2020 Undergraduate Award Recipients

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Alpar Undergraduate Scholarship

Established in honour of the late Zehra Alpar, the Department’s student advisor for many years spanning the 1960s through 1990s, by friends, colleagues and alumni upon her retirement in 1994, these awards are given to outstanding students who have made significant progress in completing their degrees.

Mengxi Yang

Mengxi (Cathy) Yang is completing her 4th year in Human Geography and Physiology, with a minor in GIS. Her current research interests include studying the social and geographic determinants of health, particularly using GIS. She is involved in a variety of projects, including a capstone project focusing on community building at the School of Cities and is also involved with research projects examining the ethnocultural barriers to receiving organ transplants among Chinese Canadians. In the future, she hopes to use her passion in health geography and urban development to creating healthier and more resilient cities.

Ben Shindman Scholarship in Geography

Created in honour of the late Benjamin Shindman, one of the Department’s top students in the 1940s and ‘50s, this award is given to an outstanding full-time undergraduate student who has completed his/her third year of a Geography Specialist or Double Major Program and who is currently enrolled in the fourth year of that program.

Benjamin Mumford

Benjamin is a fourth-year student studying human geography and GIS. His main research interest is the effects of global climate change on urban development and planning. Specifically, he is interested in the monitoring of the carbon cycle using remote sensing and GIS as well as policy and design options to create more sustainable cities.

Canadian Association of Geographers Award

This award is given to the most outstanding undergraduate student graduating from an honours program in geography from the University of Toronto.

Thomas Fraser

Tom Fraser graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from the University of Toronto in 2020 in History (specialist) and Human Geography (major) and is now a Master’s student in History at Concordia University in Montréal. His research interests blur the lines between the two disciplines, focusing on the entangled histories of labour and housing in twentieth century North America and the dominant role of capitalism in the shaping of the urban landscape. In particular, his Master’s research focuses on the fall of public housing and the politics of property-ownership in the United States and Canada.

Daniel Wilson Scholarship in Science

This scholarship is awarded to a student in second or third year with an A average, enrolled in a program offered by the Department of Geography. This scholarship was created in honour of the late Sir. Daniel Wilson, President of University College, 1890-1892.

Oliver Bassel

This past summer, Oliver assisted with a student project on applications of remote sensing to mineral exploration and found the topic to be fascinating. The project also helped him understand the technology and theory behind remote sensing. Outside of this, his main research interests include climate change and its impacts on glaciers and sea level rise. He focuses his academic projects around this topic whenever he can. His interests keep shifting as he learns more about what physical geography has to offer and so he’s always up to learn about something new!

F. Kenneth Hare Scholarship in Environment

Given to an outstanding undergraduate student in their third or fourth year of study in either of the Environment and Resource Management or Physical and Environmental geography programs. Preference will be given to students registered in Trinity College.

Rebecca Sutherland

Rebecca Sutherland is a student in the Environmental Geography program. She has research interests in many areas of the environment with a particular love for environmental monitoring and conservation in disturbed landscapes. She also tries to find ways to include aspects of environmental stewardship and justice in her studies as they are inextricably linked. In her downtime, Rebecca takes part in a variety of citizen science programs studying birds, vegetation, etc. in Toronto’s urban landscape. She looks forward to continuing her environmental education this year. She is grateful for the opportunity to receive this award.

John Horner Undergraduate Scholarship

Awarded to an undergraduate student in the Department of Geography & Planning based on academic merit.

Bailey Classen-Schneider

Bailey is in her fourth year at UTSG studying Human Geography, Environmental Geography and GIS. She’s always been extremely passionate about cities and urban life, and in her current aspiration to obtain a masters in planning, she’d like to continue focusing her research on affordable housing and food security in Toronto. She has had the good fortune this year to begin interning at a local planning firm and to assist as a geography research assistant. She is also a freelance illustrator and hopes to bring her creativity to future GIS work.

