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Our Graduate Students

Our graduate students come from many places and pursue diverse research and career interests while at SIU.

In addition to our current Geography graduate students below, our faculty also advise PhD students in the interdisciplinary Environmental Resources and Policy Program.


Ellen Esling

Ellen Esling

Hometown: Makanda, IL

Undergraduate Institution: Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Research Interests: Place and identity, local food, social and human geography

Future Career Plans: I want to be a farmer, continue to make geography-based documentaries, and teach!

Why SIU? I love Southern Illinois. I continued my education at SIU because I was encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary interests. You can truly be and do anything you dream of here.


Pearl Sika Fichtel

Pearl Sika Fichtel

Hometown: Adaklu Aboadi, Ghana

Undergraduate Institution: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

Research Interests: Environmental management, sustainability, and administration 

Future Career Plans: I hope to work primarily with the UN and world bank and possibly other developmental banks as a project manager or environmental administrator. Also, I would love to use my knowledge and skills in helping to enact sound policies that will promote sustainability and climate change.

Why SIU? The friendliness of the Professors at SIUC, especially in the School of Earth Systems and Sustainability


Tara Giri

Tara Giri

Hometown: Udayapur, Nepal

Undergraduate Institution: IOF, Tribhuvan University

Research Interests: Floodplain sedimentation

Future Career Plans: GIS Analyst, Urban Planning

Why SIU? Prestigious University with board research scope and friendly environment.


Joseph Kalinzi

Joseph Kalinzi

Hometown: Kampala, Uganda 

Undergraduate Institution: Makerere University Kampala 

Research Interests: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Remote Sensing and GIS Applications 

Future Career Plans: Develop GIS Applications that maximize Machine Learning Algorithms. 

Why SIU? The diversity of the student population and the research opportunities.


Nick Keller

Nick Keller

Hometown: Murphysboro, IL

Undergraduate Institution: SIUC

Research Interests: Socioeconomics and their impact on resource management.

Future Career Plans: Natural Resource Manager

Why SIU? I grew up just down the road and I always wanted to come to SIU as a child so when I got the opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.


Ryan Lefaivre

Ryan Lefaivre

Hometown: Roscoe, IL 

Undergraduate Institution: Augustana College, IL 

Research Interests: Human-environmental interactions, spatial analysis, and citizen science. 

Future Career Plans: Environmental Management and GIS. 

Why SIU? The faculty members in the geography and environmental resources department at SIU cover a wide range of interests. There is great collaboration between the various faculty members. Also, southern Illinois has plenty of hiking and exploring.


Victoria Mathieu

Victoria Mathieu

Hometown: Elburn, IL

Undergraduate Institution: SIU

Research Interests: Aviation, weather, GIS

Career: Aviation industry

Why SIU? During my undergrad, I got a Minor in Geography. I've worked in SIU Aviation for a few years. Now that I'm continuing my education, I came back to SIU Geography!


Andrew Paxton

Andrew Paxton

Hometown: Erie, IL

Undergraduate Institution: Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Research Interests: Synoptic Climatology, Climate Modeling

Future Career Plans: Research/Higher Ed

Why SIU? History of scientific research and great mentors.


Ope Rasaq-Balogun

Ope Rasaq-Balogun

Hometown: Ile-Ife, Nigeria 

Undergraduate Institution: Federal University of Technology, Akure. Nigeria 

Research Interests: Climate variability and Change especially Extreme events, Climatology, and Heat stress 

Future Career Plans: I would like to begin my rewarding career as a teacher after my doctoral studies. 

Why SIU? The school's reputation for renowned higher education programs. I also love the diversity of the school.