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Master's Student Mia Dawson Named Switzer Environmental Fellow

UC Davis geography graduate student Mia Davis
Sunday, July 16, 2017 - 5:00pm

UC Davis Geography master's student Mia Dawson has been named as a recipient of a Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

The Switzer Fellowship Program offers one-year Fellowships to highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field. The Fellowship provides a $15,000 cash award for academic study, leadership training, access to a vibrant network of more than 600 Switzer Fellowship alums, and opportunities for professional development during the Fellowship year and beyond.

Dawson is a scholar and activist working to radically reimagine the relationship between environment, race, science, and technology in the United States. She grounds her work in a rich history of black activism, especially black feminism. Mia earned her BA from Oberlin College where she studied biology and geology. After graduating, she worked with the Bureau of Land Management on Seeds of Success, a nationwide native plant restoration program.

Switzer Fellows come from diverse social, academic and economic backgrounds and are on the leading edge of environmental and social change through efforts in environmental policy, conservation, environmental justice, public health, economics, journalism, urban planning, business, law and more.  Switzer Fellows are also selected from the traditional environmental sciences such as biology, chemistry and engineering. Switzer Fellows are committed to interdisciplinary and cross-sector work, applied results, and collaborative leadership and may apply from ANY field of study.  Further, they are committed to their own professional development and to continually improving their leadership skills throughout their careers.

Mia is currently a master's student in the Geography Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis. She is developing applications of geographic technology to bring equity and justice to the forefront of environmental decision-making. In this effort, she collaborates with research teams in the UC Davis Center for Regional Change on two projects. One project involves the use of spatial data to inform legal advocacy for equitable access to clean drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley. The other project predicts neighborhood-level health impacts of proposed changes to transportation infrastructure in Sacramento County. Mia's thesis research explores the use of geographic technology to advance environmental justice within a theoretical framework that draws upon political ecology, critical race studies, and science and technology studies. She demonstrates that racial exploitation and environmental destruction share deep connections in terms of both their origins and their persistence. She believes that an intersectional approach is necessary to confront either of these threats to human welfare. Mia is dedicated to building coalitions that jointly pursue social justice and environmental improvement.

Over $14 million in fellowships and grants have been awarded by the Switzer Foundation since 1986. The Foundation is governed by a seven member board comprised of family members and environmental professionals from non-profit, government, academic and private sectors, reflecting the diversity of the Fellowship itself and the cross-sector approaches needed to effect positive change. 

About Graduate Studies at UC Davis

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes 99 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options – bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.

UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields – researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community. For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.