MDP Student Awards and Accomplishments: Academic Year 2019-2020

May 7, 2020

In academic year 2019-2020, MDP students were awarded a number of types of fellowships, scholarships, graduate assistantships, and research funding, alongside other accomplishments. (Pictured above, the class of 2020.)

Fellowships and Scholarships

  • Mary Ngugi – FLAS (Foreign Language & Area Studies) Fellowship in Latin American Studies
  • Natalia Cachora – UA Native American Student Affairs Scholarship
  • Samantha Turner – W. Wright Foundation Scholarship
  • Amata Inshuti – World Conservation Society (WCS) Fellowship
  • Jake Meyers – Esther Chepchumba Machibya Memorial Scholarship, Southern Arizona Environmental Management Society Scholarship
  • Jack DeBoerSehdia Mansaray, Robert HartwellJake Meyers, and Abdul Sigal – Coverdell Peace Corps Fellowships

University of Arizona Graduate Assistantships

  • Natalia Cachora – Native American Science and Engineering Program (NASEP)
  • Avery Julian Baker – Think Tank
  • Mary Ngugi  – Global Studies
  • Laura McCannAmata Inshuti, and Heather Altherr – School of Geography and Development

University of Arizona Local Outreach Assistantships

  • Sehdia Mansaray – National Phenology Network (NPN)
  • Jack DeBoer – Pima County Smartscape
  • Abdul Sigal – Literacy Connects of Tucson
  • Robert Hartwell – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona
  • Jake Meyers – Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

Summer 2019 Practicum Funding for Research related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Robert Hartwell
  • Jake Meyers
  • Avery Julian Baker
  • Abdul Sigal

Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) Travel and Research Awards

  • Abdul Sigal (travel)
  • Avery Julian Baker (travel)
  • Jake Meyers (travel and research)

Coverdell Travel and Research Award

  • Abdul Sigal
  • Robert Hartwell

Other Student Accomplishments

  • Natalia Cachora wrote on op-ed for The Yuma Sun about the need for air quality monitoring on lands of the Ft. Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, where she conducted her MDP practicum and is an enrolled tribal member.
  • Samantha Turner wrote an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star on the role of food banks during the COVID crisis, particularly the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, where she works and where she completed her MDP practicum.
  • Jake Meyers won a national award for digital storytelling as a correspondent for the website Planet Forward.  Jake produced a video on the potential role of urban farming in Kenya to enhance food security amidst increasing urbanization. He has also produced Tucson-focused videos on the 2019 Climate March and the use of public green space.
  • Sehdia Mansaray is serving as the student representative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the School of Geography and Development.
  • Isabella Moreno and Laura McCann were elected MDP student representatives to the Student Government Association within the School of Geography and Development.
  • Robert Riley was nominated by the Dean of the UA Honors College to participate in the Academic Performance Review of the Honors College, which was completed in spring 2020.
  • Robert Hartwell is president of the UA Peace Corps Club for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).
  • Robert Riley and Jake Meyers are working with UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology on a natural disaster preparedness study. Jake is also Special Assistant to the Director of the recently formed Arizona Institutes for Resilience.

Recent Alumni Employment News

  • Michelle Schatz (MDP 2019) is a Case Manager for the Refugee Youth Mentoring Program (RYMP) with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest in Tucson.
  • Amanda Hixson (MDP 2018) is Food Program Director at Del Norte and Tribal Lands Community Food Council in Crescent City, California.
  • Anna Jackson (MDP 2019) is a Technical Assistance and Outreach Coordinator of Community Development at Habitat for Humanity Tucson.
  • Kelli Williams (MDP 2019) is an Environmental Protection Specialist at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in San Francisco. 
  • Amel Lebatt (MDP 2019) is an Individual Employment Specialist with the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix.
  • Philana A. Jeremiah (MDP 2019) is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography at UA.
  • Karina Martinez (MDP 2019) is Ph.D. candidate in Arid Lands Resource Sciences at UA.
  • Denisse Ortega Lorona (MDP 2019) is Education Director with the Borderlands Restoration Network in Patagonia, Arizona .

Faculty and Staff Accomplishments

MDP Director Prof. Katherine Snyder organized a panel on “Agriculture and Transformations in Rural African Livelihoods” and presented a paper on changing livelihoods in rural Tanzania at the 2019 Sustainability and Development Conference at the University of Michigan. She also co-authored an article on "’Modern’ farming and the transformation of livelihoods in rural Tanzania" in the journal Agriculture and Human Values.

MDP Assistant Director Dr. Raymond Smith published a book entitled Extending International Human Rights Protections to Vulnerable Populations (Routledge, October 2019), and blogged about its themes for Open Global Rights. He also recently lead authored a policy brief for the World Health Organization about engagement with the UN Human Rights Council to promote global health rights.

MDP Faculty Member Stephanie Buechler co-authored an article on “Livelihoods with Multiple Stressors: Gendered Youth Decision-making under Global Environmental Change in Rural Northwest Mexico” in the journal Environment and Planning. Her course for the MDP on “Natural Resource Management in Tucson, Southern Arizona, and the Border” received support from the UA SBS Support Fund and from the Student-Faculty Interaction Fund.

Professors Snyder and Buechler also both had projects funded for summer 2020 to work with collaborating graduate students in the School of Geography and Development.  Stephanie’s project is on “Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic through Community Gardens: A Lifeline to Food Security” (working with Sehdia Mansaray). Katherine had two projects funded: “Household developmental cycles and political-economic change in rural Tanzania” (working with Jack DeBoer and Charles Meisch) and “Land quality and livelihoods in northern Ghana: Assessing the contributions of trees to sustainability (working with Heather Altherr and Isabella Moreno).