2019 USGIF Scholarship Awards

Supporting the future GEOINT workforce


In 2019, USGIF awarded $130,000 in scholarships to 25 individuals studying geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and related topics. This is the largest annual amount USGIF has distributed to date, thanks to the contributions of USGIF Organizational Members. Since the USGIF Scholarship Program began in 2004, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.3 million to students with aspirations in GEOINT.

USGIF offers $5,000 scholarships annually to outstanding doctoral candidates, graduate students, and undergraduate students as well as $2,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors.


Accompanying the 2019 USGIF awards are three scholarships funded entirely by USGIF Organizational Members:

> The first ever $15,000 Dun & Bradstreet Geospatial Data Science Scholarship, awarded to a student pursuing a Master of Science or Ph.D. in data science who is focused on solving large-scale, location-based problems.

> The fourth Ken Miller Scholarship for Advanced Remote Sensing Applications sponsored by Riverside Research, which awards $10,000 to a graduate student studying remote sensing who plans to enter the defense intelligence workforce.

> The second Reinventing Geospatial Inc. (RGi) Scholarship for Geospatial and Engineering, a $10,000 scholarship awarded to an undergraduate student pursuing engineering and geospatial disciplines.

The Dun & Bradstreet Geospatial Data Science Scholarship

Yaneev Golombek
University of Colorado, Denver

Civil Engineering

Golombek received his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Michigan and his master’s degree in Geographic Information Science from the University of Denver. He currently works as a GIS projects and applications lead at Merrick & Company, developing scopes and implementing projects related to data development, asset management, and data modeling. His doctoral research is focused on utilizing LiDAR and remote sensing applications for urban transportation.


The Ken Miller Scholarship for Advanced Remote Sensing Applications

Kris W. Erickson
Northeastern University

Geospatial Services

Erickson is an Imagery Intelligence Officer in the United States Army Reserve. With a background in engineering and more than 14 years of experience as an Army reservist, most of which as an all-source intelligence analyst, Erickson is passionate about automation and the fusion of multi-INT sources. After long being an avid consumer of satellite imagery and map data, he decided to specialize in GEOINT. While managing a team of Army geospatial analysts, his perspective as a mechanical engineer fueled his interest to learn more about remote sensing hardware and the breadth of collection techniques.


The RGi Scholarship for Geospatial and Engineering

Kevin Mercy
University of Southern California


Mercy is pursuing a B.A. in Archaeology with minors in Geospatial Intelligence and Computer Programming. Through his work at USC, focused on the visualization and exploitation of 3D geographic data, Mercy was hired as a summer intern at The Aerospace Corporation, where he assisted in the development of an internal web service platform for aerospace imagery. Previously, Mercy has worked at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and as a field archaeologist in Guatemala and Catalina Island.


Duncan Eddy
Stanford University

Aerospace Engineering

Eddy is completing his Ph.D. in the Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Stanford while working full-time as the operations lead at Capella Space. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University and his master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford. Eddy is passionate about building more responsive and resilient satellite systems. His research focuses on optimizing task planning for Earth-observing constellations to both improve intelligence collection and to minimize the downtime caused by collision avoidance maneuvers.


Christopher Olayinka Ilori
Simon Fraser University


Ilori’s research focuses on the remote sensing of optically complex waters, using physics-based inversion algorithms to provide estimates of bathymetry, substrate composition, and water quality information. Ilori is a UN Global Pulse Data Fellow and assists UN Habitat with population counts of informal settlements from satellite data. He holds a BSc degree in Geography from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and an MSc degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from the University of Greenwich in the UK.


Rachel Jones
Missouri University of Science and Technology

Geological and Geophysical Engineering

The focus of Jones’ research is humanitarian geospatial engineering using remote sensing data fusion methods including photogrammetry, SAR, and magnetometry for topographic hydrological investigations in post-civil war Uganda. She is involved with a variety of causes, including counter-human trafficking geo-analytics for missing and exploited persons. Jones is a Benedictine oblate (lay associate) of Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery and has a german shepherd named Sasquatch.


