Introducing New Faculty in the Department of Geography

Submitted by Nell Gross on
Assistant Professor Carrie Freshour
Assistant Professor Bo Zhao

This fall, the Department of Geography welcomes two new assistant professors to our campus. In their first few weeks in Seattle, Dr. Carrie Freshour and Dr. Bo Zhao are already engaged in research and teaching while meeting colleagues and students across the university.

Carrie Freshour earned her Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University in 2018, and most recently taught in the Department of Sociology and Community Development at Delta State University. Freshour studies interrelated oppressions and resistances by differently-racialized workers in the rural American South. Her most recent work traces struggles around labor and social reproduction by Black and Latinx women employed in poultry plants in Northeast Georgia. She is interested not just in sociospatial practices and relations at the plant, but in how gendered racialized forms of labor discipline extend to broader geographies. She traces how spatial and temporal forms of labor discipline intertwine with larger scale processes – for example state- and national-level anti-immigrant policy and the social/spatial control enacted by policing and prison systems. Professor and Chair Sarah Elwood shares that "we are excited about the creative intersectional analysis across black and Latinx geographies, her strength in feminist economic/labor geographers, and her new work that is beginning transnational analysis (rural southern US and Mekong Delta)." In winter quarter, Freshour will teach a graduate seminar on race, gender and labor geographies as well as GEOG 271 Geography of Food & Eating.

"Working with students energizes me," says Freshour, who is "excited about the many ways that UW fosters collaborative research and thinking." Freshour further states her appreciation for "the many ways the department is intentional in nurturing the work of graduate students and the exciting and critical research questions coming from students and faculty as a result."

Bo Zhao earned his Ph.D. in Geography from The Ohio State University in 2015, and served as an assistant professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, following a one-year postdoc at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Zhao is a scholar with deep technical expertise in Geographic Information Science methodologies who is developing and applying geovisual and geocomputational techniques to human geographical questions; in this way Zhao is a "rare find in the discipline of geography," according to Elwood. He uses these digital spatial methods to analyze socio-spatial perceptions and experiences of vulnerable groups, such as refugees displaced by climate change effects or LGBTQ communities in repressive national contexts. Zhao studies how spatial data streams from social media are used in high profile social and political struggles, looking for instance at "location-spoofing" by activists (e.g. indigenous groups involved in territorial struggles) or by reactionary groups agitating over "fake news." Zhao is currently teaching GEOG 360 Introduction to GIS and Mapping, and in winter quarter will teach a graduate seminar about digital geohumanities.

Zhao says he is "more than excited" to participate in "so many great opportunities taking place in the department and beyond"! Zhao is happy to be "a member of this world-renowned department that has been profoundly influencing the contemporary development of geographic studies."