People - Alumni
Recently hired by the Washington State Auditor’s Office as an Associate Performance Auditor, Isaiah Berg evaluates both qualitative and quantitative data to assess state government agencies and programs. Berg’s use of GIS technologies in the United States Army led him to the Department of Geography upon arriving at UW. While in the Geography undergraduate program, much of his focus was in the areas of GIS and spatial statistics, but Berg attributes much of his thinking to critical human geography, which has enabled him to think critically and better understand the context and implementation of quantitative methods. Specifically, he notes the ways in which mixed methods approaches advocated by Professors Elwood and Withers equip him to critically assess the ways in which quantitative approaches are often misused and can oversimplify complex spatial phenomena, a skillset that is very useful in the field of public policy. Berg recently completed his MPA from the Evans School at UW.
Drawing on the environmental history of capitalism, the production of space, and settler-colonial studies, my dissertation outlines the 'bringing-to-endangerment' of the coast redwood tree, Sequoia sempervirens, of northwestern California. I consider the intertwined relations between settler-colonial property regimes and the early use of scientific forestry (or silviculture) under capitalism as systemic extermination. My work essentially challenges the notion that we are entering the so-called sixth mass extinction, instead arguing that we are witnessing the maturation of the Long Extermination, which began roughly at the tail end of the 17th century.
In April of 2019, my family and I moved to Budapest, Hungary, where I accepted a full-time position as the High School /IB Geography Teacher and College Counselor at the International School of Budapest, I am also an Instructor in the Political Science and Communications Departments at McDaniel College Budapest.
Some of my past work can be found in the journals Telos, the AAG Review of Books, Capitalism Nature Socialism, and Historical Materialism. I am also a reviewer for the journal Global Policy and Technics and Civilization.
I graduated with my PhD in June of 2021. When not teaching and writing, I am playing trombone, wooden folk flutes, and the zurna. In addition to musical pursuits, I have begun returned to my earlier love of fiction writing and hope to complete my first novel, tentatively entitled The instructions, sometime in 2022.
My PhD research studies the spatial practices of humanitarianism in migration management, with a focus on the historical and present-day implementation of Assisted Voluntary Return programs by humanitarian institutions across Europe.
Luis Esquivel (Class of 2016) didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day, and he found a fantastic career that gives him the opportunity to be outside in the field as well as working with GIS software. As a GIS Analyst and field inspector for the Franklin County (WA) Noxious Weed Control Board, Esquivel spends some of his time in the field conducting noxious weed assessments and collecting GPS data that he then analyzes through GIS. He credits the Department of Geography with providing him with advanced technical training in spatial data analysis, as well as enhancing his ability to present GIS projects in a professional manner. His experience in the GIS Workshop course was especially useful in this regard. Esquivel is already working to connect his career back to UW Geography by establishing a collaboration between his organization and the GIS Workshop course.
As a member of the Tableau Analytics Team, Erin Gengo (Class of 2009) helps her company see and understand their data in new ways. After graduating with her BA in Geography, she completed a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the Evans School at UW in 2013. Before beginning her work at Tableau, Gengo held a variety of positions, including public sector consulting work and an internship with the United States Census Bureau in Washington, DC. She attributes a great deal of her professional success to her undergraduate education in Geography. Specifically, Gengo’s training in Geography equipped her to employ scientific frameworks to ask a research question, as well as gave her the tools to conduct research, collect data, and answer important questions. Beyond data, she notes that, “Geography sparked and fed my love of place and built environment, and gave me a better understanding of the social, economic, and environmental factors shaping Puget Sound and beyond.”
I graduated from UW Geography in 2018. In the Spring of 2018, I began working as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Geography at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. I will be at Gustavus throughout the 2018-2019 academic year.
Alex Ramiller is a Masters student in Geography studying dynamics of housing displacement, neighborhood change, and neighborhood politics in North American cities. Current research projects include The Evictions Study, an interdisciplinary research effort to document and account for the prevalence of residential evictions in several major US metropolitan areas.
As Assistant Attorney General in the Special Litigation Section of the Alaska Department of Law, Mike Schechter (Class of 2000) draws upon knowledge and skills from the UW Department of Geography on a daily basis. Representing the state in major civil litigation matters, his undergraduate background provides him with a common language to communicate with surveyors, cartographers, wildlife biologists, and environmental consultants. Schechter notes that “Many (if not all) of my cases draw directly on skills I developed as a Geography major at UW.” For example, he is currently working on a dispute between the State of Alaska and the United States regarding boundaries near the Arctic Ocean, where he is applying his training as a geographer to analyze maps, geographic naming conventions, cartography, survey data, and historical records. In addition to his work as with the Alaska Department of Law, he enjoys the many opportunities that life in Alaska has to offer, including hiking, fishing, and even biking in the snow during Alaskan winters!
Graduate student with focuses on Indigenous environmental justice, remote sensing, water resources, and GIS.
I studied at the University of Oklahoma (OU) for my bachelor's degree, as well as the Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands, earning a degree in Geography and a minor in Water and Sanitation for Health and Sustainable Development within OU's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. I have worked on water research in Nagpur, India with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute of India, as well as independent research in Indigenous Nations, water resources, and GIS. I formerly worked as a GIS Technician for the City of Tulsa and am now attending the University of Washington for my graduate education. I have been a TA for GIS courses, RA for the Geography and Political Science departments, and I am currently the Undergraduate Advisor and teaching GEOG 491 in Winter 2020.
Jess Wallach (Class of 2013) has devoted her time during the 2016 election season as a field organizer with the Yes on I-1464 campaign, a statewide ballot initiative that limits the influence of money in politics. After the election, she plans to return to teaching at the intersections of climate justice, decolonized pedagogies, and art as activism. As a Geography undergraduate at UW, Wallach’s professors and community were a rich foundation for this work. She constantly felt challenged to learn about social identities, to reflect on how they informed everyday experiences, and to critically examine the systems that shape them. Wallach has never forgotten the work of her female professors during her undergraduate experience. She attributes their “caring, authentic, and powerful leadership” to understanding what it meant to be successful as a woman. After graduating with her BA in Geography, Wallach more recently earned an MAED in Urban Environmental Education, a program that gave her an opportunity to blend her background in geography with multicultural, place-based education and build on her passion for “creating learning environments that build power, create community, and foster skills for systems-level change.”