DoGG Alumnus Spotlight
Danny Bauer - B.S. in Geography 2010, M.S. in GIS Management 2011
One of my personal goals when finishing college was to have a job lined up upon completion my degree. Without the careful guidance of the DoGG staff I do not thing I would have been able to complete this goal. I turned in the final paper for my Masters in GIS Management on July 19, 2011 and started my career at Maryland Environmental Service (MES) on July 20, 2011, where I continue to work as a GIS Specialist to this day.
Throughout my career at MES I have had the chance to work for many different projects all over the state of Maryland and for multiple clients. Some of our largest clients include the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), Maryland Port Administration (MPA), and Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
My current project, and most longstanding, has to do with the inventory and inspection of stormwater features for SHA. Being a part of this project use a myriad of skills learned at my time in Salisbury’s DoGG including, georeferencing, following general topology rulse, working with GPS, and raster interpretation. The Masters in GIS Management really prepared me for my role as Project Lead on this current project. As Project Lead I use many skills learned in the Master’s program such as database normalization, proposal design, budget tracking, and project management.
In addition to the scholastic knowledge I gained from being a part of Salisbury’s DoGG I also learned to be a productive employee. The working relationships I built with my professors, peers, and other colleagues has followed me on my path to a successful career in the GIS field.
Benjamin Berbert - B.S. in Geography 2005
I currently work as a Senior Planner with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County Planning Department, Area 3 planning team. I've been here since November of 2011. Immediately after graduating from Salisbury in 2005 I continued to graduate school for Urban Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University where I graduated magna cum laude in 2007. I quickly found work with Harford County government in their Planning and Zoning office and worked there a little over 4 years before accepting my current position. The background that Salisbury's geography program provided made the transition to graduate school and the professional world easy because the core curriculum is broad and well rounded, and the program provided a much stronger GIS/data analysis background than I found most of my peers had.
Tony Boughman - B.S. in Geography 2003
I work for the City of Santa Barbara, California as an assistant planner with work duties consisting of reviewing development applications for consistency with zoning, general plan policies, design guidelines, and environmental policies. I also work on special projects such as drafting design review guidelines, preparing reports for appeal hearings, and responding to customer inquiries. My interest was sparked for a career change in this field during my time at the SU Department of Geography and Geosciences by the caring, mentoring faculty. What I learned through courses in Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, and Planning, as well as a summer internship and lab time in the department were excellent preparation for my current work. Dr. Scott encouraged me to pursue grad school. As a result of applying to graduate programs I received a fellowship to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I completed a Master of Arts degree with a thesis in cartography while my interest was shifting toward urban planning. I went to work for the City of Santa Barbara which is an amazing organization, and at the forefront in planning. DoGG set me on the course resulting in a career where I enjoy going to work and learn something new every day!
Casey Condon - B.S. in Earth Science Secondary Education 2012
I graduated from the Department of Geography and Geosciences in December 2012 with a degree in Earth Science Secondary Education. My undergraduate coursework and experiences provided me with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully obtain a full time teaching position.
Following graduation, I taught fifth and sixth grade English abroad in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand to over 800 students with limited classroom resources and materials. After returning to the states, I was hired as an 8th grade Science teacher at a highly diverse and challenging middle school in Glen Burnie, Maryland where I carefully honed my skills. Within one year I was promoted to interdisciplinary team leader and was asked to collaborate with Loyola University’s Education Graduate Program as a mentor teacher.
I would not be where I am today if it were not for Dr. Zaprowski introducing me to the Earth Science Secondary Education degree during my sophomore year as an “undecided” undergrad. Salisbury University was a wonderful experience for me in terms of academics and career preparation as well as building strong and lasting friendships. It was an honor to have been part of the Department of Geography and Geosciences and surrounded by such a variety of highly intellectual and interesting individuals.
Andrew Estrain - B.S. in Geography/Planning Track 2015
I am currently completing a Master of Science in Geography/Regional Planning at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and graduate in May 2017. I have a graduate assistantship in the Department and also work as a Planner for Vision Planning and Consulting (VPC), LLC., based in Fulton, Maryland. VPC is a small, minority female-owned firm that specializes in disaster management, community planning, and public outreach. At VPC, I am responsible for assisting in planning related roles including development and review of plans and proposals, and stakeholder engagement. Our objective is to help communities prepare, recover, and mitigate against disasters with tools, guidance's, and strategies that secure and protect communities.
Christina Finch - B.S. in Geography 2002
Christina Finch has been working in emergency management for more than 10 years, with expertise in mitigation, disaster operations, geospatial technology, risk assessment, data analytics, socioeconomic vulnerability, and community resilience. During her time as an “undecided” SU undergraduate enrolled in general education requirements, she discovered that the field of geography, and specifically GIS, combined her interest in math, computer science, art, and social science. The Environmental Hazards course with Dr. Scott steered those interests towards emergency management, a direction that has shaped her career. Christina currently works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) in Arlington, VA. In addition to FIMA Headquarters, Christina has worked in several FEMA Joint Field Offices post-disaster, including deployments during the 2004 Hurricane Season and Hurricane Katrina. Prior to FIMA, Christina served as the Senior Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Analyst at the Pacific Disaster Center in Maui, HI. Finally, she has served in multiple roles at the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina (MS 2006). The SU DOGG provided the foundation from which all of these career opportunities were built.
