Introduction to the 2013 Graduate Cohort!

Photo of the new 2013 cohort

Front (left to right): Kidan Araya, Maggie Wilson, Austin Crane, Jen Porter
Back: Emma Slager, Phil Neel, Key MacFarlane, Meredith Krueger

With the start of the new school year, we would like to extend a warm welcome to a new round of graduate students within the Department of Geography! Each member of the new cohort has already accomplished a great deal to this point, and we look forward to watching that success continue throughout their time here with us in Seattle. Meet them below:

Kidan Araya Kidan Araya
B.A. International Relations; Environmental Studies, Beloit College (2013)
My academic and research interests include food policy and access, environmental justice, public health, and community resource management. During my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Cameroon where I studied social pluralism, the complexities of international development, the French language, and community forestry. I received a grant to return to Cameroon to conduct a research project on political factors influencing the forest management of indigenous Bagyeli people in southwestern Cameroon. After spending two summers interning with community food security projects in New Orleans and Boston and also observing issues of food access and hunger throughout the cities and forests of Cameroon, I became intrigued by the interconnectedness of food, race, and space and hope to engage in those issues from a geographical perspective in my studies and research during my time at UW. When I am not doing schoolwork, I enjoy reading, volunteering for college preparatory programs, and spending time at community gardens.
Austin Crane Austin Crane
BA, Economics and Russian, University of South Carolina, 2010; MA, Geography (with Graduate Certificate in Social Theory), University of Kentucky, 2013
My research interests lie at the intersection of development, security, borders, and migration. I have traveled and worked throughout parts of East and Southeast Europe and am generally interested in the changing political, economic, and social composition of this area of the world. My MA research, based in Ukraine, focused on the entanglement of security politics with development aid in the EU’s “Neighbourhood Policy” efforts at “managing” migration through Ukraine into the EU. For my doctoral research at UW, I am similarly interested in the spatialized politics of humanitarianism. My initial plan is to focus on how various efforts at “development” can become enrolled within the creation of exclusionary spatial arrangements for managing borders and migrants’ lives, and thereby, facilitate social control alongside uneven developments of capitalism. In addition to my studies, I try to be a good friend, husband, and dog owner. My hobbies include various music-related endeavors, hiking, biking, soccer, and reading.
Meredith Krueger Meredith Krueger
B.S., Geography and Economics, Ohio State University (2012)
I spent much of the past year helping to build a statewide youth organizing network in Ohio and mentoring student organizers at universities in and near my hometown, Cincinnati. My planned graduate research falls within economic geography and critical poverty studies, centering on the relationships between race, class and economic policy. I’m interested in the geography of property ownership and exchange and its development in the context of political and economic restructuring over time. Given my undergraduate education, I’m familiar with neoclassical economic approaches to inequality and social policy and readily bring its perspective into relevant work in geography. Seattle is a new city for me, so I’ll be spending plenty of time outside of schoolwork getting to know my community at the UW and in my neighborhood.
Key McFarlane Key MacFarlane
BA, English and Philosophy, Colgate University (2011)
Formerly a resident of Baltimore (MD), I’m primarily interested in using critical theory and Marxist geography to (counter)map/grasp the asymmetric flows of late capitalism, particularly urban inequality and the spatial dynamics of postfordist, knowledge-based economies. I promise I’m not as starchy as that sentence sounds. For the past two years I’ve toiled away at an environmental consulting company without being very qualified for the position. Currently I’m interested in the production of language as it relates to the production of space, how our “postmodern” discourses (esp. those on social media and relating to irony/satire/truncation) might be reflected in the socio-spatial environment, and how regimes of language & space may act as symptoms of the obfuscating logics of capitalism, veiling crises and stripping the imagination of alternative futures. When not writing short bios, I enjoy reading, beer, going to baseball games, and most of all listening to music.
Philip Neel Phillip Neel
B.A. Writing, Northland College, 2010
My experience as a participant in the 2010-2012 cycle of global uprisings led me to change my field of graduate study from philosophy to a discipline more capable of melding the abstractions of theory with (quantitative and qualitative) material analysis. My interests include the geography of riots, strikes, occupations and insurrections, as well as other forms of collective resistance to capitalism, the economic geography of China, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Northwest, developments in Marxist economics, the structure of new global financial and philanthro-capitalist investment mechanisms and the heuristic potentials of an engagement between contemporary philosophy (Badiou, Žižek, Harman, Meillasoux, Laruelle, Brassier, etc.) and radical geography.
Jen Porter Jen Porter
M.S. Geography, Virginia Tech (2013); B.A. Geography and B.S. Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech (2011)
In the past 6 years, I have worked with many activist projects including Take Back the Night, NOW’s Clothesline Project, Planned Parenthood education, policy and election campaigns, and CEFEMINA’s anti-violence campaign in Costa Rica. Activism has been such a large part of my life and identity that attempting to understand what this work means led me to graduate work in social geography. My research interests focus on production and politicization of space and the theorization of public and private with a strong emphasis on gender. When I need to get out of my headspace, I like to wrestle rock and pump iron. When I cannot do that, I watch documentaries on evolution.
Emma Slager Emma Slager
M.A. Geography, University of Oregon (2013); B.A. Geography and History, Calvin College (2011)
I’m coming to UW from the University of Oregon, where I just completed my master’s thesis in Geography on tourism of abandoned buildings in Detroit, MI. I did my undergraduate work in History and Geography at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, which is also my hometown. My research interests are in urban geography and technology studies, particularly around internet infrastructure and the “civic technology movement.” The industrial US is a significant regional interest for me, but I have also spent periods of time in the UK, in Central Europe, and in West Africa. Looking forward to joining the Geography Department at UW!
Maggie Wilson Maggie Wilson
BA, History, University of Chicago (2011)
My focus for my undergraduate degree was 19th and 20th century urban history. I also minored in music. For the past two years I have been working at a nonprofit policy research institute in Chicago, though not in a directly research-related role. My research interests are primarily focused on the social determinants of health and the ways in which state and nonstate actors react to and interact with each other with regard to public health in the Global South. I am also interested in practices of defining illness and wellness, particularly when the classification of bodies into categories of illness entitles individuals to or deprives them of rights and privileges. I enjoy hosting dinner parties, traveling, and contemporary art, music, and film. I play violin and viola, and plan to audition on viola for the UW symphony orchestra.

Elyse Gordon Receives 2013-14 Imagining America PAGE Fellowship

Geography graduate student Elyse Gordon recently won a PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Education) fellowship for her work on empowerment programs, youth, technology, and citizenship. She can use the fellowship to attend the 2013 Imagining America Annual Conference and PAGE Summit and to participate in PAGE working groups with other graduate fellows. For more information on Elyse, PAGE, and Imagining America, please visit the Simpson Center’s cover story here. Way to go Elyse!