Our program prepares students for a diverse range of careers, as well as further graduate and professional study. Alumni work as environmental consultants, field researchers for the United Nations, policy analysts, reporters, and secondary school teachers. Others work for (or have founded their own) NGOs and Silicon Valley start-ups. Undergraduate degrees from our department have also led to graduate or professional study in fields such as biology, community development, epidemiology, geography, law, medicine, and urban planning.
Our graduate program offers a chance to specialize in a particular area of Geography under the supervision of a faculty member. Our Master’s students have continued their studies in top-ranked doctoral programs, and have gone on to positions in the public and private sector, and various NGOs. Alumni holding PhD degrees have taken faculty positions in universities worldwide, and work in a variety of public and private research institutions.
Click the tabs below to read profiles of some of our recent graduates.
Nina Gannes (BA 2011)
After graduating with a B.A. with Honors in Geography, I scratched the global traveler itch common to most geography students, and took a job in India working for a conference startup. The INK Conference is modeled after the well-known TED Conference, and my job was helping speakers from diverse backgrounds develop engaging talks. That job led me to Silicon Valley, where I currently work in marketing developing the brand identity for Zamzee, a kids' healthcare startup. Geography is often considered a generalist degree, where students must learn to pivot between courses in health geography to soil science to GIS. The adaptability I developed while studying geography, especially the ability to quickly master a completely new field, has proved enormously helpful when working in the world of technology and startups.
Mark Gilbert (BA 2007)
After completing my Honors degree in Geography, I went immediately into a Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University, which I completed in 2009. After several private and public sector internships, I worked as Campus Planner for the University of Hawaii at Manoa from 2010 to 2012. Once "island fever" kicked in, I uprooted once again to become a Senior Planner with Travis County in Austin, Texas, where I help make long-range planning decisions to provide county services. My degree was a great basis for urban planning. McGill’s research-intensive program provided valuable skills in both qualitative and quantitative analysis that were critical to my success in a Master's program and crucial to what has become my career. Je profite toujours de mes études à l’Université McGill dans le département de géographie. L’occasion d’étudier dans un grand programme à Montréal -- une ville diverse, ouverte et bilingue -- m'a donné une perspective qui ne serait pas possible ailleurs. En effet, le programme continue d’avoir un impact sur mon travail et sur ma vie.
Joe Lewnard (BA 2013)
I entered McGill's music school in 2009 to study baroque performance practice with Matthias Maute. Instead I earned a BA (Hons) in Geography in 2013, and wrote my thesis in the area of emerging infections. After graduation, I returned home to the US to begin a PhD in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale University. Here I study stochastic mathematical modeling as an approach for characterizing the population biology and control of diverse infectious disease agents. I also seek to apply and contribute novel Bayesian and nonparametric methods for statistical inference from epidemiologic data. Among other applied areas, I am currently interested in risk-conscious sexual behavior among men who have sex with men in the era of highly-active antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis. I am formulating game-theoretic models to assess implications of such behavior for transmission dynamics of HIV, HPV, and sexually-transmitted bacterial infections.
Jamie Lundine (BA 2009)
After graduating McGill, I received an NSERC summer research scholarship and travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to investigate the use of innovative online mapping tools to track HIV/AIDS and TB organizations. In 2012, after working with two NGOs, Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) and Map Kibera, I co-founded Spatial Collective Ltd, a technology and consulting company designing and delivering technology-enabled solutions for development issues. In 2013 we were awarded a grant through the Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health, to investigate the use of technology to improve waste management services in Nairobi’s informal settlements. We are also working with the Rockefeller Foundation to deliver Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) services for the $97 million Digital Jobs Africa Initiative. I lead a team to design technology-enabled monitoring across 6 African countries. I never imagined that my Honours degree in Geography and African Studies would set me up so perfectly for this career path. I thought that the combination would attract curious frowns; instead I picked the perfect degree. I often meet fellow geographers in the field of technology and international development in Nairobi. I couldn’t have designed a better degree to set me up for the work I’m doing.
BSc & BASc Geography
Leonora King (BSc 2008)
After graduating from McGill with my BSc., I jumped right into a MSc. at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, where I researched the impacts of forest disturbances on the recruitment of wood to stream channels. Since then, my research interests have evolved towards larger scale processes, and I am currently researching landscape evolution through a PhD in the Department of Geography at UBC in Vancouver. My research involves using remote sensing data and numerical models to evaluate the geomorphic impacts of repeated glaciations on landscapes. Between my MSc. and my PhD I did some contract work for an environmental firm in Calgary and worked in the Environment and Public Affairs department for Lafarge, a major cement and concrete producer. I am still not sure where my path will ultimately take me, but I do know that there is an ever-increasing list of personal, professional and academic opportunities and new ideas to explore, and that I have the strong background to facilitate that exploration.
