2022 USGIF Scholarship Winners
USGIF has awarded more than $1.6M in scholarships since launching the program in 2004. This year's winners represent a diverse and multi-talented group who demonstrate a shared desire to impact change through the use of geospatial intelligence tradecraft.
Stu Shea USGIF Endowed Scholarship
While earning her Bachelor of Science in Geology from North Carolina State University, White became passionate about environmental justice, climate science, and geospatial analytics.With these passions in mind, she joined the University of Nevada, Reno as a Ph.D. student in the Animal, Veterinary, and Rangeland Sciences program under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Washington-Allen. The purpose of her research is to address the knowledge gap of carbon dynamics across the United States drylands by land ownership, land use, and ecoregion types. Her emphasis on drylands is driven by their importance for climate regulation and food security.
I am immensely grateful to have been selected as a recipient of the Stu Shea scholarship award as it provides me with financial support to pursue my studies while empowering me to continue critical research in climate science. It is an honor to represent the award that is named for a remarkable leader in remote sensing and geospatial intelligence, and I look forward to advancing in these disciplines with the support of USGIF and the Stu Shea scholarship award.
University of Nevada – Reno
Ken Miller Scholarship for Advanced Remote Sensing Applications
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
Tristan Pekron received his Bachelor of Arts in Government from New Mexico State University where he minored in International Relations. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence at the University of Southern California’s Spatial Sciences Institute. His research interests lie at the crossroads of two of the most prescient challenges of today: national security and environmental sustainability. GEOINT provides unique opportunities to identify and mitigate challenges within both domains. In studying these fields, he hopes to apply this knowledge to make an impact while serving as a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Being awarded the Ken Miller scholarship is extremely humbling. For me, it allows the continued pursuit of my geospatial education at USC. I am eager to leverage my interests, experience, and education in a meaningful way throughout a lifelong career. This past year has made me aware of the breadth and depth of GEOINT applications, and the innovation that is embodied by the community of practitioners. I hope to contribute to the field in a way that would make Ken Miller proud, discovering new possibilities and application domains, and continuing to push the envelope, as he and others have done.
Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. (RGi) Scholarship for Geospatial and Engineering
Zach Sherman is a rising third year at Virginia Tech majoring in Geography with a minor in GIS. His research has allowed him to travel to New Orleans for an AGU conference, and Boise, Idaho, for research experimentation, culminating in an internship at Esri. With GIS, he works to solve complex multi-disciplinary problems using new cutting-edge technologies. He hopes to impact the geospatial community with innovative and creative solutions for environmental, social, and intelligence related problems.
Winning the USGIF RGi Scholarship is one of the greatest honors I have received. This award will provide me with crucial assistance to my undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech. This scholarship is much more than the funds awarded. Being a USGIF member will allow me to make meaningful and career changing connections while learning, experiencing, and contributing to the professional GIS community. Membership to USGIF’s Young Professional Group and presenting my academic research at the 2023 GEOINT Symposium are also great opportunities this scholarship provides.
Maxar Scholarship for Diversity and Innovation in GEOINT
Penn State University
Kriesjo Quimzon is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Spatial Data Science program at Pennsylvania State University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Hawaii Pacific University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs (UCCS), a Certificate in Geographic Information Science from UCCS, a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Pennsylvania State University, and a Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Quimzon's academic pursuits explore the intersections between geospatial technology, political economy, and analytics.
It is a distinct honor to receive the USGIF scholarship. As a Space Operations officer in the Air Force Reserve working for the Global Positioning System mission, I ensure that government and civilian customers receive reliable timing and navigation data for their geospatial products. Though I work with satellites, the scholarship will allow me to deepen my skills in geospatial sciences and aid in a potential move towards an analyst role in the future. I am excited to apply my geospatial skills to study the convergence of political economy and geopolitics and hope to work more with the Intelligence Community.
EVONA Scholarship for Diversity in STEM
Janna Chapman is a senior dual degree student majoring in Environmental Science and Technology and Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in using GIS to investigate the spatial patterns and inequalities associated with various climate change induced effects. She has completed a Global Forest Watch internship with the World Resources Institute and an NSF REU at the University of Maryland studying the determinants of urban green space in New York City. She will pursue a Master’s degree in Geographical Sciences through her school’s combined BS/MS program and eventually a career in environmental data science.
