Scholarships for Undergraduates

James J. Parsons Scholarship for Field Research in Geography

The James J. Parsons Scholarship for Field Research in Geography provides support for Berkeley Geography majors with good academic standing who have undertaken or plan to undertake field research in geography. Research topics could range from studying social and geographical changes in the innercity to the physical geography of landslides or desert landscapes.

The scholarship competition will be held each Fall. Prospective recipients will be identified, screened and selected by the faculty of the Department of Geography. The amount of the award varies, but in recent years has been around $1,500.

This Year's Recipients:

2012: Julia Uyttewaal and Gabriel Schwartzman.
Julia Uyttewall...

Gabriel Schwartzman...

Past Recipients:

2011: Ramon Quintero and Julia Anderson.
Ramon Quintero...

Julia Anderson...

2009: Keith Brown and Sara Malik.
Keith will spend the Summer 2010 semester in Fortaleza, Brazil doing research on the "Political Geography of Renewable Energy in Cearå State, Brazil". Here Keith describes his three research project questions: "1) What are the discourses, arguments, and forms of political messaging used in the push towards renewable energy development in Cearå state, among government, industry, NGO's and social movements? 2) What evidence of political dissent and friction over energy development, if any, is present between these different agents? 3)How do spatial distinctions - such as montane vs. coastal, urban vs. rural - connect with different understandings and aspirations for renewable energy in Cearå?"

Sara is currently working on her senior thesis focusing on military-run real estate development in Karachi, Pakistan. Sara defines her project as the following: "My research project is to examine specifically the Karachi Defense Housing Authority, which is situated at the mouth of the Indus River along the coastline. I chose to look at the Karchi DHA for it's unique characteristics. First, the housing authority was and is being built in phases in such a way that causes the previous construction to depreciate in value substantially. Second, in order to secure land in Karachi, the military has resorted to filling in parts of the port and building barriers nearly a mile out to sea, thereby irrevocably changing the coastal geomorphology. Third, the military has for the first time partnered with a private firm, Dubai-based Emaar Group, to develop the eighth phase of the Karachi DHA. Fourth, the indigenous communities are actively being displaced by the developments."

2008: Jeremy Blackman. Jeremy Blackman is the 2008-09 winner of the James J. Parsons Scholarship for Field Research in Geography.  Jeremy has spent the Fall semester in New York doing research for his Senior Honors thesis.  Here is how Jeremy describes his research project:  "[I] will be examining how art is being deployed as a tool for self-determination within the inner-city space of Bedford Stuyvesant, a large, predominantly black community in central Brooklyn.  Over the course of four months I will be living in the neighborhood and interning with a non-profit called The Laundromat Project, who works to transform the space of local coin-ops into temporary, locally produced art exhibitions.  The hope is that by injecting a community-art-center framework into an average, communal urban space the project will be able to access and connect to individuals normally marginalized and distanced from the formal art world."

2007: Jenny Cooper. The winner of the 2007-2008 James J. Parsons Scholarship for Field Research in Geography is Jenny Cooper. While living in Bamako, the capital of Mali, she designed and carried out an independent research project to investigate how environmental issues are addressed in primary education and to learn what the implications of those practices are. Among other things, she learned why it is especially important to include environmental issues in the education of impoverished peoples and that teaching about those issues in the local language is more effective

2006: Rachel Hestrin
Rachel’s research on sewerage development in the East Bay has taken her from the Bancroft Library to local residents’ backyards. She notes that she’s “seen creeks, culverts, storm drains and the buildings that surround them, but sewerage is built to be obscure.” Archival sources are not always complete; thus interviews were a large and vital portion of her research.

2005: Christina Hawkins studied newly arrived immigrants to the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia.

2004: Aaron Arthur studied a core sample fom the La Preciosa laguna, Veracruz, Mexico, to provide a picture of ecological changes in the area.

2003: Tyler Phelps located and sampled tufa deposits laid down when Lahontan (lake) in Mexico was at its highest elevatioin, 14-12,000 years ago.

