Awards and Scholarships

Geography and Environmental Studies Graduate Student Travel Awards

We highly encourage graduate students to attend and present at conferences, as this is a great opportunity to share your research, see what others in the discipline are doing, and to network professionally. The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies offers some funding toward the cost of conference travel each year for graduate students. The process for requesting departmental conference travel funding is usually announced each fall semester by the chair of the department awards committee.  We also encourage you to obtain matching funding from other sources. Our graduate students have been very successful with receiving travel grants, for example through the College of Arts and Sciences travel grant program at NMSU or through organizations like GTU.

Robert and Beth Czerniak Outstanding Geography Graduate Student Endowed Scholarship

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, one each for 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 approximately $400-$500 (based on endowed balance earnings) is awarded to students though the Scholar Dollars Program at NMSU. Preference is given to students that demonstrate a commitment to the discipline as demonstrated by leadership within the Department, academic performance in class and laboratory activities, and/or extracurricular activity as evidenced by a record of college activities. 

James J. Parsons Award for Excellence in Thesis Research

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.

Richard D. Wright Award for Excellence in Applied GIS

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.

Previous Award Winners

Robert and Beth Czerniak Outstanding Geography Graduate Student Endowed Scholarship

  • Janet Azure Atanga (2024)
  • Samantha Valencia (2023)
  • Pablo Viramontes (2023)
  • Arthur Guerrero (2022)
  • Jamie Pirtle (2021)
  • Scott Miller (2020)
  • Aaron Adams (2019)
  • Sierra Aney (2018)
  • Rachel Burke (2017)
  • Gaurav Thapa (2015)
  • Robert Sabie (2014)
  • Alanna Rivera (2013)
  • Rebecca Richman (2012)