SAFE Student Spotlight: Sophia Ryan

Sophia Ryan, M.A. Geography
Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund Recipient: Fall 2021

Project: “Greenspace and Mental Health: Adding Quality and Accessibility to Quantity"

Ryan received Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) funding to enroll in an advanced statistics course on multilevel modeling techniques. "Multilevel modeling is the methodology I plan to apply to my graduate thesis research. I now have an understanding of the statistical theory behind these models and how to apply them in my research. Taking this course provided me with the background knowledge and resources I needed to utilize this methodology," explained Ryan, whose research explores human-environment interactions with a focus on human health. "Without the funding from SAFE, I would have been unable to afford this course," she added.

Ryan, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Vermont, is pursuing her Master of Arts in Geography. Her thesis, guided by Dr. Maggie Sugg, investigates the relationship between adolescent mental health and access to greenspaces (e.g. local parks, national forest lands) in North Carolina and utilizes the multilevel modeling techniques she learned in the course. Following graduation from Appalachian State, Ryan hopes to continue her research in a doctoral program. "I thank the donors and SAFE committee for providing me with this great opportunity," said Ryan.


About the SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at

About the Department of Geography and Planning
The Department of Geography and Planning promotes the understanding of the spatial dimensions of human behavior within the physical and cultural systems of the earth, and the role of planning in achieving improvement in those systems. The department offers degrees in geography and in community and regional planning. Learn more at

SAFE Student Spotlight: Sophia Ryan
Published: Jan 2, 2023 5:39pm