2002: Sudhir Vadaketh conducted his field work at Burning Man in Black Rock Playa, Nevada, and made a geographical analysis of this new-age pilgrimage.

2001: Kristine Silveira Kristine’s field research focused on the urbanization of the Central Valley and the consequential degradation of the environment and communities within it.

David A. Rose Scholarship in Physical Geography

The David A. Rose Scholarship in Physical Geography was established in memory of David Andrew Rose who received his Bachelor's Degree in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. He graduated at the top of his class and received the prestigious Oberlander Award in Physical Geography. He was undergoing training in New Delhi for Tele Atlas when he died in a tragic accident in Agra, India.

This scholarship provides financial assistance to undergraduate students in the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley. Recipients are selected from among the undergraduate students in the Department of Geography who are in good standing and demonstrate academic merit. Preference is given to students whose course of study focuses on physical geography and/or cartography. Recipients are selected by a Selection Committee comprised of the Chair of the Department of Geography and the Undergraduate Advisors. The scholarship competition takes place in the Fall. The award amount can vary but was $1,500 for 2008-09.

This Year's Recipient:

2011-2012: Andrew Henning. Andrew Henning...

Past Recipients:

2010-2011: Emma Tome. Emma Tome...

2009-2010: Maxwell Cutty. Maxwell Cutty is the 2009-10 recipient of the David A. Rose Scholarship in Physical Geography.  Max participated in the SEA program this past summer, which offers undergraduate students teaching on how to conduct oceanographic measurements while sailing for a month on the open ocean. Here is how Max describes how the SEA program influenced his views of cartography: "[SEA] taught me the importance of a decent map, or to be more precise a nautical chart. [Maps] serve as a vital and pivotal tool for depicting distilled meaning without casting away the notion of the space between... In the context of a research vessel I also worked with a powerful computer modeling software known as Ocean Data View in order to produce colorful and stunning depth profiles that illuminated trends and changes in the physical and chemical properties of the ocean all along our cruise track. Routinely utilizing cartographic creations for navigational as well as scientific purposes was an eye-opening experience both literally and figuratively."

2008-2009: Ryan Edwards. Ryan Edwards is the 2008-09 recipient of the David A. Rose Scholarship in Physical Geography.  Ryan has been a top student in both his physical Geography and Cartography classes.  He explains his understanding of the connections between the two in this way:  "Those who understand globalization recognize the hydrosphere and lithosphere as both barriers and pathways to worldwide connection.  In recent years they have realized how dramatically the uses and abuses of these systems are affecting the atmosphere.  I study physical geography because I cannot remove myself from these reciprocal relationships with the many earth systems.  Cartography is therefore the lens by which these relationships of past and present trends and projected future happenings can be mapped and understood over space and time."

2007-2008: Kevin Kahn. The 2007 winner of the David A. Rose Scholarship in Physical Geography is Kevin Kahn. As a Geography major Kevin has been able to apply what he has learned about geomorphology, environmental science, field methods, and GIS during two summers interning with the Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently working as an undergraduate research assistant on a river restoration project under Professor Matt Kondolf. His senior honors thesis will deal with the risk of development and urbanization in the California Delta.

2006-2007: Mai Nguyen. Mai’s particular interest in physical geography is the dynamics of hurricanes and the El Niño phenomenon. She recently complemented her physical science perspective on hurricanes by working with the people affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

2005-2006: Jessica Rorem. She was a top student in both Earth System Science and Cartography, but also studied human geography. Geography was a perfect major for her because as she said, “Where else could I have studied social science, physical science, and art in the same department?”

2004-2005: Andrew Friedman He has since gone on to pursue graduate studies in the Geography Department where he was awarded a Berkeley Fellowship. His focus is on tropical/high-latitude climate interactions.

Haas Scholars Program

Are you interested in writing a Senior Honors thesis based on an original research project? The Haas Scholars Program is an excellent way for Geography majors to get financial support for such an undertaking while they learn how to do research. Applicants need to have a 3.5 gpa and must qualify for financial aid. If you want to learn more, go to their website:

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