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 inner-city 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. Award amount: $2000.


 2014-2015: Marcea Ennamorato. “For my senior thesis project, I’ve chosen to do a research project on a landslide in Mendocino County. This research project is focused on an area of Mendocino County where Leonard Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in Mendocino, is located.

Research on landslides is crucial in order to establish facts that may aid in the prediction of future landslides within a given region. Landslides are widespread hazards that cause destruction and death when unanticipated. Well known for its landslide susceptibility, Mendocino County is relatively undiscovered in regards to landslide research. As a result, it is an important research opportunity with the potential to extrapolate localized conclusions and bring insight into regional landslides. Most importantly, understanding the landslide that occurred on Leonard Lake will provide historical facts and information on the geomorphology of the reserve.”


2013-2014: Brooke Marino. Brooke conducted research in Fall 2014. Her study was of Bioregionalism in Post-industrial, reoccupied villages in the Greater Basque Region. Her intention is to explore the situated social and material culture of autonomous villages in the Basque region of Spain, Catalonia, and Southern France, to explore the relationship between these communities and their specific land bases, as well as their broader rhetoric of nature, natural history, and ecology thus situated in a post industrial rural hinterland. She will focus on this politics of intentionality in communities that are not merely alternative, but decidedly post-industrial, anti-global (capital?), and bio-regionally affiliated.

2012-2013: Ellie Broadman. Ellie Broadman’s research focuses on the effects of land use change beginning at the time of the mission period on the central California coast. It is well-known that the arrival and establishment of Europeans in North America had significant impacts on many aspects of the natural environment.  Using sediment cores collected from a salt marsh in Morro Bay, CA, I have looked quantitatively at how ranching and livestock grazing, among other modern land use practices, have increased erosion and sedimentation rates in the watershed systems that feed into Morro Bay estuary. This study furthers our understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic land use practices on wetland ecosystems, giving us insight into how best to create relevant policies.

2011-2012: Julia Uyttewaal and Gabriel (Gabe) Schwartzman.
Julia conducted research in the northeastern town of Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Her focus addressed the budding foreign humanitarian culture and presence of over18,000 NGO’s in present Haiti. What are the implications of this changing culture for the citizen’s of Haiti? How are the power relations between Haitian citizens, their government, and international organizations shifting?

Gabe’s research focused on a study of place and identity in the Appalachian coalfields, specifically southwestern West Virginia. His project investigated how right-wing populist social movements have become powerful pieces of the cultural landscape in this US region? How have coalmine workers identities changed in relation to management and owners, to other miners – of the present and of the past? Where do these miners see their profession forty years from now? And how do they envision the place they reside as changed and as changing?

2010-2011: Julia Anderson and Ramon Quintero.
Julia’s research objective was to analyze spatial patterns in the oak woodland community within the foothills of Sequoia National park and link spatial arrangements to past land management.

Ramon’s research topic was titled: “Dominican first Spanish Immigrant Generation – Why do Spanish-born Dominican Youth have a negative Attitude toward Society?’ Ramon conducted archival research at the sociology library at the ESOMI center at the University of Galicia in Madrid, Spain.

2009-2010: 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.”

2008-2009: 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.”

2007-2008: 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

2006-2007: 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.

2005-2006: Christina Hawkins. Christina studied newly arrived immigrants to the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia.

2004-2005: Aaron Arthur. Aaron studied a core sample from the La Preciosa laguna, Veracruz, Mexico, to provide a picture of ecological changes in the area.

2003-2004: Tyler Phelps. Tyler located and sampled tufa deposits laid down when Lahontan (lake) in Mexico was at its highest elevation, 14-12,000 years ago.

2002-2003: Sudhir Vadaketh. Sudhir conducted his field work at Burning Man in Black Rock Playa, Nevada, and made a geographical analysis of this new-age pilgrimage.

2001-2002: 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.


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 $1,200 for 2014-15.


2014-2015: Manon von Kaenal
“In an attempt to summarize my passion and interest for physical geography and cartography, here are a few vignettes from my academic career that embody my experiences: I’ve planned and conducted my own research project about pocket beach morphology in Geography 180 using both field methods and GIS analyses; I’ve modeled and analyzed the behavior of urban runoff in Geography C188; I’ve admired, touched, and studied extreme mountain and desert landscapes in Geography 140B; and I’ve studied the water systems and resource planning of New Zealand during a semester abroad. However, my dedication to the study of physical geography and cartography extends well beyond the classroom. I’ve spent countless hours in the CAGE Lab teaching myself ArcGIS and Illustrator skills before even taking a GIS-based class, and I’ve taught myself map reading and navigation skills. My bookshelf is filled with books about geology, hydrology, oceanography, and more, and I always seek to stay as up to date as possible about new research developments in the geography and earth sciences fields.

By graduation (December 2015), I will have completed a GIS minor and a double major in Environmental Sciences and Geography (physical focus). I plan to complete an honors geography thesis by graduation. In the future, I intend to apply my UC Berkeley education to the study of geomorphologic processes that characterize a landscape and, inevitably and slightly poetically, the human and animal populations that inhabit it – and how best to conserve those landscapes in the context of a changing climate and dwindling natural resources.”


2013-2014: Sol Kim.

2012-2013: Miriam Moses. Miriam is a superb student who actively engages in classroom discussion and contributes to the collegial environment of the class. Miriam’s final project map in Geography 183 (Cartographic Representation) was a service-learning project that assisted SNAP (Special Needs Aquatic Program) by providing a comprehensive resources map of recreational venues specifically focused on the needs of special needs children. In Spring 2013 Miriam started work mapping the geology of Tejon Ranch in southern California where she used GIS and her field class experience to map out the ideal environments needed for two rare species of California native plants. She incorporated this work into an honor’s thesis that she successfully presented to the department.

2011-2012: Andrew Henning. Andrew Henning was a top student in Earth System Sciences.

2010-2011: Emma Tome. Emma’s research is concerned with the politics of knowledge in Geographic Information Systems as it is applied to environmental management in indigenous territories. Through working on eco-cultural management of mapping projects with the Karuk Tribe, she hopes to learn more about how GIS technology might articulate different relationships with the physical landscape.

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.


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.


To search the Scholarship Connection’s database for other opportunities, go to their website.