Earning the USGIF EVONA Diversity Scholarship solidifies the strength of my knowledge and competence in the geospatial field. Knowing that top people in the industry feel that I am worthy of this scholarship makes me feel that I will be able to succeed in the future. I also appreciate USGIF and EVONA’s commitment to diversity by supporting underrepresented students. I love the geographical sciences, and I hope for more people who look like me to feel included in this field in the future. This scholarship will allow me to focus on my school and research work without having to find a part-time job to pay for college.
University of Maryland
Naheem Adebisi is a solution-oriented Earth data analyst and geospatial software developer. He holds a bachelor's degree in Geoinformatics and a master's degree in civil engineering. His interest in geodetic imaging for Earth monitoring started during his undergraduate studies when he employed a non-metric camera to build a dense point cloud at a time when Structure From Motion (SFM) was still in its development. For his master’s thesis, he conducted a nationwide assessment and modeling of sea level rise using geospatial technology and machine learning. Adebisi’s current doctoral research focuses on developing a novel technique for monitoring snow properties from low frequency SAR data.
Winning a USGIF 2022 scholarship is a great achievement for me. I am glad that the funds can be used broadly to support education and research expenses, making it one of the most beneficial scholarships I have received. The scholarship will fund my fieldwork expenses, allowing me to do more in situ measurement, as well as cover the rising cost of living.
Boise State University
University of Missouri (MU)
Jayedi Aman is a Ph.D. student in Architectural Studies at the University of Missouri (MU). He holds an M.A. in geography from MU with a concentration in geospatial intelligence, as well as an M.Arch and B.Arch from Bangladesh with a focus on sustainable design. His research aims to develop urban digital twin frameworks that can be used in the physical as well as in the metaverse virtual world and incorporate big data, BIM, Artificial Intelligence and VR/AR technology. His studies specifically explore how urban features influence civil sentiment and how to assess the environmental performance of buildings and neighborhoods.
This scholarship is an incredible honor for me. I would like to thank the judges for selecting me from such a talented pool for this prestigious scholarship. Receiving the scholarship signifies more than just receiving funds; it implies that my research activities are viewed as having the potential to address the country's national security challenges. The scholarship will not only support my educational and research expenses, but it will also motivate me to give back to the community by putting my research ideas into action in the real world. My heartfelt thanks also go to Dr. Tim Matisziw of MU for his advice on my research.
Devon V. Maloney is currently a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her BSc in Geography at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Her doctoral work focuses on assessing desert agriculture and borderlands with remote sensing. She also works with multispectral satellite and UAV imagery to assess drivers of vegetation dynamics and soil degradation in West Africa. Maloney aims to work in the public sector on issues of agriculture and land use.
This award from the USGIF scholarship will help support my doctoral research and fund a fieldwork trip to one of my study sites. I am thankful for the support from the USGIF community and for its investments in early career geospatial researchers. I look forward to using this support to continue to research the political ecology of desert agriculture and borderlands in the context of water issues and climate change.
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Renee Setter is a doctoral student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has an M.A. in Geography and Environment from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a B.S. from Cornell University. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the underestimation of projected effects of climate change on coral reefs. She assesses suitability of environmental conditions under future climate change scenarios at global reef locations, identifying which species and locations are most at risk to unsuitable conditions.
It is such an honor to be awarded the USGIF Doctoral Scholarship. With this support, I will be able to complete my geospatial research utilizing big data datasets to assess future climate change conditions at global reef sites. I am excited to be a member of the USGIF community, applying geospatial technology to better our understanding of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems.
Billy Burton is a master’s candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he is specializing in geospatial intelligence and international law. Billy is the Executive Director of the Ukraine Digital Verification Lab, a Research Assistant at the Fletcher School’s Russia and Eurasia Program and International Security Studies Program, and an Investigative Researcher at VICE News. He also serves as Co-Director of the Cameroon Database of Atrocities, which is held at the University of Toronto. Burton has a geospatial background with a Bachelor of Science in Geography from the University of Exeter in the UK. His research focuses on the intersections of geospatial and open-source intelligence, human rights, and international law, while he regularly conducts open-source investigations into serious human rights violations in the contexts of both Cameroon and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
I was truly delighted to win a graduate scholarship from USGIF, and it has given me renewed confidence that I am on the right track towards my future career in geospatial intelligence. USGIF’s support will help drive forward important research on using GEOINT to document human rights abuses in Cameroon and Ukraine alike. It is a true honor.