Alicia Rolin (BASc 2012)
Since graduating with a BASc in Geography and Physics, I interned at IFP Energies Nouvelles in Paris, France, using GIS to help develop a model analyzing the economic viability of non-petroleum energy resources in France and to optimize the locations of new infrastructure. Since returning from France, I have spent the past two years as a Cancer Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. Here I perform geospatial and statistical analysis of the determinants and patterns of cancer across the US at the county and health service area level. I am also involved with the SEER initiative (Surveillance, Epidemiology & End Results). This past summer, I took a mini sabbatical to work at the National Cancer Institute of Peru through The Dartmouth Institute of Health Care Delivery Sciences. In fall 2014, I will start medical school.
BA Urban Systems
Isaac Binkovitz (BA 2009)
The capstone of my Urban Studies program was my Honour’s thesis on spatial clustering in Montreal’s aerospace industry. After graduating from McGill during the economic crisis, I spent a year floating around, at times unemployed, and at times quasi-employed as an intern in D.C. during that year I took intensive French classes, considered whether to go for a Ph.D., a J.D., or an M.U.P. I ultimately attended University of Michigan Law School, graduating in May 2013. In law school I had the opportunity to study land use law, and other topics that related directly to my undergraduate curriculum. In other areas, like international investment law, copyright, and restructuring, I found that my McGill experience also served me well, because I could think globally and systematically, could deal with lengthy reading assignments, and had been trained to write analytical essays. After graduation, I took an associate position in the New York office of a global UK-based law firm Allen & Overy. I am particularly interested in the international and cross-border aspects of the kind of legal work I get. My career is just getting started, but I will base it on the values, experiences, and worldview that McGill helped me foster.
Mitchell Lavoie (BA 2010)
Mitchell a complété le programme de Systèmes urbains en 2010 et une maîtrise en urbanisme à l’École d’urbanisme de McGill en 2012. Au cours de son diplôme de deuxième cycle, Mitchell a eu l’occasion de travailler avec des parties prenantes du secteur public sur des projets divers, dont un plan à l’échelle du quartier dans l’arrondissement du Sud-Ouest, un schéma d’aménagement pour un site dans l’arrondissement de Saint-Laurent et une caractérisation des secteurs identifiés pour un aménagement de type TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) pour la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. Une fois qu’il a terminé ses études, Mitchell a fait un stage à la Ville de Montréal pour ensuite travailler avec la Ville en tant que consultant indépendant sur un projet de plan directeur de développement pour les berges de l’arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville. Il a travaillé sur de petits contrats pour des clients issus de domaines variés en tant que consultant indépendant en aménagement urbain pendant près de deux ans. Mitchell occupe maintenant le poste de Professionnel junior en urbanisme chez CIMA+.
Masters (MA & MSc)
Karina Benessaiah (MSc 2008)
While finishing my Master’s, I took an internship with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa where I researched coastal communities adaptations to climate change in Latin America as well as the role played by voluntary carbon markets for ecosystem service provision and poverty alleviation. As a geographer I felt right at home at IDRC. Geographers have a significant presence there and are greatly appreciated for their ability to combine social and natural sciences. I then decided to continue my studies in the doctoral prograpm in Geography at Arizona State University. My dissertation focuses on the emergence of a back-to-land trend in Greece and the role that land - and the environment more generally - plays as a safety net in times of crisis. I received both a SSHRC and a Trudeau scholarship to support my research. Throughout all my experiences, I am continually reminded how intellectually versatile geography is. Geographers not only straddle social and natural sciences, they tend to be at ease with a variety of methodologies and units of analysis, and know how to navigate various disciplinary worlds. In short, geographers are the quintessential interdisciplinarians.
Alexandre Corriveau-Bourque (MA 2011)
Following my MA, during which I studied local mechanisms used to resolve land conflicts in rural Liberia, I was keen to find some form of continuity between my thesis research and post-graduate work. A few months after graduation, I landed at a research and advocacy non-profit in Washington DC called Rights and Resources Initiative as the organization’s tenure analyst. The job consists of designing, implementing, and managing research initiatives (often done in collaboration with other locally-based organizations) on issues that directly affect rural communities’ land rights in nearly 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Based on this research, we coordinate advocacy initiatives targeted at key policy makers and private sector actors in an effort to strengthen local land rights in both law and practice.
