Four University of Richmond students have begun mapping out their futures through a summer fellowship in the Department of Geography and the Environment Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL).

The lab features the latest geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing software programs. The SAL also houses an extensive map collection and a rapidly growing library of digital data.

Their work is part of Richmond’s Summer Fellowship (URSF) program in which hundreds of UR students complete summer fellowships through The Richmond Guarantee, a University promise to provide access to fellowship funding for one summer research or internship experience for all traditional undergraduate students.

Shaquille Christmas, ’16, Jared Goldbach Ehmer, ’17, Andrew Loesch, ’17, and Marissa Parker, ’16, are working on a variety of projects that include collaborating with faculty, campus community members, alumni and outside organizations. This summer, their efforts have focused on everything from conservation planning with the Chesapeake Conservancy to panoramic trail mapping with a Richmond-based organization.

Christmas is majoring in biology and minoring in geography. Goldbach Ehmer, Loesch and Parker are all double majors in geography and environmental studies.

Goldbach Ehmer plans to pursue a career in a GIS-related field and says this internship has given him invaluable experience.

“I wanted to hone and broaden my skills overall, and this internship at UR has allowed me to do that and then some,” Goldbach Ehmer said.

“I think people underestimate what maps can help them illustrate,” said Parker, who has combined her interests in geography with the multidisciplinary technology of GIS. “It has expanded my world view and global thinking.”

Loesch is considering a career in conservation or ecology and says this internship has provided skills he knows will be useful in that pursuit.

“Skills in geographic information systems are incredibly useful in both of these fields as spatial components are crucial to determining the degree of an impact, the scale of a preservation effort or the habitat of a threatened species,” Loesch said.

“The URSF program has afforded both me and my fellow Spiders the opportunity to gain technical, interpersonal and networking skills that will help us prepare for future endeavors after UR,” said Christmas. “The URSF program has made my experience as a UR student even more profound, and I am forever grateful that such a program exists.”

To learn more about The Richmond Guarantee and other UR students benefitting from this program, visit

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