Graduate Students | Geography, Environment, and Sustainability


Graduate Students

Ph.D. Students

Alexis Doren

B.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro  (Geography) (2020)

M.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Applied Geography) (2022)

Why Alexis, from Idaho Falls, ID studies Geography at UNCG: “I feel like Geography encompasses everything, because everything has a place, so there are many different paths to choose in Geography.” Alexis was able to bring together her interests into a research project.

Her research examines connectivity rates of upland gullies, remobilization of legacy sediment, and extension rates of valley floor gullies by using ring data from tree roots on valley floors. Alexis is planning to continue her graduate studies through the PhD in Geography program here at UNCG.


Chase Womack

M.S. Geographic Information Science, University of North Alabama (2020) 

B.A. Geography and Political Science, University of North Alabama (2019)

Why Chase from Florence, AL studies Geography at UNCG: “UNCG has one of the very few PhD programs in America that has a political geographer on staff.”

For his PhD, Chase is studying outer space geography and geopolitics, looking into the second space race and the new entrants of private companies impacts in near earth space.”

Bimita Thapa

M.A. Applied Geography, UNCG (2020)

B.A. Architecture, Nepal Engineering College (2016)

Bimita, from Kathmandu, Nepal, chose to study geography at UNCG, because the courses in human and physical geography and GIS allow her to tackle spatial problems in urban planning and development. Her research focuses on sustainability of urban transport geography and its interrelationship to urban planning. 


Nathan Rector

M.P.A., Stephen F. Austin State University


Shamusideen Ayeni

B.A., Archaeology/Geography, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (2009);

M.A. Geography, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (2015)

Shamusideen says, “I am always fascinated by workings of the physical/natural environment. I am convinced that the only way I could be a part of the solutions to the complex nature of challenges bedeviling this admired physical/natural environment is to study geography. ”

At UNCG, he is studying the geomorphic sensitivity and resilience of river channels in the Haw River Basin to climate change. 

Sami Alwulayi

B.A. Geography, IMSIU, Saudi Arabia, 2014 

M.S. Geography (Community Development & Planning), Western Michigan University, 2020 

Sami studies geography at UNCG because of faculty members’ expertise in economic geography and the attention to students success within the department. 

Sami’s research is focused on the solar energy market in Saudi Arabia and the spatial patterns of residential solar panel use. 

Ridwaana Allen

B.S. Spellman College (Environmental Science & Studies);

M.S. James Madison University (Integrated Science & Technology)

Jenny Berggren

B.A., Wake Forest University (History);

M.A., University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Sociology and MAT, Secondary Social Studies Education)

Research interests: Cultural Geography

Gregory Carlton

B.S. Ball State University (Geography);

M.S. Western Michigan University (Geography)

Avery Catherwood

B.A. University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)

M.A. University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Applied Geography)

Ayush Chaudhuri

B.Sc in Geology Hons., Presidency University, Kolkata, India (2020)

M.Sc in Applied Geology, Presidency University, Kolkata, India (2022)

I hail from the state of West Bengal, India and currently am doing my PhD in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I have always been fascinated with studying the Earth Systems Science and to explore the mysteries of the world. I am a physical geographer with focus towards hydrogeology. My current research focuses on studying groundwater resources on the coast of North Carolina. My work encompasses the fields of AI modelling, remote sensing, GIS, along with statistical and geophysical modelling.

At UNCG, I am currently working on the saline water intrusion of groundwater resources on the North Carolina coastal region.

Nabeela Farhat

B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (History & Geography); 

M.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)

Karen Kesler

B.S. North Carolina State University (Business)

B.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)

M.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)


Adam Lehman

B.A. University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Archaeology & Classical Civilization):

M.A. East Carolina University (History)

M.A. University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Applied Geography)

Alexandre Massulo

B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, Etep University Center, São José dos Campos – São Paulo, Brazil (2016).

Executive M.B.A in Business Management, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), São José dos Campos – São Paulo, Brazil (2021).

Executive M.B.A in Strategic People Management: Human Development of Managers, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), São José dos Campos – São Paulo, Brazil (2023).

Alexandre Donizete Massulo is from Jacareí, São Paulo (BRAZIL) and Currently pursuing his Ph.D at UNCG with a focus on Geographic Information Science (GIScience) and  Geographic Information System (GIS).

Alexandre has a Green Belt certification and is a Continuous Improvement/Grade Change Specialist with skills in project management, development and people leadership. He has more than ten years of experience in the Pharmaceutical / Consumer Goods Industry (Johnson & Johnson Ltda | Kimberly Clark Corporation | Suzano S.A) and two years in Mining Industry (Vale S.A).

He is also committed to developing his skills and expanding his network of academic and professional contacts to be able to contribute even more to the development of the entire community.


Nathan McMenamin

B.A. University of North Carolina at Pembroke (History)

M.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Applied Geography)


Tyler Mitchell

B.S. University of West Florida (Environmental Management)

M.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)

Rajesh Sigdel

B.S. Tribhuvan University (Environmental Science);

M.S. Grand Valley State University (Biology);

M.S. Western Michigan University (Geography)

M.A. Students

Zachary Fletcher

B.A. Geography, UNCG (2021)

Zachary chose to continue his education in Geography at UNCG because of available resources and connections he made as an undergrad in the department. He hopes to focus his research on climate change. 

