Harman SinghRising senior pursuing a B.S. in geography, with a minor in Earth and sustainability
2019–20 Academic Awards
• Rodney A Erickson Discovery Grant
• E. Willard Miller Award in Geography
The purpose of the E. Willard Miller Award in Geography is to encourage accomplished written, graphic, and/or analytical expression by students as part of their degree program in geography. Papers, study proposals, cartography, and software are all eligible.
Singh’s proposed study, “Examining the Relationship between Flooding and Land Use Land Cover in Kerala through a Mixed Method Approach,” investigates the relationship between anthropogenic factors, such as urbanization, and the frequency of flooding in Kerala, India over the past two decades.
“My project aims to examine the relationship between land use and land cover change, like from pervious to impervious, and the intensity of flooding using remote sensing data, policy analysis, and interviews,” Singh said. “Results from this study will be submitted to academic journals and will be included in applications to granting agencies to fund future research.”
Singh began her project during fall 2019 and is using the funding from her awards to cover research expenses. “My initial plan was to use the grant money to travel to India to conduct field research and in-person interviews,” Singh said.
“Due to COVID-19, I had to adapt to the situation and conduct interviews via Zoom. Now, the grant money will now be used to request data from various agencies for quantitative analysis and to cover publication costs.”
Singh has had numerous previous experiences to conduct and present research.
“One of my most memorable experiences was being part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Connection on two occasions,” Singh said. “I was introduced to many different research methods in a hands-on way and I was able to take what I learned in class and apply it to those projects.”
In addition, Singh said that professors Trevor Birkenholtz and Helen Greatrex have mentored her research projects.
“They have both challenged me to improve my knowledge and ability and have helped me to build a strong work ethic,” She said.
As a result of those experiences with research, Singh has given several presentations.
“I presented research at the American Association of Geographers conference in 2019, Penn State’s Campus and Community Sustainability Expo in 2019, where I earned second place, and the College of Earth and Mineral Science’ Undergraduate Poster Competition in 2019 and 2020,” Singh said. “In addition, I was offered a digital fellowship with the American Institute of Indian Studies for summer 2020.”
Teaching and outreach are also important to Singh, who aspires to attend graduate school and pursue an academic career.
“I was a teaching intern in spring 2020 for GEOG 301 Thinking Geographically and was offered a TI position in fall 2020 for GEOG 364 Spatial Analysis,” she said.
Singh also volunteers as a student member on the EMS sustainability sub-committee, and was as a member and president of the GIS Coalition. “I enjoy promoting geography to other students and forming a community of undergraduates who share a common interest,” she said.
While she appreciates the diversity and flexibility within the Penn State geography program, Singh’s primary area of interest is natural disasters.
“I have really enjoyed learning and applying GIS and qualitative human geography analysis to aid my research in flooding,” she said.
Singh advocates that new students should try to take a variety of geography classes because each class has something unique to offer.
“The classes helped me discover which path I liked within geography,” Singh said. “I would also recommend that new students pursue the certificates offered by the geography department. Lastly, I would tell students to approach faculty with questions, ideas, and their own goals. The faculty in geography are very engaged with undergraduates and want them to achieve the best they can for themselves.”