Carrying on the Tradecraft

Meet the 2015 USGIF Scholarship Winners


In August, USGIF awarded a total of $99,000 in scholarship funds to 24 students. The USGIF Scholarship Program advances the GEOINT tradecraft by granting scholarships to promising students pursuing degrees in the geospatial sciences or a related field. In total, USGIF has awarded $891,000 in scholarship funds since the program began in 2004.

This year, the Foundation granted scholarships to five Ph.D. candidates, six graduate students, six undergraduate students, and seven graduating high school seniors. Each undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate awardee received $5,000, while high school seniors received $2,000 toward their education.

All scholarship recipients were selected by USGIF’s Scholarship Subcommittee, which evaluated applicants based on academic and professional excellence. Here are this year’s scholarship winners:


Crystal English
San Diego State University / University of California, Santa Barbara
Geography & Geographic Information Science

English is researching the development of multi-dimensional geospatial and temporal attribute data models to assess location vulnerability. She is certified in crime and intelligence analysis by the California Department of Justice and is a veteran of the U.S. Army Signals Intelligence Service.

Morteza Karimzadeh
Pennsylvania State University

Karimzadeh is a graduate research assistant at the GeoVISTA Center at Pennsylvania State University. His research interests include geographic information retrieval and geovisual analytics, as well as their Big Data applications. His work bridges cognitive aspects of place, its definition and ontology, and computational methods to detect, disambiguate, and geolocate places in unstructured text.

Ron Mahabir
George Mason University
Earth Systems & Geoinformation Science

Mahabir received a bachelor’s degree in computing and information systems from the University of London and a master’s degree in geoinformatics with distinction from the University of the West Indies. His research interest lies in the fusion of open sources of information for automated slum detection and mapping in less developed countries.

Monica Medel
Texas State University
Geographic Information Science

After more than 10 years working as a foreign correspondent in Latin America covering drug smuggling and cartel violence, Medel became deeply interested in the diverging patterns of transnational crime. Her main focus is developing models to better understand spatiotemporal patterns of drug trafficking while introducing policy constraints into the analysis.

Taylor Oshan
Arizona State University

Oshan is a research assistant at Arizona State University’s GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation. His research focus is on the specification and implementation of models for statistical analysis of big movement data and urban planning applications. While completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Oshan studied geography, GIS, spatial data analysis, and computational modeling.


Christopher S. Beddow
University of Washington
Geographic Information Systems

Beddow is a 2011 distinguished military graduate of Santa Clara University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies. In May 2011, he was commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army as a platoon leader, operations officer, and logistics officer. He was honorably discharged in August 2015 and is now pursuing a master’s degree in geographic information systems.


Seth Bishop
University of Utah

Bishop’s master thesis examines spatial access and local demand for emergency medical services, and also evaluates these metrics alongside response times and patient survivability rates. This work was inspired by a previous stint in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, where he conducted research on emergency medical services in the city of Cochabamba.

Steven Gilbert
Pennsylvania State University
Geographic Information Systems

Gilbert has more than five years of experience conducting geospatial analysis in support of national security and international development, and specializes in using open-source information to understand human geography in remote and dangerous locations. While pursuing his master’s degree, Steven works as a GIS specialist with Chenega Applied Solutions and Engineering, supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Bridget Kane
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Urban Spatial Analytics

Kane’s research focuses on spatiotemporal data mining to address social network discovery. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and previously interned with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Kane is interested in urban environments and predictive analytics, and hopes to use her background in support of the Intelligence Community mission.

Joel Max
Pennsylvania State University
Geospatial Intelligence Applications

Max graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies, focusing on North Africa and the Middle East with research interests in counterterrorism, nuclear deterrence, and Middle Eastern history. His current research interests revolve around GIS technologies as they relate to activity-based intelligence and natural language processing.


Aishwarya Venkat
Tufts University
Environmental and Water Resources Engineering

Venkat received her bachelor’s degree in biological systems engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her thesis leverages remote sensing tools to assess aquifer vulnerability to pesticides in Vellore, India. Her geospatial analysis will be translated into a decision support system to empower farmers to grow sustainably.