Emilio Mateo
The Ohio State University

Mateo received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Environmental Science with a focus in Geographic Information Science and a minor in Statistics. He spent a year working in multiple roles with the Student Conservation Association, first as a park guide, then as an environmental educator, and finally as a GISc and field mapping specialist. Mateo received his master’s degree from the University of Denver, and at The Ohio State University is studying how ongoing changes in glacier coverage impact water quality and quantity. He is combining hydrological fieldwork and geospatial modeling to conduct research on glacial water resources in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru.


Stephanie Mundis
University of Florida


Mundis is working on applying spatial data and geostatistical analyses to identify and explain variation in the development of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes across multiple spatial scales. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before going to New Mexico State University to pursue parallel degrees in Geography and Biology. While at New Mexico State, she completed a thesis project on the current and potential future distributions of Aedes aegypti, a disease-vectoring mosquito species.



Madeleine Guy
University of Maryland, College Park

Geospatial Intelligence

Guy earned her bachelor’s degree in Geographical Sciences with a minor in Global Terrorism Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). She is currently working full-time in the Department of Geographical Science while pursuing her master’s degree in Geospatial Intelligence at UMD. During her undergraduate studies, she interned at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, where she developed a passion for researching the spatial predictability of terrorism.


Scott Howard
Colorado State University

Computer Engineering

Howard received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Rowan University in 2014. While finishing his M.S. in Computer Science, also from Rowan, he developed applications for mission critical systems for various branches of the U.S. military. Among these programs was a protection system for armored vehicles that processed geospatial data reported from remote sensors to autonomously engage incoming threats via onboard countermeasures. Howard’s research interests include long range, energy efficient communications for remote sensors.


Jong Su Kim
University of Southern California

Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence

Kim is an Air Force ROTC cadet majoring in International Relations while concurrently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence. His research focuses on utilizing coarse-resolution satellite imagery for human rights monitoring. Kim spent the summer interning with the U.S. State Department’s Humanitarian Information Unit, where he created cartographic products and supported Secondary Cities, the department’s field-based geospatial initiative. Next summer, he plans to commission in the U.S. Air Force.


Zach Little
University of Alaska, Fairbanks


Little is pursuing his M.S. in Geosciences with a concentration in Remote Sensing and will defend his thesis in May. He received his B.S. from the University of West Georgia in Human Geography with a minor in GIS in 2014. His current geospatial interests are using time series stacks of Copernicus Sentinel-1 SAR data to monitor crop growth and harvest as well as to predict yield in Kenya. Additionally, Little is delineating crop type by assigning a threshold based off temporal signature and cross-referencing it with crop data layers provided by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.


Rebecca Malone
Georgetown University

Security Studies

Malone holds a bachelor’s degree from American University in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security. She currently works at the Department of Defense as a geospatial analyst. Her graduate thesis is about the impact of Brexit on paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland, and she plans to use GIS to analyze the geographic trends of political violence in the region. She is interested in using GIS to better understand international conflict and to support national security.


Brett Ruether
University of Utah


After graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Integrative Biology in 2012, Ruether worked for six years as a field biologist for various environmental consulting firms throughout the American West. Upon returning to his alma mater, his research has focused on understanding climate-conflict links, human-environment interactions, and wartime governance and land use patterns. Ruether is currently conducting a geospatial analysis of the strategic role of agriculture throughout the conflict in Syria using remote sensing data, social media analytics, and armed conflict databases.


Kylie A. Tokar
University of Maryland, College Park

Geospatial Information Sciences

Tokar’s interests in GEOINT exist at the intersection of environmental science and emerging open-source technology. While working on her bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of South Carolina, Tokar applied her GIS skills to mitigating wetlands at construction sites with the Department of Transportation, mapping utilities and weapons on a National Guard base, and orthorectifying aerial imagery of coastal landscapes. While pursuing her graduate degree, Kylie also works full-time as a geospatial data scientist for Maxar, providing database management, spatial statistics, and cartographic visualization to federal customers.