Tufts University, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
University of Arizona
Glenn Ingram is pursuing a master's degree in urban planning at the University of Arizona School of Landscape Architecture and Planning. He holds a certificate in GIS and a BS in resource conservation from the University of Montana. The urban planning field – focused in data visualization, geospatial analysis, and land management – allows him to apply GIS to solve complex problems. His interests lie in the application of geospatial intelligence at a local scale to address the challenges facing 21st-Century cities. His current research utilizes large-scale data collection and GIS to project how population growth and climate will impact water scarcity in the American southwest.
I am honored to be a recipient of the 2022 USGIF Graduate Scholarship and be included among the talented cohort of USGIF scholars. As I advance in my education at the University of Arizona, this scholarship will allow me to expand the time and resources I can dedicate to my research and studies. It will have a meaningful and lasting impact on my education, as well as my future career in the fields of GIS and planning. This award is also an exciting opportunity to build a productive and close relationship with the USGIF and GIS community. Thank you!
I am completing my M.S. in Geospatial Intelligence from Johns Hopkins University. I have a B.A. in Business Economics from Ashford University, an A.A. in Economics from Palomar College, and an A.S. in Aviation Science from Mount San Antonio College. My specific geospatial interests are in the analysis of hypersonic missile and glide vehicles through remote sensing. I was the one Econ major in calculus courses filled with engineer majors. My goal is to utilize my background in mathematics in combination with my education in Geospatial Intelligence toward process improvements in target analysis.
Winning the USGIF scholarship is a significant achievement, and I am very proud to receive this honor. This financial award will be going toward tuition and my goal of graduating from my master’s program a little earlier than I had projected. This will allow me to transition smoothly into my new career as an analyst in federal service.
Emily Grace Boltwood Miller
Johns Hopkins University
University of Southern California
I am a master's student in the Human Securities and Geospatial Intelligence program at the University of Southern California's Spatial Science Institute. I currently service as an Imagery Analyst in the United States Marines Corps. My experience and interests in GEOINT center around the use of remote sensing – how GEOINT intersects with other intelligence disciplines enhancing our understanding of the world we live in. I plan to continue my service in the military and transition into a position serving the greater Intelligence Community at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency while pursuing a Ph.D.
The USGIF scholarship is incredibly important to me. It allows me to invest more in my education since I can now purchase a new computer to meet the demands of ArcGIS Pro and reduce some of the financial stress associated with costs of textbooks, student loans, and other school supplies. Finally, it means I can attend my commencement ceremony in the winter, since I am a remote student and I live on the other side of the country. Overall, the scholarship allows me to have more financial freedom as I work towards completing my degree this winter.
Olivia Dugger is a sophomore at Texas Christian University pursuing two Bachelor of Science degrees in Geography and Digital Culture / Data Analytics, with minors in Italian and Spanish. Through her work visualizing the demographics and socioeconomics of disadvantaged communities – including her past involvements with Dallas’ Southern Gateway Deck Park project, and the North Texas Food Bank – Dugger has wholeheartedly embraced the importance of storytelling in creating widespread awareness and lasting change. Though varied, her academic pursuits prepare her for her ultimate life goal: a future highlighting some of the world’s untold stories through digital storytelling.
Receiving the USGIF scholarship is such an honor, and I know it will open many doors for me. While the monetary support alone will enable me to focus more heavily on my academic and geographic endeavors, I know the GEOINT community will prove to be a steadfast support system as I navigate the rest of my education and my future career.
Texas Christian University
University of Texas - Dallas
Paulina Hruskoci is a senior studying Geospatial Information Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is interested in the applications of GIS for climate resilience and equity policy. Hruskoci has worked with the Brookings Institution, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the FracTracker Alliance, and the UT Dallas Office of Sustainability to advance her environmental protection interests. Most recently, she traveled to Guyana to conduct field research on environmental management under Dr. Anthony Cummings. In her free time, Hruskoci enjoys hiking and studying Mandarin Chinese.
