Drupal Association members fund grants that make connections all over the world.
This module forces the picture field on the user, to be set to the default image, configured in the account settings.
By using this module, a user picture is always available to any module/function that handles entities, because the file reference is set as a property on the entity.
Drupal's default behavior is that the code which handles a user entity must check the user_picture_default variable but this is not as flexible, since it does not populate a field with an image etc.
Core: 7.x (developed on 7.17)
git clone --recursive --branch 7.x-1.x http://git.drupal.org/sandbox/esbenvb/1454252.git user_picture_default
NOTE: The sandbox was initially called superior_user_picture_default but the module is now called user_picture_default which is also the desired full project name.