Rachel Applebaum, a graduate student in the GIS/Cartography track of the Geography Department, has won several awards this semester: the 2015 Graduate IUP Women’s Leadership Award; third place at the graduate level in the Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Forum; and the Dean’s Award for Excellence for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Graduate Scholars Forum.
Applebaum received her undergraduate degree from Boston University with a dual major in archaeology and classical civilizations. During her undergraduate work, she got experience using GIS mapping to explore the spatial relationships between rooms and houses on a site in Menorca, one of the Balearic islands off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean.
At IUP, Applebaum is currently working on her MS in Geography, advised by Dr. Kevin Patrick. She recently successfully defended her thesis, titled “Spatial Manifestation and Trends of Cremation in Pennsylvania.” Her research examines groupings of high or low cremation rates in Pennsylvania and explains them using income, the African-American population, religious adherence rate, and population density. She explains that “Geography has taught me a new way of looking at social, economic, and environmental phenomena. It’s easy to think that, of course, things like income are different in different places, but when you put it on a map, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. It’s a new way of thinking of things. GIS [geographical information sciences] specifically has taught me to be more analytic and to think as a process. By looking at thing through in a new way and being able to analyze them logically, I have found success in pushing through not only academic rigors, but social ones as well.”
The Woman’s Leadership Award is given to women who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and leadership roles in the community. Applebaum won the award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA and completing a thesis. In addition, she is president of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the geography honors society; vice president of the geospatial club, a social club for GIS-interested students; a member of the IUP Pride Alliance; part of the committee which was working to bring the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition’s (PSEC) Youth Action Conference here to IUP in 2015; and a graduate assistant to the TRIO programs at IUP (UBMS and McNair Scholars).
In addition, Applebaum won third place at the graduate level in the Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Forum and the Dean’s Award for Excellence for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Graduate Scholars Forum. Both awards were for her presentations of her thesis work, “Spatial Manifestations and Trends of Cremation in Pennsylvania.”
The Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Program was a poster session to show off and highlight the research projects of female students in the STEM fields. Applebaum noted, “I was very pleased and surprised with the interest in my research. I had several people walk by my poster, read my title, pause, then come back and ask me about it. You don’t see a lot of research on cremation, so I took people a bit by surprise.”
At the Graduate Scholars Forum, Applebaum did an oral presentation. She noted that it was an excellent experience and gave her a chance to practice her public presentation skills. Applebaum said, “I felt really good at the end of my presentation, very happy with how I presented. Still, there were so many great projects there from so many disciplines, that I wasn’t sure if I would place. But at the end, my name was called for the Dean’s Award for Excellence for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. I was thrilled.”