Samantha Levi - As a kid, the only thing I loved more than reading fantasy novels was drawing maps of the fictional settings that my favorite characters lived in. Using my grandma’s gigantic book of Chicago maps as inspiration, I sketched out Narnia, Hogwarts, and countless other imaginary places. I understood from a young age that man-made and natural spaces, real or fictional, shape the lives of their inhabitants. Pursuing a degree in GeoDesign allows me to continue exploring the ways in which people react to their surroundings and investigate how to create spaces that positively impact the lives of the people living in them.
The knowledge and skills that I have cultivated in my GeoDesign courses have given me many opportunities, from participating in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program for Coastal Ocean Processes to studying environmental systems and GIS at the National University of Ireland in Galway. I am also fortunate to be a USC Provost Undergraduate Research Associate working with Dr. Lynn Dodd of the Archaeology department and Dr. Su Jin Lee of the Spatial Science Institute to investigate how the historical presence of fresh water on Catalina Island shaped early human settlement. I had the unique opportunity to present findings from this research at the Society for California Archaeology Annual Conference in San Diego. This was an incredible experience that I would not have had without my background in GeoDesign.
As a GeoDesign major, I have been equipped with the tools to analyze and understand how structures can be shaped to suit their environmental and social contexts. By pairing my education in GeoDesign with a minor in landscape architecture, I hope to create spaces and structures that are not only aesthetically appealing, but that result in more equitable and sustainable communities. - Samantha Levi