Hamish Gibbs ’17 BA (Geog) named Saint Andrew’s Society of NY Scholar

Monday, April 9, 2018 | By Kelly Homan Rodoski 

Hamish Gibbs NY ScholarHamish Gibbs ’17 has been named the recipient of a 2018 Saint Andrew’s Society of New York Scholarship. The award is granted to two students in the United States each year who are of Scottish descent, and it funds one year of graduate study in Scotland. Gibbs received a bachelor’s degree in geography from the College of Arts and Sciencesand the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, with minors in Spanish and applied statistics. He worked with the University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising to prepare his scholarship application. Below, Gibbs answers some questions about his studies and research, and what is to come in Scotland.

You plan to enroll in a master’s degree program at the University of Glasgow after receiving a Saint Andrew’s Society of New York Scholarship. What do you hope to do once your master’s degree is complete

I will be pursuing my master’s degree in geoinformation technology and cartography to improve my research skills using geographic data, digital mapping technologies and data analysis. The program I have chosen will allow me to learn new technical skills in the collection, use and presentation of spatial data. I believe that there is great potential for these technologies to improve decision making and I hope to apply these technologies to contribute to the understanding of complex issues around the world while studying at the University of Glasgow.

How did you hear about the Saint Andrew's Scholarship opportunity and what was the application process like?

I learned about the scholarship from Jolynn Parker, the director of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA). The application for this scholarship involved a series of short essays, followed by an in-person interview conducted by members of the Saint Andrew’s Society in New York City. As I moved through the application and interview process, the CFSA staff was a very valuable resource.

Your study and research experiences have both kept you close to home, such as experiences in Syracuse and coastal Massachusetts, and sent you around the world, to places such as Turkey, Mongolia and Ecuador. What has had the most profound impact on you?

I have been fortunate to travel and work around the world. In addition, my studies at Syracuse University gave me opportunities to conduct research both within the Syracuse geography department, where I studied the statistical characteristics of rivers and at UMass Boston, where I studied land use variation in eastern Massachusetts. I am very grateful to have had the experience of conducting laboratory work at Syracuse University and UMass Boston, where I improved my technical skills while working in a professional research environment.

The research experiences you have engaged in have ranged from studying land cover impact in New England cranberry bogs to mapping terror attacks in Turkey to studying Syracuse University Ambulance response times. What lessons have you learned from these research experiences and how have they come together to inform the path you are preparing to take?

Studying geography has given me the ability to unite a wide variety of information within a single context: its distribution across space. For example, in understanding the impacts of land use change on small organisms undergoing environmental restoration, my research required knowledge of aquatic ecology, geomorphology and hydrology. I have always been fascinated by the ability of maps to draw from such a wide variety of disciplines to convey information effectively. The variety of my research interests has also demonstrated to me the importance of learning skills that have numerous applications. In pursuing a degree so focused on the specific uses of geospatial technologies in Glasgow, I am interested in gaining skills that can be used to continue my study of issues across academic disciplines.

You are an avid outdoorsman and have completed extended canoe trips in Canada. How has your love and appreciation for the outdoors influenced you in your studies and research?

Everywhere that I have lived, I have always enjoyed exploring the outdoors. It was actually my interest in the outdoors that first drew me to the study of geography. I hope to complement my coursework and research at the University of Glasgow by exploring the rich landscape of Scotland. Hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and camping, I look forward to traveling throughout Scotland to learn more about the country and experience some of its beautiful and unique terrain.

You are of Scottish heritage and this will be your first time visiting Scotland and the greater United Kingdom. Beyond your academic study, what do you hope to do, to experience, during your time in Scotland?

My ancestors lived in Aberdeenshire before emigrating to Canada and I look forward to learning more about my family’s connection with Scotland by traveling throughout the country. I also look forward to exploring the highlands and the seacoast near Glasgow. Scotland has a large network of geographers and a number of publications relating to geography which I hope to become involved with while studying in Glasgow in order to meet other students and professionals currently working with geospatial technologies and cartography. Finally, I am very grateful for the generosity of the Saint Andrew’s Society of New York for the opportunity to travel and study in Scotland and look forward to pursuing my graduate studies at the University of Glasgow this fall.