Keith Faminiano, a Penn State graduate student who is pursuing his master of landscape architecture degree in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School, has been selected as the graduate 2023 Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) National Olmsted Scholar. The honor comes with a $25,000 prize and is considered the highest honor for students studying landscape architecture.

Faminiano, who hails from Corcuera, Philippines, is focusing his graduate studies on “exploring landscape architectural concepts and low-carbon strategies as a combined design solution on spaces such as agricultural areas and marginalized communities that regularly face life-threatening climate impacts,” he said.

“The LAF is one of the premier institutions supporting innovation and leadership in our discipline and recognizing and disseminating the truly impactful people and ideas in our field,” said Roxi Thoren, department head and professor of landscape architecture in the Stuckeman School. “This award highlights the fact that Keith’s research exemplifies the best of transdisciplinary work in landscape architecture — studying the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations and threatened cultural practices and working with the communities themselves to develop adaptive and resilient strategies that work for the local situation.”

Faminiano, who has served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Landscape Architecture for LARCH 236/836: Site Materials and LARCH 246: Ridge and Valley courses, said he is hoping to use the Olmsted award to advance the application of responsible landscape architecture concepts to agricultural areas.

“I am tremendously honored to be selected for this award,” said Faminiano. “As an advocate for ecologically responsible and inclusive landscape design, this award means I can have a leveraged platform to voice out the ecological and social issues landscape architecture can help address and promote our profession for the benefit of the greater good.”

Olivia Krum, a Schreyer Scholar and bachelor of landscape architecture student at Penn State, was named a finalist for the undergraduate 2023 National Olmsted Scholar award, which comes with a $3,000 prize. A native of Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, she was named a 2022 National Udall Scholar, which recognizes students for leadership, public service and commitment to Native American issues or the environment.

“Olivia is a rising star in our program, and it is wonderful to see her recognized as one of the top four undergraduate students in landscape architecture in the nation, and most importantly as a leader in the field who is able to push landscapes and our profession into new territories,” said Thoren.

The LAF Olmsted Scholars Program recognizes and supports students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits. Three finalists and one winner are named at both the graduate and undergraduate student levels every year.

“For Penn State’s landscape architecture students to earn two of the eight national LAF awards is a testament not only to the powerful work that Keith and Olivia are doing, but also to the extraordinary synergy of important and innovative ideas being explored among the students and faculty in our department,” said Thoren.

Faminiano is the first Penn State graduate student to earn the Olmsted Scholar designation. Anjelyque Easley, who graduated from Penn State in May 2020 with a bachelor of landscape architecture degree, was the first Penn State recipient of the undergraduate Olmsted Scholar award in 2019.

Two independent juries of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the 2023 winners and finalists from a group of 50 graduate students and 38 undergraduate students who were nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. The top eight students this year join the community of 1,069 LAF Olmsted Scholars who have been named since the program’s inception in 2008.

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