Rebecca Tom

Rebecca Tom graduated from the University of Toronto in June of 2020 and has started her first year at Ryerson University in their Master of Planning in Urban Development. Her research interests include housing affordability, processes of neighbourhood change, community development, and social policy. In graduate studies, she intends to focus her research on Toronto’s inner-city apartment towers and understand how overcrowding and density contribute to service gaps in the community.

Octavia Andrade-Dixon

Octavia is a recent graduate of the Geography and Planning program, with an Honours Bachelor’s of Art Specializing in Human Geography with a Focus in Planning and a Minor in Portuguese. Her research interests explore the commonalities of Black and Indigenous experiences across Turtle Island, the Caribbean and South America amidst settler colonialism. She was a participant in the Research Experience Program’s Brazilian Indigenous Languages course led by Dr.Suzi Lima, a 2020 Jackman Scholar-in-Residence under the Colors and Overtones project led by Dr. Tamara Walker, and was recently published in the fifth volume of the Caribbean Quilt journal.

Not pictured: Kristine Luangkhot

UTAGA Undergraduate Computer Applications Award

This award was created by UTAGA, and is presented to a senior student who has exhibited excellent scholarship incorporating computer applications.

Michael Chung Fui Liu

One of Michael’s interests is visualizing urban data. After the lockdown, he created a web mapping application visualizing the 2018 bikeshare data. He cleaned and reorganized data by the number of rides per hour, average rides per day of the week, total ridership per month, and rides per bikeshare station. Many courses he took at the Department of Geography and Planning have given him a strong foundation in programming web mapping applications, python, and GIS skills. Some of his other research interests include using GIS to analyze urban environmental improvements and commute distance in the GTHA.

UTAGA Undergraduate Geography Toronto Award

The University of Toronto Association of Geography Alumni provides this award to graduating students who have made outstanding contributions to the life of the department. Award winners are individuals who have been extensively involved in extracurricular activities targeted at fellow geography/planning students, while at the same time achieving academic success.

Alex Walton

Alex is a recent graduate of the Human Geography and Urban Studies programs at the University of Toronto. During their time in the Geography Program at U of T, they became particularly interested in urban food systems and the importance of food justice work in building strong and healthy communities. They are currently working with the Harmony Community Food Centre in East York, helping to deliver COVID response programming to folks in surrounding neighbourhoods. They plan to pursue graduate studies that further explore the intersections of community-based urban planning and social service provision.

Zahra Mohamed

Zahra graduated this year with a double major in Physical & Environmental Geography and Human Geography. She is interested in urban planning and GIS with hopes to pursue graduate studies in the future. Her undergraduate research consisted of using GIS and data from Statistics Canada to examine food insecurity and food access in Canada and Toronto specifically. She also enjoys learning about technology and different types of programming languages, so she is currently learning web development. Outside of the classroom, she loves to swim, read, explore the city, and is an avid film and TV lover.

Griffith Taylor Memorial Award

The late Griffith Taylor founded the Department of Geography in 1935, serving as Chair from 1935 to 1951. In his honour, UTAGA established this award to recognize outstanding academic achievement. It is presented to an outstanding student graduating from a four-year program with either a major or specialist in geography, who has exhibited all-round excellence over the course of the program.

Alexandra Lambropoulos

Alexandra is interested in researching urban planning strategies and policies that develop strong communities and solutions for the cities of tomorrow, particularly where they intersect with arts, sustainability, and technology.

UTAGA Outstanding Performance Award: Human Geography

Created by UTAGA in 2001, the purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievements by an undergraduate geography student in human geography Course GGR240 Geographies of Colonialism in North America.

Shulie Smolyanitsky

Shulie Smolyanitsky is a third-year undergraduate student enrolled in the Human Geography Specialist program. As a research assistant to Dr. Doris Bergen in the History Department, Shulie studies the intersections of gender, religion, and violence in testimonies of Holocaust survivors. In the Geography & Planning Department, Shulie takes an academic interest in geographies of transnationalism and migration, urban historical geographies, and GIS.

UTAGA Outstanding Performance Award: Methods/GIS

Created by UTAGA in 2001, the purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievements by an undergraduate geography student in Methods/GIS in any of the following courses: GGR 201 (Geomorphology)/203 (Introduction to Climatology)/205 (Introduction to Soil Science)/206 (Introduction to Hydrology).