Sarah Campbell
West Virginia University
Geography/Geographic Information Systems & Spanish

Campbell is an intern with the West Virginia GIS Technical Center and is interested in GIS, data analysis, statistics, computer science, and global affairs. She hopes to develop quick and effective decision-making methods combining a variety of data sets in a usable, sustainable, quantifiable, and visual format for the common user.


Charlotte Ector
University of South Carolina

Ector is a GIS student interested in geospatial applications for researching and analyzing history, politics, and diplomacy. She is researching German and Austrian community awareness of concentration camps during World War II. Ector also studies German and Russian, and looks forward to combining GIS skills with an aptitude for foreign languages as a federal employee.

Jory Fleming
University of South Carolina
Geography & Marine Science

Fleming’s core interests are Big Data analysis to solve the problems facing the world’s oceans and developing novel modeling methods to predict future intelligence scenarios. With anthropogenic impacts altering the ocean environment and increasing competition for marine resources and water, Fleming aims to become an expert in “blue” GEOINT.


Courtney Koch
Harrisburg University
Geospatial Technology

Koch works at Harrisburg University’s Geospatial Lab where she scans, georeferences, and digitizes maps of anthracite coal mines for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, she worked with the Harrisburg Fire Department and Harrisburg Police Department to create a fire response analysis map and crime analysis map, respectively.


Jeffrey Sherwood
Washington College
International Studies

Sherwood developed an interest in geospatial studies through the Washington College GIS lab. He has applied his GIS interest and skills in two internships with the U.S. federal government. He plans to further his education in the field and build a GIS career in the national security sector.


Elijah Staple
University of Colorado, Boulder
Computer Science

After interning at two Silicon Valley companies, Staple gained a strong interest in the deep machine learning systems used for Big Data analysis and hidden pattern recognition. After college, he plans to employ these advanced computational techniques to the geospatial field to provide more detailed, relevant feedback from large data sets.


Elizabeth Cady van Assendelft
Robert E. Lee High School; Staunton, Va.
Now attending Yale University

Van Assendelft participated in a dual enrollment GIS course through the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School and James Madison University (JMU). Her research project used mapping technology to track the territories of migratory red-eyed vireos. Her project received second place in JMU’s geospatial semester poster contest.


Kyle Bathgate
Carbondale Community High School; Carbondale, Ill.
Now attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Since he was a child, Bathgate has been fascinated by maps, Google Earth, and the relationship between humans and the environment. He recently graduated with valedictorian honors and now studies civil engineering.


Christina Bohnet
South Lakes High School; Reston, Va.
Now attending Calvin College

Bohnet is a double major in Japanese and geography. She became interested in geospatial topics after taking a dual enrollment course in GIS through James Madison University. Over the summer, she worked as a student contractor at the U.S. Geological Survey. Her interests include analyses of Japan, geological GIS, and linguistic or dialectal GIS.


Kelly Carney
South Lakes High School; Reston, Va.
Now attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Carney’s interest in geospatial intelligence began when she took a geospatial analysis class her senior year of high school. There are a variety of areas she has an interest in pursuing including post-disaster relief, urban planning, national security, and human and physical geography.


Andy Fleming
Dominion High School; Sterling, Va.
Now attending Texas A&M University, West Texas

Fleming discovered GIS when his high school offered a dual enrollment course with James Madison University. After taking the class for one year he was hooked. He studies geographic information science and technology and hopes to transfer to Texas A&M, College Station, in fall 2016.


Colin Flynn
Heritage High School; Leesburg, Va.
Now attending Northern Virginia Community College

In a dual enrollment GIS class through James Madison University (JMU), Flynn learned the importance of GIS and its endless applications. For his final project, he created maps to visualize the quick spread of ISIS attacks and performed analysis to predict potential sites of future attacks. He hopes to transfer to JMU in 2017 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in GIS.

Daniel Gurley
South Lakes High School; Reston, Va.
Now attending James Madison University

Gurley previously interned with GIS & Mapping Services within the Fairfax County Department of Information Technology, where he gained hands-on experience with digitizing features and completing fieldwork in local parks. He is pursuing a degree in geographic science with dual concentrations in applied geographic information science and environmental conservation, sustainability, and development.

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