Geography & Environmental Studies


2022 LAS Awards

Outstanding Undergraduate Students

Rachel Johnson
Outstanding Student in GES
Rachel Johnson is bright, articulate, focused, analytical, confident, and ultra-curious. She is proactive in her pursuits and reaches far beyond what is required. She will graduate with a BA in GES (3.97 GPA), a Geology Minor, a GIScience Certificate, and a few extra classes, including Calculus 1, 2, and 3, and Physics 1 and 2. Rachel’s summer internship as a hydrological modeler with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Energy Geosciences Division clearly impressed her mentors: She was added as a coauthor to a paper submitted to Hydrological Processes and she was invited back to intern for a second year! Using her GIS skills, she worked with Campus Facilities to create a GPS-based map of the trail system in / surrounding the UCCS campus and she volunteered several years with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on animal tracking projects. She has presented research at four conferences in the past couple of years, including a math conference. Remarkably, these significant, time consuming, and ambitious academic accomplishments all happened in three years – she’s graduating a year early! Rachel was recently accepted to the School of Mines and to CU-Boulder for graduate work. She chose CU-Boulder, and will start in the Hydrology, Water Resources, and Fluid Mechanics MS program in the school of Civil Engineering in fall of 2022. Rachel is a superstar.
Rachel Johnson
Outstanding Student with Geology Minor
If curiosity is a characteristic of a successful student, then Rachel Johnson, this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Undergraduate in the Geology Minor, abundantly exudes that trait. Throughout her studies Rachel was always looking for opportunities to engage in research and any other experience that would further her knowledge in geology. Rachel was selected for a highly competitive research internship with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, completed an independent research project examining rock glacier morphology in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, and collaborated on a project analyzing revegetation of Mount St. Helens following the 1980 eruption. If that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Rachel also took on the role of GIS Analyst and Trail System Manager for the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center at UCCS and worked as Wildlife Biologist Assistant and Volunteer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department. Rachel was just as impressive in the classroom, earning a cumulative 3.98 and graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors. For the fall of 2023, Rachel has been accepted into master’s degree programs at both the Colorado School of Mines and CU Boulder. We wish Rachel all the best in her future academic pursuits!
Alannah Ward
Outstanding Undergraduate Student with Sustainability Minor
This year's Outstanding Student in Sustainability Award goes to Alannah Ward. Alannah has excelled in both the Geography and Environmental Studies Major and Sustainability Minor, earning an impressive 3.98 GPA. A consistent leader and listener among her peers, Alannah has demonstrated a strong understanding of the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. Alannah's interests are diverse, ranging from sustainability coffee production to horticulture. Alannah's accomplishments at UCCS include presenting at the UCCS Sustainability Summit in 2019 and performing undergraduate research in the UCCS Tree Ring Lab. Congratulations, Alannah!
Callista Yarian
December 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Callista Yarian was focused student who extended herself beyond course requirements to investigate the world around us. She graduated in fall 2021 with a BA in GES and a GIScience Certificate. Her undergraduate career included the successful completion of an honors thesis. Callista examined the use of geospatial technologies to identify ranchette development in the western U.S.A. Her geospatial knowledge and skills also contributed to the 911 response efforts in Colorado Springs and to the management UCCS facilities. In spring 2022, Callista accepted a GIS technician position at CU Anschutz in Denver. Congratulations Callista, we are excited to learn of your continued successes!
Nathaniel Andrew Gonzales
December 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Outstanding Graduate Award

Austin Routt
Outstanding Graduate Student

Austin’s MA topic looked at permafrost in the context of climate change in alpine environments. He looked at the kinematics of a rock glacier high in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. What made his project unique was his strong mentorship and dedication to UCCS undergraduate student research. Austin trained four undergraduate students in surveying, environmental data collection, and he shared his knowledge of cryosphere processes and climate change science with the group. The students, two of whom were completing Undergraduate Research Academy (URA) projects, have all presented their independent research projects at conferences and are on their way to earning advanced degrees and geosciences-related careers. Austin served as a teaching assistant for an upper-level remote sensing course, a teaching assistant and tutor for a landforms and soils course, has given guest lectures on permafrost to an upper-level geomorphology course, and has competed (and placed) in graduate student research competitions. Austin recently returned from an intensive glaciology course in Svalbard, Norway, where he wrote a comprehensive research proposal, and worked alongside international cryosphere scientists. Austin’s career plans are to become a college professor in a geosciences program. He is well on his way toward achieving this goal – with an arsenal of academic experience on his CV, he was recently accepted to a PhD program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (his top choice), with a fall 2022 term start.

Jacqueline Beyer Fellowship

Gwynne Klotzsche
Jacqueline Beyer Awardee
Erinn Pablo
Jacqueline Beyer Awardee
Theresa Randall
Jacqueline Beyer Awardee
Sydney Nelson
Jacqueline Beyer Awardee