Rogan Gutwillinger

Rogan Gutwillinger is an undergraduate student enrolled in the Computer Science Specialist program at the University of Toronto. Alongside a focus on computer systems, he is passionate about physical geography and developing practical tools for modeling and analysis. His current research interests lie in the applications of machine learning to Geographic Information System (GIS) software.

UTAGA Outstanding Performance Award: Environmental Geography

Created by UTAGA in 2001, the purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievements by an undergraduate geography student in Environmental Geography.

Willow Cabral

Willow Cabral is a third-year undergraduate Geography student, originally from a small town on Vancouver Island, BC. Since moving to Toronto in 2018, she has been involved in several environmental initiatives, from completing LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders program to coordinating a neighbourhood-wide tree planting initiative in the Annex, to implementing a Park(ing) Day installation on Bloor St. West. These experiences have sparked her research interests, which encompass the intersections of urban liveability and sustainability, with a focus on how community-engaged planning can lead to more equitable and vibrant cities. She hopes to one day pursue an MSc in Planning to work towards her goal of becoming a professional planner and to help foster environmental and equitable urban planning.

UTAGA Outstanding Performance Award: Physical Geography

Created by UTAGA in 2001, the purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding achievements by an undergraduate geography student in Physical Geography in any of the following courses: GGR 201 /203, 205, 206 .

Marcus Forbes-Green

Marcus is a third-year student at Victoria College currently taking a minor in Physical and Environmental Geography. He is especially interested in soil science and other intersections between physical geography, earth science, and biology. He originally studied soils in high school as part of the Ontario Envirothon program, then took soil science and geomorphology in second year. He is currently researching a hillslope soil catena at the Koffler Scientific Reserve as part of GGR390 (Field methods), studying the formation and composition of these features.

UTAGA Outstanding Research
Award

UTAGA applauds students who undertake independent research at the undergraduate level. This award is presented to the most outstanding research project undertaken in GGR 491, undergraduate thesis course, or GGR498/488, Independent Research Project.

Maggie Ma

Maggie is passionate about generating data-driven solutions which deliver tangible social impacts. She is curious to learn how the increasingly common interactions between humans and technologies are able to create a dynamic spatial effect, specifically in urban environments such as smart cities. Her interdisciplinary background in human geography, statistics, and GIS have not only allowed her to ask questions such as ‘what does community mean in vertical neighborhoods’ from a social scientist’s perspective, but also provided her with powerful tools to perform analysis on spatial data in order to qualify assumptions and confirm hypotheses.

Kelly Ann Hui

Kelly Hui is currently pursuing a Master of Global Affairs degree at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She recently received her B.A. with distinction in Human Geography, Industrial Relations and Human Resources, and Geographic Information Sciences from the University of Toronto. Kelly is interested in exploring the relationship between improving socio-economic equity and economic growth, and the use of technological innovations to build socio-economic resiliency. Her most notable research project examined health equities in Canada and identified for whom and where equitable access to acute healthcare facilities in Canada has been achieved.

William G. Dean Scholarship in Field Research

Awarded to one or more students enrolled in a specialist or major program in the Department of Geography & Planning for field research. Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit and financial need.

Zahra Mohamed

Zahra graduated this year with a double major in Physical & Environmental Geography and Human Geography. She is interested in urban planning and GIS with hopes to pursue graduate studies in the future. Her undergraduate research consisted of using GIS and data from Statistics Canada to examine food insecurity and food access in Canada and Toronto specifically. She also enjoys learning about technology and different types of programming languages, so she is currently learning web development. Outside of the classroom, she loves to swim, read, explore the city, and is an avid film and TV lover.

Sidney & Lucille Silver Scholarship

This award is given to a student with an A average, in the third year of a specialist or double major program in environmental studies. This scholarship was established by family members, in honour of Mr. and Mrs. Silver’s 50th wedding Anniversary.

Not pictured: Catherine Kawpeng