CSU PhD student Awarded Society of Woman Geographers Fellowship for Biosphere Research

The Evelyn L. Pruitt Fellowship was recently awarded to PhD Candidate Kathryn Powlen, a student in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the Warner College of Natural Resources. The fellowship will enable Powlen to further her dissertation research on biosphere reserves in Mexico.

A biosphere reserve is a zoned protected area that allows for agricultural rural and indigenous communities to coexist. Powlen’s research focuses on conflicts within the biosphere governance model and how they are solved as local indigenous residents seek to coexist and also support their agricultural-based livelihoods.

Kathryn Powlen, CSU PhD Candidate

The award, granted by the Society of Women Geographers for dissertation research in geography and related fields, will allow Powlen to analyze the effectiveness of policies governing Mexico’s biospheres and their inhabitants.

With global application, Powlen’s research digs deep into biospheres purported to be more ethical, and she will explore this claim through exploring the dynamics between communities, protected area rangers and the preserve itself.

Powlen said she became interested in this work as she studied with CSU faculty member Kelly Jones and became involved with SOGES’ environmental justice working group.

“This is a huge area for growth and need for future focus within conservation, as nature, health and justice are so intrinsically linked,” Powlen said.

SWG’s Pruitt National Fellowship Program offers fellowships up to $12,000 to women doctoral candidates in the United States and Canada. It is made possible by a generous bequest from Ms. Evelyn L. Pruitt, a research geographer with the U.S. Navy whose work from the 1940s into the 1970s greatly advanced the study of coastal environments, the use of remote sensing in geography and field research in international settings.

The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources is dedicated to the education and involvement of diverse publics in natural resource decisions. With more than 90 years of collaborative research in parks and protected areas, HDNR contributes to informed decision making while conveying a broad-based understanding of the ways humans value, use and depend on the natural environment.