Association of American Geographers
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Student Councilor

(one to be elected)


Matthew L. Fahrenbruch

MATTHEW L. FAHRENBRUCH. Doctoral Candidate, Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas; Fulbright Student Fellow to Nicaragua, Institute of International Education; Charles Stansifer Fellow, University of Kansas Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (KUCLACS). Alumni, Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, University of North Dakota (2009-2011). M.S. in Geography, University of Southern Mississippi (2013); B.S. in Geography, University of North Dakota (2011).

Service to the AAG and Affiliated Organizations: Membership in the Economic Geography, Latin America, and Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Specialty Groups. Member, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers. World Geography Bowl Team Member, GPRM Division, AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL (2015).

Academic Service: President & Vice President, Graduate Student Organization, Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science (2014-2017); Treasurer, KU Latin American Graduate Organization (2014-2015); Colloquium Committee, Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science (2014-2015); President, Gamma Theta Upsilon Psi Chapter (2009-2011); Treasurer, Tau Sigma Honor Society UND Chapter (2009-2011). Invited Events: Fulbright Enrichment Seminar, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (2018); KUCLACS Merienda Lecture Series (2016); TRIO Highschool Outreach Event, Goodridge, MN (2011); Student Conservation Association Representative, America's Great Outdoors Initiative; Salt Lake City, UT (2010). Panel Participant, Transfer Student Best Practices Conference; Grand Forks, ND (2009).

Publications: Journal of Latin American Geography, Wani Revista del Caribe Nicaragüense, Routledge (Book Chapter), Cartographica, Panoramas.

Presentations: International - International Geographical Congress, Beijing, China (2016); Meeting of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, Mérida, Mexico (2012). Domestic - AAG Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2016); GPRM and SW AAG Joint Meeting, Albuquerque, NM (2014); GPRM AAG Meeting, Omaha, NE (2013); SEDAAG Meeting, Savannah, GA (2011); GPRM AAG Meeting, Lawrence, KS (2011).

Professional Experience: Fulbright IIE Student Fellow to Nicaragua (2017-Present); Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas (2014-2017); Recreation Technician; United States Forest Service (2013); Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Southern Mississippi (2011-2013); Fuels/Vegetation Monitoring Intern, United States Bureau of Land Management (2010).

Awards, Honors, and Fellowships: Fulbright IIE Student Fellowship to Nicaragua (2017-2018); Charles Stansifer Fellowship (2017-2018), KUCLACS; Tinker Foundation Research Grant (2016); International Geographical Union Congress AAG/NSF Travel Grant (2016); Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Scholarship (2015), KUCLACS; Graduate Student Research Symposium Departmental Paper Award (2012), University of Southern Mississippi; Alice Rechlin Scholarship (2010), Gamma Theta Upsilon; Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program (2009-2011).

Research Interests: My research focuses broadly on the impacts of globalization on rural communities and indigenous territorial governance in Central America. I have an on-going project, since 2011, on tourism gentrification and vulnerability in the community of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I have focused on how the economic transition of the community from fishing village to tourism destination has impacted its vulnerability to natural hazards. In the future, I am interested in mapping tourism gentrification in the community through social networks. On the other side of Nicaragua, my current dissertation and Fulbright research focuses on the development of jellyfish fisheries in the Northern and Southern Autonomous Regions tied to the increasing consumption of luxury seafood resources in China. I hope to understand how this new and non-traditional resource market is being governed locally by newly created multi-communal indigenous territorial authorities. I also worked as a GRA between 2014 and 2017 assisting with the mapping of new multi-communal indigenous territorial jurisdictions in Honduras in collaboration with domestic, international, and indigenous partners.

Statement: I have been a member of the AAG since my time as an undergraduate at the University of North Dakota. One of my first professional presentations was as an undergraduate at the 2010 GPRM meeting in Lawrence, Kansas. I have continued since then to be an active member at both the regional and national levels. I have presented papers and even participated in the 2015 GPRM World Geography Bowl Team. I am currently a Fulbright Student Scholar in Nicaragua. I am conducting my dissertation research on indigenous governance of artisanal jellyfish fisheries on the Miskito Coast. I will return to the United States in June. 

Even before my Fulbright, I was well-traveled in the United States and abroad. I grew up in Colorado, and my wife and I have lived and/or gone to school in Utah, Nevada, North Dakota, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Kansas. I have also been extremely fortunate in my short academic career to amass over three years of combined field time in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; to give conference papers internationally in Mexico (CLAG 2012) and China (IGC 2016); and to have traveled for leisure in Panama, Trinidad, and Ireland. I have always suffered a bit from wanderlust, but I believe that as “writers of the earth” we should all aspire to explore areas new to us.

