NMSU: Department of Geography
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New Mexico State University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Geography

Awards and Scholarships for Graduate Students

The following are departmental awards and scholarships. For other opportunities, see Career Opportunities.

Geography Graduate Student Travel Grants
James J. Parsons Award for Excellence in Thesis Research
Richard D. Wright Award for Excellence in Applied GIS
Robert and Beth Czerniak Outstanding Geography Graduate Student Award
Duane Marble Award for GIS Design and Education Research
Previous Award Winners


Geography Graduate Student Travel Grants (Back to Top)

The Geography Department awards a limited number of $250 travel grants to students presenting research papers or posters at professional meetings. For detailed information about the travel grants, including application procedures, click here.


James J. Parsons Award for Excellence in Thesis Research (Back to Top)

Dr. James J. Parsons was one of the world's most honored cultural geographers. He served on the faculty of the Geography Department at the University of California-Berkeley from 1945 until he passed away in 1997. During those 52 years, Jim Parsons conducted field research in over 40 countries, focusing much of his time in Latin America and Spain where he studied a wide array of topics within the "human/land tradition" of geography such as marine green turtles, coffee agroforestry, Miskito Coast pine savannas, acorns and hogs, cork oak forests, biodiversity of the Canary Islands, national parks, environmental conservation, and much more. He chaired 38 PhD committees and countless master theses. Jim traveled and published extensively. His many honors and awards include a Guggenheim, AAG Honors, the Berkeley Citation, two gold medals for research from the government of Colombia, and the Trabajador de la Cultura medal from the Instituto de Integración Cultural in Colombia. Jim served as President of the Association of American Geographers and Chair of the Center of Latin American Studies. His research exemplifies the "Berkeley School of Geography" which integrates field work, historical geography, cultural geography, land tenure studies, biogeography, cultural landscapes, and conservation. This is not surprising since Jim's PhD advisor was Dr. Carl O. Sauer, founder of the Berkeley School itself.

In 1989, Dr. Jack Wright established the Parsons Award for Excellence in Thesis Research to recognize and honor the contributions of Dr. Parsons who served as his PhD advisor and became his dear friend.

Click here for a full description of the award.


Richard D. Wright Award for Excellence in Applied GIS (Back to Top)

Dr. Richard D. Wright began his academic career as a classically trained cartographer, graduating with a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Kansas in 1967. For the next 25 years, he served in the Department of Geography at San Diego State University (SDSU), teaching and advising in the areas of traditional analog mapping and cartography. In the late 1980s, Dr. Wright saw the major potential for the use of GIS and computer-aided cartography in helping advance graduate and undergraduate studies at SDSU and was one of the original founders of the Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research (CESAR). Over the next 15-20 years, he was instrumental in generating the external funds needed to build and grow the CESAR lab. In doing so, he brought a range of applied GIS projects to the lab, and these projects and Dr. Wright’s guidance and support helped train two generations of applied GIS specialists at the graduate and undergraduate levels. For his many contributions to applied GIS he was awarded the James R. Anderson Medal by the Association of American Geographers Applied Geography Specialty Group in 2002. In 2009, Dr. Christopher Brown established the Richard D. Wright Award for Excellence in Applied GIS to recognize and honor the contributions of Dr. Wright and to also recognize excellence in students interested in similar applied work we conduct at New Mexico State University.

Click here for a full description of the award.


Robert and Beth Czerniak Outstanding Geography Graduate Student Award (Back to Top)

In recognition of excellence in course work during students’ time as Geography Majors, Robert Czerniak, Professor Emeritus and his wife Beth Czerniak have established two endowed scholarships that apply to graduate and undergraduate students. Each award recognizes excellence in coursework and progress towards earning either the Bachelor of Science in Geography or the Master of Applied Geography, with the intent to provide financial assistance to students. Each scholarship of $200 is awarded to students though the Financial Aid office at NMSU. The scholarships will be announced at the Spring Awards Reception when certificates will be awarded.

Click here for a full description of the award.


Duane Marble Award for GIS Design and Education Research (Back to Top)

To honor the work and support of Dr. Duane Marble (a friend and colleague of Dr. Michael DeMers, and an NMSU Distinguished Visiting Scholar), Dr. DeMers has established the Duane Marble Award for GIS Design and Education Research. The intent of the award is to recognize the pioneering work of Dr. Marble in the areas of GIScience, GIS design, and GIS curriculum development, and to also recognize noteworthy efforts of graduate students at NMSU in these areas of study. Specifically, the Marble award shall emphasize the following:

  • New, innovative, creative and/or cutting edge GIS ideas and GIS design and
  • GIS educational initiatives and curriculum research.

The award is available to Masters students in geography at NMSU pursuing either a thesis or non-thesis Masters of Applied Geography (MAG), and the award shall be based on a thesis or non-thesis report that contains:

  • a substantial portion of material relevant to GIS design (particularly, but not solely, relevant to institutional design) new algorithms, software, concepts, or innovative techniques in GIS or
  • a substantial portion of material relevant to GIS Education and curriculum research, including study of spatial cognition, spatial learning, or teaching and delivery methods.

Click here for a full description of the award.


Previous Award Winners (Back to Top)

James J. Parsons Award for Excellence in Thesis Research

  • Robert Sabie (2015)
  • Gaurav Thapa (2014)
  • Alanna Rivera (2013)

Richard D. Wright Award for Excellence in Applied GIS Projects

  • Charlie Jackson (2015)
  • Steve Walker (2014)
  • Rebecca Richman (2013)

Robert and Beth Czerniak Outstanding Geography Graduate Student Award

  • Gaurav Thapa (2015)
  • Robert Sabie (2014)
  • Alanna Rivera (2013)

Duane Marble Award for GIS Design and Education Research

  • Not awarded (2015)
  • Not awarded (2014)
  • Not awarded (2013)