The Accidental Geographer

I unknowingly began my journey into the field of geography when I stepped off a boat in the Peruvian Amazon in 2018. I spent the summer living and working on a small biological station run by an NGO called Project Amazonas.

Sreya Juras holding a paca that belonged to a teacher in a village nearby the biological station

At the time, I was a molecular genetics major but my transformative experience in the Amazon led me to switch to international development upon returning to OSU. My time in the Amazon showed me a great deal about the influence of space and place in small rural societies. Years later, I am now pursuing graduate work in the field of geography with my research interests informed by what I learned there.

I graduated from OSU in the Spring of 2021 and obtained a degree in international development studies with minors in environmental science and Spanish, as well as research distinction in geography. In my third year of university, I became involved with the Department of Geography as a research assistant. This was my first time being exposed to geography and the more I learned the more passionate I became about this field. I conducted research with Alvaro Montenegro to understand the pre-historic presence of South American sweet potatoes in Polynesia. Working with Dr. Montenegro allowed me to engage with academic research for the first time. We conducted lab work in Derby Hall and worked with a graduate student, John Temmen who ran GIS simulations which functioned contemporaneously. I began communications with the two in the fall of 2019, began lab work in early 2020 and completed and defended my undergraduate thesis in the spring of 2021.

Photo of sweet potato experiment set up in lab in Derby Hall

For this, I was awarded the McKenzie/Brecher Undergraduate Scholarship from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. Additionally, I was awarded the Undergraduate Research / International Research Grant from Ohio State’s Arts and Sciences Honors Program. I presented this research at the East Lakes American Association of Geographers conference in October of 2020 in which I won first place in the undergraduate presenter category. Finally, I successfully defended my thesis the Spring of 2021 and graduated with research distinction in geography. Currently, I am working for the American Association of Geographers, further familiarizing myself with the field of geography.

In looking toward the future, I want to research climate adaptation and resilience in Latin America. The driving factor in this decision are the experiences I had living in the Peruvian Amazon and the lessons I learned while conducting research within the geography department.  I intend to focus my adaptation research on the necessity of migration, and I plan to research how climate-driven migrations from rural communities in Latin America will unfold in the coming years.

 

Sreya Juras

Bachelor of Science 2021

Environmental Sciences, International Studies, and Spanish with a minor in Development Studies

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