New Scholar Award

March 22, 2004
Black and gold graphic bar
 March 22, 2004

Margie Yu
Public Affairs Specialist 
(323) 343-3047



Cal State L.A. 
Office of Public Affairs 
(323) 343-3050 
Fax: (323) 343-6405

For immediate release:
Cal State L.A. Graduate Receives Award
for Paper on Pre-Columbian Pilgrimage

Los Angeles, CA – Cal State L.A.’s 2003 Outstanding Graduate Student Shankari Patel (Los Angeles resident) recently received the David E. Sopher New Scholar Award for her paper, “Pre-Columbian Pilgrimage at Cozumel Island,” at the Centennial Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, held in Philadelphia, PA, March 14-19, 2004. The award is presented to the best paper, by a graduate student or untenured faculty, pertaining to the field of Geography of Religions and Belief Systems.

Shankari Patel, who graduated from Cal State L.A. in June 2003, is pursuing a doctorate in anthropology at UC Riverside where she holds a dean’s fellowship. At Cal State L.A., Patel designed an interdisciplinary M.S. program within anthropology, geography, and religious studies while closely working with Maya cave archaeologist, James Brady, to investigate the role of Pre-Columbian pilgrimage on Cozumel Island. She also participated in University of Pittsburgh’s Semester-At-Sea program in 1999.

In summer 2001, she organized and directed a field project that documented several cave sites on Cozumel. She presented her research at the systemwide CSU Student Research Competition in May 2002, where she won first place in the Graduate Behavioral and Social Sciences division. Earlier that year, she delivered a paper, “Caves and Pilgrimage on Cozumel Island,” at the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Denver. A revised version of her paper has been accepted for publication in a book, Reconstructing Maya Ritual and Cosmology in the Cave Context, to be published by the University Press at Colorado.

In June of 2002, she won a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship competing against 280 applicants from throughout the CSU campuses and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She was also named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in 2001-2002 and again in 2002-2003. Additionally, Patel was both the founder and president of CSULA’s Speleological Society and served as president of CSULA’s Comparative Religion Club. She received the CSULA Alumni Certificate of Honor for Outstanding and Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Department of Anthropology, Special Recognition in Graduate Studies from the University’s College of Natural and Social Sciences, and the United States Achievement Academy National Collegiate Social Science Award.

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a scientific and educational society founded in 1904. Its 8,400+ members share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography and geographic education. The AAG annual meeting is a professional and scholarly meeting of more than 4,000 attendees. Nearly 3,000 attendees present their research in more than 700 sessions scheduled throughout this year’s meeting.

WORKING FOR CALIFORNIA – California State University, Los Angeles: A comprehensive university at the heart of a major metropolitan city. The 175-acre hilltop campus is located five miles east of Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. Since 1947, Cal State L.A. has been a leader in providing quality higher education. Today, the campus comprises a faculty of internationally recognized scholars and artists, and more than 21,000 students with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds that reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Cal State L.A. is one of 23 campuses in the CSU system.

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