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Announcing Our 2018 Olmsted Scholars

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is delighted to announce that Elizabeth Camuti, a master’s student at the University of Virginia, and Karina Ramos, an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, were selected as LAF’s 2018 National Olmsted Scholars.

Headshot of Liz Camuti
Liz Camuti, University of Virginia

Liz receives the $25,000 graduate prize and plans to leverage the award to continue her ongoing research about new forms of socio-ecological infrastructure for isolated populations threatened by climate change and extreme weather, specifically the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her work advances a design methodology that couples advanced digital technologies with local knowledge. Liz will use the award to support travel, tools, and surveillance technologies to better understand how infrastructural improvements implemented in the wake of recent storms might interface with new forms of human occupation. Liz graduates with a Master of Landscape Architecture in May.

Headshot of Karina Ramos
Karina Ramos, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Karina receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and will use the award to design a physical plan for Puente Piedra, an emerging town 55 km away from Lima, Peru. Inspired by David Gouverneur’s “informal armatures” approach, which provides a framework for the processes of informal urbanization, Karina will first conduct case study research in her hometown of Los Olivos, an adjacent district that evolved through the planned growth and development of an existing informal settlement. She plans to present her findings and recommendations to Peru’s federal housing and urban development agency. Karina graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture.

Also honored are six National Olmsted Scholar Finalists. The graduate finalists, who each receive a $5,000 award, are:

  • Rachel Ison, University of Southern California
  • Nicholas Jabs, University of Pennsylvania
  • Steven Nuñez, University of Texas at Arlington

The undergraduate finalists, who each receive a $3,000 award, are:

  • Toni Candanedo, Arizona State University
  • Bryce Donner, University of Florida
  • Karen Lomas-Gutierrez, University of California, Davis

Two independent juries of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 50 graduate and 35 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for their exceptional leadership potential. These top students earned the designation of 2018 University Olmsted Scholars and join the growing community of 634 past and present Olmsted Scholars.

The 2018 jurors for the graduate award were: Adam Greenspan, LAF President and Principal at PWP; Shawn T. Kelly, ASLA President-Elect and Principal of Kelly Design Group, LLC; Kimberlee Douglas, Associate Professor and Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at Philadelphia University; Susan Szenasy, Director of Design Innovation, Metropolis Magazine; Brian Jencek, Principal at HOK; Skip Graffam, Partner and Director of Research at OLIN Partnership; and David de la Cruz, 2017 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate) and Project Manager at Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.

Jurors for the undergraduate award were: Stephanie Rolley, LAF President-Elect and Professor and Department Head at Kansas State University; Vaughn Rinner, ASLA Immediate Past President; Paul Voos, Department Chair at Morgan State University; Zach Mortice, Architectural Journalist and Web Editor at Landscape Architecture Magazine; Jim Laiche, Water Conservation Business Manager at The Toro Company; Tao Zhang, Principal at Sasaki; Ron Kagawa, Landscape Architect at Kimley-Horn, and Lauren Delbridge, 2017 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate) and Landscape Designer at LandDesign.

Now in its eleventh year, the LAF Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national leadership award program for landscape architecture students. The program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, and service to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits. The LAF Olmsted Scholars Program is made possible with support from Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: HOK, IRONSMITH, Kimley-Horn, LandDesign, OLIN, Sasaki, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, Steven G. King, FASLA, and Bill Main, Hon. ASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

Thanks to the generous support of LAF’s 50 & Forward Campaign donors, starting in 2018, the Olmsted Scholar finalist awards increased from $1,000 to $5,000 for graduate students and $3,000 for undergraduates.

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.