Becoming connected to the USGIF community has uplifted my future career in environmental GIS. Over the upcoming year, I am beyond excited to continue to learn and grow from this scholarship opportunity. USGIF connects people across sectors to build a stronger GIS community and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Danny Oliva is beginning his fourth year at the Delta State University Bachelor of Applied Science in Geospatial Analysis and Intelligence. With a 13-year background in geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), his expertise stretches from the strategic, operational, and tactical echelons of the GEOINT enterprise. With a keen interest in data science, Oliva looks to combine remote sensing and geospatial information science to answer some of the hardest big data geospatial problems using programming. His goal is to impart knowledge in his tradecraft one day as a future university professor using geospatial and data science.
It is a tremendous honor to receive the USGIF scholarship. Thank you for the opportunity and now the distinction to be awarded it. The scholarship will bring about more than just support to fulfill tuition in my undergraduate studies and capstone project, but more importantly, my integration into and the support from the USGIF community of geospatial practitioners. The investment from the community in me shows an overwhelming desire for my success. For that, I am truly grateful.
Danny E. Oliva
Delta State University
Florida State University – Tallahassee
Melissa Pearson is a senior at Florida State University pursuing dual Bachelor’s degrees in Geography and International Affairs with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. During her time at FSU, she has developed and presented academic research on the effect of political bias on federal disaster aid relief, interned for the FSU Career Center and the International Rescue Committee, and currently works for the Florida Geological Survey within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Her interests in geospatial intelligence include utilizing science-based geospatial data to inform and facilitate a shift to sustainable federal and state government environmental policies.
Receiving the USGIF Scholarship is a huge step towards being able to graduate without the burden of a second job or student loans. With this scholarship, I will be able to focus solely on my final year of studies, as well as my work at the Florida Geological Survey, without the need to worry about tuition or rent. I am excited to see the opportunities this scholarship will provide me both before and after graduation!
I am an incoming junior transferring from Harper College to Carthage College. My majors are GIS and GeoScience, with a minor in Data Science. I have interned and mentored GIS projects in local government and individual groups during my two years. The scope of my interests is vast – I would love to utilize all skills such as programming, drone flight, spatial analysis, geography, and more. I ultimately don't seek a particular title. However, I strive to provide a voice and create impactful change for the communities I work with, and my most significant interest is in crisis events.
Winning the USGIF scholarship validates my efforts in the field of GIS and continues to aid me in my career. I am excited to use my membership and presentation of the academic poster to further my research on critical topics. I especially would love to hear from all with different specialties as part of receiving this scholarship to gain of knowledge from different viewpoints. Receiving this award will assist me financially and connect me with like-minded individuals. Since receiving this scholarship, I will have more time to explore GIS and its applications with more financial security.
Graduating High School Seniors
Carlos Cabrera is a York School alumni. He enrolled in community college science courses during high school to better understand how to interpret data and how interconnected natural systems work. His interest in the geological sciences was encouraged by those experiences. He is majoring in Environmental Studies at Reed College. He will study environmental chemistry, environmental geology, and environmental analysis at Reed. He is interested in geochemical exploration using GIS data, geographical analysis, and geological processes.
I value the part education plays in offering training for scientific research as well as chances for personal development. I genuinely appreciate the efforts made by USGIF to encourage those like me who are interested in geospatial science. The USGIF Scholarship helps me achieve my goal to become a geoscientist. It also serves as a reminder of how I can benefit society, as one of my goals is to conduct research that will help find ways to protect the environment.
Casey Fienberg is an incoming freshman at MIT where she plans to study Mechanical Engineering and Planetary Science. While in high school, she interned at NASA doing CAD for the LOFTID project, competed as her team’s Astronomy and Earth Science Specialist in the JPL regional Science Bowl competition where they earned 3rd place, and completed an internship at UCLA where she analyzed environmental data from Earth observation satellites. Fienberg hopes to one day work in the astronautics industry, focusing particularly on building satellites and other geospatial technologies designed to improve people’s lives on a large scale.
I am incredibly honored to have been selected as a USGIF Scholarship recipient, and am grateful to the scholarship committee for taking the time to review my application. MIT has been my dream school for years, and after the elation of somehow being accepted wore off, I worried for months about whether I’d be able to afford to attend. I started applying for scholarships in hopes of reducing that financial burden, and I’m so glad that the work I put in has paid off. To me, the USGIF Scholarship means I’m one step closer to making my dream a reality.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Maryland
During high school, Zach Kinloch was accepted into the Geographic Information Systems Technology program through his county’s Career and Technology Center. This program spurred his interest in geospatial intelligence and allowed him to use ArcMap software to conduct geospatial analysis on various projects. Kinloch will attend the University of Maryland and will major in Geographical Sciences with a concentration in Geospatial Data Science as part of the Honors Global Communities living learning program. At the University of Maryland, he will be able to pursue his interests which include using GIS for defense purposes as well as for environmental conservation projects.