Alexander Chrvala
University of Mary Washington


In April, Chrvala presented a poster on a proposed interstate highway at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting in Washington, D.C. This summer, he worked as an intelligence analyst intern at the Department of Defense. There, Chrvala gained both valuable practical skills and a network of peers and colleagues. Moreover, the internship enabled him to apply his interests in national security and geopolitical issues.


John Michael Jacobson
Arizona State University

Electrical Engineering

Jacobson recently joined the Arizona Air National Guard, where he works with surveying and geographic information systems as an engineering assistant and has the opportunity to learn about and contribute to GEOINT. He highly values accurate and detailed information, especially when military decisions made based on GEOINT can have significant amounts of money or even lives on the line.


Mikhail Kaminer
University of Colorado, Denver


Being born in Russia and then immigrating to the U.S. fostered Kaminer’s fondness for the human reality and his passion for urban development, specifically in the field of transportation. He is pursuing a B.A. in Geography with an emphasis in Urban Planning and a GIS Certificate, along with a Spanish minor. Kaminer plans to one day guide a transition to more effective public transit systems and hopes to cultivate a commute that will not hinder human comfort.


Brandon Staple
University of Colorado, Denver

Computer Science and Biology

Staple’s computer science interest is in developing resilient machine learning networks to increase target classification accuracy in critical, real-world GEOINT applications. He has interned at the National Reconnaissance Office, Google, and the National Security Agency. His goal is to serve the GEOINT Community by developing next-generation computer capabilities to assist analysts in performing more efficient and accurate intelligence assessments of complex, multi-source datasets.


Sarah Marie VanSchoick
University of Florida


VanSchoick specializes in tropical cyclone rainfall vulnerability. In addition to her degree in Geography and certificate in GIS, she is seeking a minor in Anthropology. As chair of the Undergraduate Student Affinity Group of the American Association of Geographers, she addresses the need to incorporate undergraduates into the culture of graduate academia and to prepare geospatial scientists for the workforce. VanSchoick is interested in using GIS and Python to assess vulnerability to natural disasters.



Dean Alvarez
Strawberry Crest High School; now attending Cornell University

Computer Science

During high school, Alvarez took part in the International Baccalaureate diploma program. Outside of school, his interest in computer science drew him to learn subjects such as cybersecurity and AI. This self-study led Alvarez to two internships at CACI, where he worked on research projects and learned more about computer vision and its applications to GEOINT.


Trevor Burke
St. Mark’s School of Texas; now attending Southern Methodist University

Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics

Burke is a member of the University Honors Program and a Hunt Leadership Scholar. Last summer, he participated in a NASA geospatial research internship. He hopes to further his GEOINT interest by earning a master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering with an emphasis in GEOINT. His career goals include the design and operation of aerospace vehicles and their integrated subsystems. An Eagle Scout with 23 Palms, Trevor has earned all 139 Merit Badges.


Alyssa Cassano
Fairfax High School; now attending James Madison University

Geographic Science

Cassano first learned of geospatial science though a dual enrollment class with James Madison University. Her final project illustrated how the population of counties in northern Virginia has risen in the past 20 years. The project placed second in The Story Behind the Map: 2019 Virginia AGO Map Competition. Cassano is majoring in Geographic Science with a concentration in Applied Geographic Information Systems.


Erin Dowdy
Edwardsville High School; now attending University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Computer Science and Geography & GIS

Dowdy is primarily interested in the technology that goes into GIS and remote sensing, but also enjoys the human and cultural aspects of geography. She is excited to learn more about the subject and its uses in college and looks forward to getting to know USGIF and the communities it serves.


Sierra Taylor
Richmond Heights High School; now attending John Carroll University

Computer Science

Taylor is from Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated second in her class. She is excited for the opportunity to learn more about how to apply computer science to GEOINT, and plans on studying how it can help others. Taylor is also interested in developing new geospatial technologies to enhance disaster response and relief. It is her lifelong dream to work in the STEM field. 

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