Dr. Rachel Berndtson, Assistant Academic Director and a Lecturer for the Department of Geographical Sciences, has been awarded the 2020 Outstanding Coordinator of Graduate Studies (CGS) Award. Coordinators of Graduate Studies play a critical role in shaping the direction of graduate education in our programs and in enabling and ensuring the academic success of graduate students. Dr. Berndtson has been a critical member of the department especially in her work with the graduate program, always ensuring smooth operation and in shaping the overall educational experience of our graduate students.The Outstanding CGS Award honors graduate coordinators who have made exceptional contributions to graduate education, a graduate program, and the graduate student experience in that program, and we are proud that Dr. Berndtson has received this well-deserved award!
Dr. Berndtson is a human geographer whose research focuses on the contexts and outcomes of human-environment interactions as they relate to cultural and environmental sustainability. Earning her doctorate in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland, she studied the mechanisms through which contemporary religious groups interpret and incorporate the environment and sustainable agriculture into sacred and institutional life. Her previous positions at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Department of Geographical Sciences have incorporated research, teaching, and academic management. In her most current set of research, Rachel investigates the role of cultural ecosystem services on sustainable viticultural landscapes, as well as applications of student-centered teaching and learning on Geographic education.