The CaGIS Student Scholarships

Each year, the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) sponsors three scholarships to students whose research and accomplishments support the mission of CaGIS. The scholarships recognize academic achievement and encourage the continuing success of outstanding cartography and geographic information science students. The scholarships also recognize achievement or potential for achievement in original research advancing the specific disciplines of cartography or GIScience. Winners are selected based on academic achievement, particularly in the calendar year prior to the award. Applications are reviewed by the CaGIS Scholarship Committee, and awards are announced in March.

2017 Winners

Carolyn Fish is a PhD Candidate at The Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation research examines how expert cartographers in the news media and government agencies design climate change maps for the public. The goal of her research is to understand: 1) the current state of climate change maps in media – where they are produced, what and how they illustrate climate change, 2) the goals of the cartographers who design these maps and how they fulfill these goals, and 3) how map users view the effectiveness of cartographic communication of climate change. Carolyn’s research will demonstrate the importance of maps in climate change communication, as well as inform cartographic best practices. Her PhD advisor is Cynthia A. Brewer.
Daniel Stephen finished his Master’s degree in winter of 2016 at Oregon State University, advised by Dr. Bernhard Jenny. For his thesis work he collaborated with Dr. Jenny and others to develop algorithms and cartographic tools for automatically creating flow maps that are easy to read and comparable in aesthetic quality to similar flow maps made manually by cartographers. His professional objectives are to make geographic information more accessible to the public through the development of easy-to-use web tools and desktop applications, and to promote better communication of critical geographical information through good cartography and innovative GIS technology.
Kristen Vincent is a Master’s student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, advised by Dr. Robert Roth. With her thesis research, she is examining the complexity of cartographic interfaces and the impact on map-based decision-making using a case study in transnational regulation and trade of hazardous waste. She is also part of a research team studying the North American hazardous waste trade, which was the inspiration for her thesis project case study. Her research will contribute to both the science and practice of cartographic interaction, as well as spatial decision support. Kristen is also a co-organizer of Maptime Madison.


Previous Winners


CaGIS Masters Scholarship Award: Two outstanding candidates will each receive $750. Winners will have demonstrated excellence in cartography or GIScience coursework and the potential to contribute to cartography or GIScience research.

CaGIS Doctoral Scholarship Award: One outstanding candidate will receive $1,500. The winner will have demonstrated excellence in cartography or GIScience coursework and the potential to contribute to cartography or GIScience research.

Winners of both awards are invited to submit their research at an upcoming CaGIS-sponsored conference (such as AAG, GIScience, or AutoCarto) and may be eligible for limited travel or registration support if they choose to present.

Eligibility for 2018 Award Competition

CaGIS Masters Scholarship Award: This award is to be granted to two students currently enrolled in, or accepted into, a Masters degree program for the 2017-2018 academic year. Outstanding undergraduates or individuals returning to school that have been accepted to a Masters program in GIScience are also eligible to apply (see below).

CaGIS Doctoral Scholarship Award: This award is to be granted to a student enrolled in, or accepted into, a PhD degree program for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Outstanding candidates that are not currently enrolled as a student, but have been accepted to a PhD program are also eligible to apply.

Award priority will be given to those candidates that are currently enrolled in a four-year undergraduate or graduate degree program during 2017 or 2018, studying cartography, geographic information science, or a closely related field. A letter of recommendation from a faculty member attesting to these eligibility requirements and to scholarly achievement and potential is required. Membership in CaGIS is not required, though professional and service activities such as participation in CaGIS is one of the selection criteria (see below). Nominations may only be done by current CaGIS members. Prior scholarship winners are eligible to apply in subsequent years if all appropriate criteria are satisfied. Applicants who have applied to, but have not yet been accepted into, graduate school should request that their faculty advisor assess their potential for graduate study in their reference letter.

Selection Criteria

The CaGIS Scholarship Committee reviews each applicant and their package in a holistic fashion. The committee is purposed with awarding applicants that best represent the overall spirit and mission of CaGIS. Each applicant is asked to submit a complete application package which is composed of the following artifacts:

Applicant’s statement

Record of research activities (e.g., published papers, presentations at professional meetings, grant applications, etc.)

Service activities to the profession (active membership on student organizations such as GTU, reviewer for an academic journal, reviewing grant proposals, active membership on a professional board of directors, community outreach, etc.) or non-professional (e.g., assistance with TWiST GIS camp, Boys and Girls GIS camp, GIS corps, community engagement, etc.)

Academic record (current transcripts) with particular emphasis on GIScience and domain specific coursework

A nomination letter by a current CaGIS member

Official CaGIS scholarship application form

The committee examines these artifacts holistically to determine each applicant’s merit. While these artifacts are not weighted per se, their order does reflect the relative importance the committee places on each. While evaluating each applicants, the committee is sensitive to each candidate’s progress toward degree completion (PhD student, ADB, etc.), academic level (MS vs. PhD), and year of study (1st, 2nd, etc.). The committee is also mindful regarding expectations between MS and PhD applicants.

Level of stated financial need will also be considered, if necessary, to break ties, after the primary artifacts have been considered. The committee can choose to award no scholarships. Award recipients will receive a complementary one-year membership in CaGIS.

Application Procedure

For reference, details on the 2018 competition procedures are listed below.

  1. Prepare the following artifacts to be included in your completed packet:
    • A 500-word statement that includes a discussion of your:
      • Educational objectives and research activities
      • Future study or research plans
      • Service activities in the profession and research supporting the mission of CaGIS

Note that the statement is not a research proposal. Rather, your statement should clearly and concisely articulate who you are as a GIScience student and your potential to excel in the discipline.

    1. A digital transcript showing records for relevant years between 2015-2017A letter of nomination from a current CaGIS member. The nomination letter must be from a current CaGIS member (e.g., faculty member or supervisor) familiar with your research activities.
The completed application form
  1. E-mail these documents; see instructions on form. Applications must arrive no later than 5:00pm EST on JANUARY 19, 2019.

Notification of Winners

The selected applicants for the scholarships will be notified in March.

CaGIS Scholarship Committee:

Fritz Kessler, Sarah Battersby, and Rakesh Malhotra.

Contact Information:

Fritz C. Kessler

John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
435 Earth and Engineering Sciences Building
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-1508



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