The Future of the GEOINT Tradecraft

Meet the 2016 USGIF Scholarship Winners


In August, USGIF eclipsed $1 million in scholarships awarded with the presentation of $112,000 in scholarship funds to students studying the geospatial sciences or a related field. The annual USGIF Scholarship Program recognizes the achievements of graduating high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, and helps further the advancement of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft. In total, USGIF has made $1,003,000 in scholarship awards since the program began in 2004. All scholarship recipients were selected by USGIF’s Scholarship Subcommittee, which evaluated applicants based on academic and professional excellence.


Michael Brady
Rutgers University

Brady, a former enlisted member of the U.S. Coast Guard, earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geography at Hunter College of the City University of New York under the GI Bill. In his doctoral research, Brady collaboratively maps local community risk perceptions of rapid shoreline change along Alaska’s North Slope coast, driven by climatic factors such as sea ice loss. The National Science Foundation supports Brady’s research.


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 interested in transnational crime patterns. Her focus is developing models to understand spatio-temporal patterns of drug trafficking while considering policy constraints. Medel hopes her research contributes to the development of workflows and algorithms to help security agencies better predict crime patterns.

Brad G. Peter
Michigan State University

Peter is a graduate research assistant at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State University. His research focuses on identifying marginal agricultural lands and development opportunities for smallholder farmers in Malawi, using remotely sensed bio-geographic and climate information. Though much of his work centers on Sub-Saharan Africa, the methodology he devised has been adapted into a global, multi-scalar model that can provide support across geographies and administrative levels.

Emanuel Arnal Storey
University of California, Santa Barbara/San Diego State University

Storey earned a master’s degree in geographic information science at San Diego State University after receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental science at the University of New Mexico. Storey’s general research interests are in remote sensing, image processing, and spatial statistics. He is currently developing techniques to study land cover change, monitor wildfires, and support disaster response efforts.


Jennifer L. Whytlaw
Rutgers University

Whytlaw is a GIS manager at Rutgers University’s Environmental Analysis and Communications Group. Her work is focused on the development and use of geospatial tools and applications as components to planning projects. She is interested in hazards research including climate impacts on vulnerable populations and preparedness activities in communities to help mitigate impacts on critical infrastructure.



Roxanne Ahmadi
Pennsylvania State University
Homeland Security-GEOINT

Ahmadi has held a variety of positions in the government and private sector using her training in GIS, intelligence analysis, technical writing, and Farsi. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach, in geography, focusing on GIS as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Ahmadi’s research interests are object-based image analysis and automation, as well as the integration of human geography and remote sensing.


Anne Aryadne Bennett
University of Southern California
Astronautical Engineering

Bennett has a passion for engineering and space. She also enjoys research and seeing her work make a difference. Bennett is the first recipient of the Ken Miller Scholarship for Advanced Remote Sensing Applications offered by USGIF in partnership with Riverside Research. The $10,000 scholarship benefits incoming or current master’s degree students who plan to enter the defense, intelligence, or national security workforce and are studying remote sensing and related topics.


Allison Bohlman
Alabama A&M University
Plant and Soil Science

Bohlman has an environmental science background in wildlife biology, forestry, and hydrological research. While working full-time supporting geospatial research and education programs at Alabama A&M University, Bohlman trains and mentors undergraduate students in GIS and remote sensing research projects. Her thesis research examines hydrologic differences between forest management practices and building predictive models.


James Osundwa
University of Redlands
Geographic Information Science

Osundwa has more than 10 years of experience working with the United Nations advising governments on the most suitable GIS solutions for decision-making. His thesis is on the development of a coral reef mapping tool for St. Maarten in the Caribbean. Upon completion of his studies, Osundwa plans to continue applying his expertise in the international community to solve complex sustainable development problems.


Andrew Ryan
George Mason University
Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence

Ryan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geography from Virginia Tech in May 2015, after which he completed an internship with the State Department. Ryan was then accepted into George Mason University, and took on a full-time position as an all-source geospatial analyst with DigitalGlobe. Ryan’s research interests include multi- and hyperspectral imaging, activity-based intelligence, data fusion, and machine learning.


Christopher Smith
Delta State University
Geospatial Information Technology

Smith is a program manager at the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University. His graduate studies focus on the application of spatial technologies to crisis and emergency preparedness and response. He spent four years as a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and was also a volunteer firefighter and medic in Mississippi and Virginia.


