Welcome to our 2020 Graduate Students!

Grid photo of 9 new geography graduate students set against an image of Smith Hall
From left to right, Row 1: Yuying Xie, Alexandra Yanson, Wesley Carrasco Row 2: Yifan Sun, Olivia Orosco, Clara Lemme Ribeiro Row 3: Natalie Vaughn-Wynn, Postyn Smith, Jiaxin Feng

Welcome to our newest graduate student cohort! Please find their biographies below.

Wesley Carrasco

BA in Geography & Environmental Studies, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). I am a Central-American Indigenous scholar from South-Central Los Angeles. My research is driven by my foundational understanding that the capitalist hydra supported by globalization and neoliberal policies continues the same oppressive structures of colonialism that support violent inequalities and the exploitation of Indigenous peoples and their territories. This injustice informs my interests in the forced migration and dispossession of Native and Indigenous communities, decolonial Indigenous frameworks, Indigenous methodologies, settler colonialism, abolition ecologies, transnational migration, climate change, environmental justice, and Remote Sensing/GIS. In my spare time, I enjoy community organizing and learning, cooking food, day-dreaming about adopting a doggo, and the not so occasional protesting of white supremacy.

Jiaxin Feng

BS, Human geography & urban and rural planning, Sun Yat-sen University; MS, Human geography, Sun Yat-sen University. Research interests: place, human emotion, GIScience, social media, human mobility, crime, migration. Regional focus: China and U.S. I have been studying human geography and my master's program zoomed in on place and crime with a focus on internal migration in China. I am increasingly interested in the intersection of human geography and GIS and curious about using emerging geospatial approaches to explore place and human emotion. I will continue paying more attention to disadvantaged populations and human well-being. My hobbies and interests include reading, photography, baking, jogging, aerobics, and traveling.

Clara Lemme Ribeiro

BA and Teaching Degree, Geography, University of São Paulo (Brazil). MA, Human Geography, University of São Paulo (Brazil). Research interests: feminist and gender studies, international migrations, labor precariousness, domestic work, critical theory, Latin-America. Since 2013 I've researched gender relations within Bolivian migration to garment industry sweatshops in São Paulo (Brazil) and conducted fieldwork in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. I've also taught Portuguese to Latin-American immigrants for three years. After the Masters, I worked at an NGO focused on improving garment industry labor conditions. My hobbies include traveling, hiking, and Latin-American literature.

Olivia Orosco

BA in Environmental Science, Willamette University. I am a daughter, sister, partner, friend, and Latinx Geographer. Most recently, I worked with the Tacoma Community House in Tacoma, Washington and Mid-Valley Literacy Center in Salem, Oregon on multidimensional support of immigrant communities. I have researched environmental (in)justice, neoliberalism and colonialism in Vietnam, Morocco, Bolivia and Guatemala as well as lived on the Petite Côte of Senegal. As a scholar and a community member, my interests in geography include abolition ecologies, transnational feminism, environmental justice, Indigenous geographies, and Latinidades. I enjoy watering my many plants and watching them grow, cooking and baking, spending time outside, learning about the next worlds we are building, and eating candy salad.

Postyn Smith

BA, Physics, Williams College. Research interests: mobility and migration, labor and worker organization, inequality, climate change and climate justice, political economy, political ecology. My professional background includes time as a labor organizer in a Seattle-area warehouse and two years as the sustainability coordinator at Williams College. My hobbies include running, hiking, skiing and generally enjoying the mountains.

Yifan Sun

BS, Geographic Information Science, Wuhan University; ME, Surveying and Mapping Engineering, Wuhan University. Research interests: GIScience; Spatial Data Science; Social Geocomputation; Geo-Spoofing; Urban and Social Justice; Spatial Modeling and Analysis; Geovisualization; GeoAI; regional focus: China and North America. I'm a GIS’er fascinated by the magic of spatio-temporal data and placial information. In the past few years, "urban and social justice" and "sustainable land use planning" were two mainlines of my research, my topic included emergency service optimization, excessive drinking, street walkability, urban expansion and inefficient industrial land. Most recently, I am undergoing a research transition. "Geo-spoofing" and "placial data" will be the keywords of my research in the transitional period. My hobbies and interests include skateboarding, cooking and graphic design.

Natalie Vaughan-Wynn

BA, Business/Economics, Eastern Washington University; MA, Sustainable International Development, Brandeis University. Research interests: food and hunger, social justice, relational poverty, gender and women's studies, identity, poverty activism, demographics, geovisualization, ecology. I have served as both a Peace Corps Volunteer and an Americorps Volunteer (Niger, West Africa, and Washington State, respectively). In 2009, after working with farm cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan as part of a USAID initiative, I received the President's Volunteer Service Award. My professional life spans over two decades and runs the gamut, from the “slime line” in an Alaskan cannery to managing the research institute of Diet for a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé. I’m currently a small business owner and a non-profit consultant. A West Coaster by heritage (my grandfather an Assiniboine Sioux from the Ft. Peck Reservation in Montana, and my grandmother a 5th generation Californian), I now live on the Kitsap Peninsula with my husband and son. I’m proud to be a Northwest cliché in that I’m always up for a cup of coffee and am a year-round bicycle commuter. For fun, my family and I make maple syrup from our trees, bake bread outside, and build stuff together.

Yuying Xie

BSc, Geography, Nanjing Normal University; MSc, Human Geography and Planning, Utrecht University. My research primarily draws on a feminist approach to understand labor, race, and migration in the context of China, including: service work, labor right and policy, gendered migration, global labor migration, identity, and manufacturing and construction workplaces. My theoretical interests include political economy, labor studies, critical race theory, feminist and Marxist thinking. While earning my undergraduate degree, I served in a non-profit labor organization for two years, focusing on peasant workers in Nanjing, China. Besides, my professional background includes one year as a research assistant at Xi'an Jiaotong University and several teaching experiences of both Geography and English. When I am free, I enjoy watching movies, running, and talking with friends.

Alexandra Yanson

BA, Political Science, Middlebury College; MA, International Affairs, The New School. Research interests: urban geography, social movements, neoliberalism, informality, transformative politics, practices of everyday life.  My professional background includes serving as an Americorps member with City Year Tulsa, as well as working for the Tulsa Area United Way and Domestic Violence Intervention Services. My hobbies and interests include traveling, reading, playing the drums, and swimming.