Announcing Our 2022 Halmo Geography Scholars!

Submitted by Nell Gross on

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our community, this year the Department of Geography Undergraduate Program Committee was able to increase the number of awards from the Gerald W. Halmo Geography Scholarship! These three undergraduate students - Mingao (Johnny) He, Kristina Hsu and Manqi Jiao - are engaged in projects that benefit a community and further their development as geographers. Find out more about these students and their projects below!

Mingao (Johnny) He, UW Solar E-bike Project

Johnny's project was selected for its "innovative research [that] will positively influence the sustainability of the local community at UW," and for an "awareness of environmental and/or transportation sustainability." The Undergraduate Program Committee also noted they were happy to see Johnny's "application of classroom skills to make a real impact."

On the origins of this project: "This E-Bike project began after receiving the Clean Energy Prize at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge in spring 2021. Since then, the project has received funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund and has been taken on by UW Solar. Other current ongoing projects involve Resiliency Tunnel, which focuses on designing an agricultural system that can be used efficiently in colder climates, and Manastash Ridge Observatory, which the team is working on integrating solar panels into the electrical system to help power emergency services around the building. UW Solar as a club focuses on using knowledge from different fields like EE, CS, Business, etc to create sustainable solutions for different communities. For more detailed information, here is a list of past projects."

On the community benefits of the project: "By the end of our project, there will be a solar-powered E-Bike charging station by the Nano ES building. Since it is a popular site, I believe this inspires passersby to be curious about our design and want to experience using solar energy themselves and start experimenting with using E-Bikes. As a part of our design choices on the charging interface, we want to inform users how many car trips they saved by charging and using their E-bikes. This further encourages E-Bike users to take pride in their commuting choice to campus which saves carbon emission."

On future career connections: "I’m not sure about my professional goals yet, but this project shows me that in case I go into public administrative fields that help with policy-making, what are some things I need to be concerned about while helping people. These include funding, making sure the design doesn’t turn out to harm the community, site analysis, contracting to procurement specialists, presenting prototypes to get board approval, etc."

Kristina Hsu, Research Volunteer, TikTok/Douyin and Hospice Care

Together with Professor Bo Zhao and graduate students Zhaowen Guo, Yifan Sun and Yi Yu, in this research project Kristina examines TikTok/Douyin to explore how patients receiving hospice care share and interact in the space. Kristina's application was selected for an "active engagement with a non-traditional community that is formed on social media." The Undergraduate Program Committee was impressed by Kristina's "creative use of the geospatial data analytical skills to explore the newly emerged digital space of Tiktok."

On finding this research direction: "Rising as a senior, I realized I didn't have much technical experience. Therefore after listening to a few friends' experiences, I decided to reach out to Professor Bo Zhao looking for research opportunities to broaden my experience and skills. I told Professor Zhao about how I wanted to have more experience managing and manipulating data, so he invited me to this research as I would be able to gain skills from data collection to analysis."

On building skills through geography coursework: "I think two courses that have inspired me were GEOG 360: GIS and Mapping taught by Professor Zhao, and GEOG 495: Visualizing Seattle taught by Professor Oh. Both courses are heavily focused on data visualizing techniques and have got me thinking about how to connect geography with data. Therefore, I think these two courses are the most influential as they increased my interest in taking data specialist as a profession."

On applying geography and data science skills to achieve professional goals: "By participating in this research project, I hope to interact with data in different stages and learn corresponding open-source tools to handle them. Till now, I was able to gain experience using selenium which is a web-based automation tool. And I look forward to learning natural language processing to analyze our data this quarter."

Manqi Jiao, Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate: Inter-Group Racism Between Black Americans and East Asians 

Manqi's's project was selected because the project "explores the relationships between racial groups and may build up the foundation to mitigate potential racial tension and remove barriers between groups." The Undergraduate Program Committee was impressed by Manqi's "activism in conducting research with organized research protocols."

On the research project and its significance: "[My] research will explore the experience of racism when Asians arrive in the US; the change of attitude toward other racial groups, particularly Black Americans; and the relation between the years Asians came to the US and their attitude toward Black Americans... Most of the misunderstandings about East Asians from other races are focused on 'indifference' and 'model minority.' In my research, I explain these two points and give some quotes from interviews to confirm them. When talking about racial discrimination, it rarely focuses on East Asians, so my research is trying to get people to pay attention to this issue... I want to show the percentage of change of Anti-Asian hate crime on the map in some major cities where Asians prefer to take residence."

On the use of innovative research methods: "I’m planning to create anonymous questionnaires for the East Asian community to
answer, and select interviewees from the participants of surveys. I will conduct my survey by using a google form. I will post the link of the Google Form on social media, and they choose whether or not to answer the surveys... Since my major is geography with data science option and my future plans are to become a geographer that will dedicate to an international migration patterns field, this research project will also rely on quantitative analysis and the final result will be a data dashboard."

On the impact of this scholarship funding: "[P]ublicity for my research has been difficult... The scholarship definitely helps me to [advertise] my research. With the support of the scholarship and the recognition of the Department of Geography, the participants
will be able to identify and trust the professionalism and reliability of my research. Also, gift cards will be available to attract people to participate... This scholarship also represents the recognition of my research, [so] I will have more confidence and motivation to do my research."