Student Becomes First Udall Scholar at Mason

Posted: April 5, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Katarina Doctor, a junior at George Mason majoring in geography, has been awarded a Morris K. Udall scholarship. Doctor is the first Mason student to be named a Udall Scholar.

“I’m very much excited and surprised about the scholarship,” Doctor says. “It’s great to be recognized in such an esteemed way.”

Doctor left her native Yugoslavia in 2002 after war broke out, and decided to continue her education in the United States. She recently transferred to Mason from Foothill College in California. 

“I was in a war-torn country before, where it was hard just to go to school, let alone be awarded for academic achievements,” Doctor says.

The Udall Scholarship recognizes approximately 80 college sophomores and juniors each year who are active in environmental issues and/or Native American issues, and have strong research and leadership skills. 

Udall scholarships provide up to $5,000, or the cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board, to students who have demonstrated a strong academic record and outstanding potential for leadership.

“Katarina is such a well-rounded, bright student who’s dedicated to her studies and improving the environment,” says Sheryl Beach, associate professor of Earth Systems at Mason and one of Doctor’s former professors. “She always made a great contribution in class. I’m sure she’ll go all the way through to a PhD.”

In addition to her schooling, Doctor works at the U.S. Geographical Survey on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology projects. She has presented her research at multiple conferences, and will be presenting at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference held April 17 to 21 in San Francisco, Calif.

Doctor will graduate in spring 2008 and plans to continue her education to obtain a PhD. She hopes to make a career using advanced satellite imagery and GIS technology to improve the environment. Specifically, her research will result in the creation of digital maps used in disaster forecasting and prevention.

“It’s very rewarding to see a woman scientist like Katarina step up to the plate and receive an award like this,” Beach says.

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