Natsuko Baba

B.A. Geography, Nara Women’s University, Japan (2020)

Natsuko from Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan, first came to UNCG as an exchange student in 2017-18. After taking Sustainable Tourism and Transportation, Natsuko decided to pursue her M.A. at UNCG to study the aviation industry, transportation, and economic geography with Dr. Keith Debbage.

Her research focuses on economic geographical factors in the aviation industry such as air passenger network, economic growth, and air traffic prospects after the pandemic. 

Kieran Bailey

B.A., Geography, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2022)

Kieran, from Raleigh, NC, chose to study geography at UNCG because of its interdisciplinarity. He aspires towards a career in urban planning. 

Zach Becker

B.A., University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Geography)

Nicko Tovar

B.A. Geography, UNCG, 2021 

Why Nicko, from Colfax, NC, studies Geography at UNCG: “I fell in love with the field and discipline after my first class with Dr. Hall-Brown and saw that it was a multifaceted discipline of social science that tackles all avenues of life.”

M.S. Students

Drew Bigelow

M.S., Sustainability & Environment, UNCG, 2022

B.A., Anthropology, UNCG, 2020

B.A., Environmental Studies, UNCG, 2020

Why the Environment & Sustainability Program? Drew started her undergraduate career as an anthropology major, but added environmental studies as a second major because it allowed her to meet existing degree requirements while also encouraging exploration of connections between human society and the environment. Drew decided to continue her education at UNCG through the MSSE, because the program was online and “there is no other program out there that combines physical science and social science perspectives quite like this one does.”

Favorite aspects/courses? Drew says, “I enjoyed GES 602 and GES 605 for their content, delivery and instructional design. I found these courses to be both practical in use and highly relevant to my interests surrounding human geography, planning and sustainable development. I also really enjoyed GES 697–my  capstone course–because it was fully customizable and allowed me to focus my research on regional planning and resilience. At the culmination of this capstone course, I successfully delivered a 52 page research report and presentation titled Regional Resilience: Theory and Practice. It is thanks to the research that I conducted for this capstone course that I have been given the opportunity to pursue a career in geographic planning.

What’s next? Shortly after she graduated, Drew was hired as a Planner for the City of Reidsville. She says, “This position is directly relevant to the coursework and research I conducted while in the MSSE graduate program. In this position I  work with the community and development department to oversee a variety of issues related to zoning, land use and urban development.” 

Jamie Watkins

B.A., Geography, UNCG, 2020

Why MSSE? Jamie chose MSSE for its affordability and flexibility, which allows her to have a better work/life balance. She enjoys the aspects of the program that allow her to be creative and apply her technical skills for projects. 

She says, “​​This is a demanding program and adapting to the new level of challenge takes time. If you put in the work, I promise it is well worth the effort.” 

Jamie, who currently works in EMS and Search and Rescue, is using her final project thesis to research water rescue calls in her home county. Her goal is to help inform mitigation strategies to better prepare her county for urban flooding events, especially in the light of climate uncertainty. 

Rhia Brown

B.S., Environmental Studies, Montreat College, 2012

Why MSSE? Working full-time, Rhia wanted an online program that emphasized ethics and gave real meaning to sustainability and environmentalism, something she says makes the MSSE unique. 

Achieving goals: Rhia explains how the MSSE is equipping her with skills needed in her desired career path in legislative work. She says, “This program is helping me fine tune my goals for government work and becoming a policy maker, and allowing me the space to become and effective environmental communicator. I have only taken two semesters of classes but I have already seen my worldview expand and adjust to accommodate the new information I am learning.”

Sam Gaillard

B.A., Environmental & Sustainability Studies, UNCG, 2021

Why MSSE? Having earned her undergraduate degree in our BA program, Sam wanted to build upon her connections with faculty.  She says, “I really like how UNCG frames itself within the environmental and sustainability movement.”

Making connections with classmates and faculty can be a challenge, Sam says, but something as simple as starting a Google Chat with a classmate can break down those barriers. Networking is important. 

Post-MSSE: Through her job at UNCG Outdoor Adventures, Sam has developed a passion for environmental education and recreation, but also has interests in field research — anywhere outside and working hands-on towards solutions. 

Savannah Gabrus

B.S., Environmental Studies, University of Montevallo, 2021

Why MSSE? Besides the online modality and cost, Savannah chose the MSSE for its flexibility that allows her to focus on her specific interests, rather than being restricted to a more rigid degree plan. 

Pros & Cons: Despite the online setting, discussion posts and group work allow Savannah to connect with her classmates and improve her communication skills around environmental concepts and issues. However, she misses opportunities to get field experience. 

Post-MSSE: Savannah hopes to become a teacher, where she can inspire future generations and make a lasting impact.

Morgan Glover

B.A., Mass Communication, Campbell University, 2003

Why MSSE? With a family and a full-time job, Morgan has long wanted to pursue a sustainability degree and found a home with the online MSSE. She says, “I value UNCG’s longstanding commitment to sustainability and its four-pronged approach.” 

Prospective students need to be organized, driven, and self-motivated, Morgan emphasizes. She says it’s also been a challenge processing the increasing amount of disturbing news around climate and society. 

Post-MSSE: Morgan may choose to combine her background in journalism with her new MS degree to work in environmental communications, or she may find equally rewarding work with faith & civic organizations, developing programs that foster eco-centric values and environmental & social responsibility.