In addition to travel, my wife and I are both first-generation and non-traditional students. I know first-hand how easy it is to get lost in the academic maze when you lack a social foundation of higher education. My thoughts on the AAG and academia are embedded within this context. I believe that the AAG can and should continue to advocate for programs that help first-generation, non-traditional, and underrepresented students succeed and thrive in higher education including, but not limited to, the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. I also believe there needs to be a greater emphasis on integration between academic geography and industry and government — only a small fraction of geography majors are ultimately destined for academia.

Lastly, I see a role for the AAG in providing strong institutional representation for all graduate students to Congress. In the last three years, we graduate students have had at least two close calls with potentially devastating legislation. The first was a court ruling on the Affordable Care Act that almost killed graduate health insurance subsidies, and the second was the recent House of Representatives bill that would have taxed graduate waivers as income, dramatically increasing our tax burdens. The political climate is not getting any friendlier towards academia and we need to remain vigilant in terms of countering such legislative measures at all levels of government.

In short, I hope to bring the above experience to my service as a student counselor, and in doing so, increase the sensitivity of the council to issues pertinent to students. 


Sarah Stinard-Kiel

SARAH STINARD-KIEL. Ph.D. Candidate & College of Liberal Arts Advanced Scholar, Geography & Urban Studies Department, Temple University; M.A. in Geography, Rutgers University (2013); B.A. in Anthropology & English, Florida State University (2009)

Service to Geography & the AAG: My biggest academic accomplishment since becoming a Geographer was organizing the Annual Critical Geography Conference at Temple University. As graduate student organizer, I collected abstracts, recruited faculty and student discussants, and created spaces for socialization, childcare support, and engagement with the local community.  I served as Secretary of the Geographic Perspectives on Women (GPOW) Specialty Group of the AAG from 2015-2016. I also co-founded the Caregiving Affinity Group which seeks to support parents and caregivers in the AAG by advocating for childcare, caregiving subsidies, and a more supportive professional environment.

Awards & Honors: Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation, “Geographies of Urban Trauma: Examining a social service paradigm shift in two U.S. cities” (2017); Advanced Scholar Award, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University (2017-2018); Harris Weber Graduate Fellowship, Geography & Urban Studies Department, Temple University (2017); Glenda Laws Student Paper Award, Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group of the AAG, “Networks of Intimacy: Moving the family from object to assemblage” (2014).

Publications: Most recently I co-edited a forum on Society and Space entitled “Beyond Binaries and Boundaries in ‘Social Reproduction’” and contributed an article based on my Master’s thesis research, “Charity? Ally-ship? Solidarity? Exploring racial tensions in collectivized caregiving.” I also co-authored an article on Octavia Butler’s Fledgling for Literary Geographies, and published a review of the hip-hop musical about the foster care system, Know How.

Research & Teaching Interests: My areas of interest are urban geography, feminist theory and methodology, and critical geographies of health. For my Master’s thesis, I explored the role of social reproduction in political activism by looking at how social movements make space for children and caregivers at their protests, meetings, and conferences. For my dissertation, I interrogate “trauma-informed” approaches to youth social services in the cities of New Orleans and Philadelphia. I’m interested in how current scientific and neurobiological understandings of trauma are shaping where and at what scale interventions into urban poverty and inequality are being made. As a graduate student, I have TA’d a range of courses including Digital Mapping and Sustainable Environments. I have also instructed and created syllabi for Global Cities and Environmental Policy.

Statement: Like many other graduate students, I face an uncertain future in academia. As we look ahead, we see precarious employment, dwindling benefits, and fewer public resources directed towards education. I believe that as we navigate the difficult road ahead we must support each other, while making forceful demands on the institutions that control our livelihoods. For this reason, if elected, I will be especially attentive to how students’ material needs affect their ability to complete their programs and secure sustainable academic and non-academic jobs.  As an AAG member, I’ve been passionate about supporting caregivers, and helped co-found the Caregiving Affinity Group. Those who care for others are often penalized for it in unseen ways in their academic and professional careers, and I would like to continue to push the AAG to do more to recognize and support parents and caregivers. When we support students with a diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and needs we make our discipline more robust.

One of the reasons I was drawn to Geography, and why I’ve remained such a loyal student, is the tools it gives us to understand and transform the world around us. However, the discipline must continue to grapple with our colonial legacies and the ways our methods are used to surveil, police, and harm people in the US and abroad. Supporting Geographic praxis that upends these practices is paramount. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a local group in Philadelphia to produce a status report on young women involved in the justice system. While this kind of partnership is rewarding and often necessary for many advocacy organizations, student labor is rarely rewarded for contributing in such a way. We are often discouraged from engaging in work that doesn’t directly benefit our degree or career. Over the years I’ve been inspired by how spaces that support this kind of work are created by students and activists in the AAG. I’ve also been inspired by the “non-traditional” panels which focus on supporting each other through feminist praxis, or openly discussing mental health issues. I would like to see these activities receive more institutional and disciplinary support. I am sincerely excited and truly honored to have the opportunity to become a AAG National Student Councilor and bring these issues to the fore.