SSI’s Mia Poynor Wins Boren Scholarship

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On behalf of the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Dr. Laura Loyola, the Institute’s director of undergraduate studies, announced that SSI senior Mia Poynor has received a prestigious Boren Scholarship for 2019 – 2020.

An initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense National Security Education Program, the Boren scholarships fund highly competitive undergraduate students to have intensive language immersion in less commonly taught languages with intensive cultural immersion in areas of the world which are critical to U.S. national security interests. Boren Scholars represent individuals who are committed to working in the federal national security arena. In exchange for their funding, they commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation in ways that include addressing the challenges of global society, such as sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness. As a Boren Scholar, Poynor will spend the 2019 -2020 year studying in Brazil.

Poynor has combined minors from USC Spatial in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence and Spatial Studies with her studies in the B.A. Health and Human Sciences program with a focus on International Health focus. Her USC undergraduate experience has included creating innovative ways to analyze satellite imagery to detect and document human rights violations using computer vision, time series-analyses and CyberGIS, researching voluntourism as a research fellow with the USC-UNESCO Journal for Global Humanities, Science and Ethical Inquiry, creating a platform to increase donor aid to refugees in a refugee camp in Greece as part of a course “Innovations in engineering and design for global challenges,” and conducting statistical analyses to help determine the prevalence of insomnia in the elderly as a USC Global Fellow at Taipei Medical University. In addition, Poynor spent a semester studying at La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Santiago de Chile in Santiago, Chile.

Loyola said, “Mia already has become a truly global ambassador with deep capacities to address human security issues. Throughout her USC career, Mia consistently has been a stand-out leader academically as well as in numerous extra-curricular endeavors. She has the ability to integrate a wide range of passions and interests into impactful results and has proven that she can make meaningful contributions in disparate cultural settings and led others to do the same.”

“I’m honored to be a Boren Scholar and excited about the opportunity to immerse myself in Brazil and work for the federal government afterwards,” said Poynor. “I’ll be in Florianópolis, which is known as a tech and startup hotbed, hopefully continuing to develop my GIS skills through volunteering or interning with organizations focusing on human security issues. I’m very grateful for all of my professors and the Spatial Sciences Institute for supporting me and providing me the skills needed to continue doing important work,” she added.

“We congratulate Mia and are confident she will continue to be a global representative of the best of what USC and the Spatial Sciences Institute have to offer,” said Loyola.

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