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Announcing our 2015 LAF Olmsted Scholars

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is delighted to announce the two winners and six finalists for its 2015 Olmsted Scholars Program, the premier leadership recognition program for landscape architecture students.

Headshot of Grant Fahlgren, 2015 LAF National Olmsted Scholar
Grant Fahlgren, University of British Columbia

Grant Fahlgren, a master’s student at the University of British Columbia, was selected as the 2015 National Olmsted Scholar and recipient of the $25,000 graduate prize. He intends to use the award to expand his research of collaborative partnerships between indigenous communities and designers in the Cascadia Bioregion. This research will help elucidate the connections between traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and landscape architecture and provide a foundational knowledge to inform future collaborations. Grant is pursuing a Master of Landscape Architecture and expects to graduate in November 2015.



Headshot of Maria Munoz, 2015 LAF National Olmsted Scholar
Maria Muñoz, Louisiana State University

Maria Muñoz, an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, is the other 2015 National Olmsted Scholar and recipient of the $15,000 undergraduate prize. Building on her heritage and experiences in Puerto Rico, Maria plans to use the award to research the island’s network of local vendors and their sources of homegrown agriculture products. Through interviews and mapping, she will document the social networks and marketing strategies of the growers, yielding knowledge that can help increase the growth potential of the homegrown food to the local market system. Maria graduates with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in May 2015.

Also honored are six National Olmsted Scholar Finalists, who each receive a $1,000 award.

2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalists

Top row: Graduate finalists; Bottom row: Undergraduate finalists

  • Headshot of Andrea Johnson, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Andrea Johnson
    City College of New York

  • Headshot of Teresa Pereira, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Teresa Pereira
    Temple University

  • Headshot of Harris Trobman, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Harris Trobman
    University of Maryland

  • Headshot of Erin McDonald, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Erin McDonald
    Iowa State University

  • Headshot of Nathaniel Oakley, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Nathaniel Oakley
    University of California, Davis

  • Headshot of Daniel Xu, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

    Daniel Zhicheng Xu
    Purdue University

Two independent juries of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 43 graduate and 29 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for their exceptional leadership potential. These top students earned the designation of 2015 LAF Olmsted Scholar and join the growing community of nearly 400 past and present Olmsted Scholars. See all past winners and finalists here.

Now in its eighth year, the LAF Olmsted Scholars Program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits. The program is made possible with support from Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: EDSA, HOK, OLIN, Sasaki Associates, IRONSMITH, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, and Steven G. King, FASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

2015 LAF Olmsted Scholars (Graduate)

In addition to the winner and finalists, the graduate nominees from each university are recognized as 2015 LAF Olmsted Scholars, which denotes distinguished student leadership in landscape architecture.

The 2015 Olmsted Scholars


Ali Abbaszadegan, Arizona State University | Vanessa Alvarado, Florida International University | Ramneek Bajwa, Louisiana State University | Thomas Baker, University of Georgia | David Bayer, Virginia Tech | Christopher Binder, Utah State University | Layal Bitar-Ghanem, The University of Texas at Arlington | Sarah Bolivar, Harvard University | Jacqueline Bryan, University of New Mexico | Katherine Davenport, University of Colorado Denver

Lindsay Eliason, University of Idaho | Beth Faragan, North Carolina State University | Heena Gajjar, University of Illinois | Kendra Hyson, University of Arizona | Scott Irvine, University of Manitoba | Joanna Karaman, University of Pennsylvania | Sarah Krisch, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry | Katie Leise, Kansas State University | Logan Littlefield, University of Toronto | Pai Liu, Clemson University

Veronica Malinay, University of Oregon | Petra Marar, Cornell University | Alex McCay, The Pennsylvania State University | William Niendorff, The University of Texas at Austin | Kyle O'Konis, University of California- Berkeley | Patrick Pirtle, University of Washington | Nicole Rebeck, Ball State University | Michael Sadler, Boston Architectural College | Shannon Sawyer, University of Minnesota | Heather Schibli, University of Guelph

Tameka Sims, The Ohio State University | Christopher Sison, University of Southern California | Richard Slayton, University of Wisconsin-Madison | Jake Stehr, Auburn University | Whitney Tidd, University of Tennessee | Xiujian Xie, Iowa State University | Han Yan, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey | Di Yang, Texas A&M University | Junzhi Yu, University of Massachusetts Amherst

2015 LAF Olmsted Scholars (Undergraduate)

In addition to the winner and finalists, the undergraduate nominees from each university are recognized as 2015 LAF Olmsted Scholars, which denotes distinguished student leadership in landscape architecture.

2015 LAF Undergraduate Olmsted Scholars


Dorsa Afsharjavan, University of Maryland | Paula Barreto, University of Oregon | Katherine Brown, University of Guelph | Aqsa Butt, University of Massachusetts Amherst | Kathryn Christensen, University of Washington | Kalyn Crosier, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo | Kimberly Dietzel, Michigan State University | Michelle Drees, The Ohio State University | Kathleen Ferrero, University of Illinois | Ellen Gallagher, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Emma Haley, Philaelphia University | Evan Hammond, Boston Architectural College | Ally Hangartner, Clemson University | Melanie Jackson, Texas A&M University | Jeremy Jarin, Cal Poly Pomona | Lyn Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison | Erik Lauritsen, University of Georgia | Brian Laverriere, University of Rhode Island | Carson Lindley, Utah State University | Tara Mazurczyk, The Pennsylvania State University

Gena Morgis, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry | Michael Swercewski, Temple University | Maria Wainscott, Ball State University | Anna Walker, North Carolina State University | Ashlee Wells, Virginia Tech

Thank you to our 2015 juries

The jurors for the graduate award were:

  • Mark Dawson, FASLA, LAF Board President and Managing Principal at Sasaki Associates
  • Chad Danos, FASLA, PLA, ASLA President-Elect and Director of Landscape Architecture at Duplantis Design Group
  • D’Arcy Deeks, President and CEO at IRONSMITH
  • Chris Fannin, Senior Vice President and Director of Planning at HOK
  • Daniel Martin, Director of Marketing at Permaloc Corporation and Partner at Land8 Media
  • Sara Zewde, 2014 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate) and MLA student at Harvard University.

The jurors for the undergraduate award were:

  • Kona Gray, ASLA, LAF President-Elect and Principal at EDSA
  • Mark Focht, FASLA, PLA, ASLA Immediate Past President and First Deputy Commissioner at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
  • Jim Laiche, Water Conservation Business Manager at The Toro Company
  • Bradford McKee, Editor-in-Chief of Landscape Architecture Magazine
  • Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, CEO and Partner at OLIN
  • Fritz Steiner, PhD, Dean of the School of Architecture and Henry M. Rockwell Chair in Architecture, University of Texas at Austin
  • Erin Percevault, 2014 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate) and BLA student at Louisiana State University.

LAF is grateful to the many individuals and organizations that provide financial support towards fulfilling our mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment.

Much of what LAF is able to accomplish would not be possible without the thought leadership and financial investment of our major supporters, including ASLA, which provides over $125,000 of in-kind support annually.