams. When I'm not buried up to my neck in theory, I spend my time working as a baker, biking, and traveling.   Arianna Thompson BA, Wesleyan University, 2005; MRP, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2012. I recently completed my Masters of Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on the intersections of urban and regional planning and public health, and on food justice and food system planning issues.  Prior to completing my Master’s degree I worked for four years in the public health sector, focused on expanding healthcare access and on improving the quality of healthcare for low-income and underserved populations.  I received my BA from Wesleyan University in 2005 with a degree in Women’s Studies and a concentration in Health and Development.  My current research aims to explore interconnected food system dynamics, and in particular the influence of the social movements that promote food system change.  Diverse geographic locations, issue-based origins, and evolutionary processes, lead different social movements to face unique challenges and also to achieve particular results.  My intention for my doctoral research is to analyze the evolution and the impacts of food-focused social movements with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of the economic, environmental, health, and equity outcomes that these movements influence.  I am especially interested in a comparative study of food-focused social movement formations across geographic regions, particularly noting the differences between the focus of food movements in the United States, Central and South America, and Africa.   Eloho E. Tobrise M.Sc. Geography and Regional Planning (Environmental Management and Assessment), University of Benin, Nigeria;  B.Sc (Ed). Geography Education. Delta State University, Nigeria. 2003. M.Sc. Geography, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2012. My broad research interests are on Environment and applied research in Health Geography. My job experience and environment defined my research interests. Back in Nigeria, in addition to my job at the University of Benin, I worked as a field and program officer at the Center for Population and Environmental Development where I was part of the team on HIV/AIDs action research/intervention based programs. The focus was on school and community based knowledge and beliefs about HIV especially against the background of myths surrounding the disease and how these increase risk and vulnerability. I have also been involved in Political and Civil Rights action based research among indigenous populations in Nigeria. Most of my activities have been on program implementation involving data collection, field coordination, facilitation of program seminars and communicating research feedback to community based stakeholders. My research (es) at the masters’ level has focused on the environment basically on climate change and flooding respectively. I intend to continue on the path of health, maybe HIV/AIDs and the interconnections of the social environment with the disease or move beyond it to other health related issues in sub-Saharan Africa for my PhD research at the University of Washington. While I have a bias for women and girls, am open to researching on cross-cutting health issues in both genders. I love to cook, read and listen to music in my free time. Travelling also has a great attraction for me when it is affordable.   Yolanda Valencia BA, Finances and Management Information Systems, Eastern Washington University, 2002. My interest in finding solutions to labor injustice has emerged from witnessing firsthand prejudicial treatment in the agricultural workplace. Coming from a migrant Mexican family background, I have faced the curse of poverty along with my community due to the low wages we have been compelled to accept. I am the youngest of five siblings and the first in my family to attend college. I earned my. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to work as a Bilingual Workers Compensation Adjudicator for the Department of Labor and Industries for over eight years. During this journey, I noticed the necessity to address issues that negatively affect some seasonal workers' benefits. My personal, academic, and professional experiences have shaped my current research interest and passion for the studies of social injustice, gender inequalities, and poverty, with a special interest on Latino immigrants. I enjoy cooking, walking, reading and spending time with my two beautiful daughters, husband, family and friends.   Alex Wagner BA, Geography and Humanities, University of Texas at Austin; MS, Environmental Analysis, Rice University. After graduating from Rice, I worked as an environmental health researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX and was most recently employed at the American Lung Association as the director of environmental health for the Plains-Gulf region. I am interested in refining the understanding of how spatial science may be used to answer epidemiological questions and to what degree certain environmental drivers contribute to geospatial predictive modeling. I am also interested in seeing how these spatial techniques may be applied to other areas such as water- and land-use questions. My wife Nathalie and I have a 6 month old daughter named Edie and a black lab named Bear.