Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Geography grad student among FSU award recipients

Elizabeth Ruff

Six graduate students from Florida State University are among seven students in the state of Florida to earn prestigious Scholar Awards from the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.).

This year’s cohort, the largest in the university’s history, includes one student from the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards are one-time, competitive, merit-based awards intended to recognize and encourage academic excellence and achievement by women in doctoral-level programs. The awards include up to $20,000 to support study and research.

P.E.O. selects scholars who have demonstrated their ability to make significant contributions in their chosen field of study through leadership roles in university academics, scientific research, medicine, law, performing arts, international economics, history, literature, government and other demanding fields.

“I am excited that women pursuing graduate study at FSU are being acknowledged for their academic and professional achievements and the impact of their research and work in the lives of girls and women in their local community and around the world,” Adrienne Stephenson, director of FSU’s Office of Graduate Fellowship and Awards

A 2021 P.E.O. Scholar Award went to Elizabeth Ruff, who specializes in marine food systems and sustainability within the Department of Geography. Her research explores what factors influence where marine aquaculture (the farming of seafood in ocean environments) develops and how policies and management impact industry sustainability. 

“Marine aquaculture has substantial potential to support global seafood demand, improve local food security and bring economic diversity to coastal communities, but sound management and strategic policy decisions are paramount to meeting coexisting objectives of healthy oceans, economic growth and social equity,” Ruff said. “The findings of my research offer policymakers, industry managers and operators practical evidence that can inform the design of future policy interventions, industry regulations and economic incentives that will facilitate sustainable marine aquaculture development.”

Now entering the fifth and final year of her doctoral program, Ruff said the P.E.O. Scholar Award will offer invaluable assistance as she wraps up her work on marine spatial planning.

“Geography has a strong tradition of evaluating human-environment relations across space, and the department at FSU offers the distinct opportunity to collaborate across geographic subdisciplines with a faculty of both physical and human geographers,” Ruff said.