Heather Cray (BA Geography 2010; MSc 2013)
I completed a B.A. Joint-Honours in Geography in 2010 focusing on landscape change in permafrost environments, after which I continued my Arctic field research as an MSc Geography student. My thesis was centered on biogeomorphology – how landscape-level changes affect smaller-scale features such as soil characteristics and plant community composition in the Canadian Arctic. After finishing my MSc at McGill I began a PhD in Ecology at the University of Waterloo where I study the emerging science of restoration ecology. My doctoral research will investigate the connections and feedbacks between the physical environment and multiple levels of life within an ecosystem with the goal of both practical and theoretical advancements in the field.
Rose Eckhardt (MA 2010)
While at McGill, I used spatial analysis to understand the spread of infectious diseases. My thesis analyzed the international importation of malaria and subsequent risk of localized transmission. After I finished my master’s in 2010, I joined the BioDiaspora team at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. BioDiaspora is an innovative project that is working to better understand and prevent the international spread of infectious diseases. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to directly apply the research skills that I had developed while at McGill, and my graduate studies were excellent preparation for my work there. Working with the BioDiaspora team was an incredible learning experience that helped me grow both as a health researcher and as a young professional, and to explore the world of careers in health and medicine. I left my position at BioDiaspora after three years to pursue premedical coursework and eventually a career in clinical medicine, but I can see my training and experience at McGill being an incredible asset, wherever my path may lead.
Wolfram Dressler (PhD Geography 2005)
Armed with a doctorate from the Department of Geography studying national park management, resource conflicts and indigenous peoples’ rights in the Philippines, I took up a post-doctoral fellowship with the World Conservation Union and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. While in Southern Africa I researched the impacts of transfrontier conservation on the livelihoods of poor rural farmers. I am currently an Associate Professor at Wageningen University and I am about to take up a Future Fellowship at the Melbourne School of Land and Environment at the University of Melbourne, Australia (it’s the weather!) My current research interests are in the politics of forest governance, carbon financing and landscape change in Southeast Asia.
Tim Haltigin (PhD Geography 2010)
While at McGill, I spent much of my time trying to figure out why arctic landscapes look the way they do and how they could help us understand similar terrains on Mars. After finishing up at Burnside, I was hired by the Canadian Space Agency to a research position that I held (and loved) for two years. At CSA, I’m now the Senior Mission Scientist in Planetary Exploration, which basically means that I get to help find ways for Canada to participate in amazing projects exploring Earth, the Moon, Mars, and even asteroids. There’s no doubt that the academic training I received in Geography was excellent, but it was really being surrounded by such a diversity of personalities and expertise on a daily basis that really helped prepare me for what was to come.
Peter Johnson (PhD Geography 2010)
For my PhD, I worked with Dr. Renee Sieber on the use and evaluation of spatial models for tourism planning. I was also employed as a post-doctoral research at McGill, studying the use of innovative Geoweb platforms for community economic development in rural Quebec. I very much enjoyed my time at McGill, especially the opportunity to work both formally and informally with so many committed and engaging professors. I felt that I was challenged in appropriate and meaningful ways to explain my work to a broad audience. My PhD and post-doctoral experiences have prepared me well for my current career in academia as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo. I now try to provide similar mentoring and support to undergraduate and graduate students at Waterloo.
Angela Kross (PhD Geography 2012)
I very much enjoyed my time at McGill; it was an academically, culturally and personally enriching experience! During my PhD I studied carbon dioxide uptake in peatlands using satellite remote sensing technologies. Following my defense I lectured in remote sensing at the University of Ottawa and since May 2012 I am a postdoctoral researcher at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. My current research consists of the characterization of crop development and health using satellite remote sensing. Ultimately I seek to quantify crop response to water management practices. My PhD and post-doctoral experiences are in line with my research aspirations and ultimate career goals. For now, I am enjoying the privilege of doing my research in an environment that provides me with the best possible substrate: numerous satellite images, in combination with actual fieldwork!
Chantelle Richmond (PhD Geography 2007)
Following my PhD, I took a short postdoc in Community Health Sciences at U of T. In 2008 I came to Western University, where I have just received tenure and promotion. Since coming to Western, I have developed an applied research program around Indigenous health and well-being, the Indigenous Health Lab. My research program draws from a community-based approach that empowers Indigenous communities to do research on environment-health issues affecting them, the main goal being to create locally relevant, Indigenous-driven solutions. My trainees and I work with communities on various projects related to Indigenous Knowledge transfer, food security, safe drinking water, cultural change, and more recently environmental repossession. I really enjoyed my time at McGill. I am happy that I took the time to appreciate the PhD as not only an academic exercise, but also important for building friendships and exploring my own personal goals and interests. Six years post-PhD, I am still striving to reach a healthy personal-professional balance, and recognize that these are life-long learning lessons!