Maria Muñoz Named Winner of 2015 Olmsted Scholars Program

leu landscape architecture studentThe Landscape Architecture Foundation has announced that fourth-year LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture (RRSLA) student Maria Muñoz was selected as the undergraduate winner of the 2015 Olmsted Scholars Program, the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students.

Maria is the second LSU student to receive this national recognition, and for the second consecutive year! Each year, faculty of accredited landscape architecture programs across the nation may nominate only one student per program as Olmsted Scholars. Two independent juries of leaders in the landscape architecture profession select the winners and finalists from the graduate and undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for their exceptional leadership potential. The winners—one graduate and one undergraduate student—earn the designation of 2015 University Olmsted Scholars and receive $25,000 and $15,000 prizes, respectively.

“Receiving this national honor is among the highest achievements for a student of landscape architecture,” said Professor Emeritus Van Cox, interim director of RRSLA. “Maria is an absolutely delightful student, well-deserving of the honor.”

Building on her heritage and experiences in Puerto Rico, Maria plans to use the award to research the island’s network of local vendors and their sources of homegrown agricultural products. Through interviews and mapping, she will document the social networks and marketing strategies of growers, yielding knowledge that can help increase the growth potential of the homegrown food to local market system.

“I was honored just to be nominated by faculty, so receiving the scholarship really has me without words. I am beyond grateful,” said Maria. “The faculty here have provided the best support system and helped me refine my ideas.”

At LSU, Maria is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Student Chapter, and in 2014, Maria was one of three recipients of the $4,000 ASLA Council of Fellows Scholarship.

Maria is currently interning at Sergio Santana in São Paulo, Brazil, to fulfill the fourth-year semester-long internship requirement at RRSLA. At Sergio Santana, she is assisting with a large apartment complex being constructed in downtown São Paulo. She also gets to witness as the office designs areas for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Everything about my internship has been exciting—from business to experiences,” Maria exclaimed.

Maria plans on attending graduate school after completing her BLA in May 2016. Committed to her activism for the cultural individualities and recreational needs of communities, her goal is to work with urban development both locally and globally. She wants to incorporate the significance of design with economic speculation, political negotiation, and democratic struggle as unique pieces that shape a society’s urbanization.

In recognition of her accomplishments as an Olmsted Scholar, Maria will receive two complimentary tickets to the LAF Annual Benefit on Friday, November 6, 2015, in Chicago, held in conjunction with the ASLA Annual Meeting, where she will be presented with the $15,000 award and attend a luncheon with the LAF Board of Directors and program sponsors. She will also serve on the jury for the 2016 Olmsted Scholars Program in the spring of 2016.

Now in its eighth year, the Olmsted Scholars Program recognizes and supports students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable planning and design and foster human and societal benefits.

“The Landscape Architecture Foundation is delighted to recognize and support these up-and-coming leaders,” said LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch. “The entire profession is being elevated by the tremendous work that they are doing and the ideas that they are bringing forth.”

About LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture
The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture has established an international reputation as one of America’s leading and consistently top-ranked programs. Part of the LSU College of Art & Design, the school offers Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs. For more than 70 years, the program has produced landscape architects who practice all over the world and participate in the full spectrum of the discipline. For more information, visit

About the Landscape Architecture Foundation
The Landscape Architecture Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Established in 1966, LAF invests in research and scholarship to increase our collective capacity to achieve sustainability through landscape solutions. Visit for more information.