Winning this scholarship through USGIF will allow me to pursue my passion for geospatial intelligence in college. I am so grateful to be selected for this award as it has the potential to open many doors for me going forward. Both the scholarship and the connections I can make through USGIF will benefit me significantly in my college education as well as my career path. I hope that with this scholarship and the support of the USGIF community I will be able to advance the field and make a difference in the world.
I never wanted to be average; I always wanted to go above and beyond basic requirements. As a result, I always took the hardest track available to me. In high school, that was taking 69 college credits so that I could graduate with an associate degree in interdisciplinary studies and reduce college costs. I have taken two courses with geospatial themes: Introduction to Geography and Introduction to Geospatial Technology. I have also completed various Esri courses. My specific geospatial interests include agricultural land conservation as it relates to community planning, as well as improving access to important facilities such as hospitals in rural areas.
I am both honored and humbled to receive a scholarship from USGIF. It truly means a lot to me, because my own chosen field of study is giving me recognition before I begin my college studies. Furthermore, I am pursuing both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. These costs add up, so this scholarship makes it easier for me to pursue GIS and regional planning, as well as helping give me the tools to help those who live in rural communities have access to the things they need. I would like to give a huge thank you to those who selected me as a scholarship winner, as well as all USGIF members for making this possible.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Throughout my high school career, I developed new interests such as coding and arithmetic as a student at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. When I finally crossed the stage and officially became a graduate, I knew I wanted to further my love for coding through a technical field, but was unsure which industry specifically to dedicate myself to. My engineering courses exposed me to geospatial, civil, and computer engineering –three influential disciplines that actively enhance our day-to-day lives but are occasionally overlooked by society. This is why I am here today, to further immerse myself in an industry that allows me to develop as a first-world citizen in hopes of bridging my love for code into the industry.
Winning the USGIF Scholarship means that I will be able to pursue a technical degree in Computer Science knowing that my long-term goal of bridging my love for coding with a technical career will be a step closer. Not only will the USGIF Scholarship physically boost me, but mentally as well. Knowing that there is an organization in my corner that wants to push me further and is advocating for my future within a technical field is more than enough motivation to push me through my freshman year of college and higher education journey.
Allen Shen is primarily interested in the intersection of STEM and politics. Whether using satellite imagery to combat algal blooms, GIS to inform his political canvassing trips, or geomedia sensors to analyze the positioning of the ISS, many of Shen’s projects have relied heavily on geospatial data. Throughout his high school career, he has been invited to the United States Capitol, been named a Regeneron ISEF Finalist, been interviewed by National Geographic, and won tens of thousands of dollars in research grants. He will attend Princeton University in the fall to study Electrical Engineering with minors in Geological Processes and Modeling.
I would like to thank USGIF for this generous gift. It will not only help to address the prohibitive cost of a post-secondary education, but also further my future research in the geoscience field. At its heart, USGIF is a foundation built on the belief that education in the geosciences will provide cutting-edge technologies, as well as illuminate generations to come. From winning this scholarship, I plan to deepen my involvement in the YPG and GEOINT communities. Thank you!
The State of New York Polytechnic Institute
I graduated in May from the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience in St. Louis, Missouri. I will be attending SUNY Polytechnic Institute located in Utica this fall. I was first introduced to the world of geospatial technology at State College, Pennsylvania, while doing a research project with Penn State. When I moved to St. Louis, I was able to continue expanding my knowledge through classes and outside projects. I even earned an internship at Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance (GGAYBA). It was an amazing experience and I was eventually able to earn the USGIF high school certification.
Winning the USGIF scholarship award has been a big help towards my secondary education process. It not only helps relinquish some of the financial pressure, but also helps with networking and marketing with professionals for the future. Having worked as an intern at GGAYBA, I saw the future of GIS and where it could take me. I hope to follow in my mentors' footsteps (Trey Hull and Kevin Wells) and complete my Ph.D. while teaching others, especially those underrepresented like I had been, about GIS. My dream is to one day become the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.