Zachary Toll
George Mason University
Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence

Toll is applying geospatial research techniques and analysis to terrorism in Colombia for his thesis, while working as a graduate teaching assistant and graduate research assistant at George Mason University. Having more than five years of experience in the GIS, remote sensing, and computer programming fields, Toll graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.


Claire Weber
University of Utah

Weber holds dual bachelor’s degrees in geography and ecology with a minor in global terrorism studies from the University of Maryland. Weber previously worked as a GIS analyst for the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Her research interests include terrorism, GIS, Pakistan, Nigeria, data science, building spatial predictive models, homeland security, and open-source intelligence.



James Christianson
Delta State University/Mississippi Delta Community College
Geospatial Analysis and Intelligence

Christianson is an imagery analyst serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. His military experience introduced him to a wide range of geospatial applications, from humanitarian operations to geo-referencing training areas. Christianson started his undergraduate education through the Marine Corps’ MOS-2-Degree Program. Christianson plans on using his education to improve intelligence sharing processes across the Intelligence Community.


Hailee Hettrick
Cornell University
Mechanical Engineering

Hettrick is an intern with Ursa Space Systems and is interested in the design of spacecraft, specifically satellite constellations, that provide space-based data products to improve geographic mapping and location-based information services. She is interested in continuing her education studying spacecraft controls to help create exceptionally agile Earth observation systems.


Tilden Remerleitch
University of Vermont
Geography and Chinese

This year, Remerleitch is studying abroad in Shanghai, China, examining urbanization, energy, water issues, green technology initiatives, and Sino-U.S. relations. With her geography, GIS, and Spanish language skills, she is considering a career in the U.S. State Department. Remerleitch also interned with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, where she edited data relating to Vermont watershed pollution and collected data for precautionary measures against Avian flu.


Kristin Sonsteby
Pennsylvania State University
Political Science

As an intern with Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory and the U.S. Agency for International Development, Sonsteby supports programs to evaluate various technology solutions for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. When Sonsteby graduates, she hopes to work in national security.



Elijah Staple
University of Colorado, Boulder
Computer Science

Staple is interested in deep machine learning networks that can be trained with unlabeled data to learn to recognize hidden features in complex data sets. Staple has held internships with two companies in Silicon Valley as well as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, developing big data analytic techniques using deep learning to automate the extraction of business and national intelligence from large, multi-source data sets.



Georgia Bass
Monument Mountain Regional High School, Great Barrington, Mass.
Now attending University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Bass is planning to major in political science as an undergraduate student and pursue a master’s degree in geospatial information sciences. Her interest in the capabilities of geospatial information sciences began when she wrote a research paper on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array located in Chile. Her paper placed second in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Berkshire section competition.


Courtney Fassett
Northwood High School, Irvine, Calif.
Now attending University of Southern California

Fassett is using 3D visualization technology to map the University of Southern California’s campus. Previously, Fassett interned in the finance and business analytics department for television and audio products maker VIZIO. A National Geographic exhibit titled “Women of Vision” inspired Fassett to study the application of geospatial solutions to economic challenges.


John Golden
Archer High School, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Now attending Georgia Institute of Technology

Golden is an economics major interested in the geospatial workings of the developing and developed world, such as how political geography and scarcity of resources affect communities. In the future, Golden hopes to address large-scale economic problems through greater access to real-time information from developing regions.



Emma McFee
Bainbridge-Guilford High School, Bainbridge, N.Y.
Now attending University of Utah

McFee is studying geography with an emphasis in hazards, resources, and human security. Her interest in geospatial intelligence stems from her experience with floods in upstate New York, where she was evacuated from her home twice. Each time, she volunteered to help her community return to normal. She hopes knowledge of geospatial intelligence will allow her to see the wide-ranging effects of natural disasters and how they can be prevented.


Gillian Sullivan
Fairfax High School, Fairfax, Va.
Now attending University of Mary Washington

During high school, Sullivan worked as a summer hire at the American Embassy in Brussels, Belgium. She also studied geospatial analysis through a dual enrollment program offered at Fairfax High School in partnership with James Madison University. Sullivan’s final project mapped and compared the terror attacks in Brussels to other terrorist attacks in the West and Middle East. Sullivan plans to study geography, political science, and geographic information systems.


Grayson Sullivan
Westlake High School, Austin, Texas
Now attending University of Utah

Sullivan is pursing a degree in geographic sciences with an emphasis in hazardous resources and human security. He also plans to achieve the GEOINT certificate offered by USGIF through the University of Utah. Sullivan hopes to learn how geospatial intelligence can be used to fight terrorism and solve other global problems.

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