Heather Hanson - B.S. in Geography 2008
During a lecture my first year at Salisbury University, Dr. Michael Scott [Department of Geography and Geosciences] said something that has stuck with me through the years: “Geography takes you places.” It became clear in the moment that I had a passion for understanding the world around me, how the Earth works as a system, and what could be done to preserve and improve the quality of human life on our planet.
In 2008 I received a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Salisbury University with a concentration in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Two years later I received a Master of Science in Geosciences with a concentration in Meteorology from Mississippi State University. Currently I work as a Senior Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, providing communication and public outreach support to NASA’s Earth Observing System Project Science Office. Prior to this I was a Program Assistant at the American Meteorological Society, Education Program in Washington, DC.
In my current position I work closely with a diverse group of NASA personnel to develop, write, edit, and produce a range of communication products (e.g., mission brochures, science booklets, feature articles, website content, posters, and other reference materials) designed to support NASA’s Earth Science Program. Serving in this role since May 2011, I have established a well-rounded career in Earth science communications with strong roots in satellite remote sensing.
I am confident that the education and mentorship I received at Salisbury University has provided the strong foundation upon which my career has been built, allowing me to land my dream job at NASA. Let geography take you places!
Stephanie Hill - B.S. in Geography 2008
I work at Oceaneering as a GIS analyst with a heavy emphasis on cartography. The Department of Geography and Geosciences prepared me for the real world because nothing was spoon fed to us at Salisbury University. The classes were engaging and stimulating and we had to work hard to obtain good grades. I loved the comradery between the students and the professors during my time in the DoGG and I still enjoy that the department and the alumni have a strong bond through SUGAA (Salisbury University Geography Alumni Alliance).
Rashidi Jackson - B.S. in Geography 2013
I graduated with a bachelor's degree in geography with a concentration in land use planning in 2013. After working as an entry level planner in Howard County Planning and Zoning Development for two years, I now work for Howard County's Office of Transportation as a transportation planner. My daily duties include developing and maintaining transportation datasets in GIS for internal and/or public use, producing charts and graphs to display and explain transportation related issues, performing subdivision and plan reviews as they relate to transportation issues, and preparing and supporting the development of transportation grant proposals.
Eddie Noyes - B.S. in Geography 2007
I am currently employed with the Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration and have been since March of 2008. My team is the Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP), South Team, where I work as an Aeronautical Information Specialist, in Silver Spring, MD. To summarize, our team creates, amends, and maintains all of the IAPs for the southeastern US. We specialize in charting IAPs, Arrival and Departure procedures, and ensuring the data behind the charts are correct. Prior to my federal job, I worked with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, in the Research and Technology Department as a contract employee. This job had me dealing with everything from Land Use Codes for properties in the county, to tying those codes in to the maps I was making for the planning board in ArcGIS. Salisbury University DOGG played a huge role in where I am today. Everything from the caring faculty, small class size, and access to our own 24-hour computer lab, led me to where I am today. The students played a huge role, as well. I made many friends in the department in my years at SU, some of whom I am coworkers with now. I saw the department as a little family where we could help each other to work toward completing our exercises and study for exams. I consider myself and on-the-job type learner, maybe because I was never the best student. With that being said, most of the students who were in my classes were also studying in the lab at the same time. I learned a little from each of them the best ways to get the job done, so in a way, they were all teachers to me. I was a member of the Geographic Society and try to keep up with SUGAA events now. For a time, I held a job in the department, working in the computer lab which was a great way to learn from experience. From US and Canada and Geomorphology, to Spatial Analysis and Research and Writing, each class I completed built me up to where I am today. I find that even now I remember certain basics that I learned at the DOGG that I use most days.
Noah Porter - B.S. in Geography 2012
I'm a 2012 alumni with a degree in Geography/GIS. In 2013 I began working for URS in Germantown, MD as a GIS Specialist. I continue to work there today, but we are now AECOM. I am part of a team of GIS mappers who assist with contracting work. Our main contract is with FEMA, assisting with the development and mapping of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and other FEMA flood products. My degree has helped me become familiar with GIS and its applications, along with using it as a tool to solve geographic problems (LOTS of geoprocessing).
Alex Smith - B.S. in Geography 2011
My degree in Geography from Salisbury University has provided me an excellent skill set that I have continued to use as I work towards my goal of a career in academia. Since graduating from Salisbury I have earned a Master’s degree in Geography at East Carolina University and currently I’m a PhD student at the University of Ulster’s Environmental Science Research Institute in the United Kingdom. I specialize in coastal geomorphology, aeolian processes, and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling. My current research is based on understanding the process oriented geomorphology of an arid coastal dunefield at Maspalomas which is located on the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Island Archipelago. Urbanization has led to the modification of this sites regional airflow patterns and has directly impacted dune morphometry, sediment supply, and rates of migration. Utilizing both on site measurements, via three dimensional sonic anemometers, and CFD modelling I have identified emergent airflow dynamics (e.g. velocity, turbulence, and surface stressors) that are impacting the continual geomorphic evolution of the dunefield. Like many geographers I was ‘recruited’ from an introductory geography class as I was searching for a major that would provide both relevant marketable skills after graduation and a range of subjects that challenged me to think and become engaged as a student. Salisbury University’s Geography department is an excellent program that helped me develop skills in Geosciences, attention to detail, and love of research. This has provided me with the opportunity to conduct my research in many national and international sites while collaborating with some of the top professionals in my field.
Rachel Sullivan - B.S. in Earth Science 2009
I graduated from the Department of Geography and Geosciences in December 2009 with a degree in Earth Science. The following spring I continued my education at Salisbury University and began the Master of Arts in Teaching program. After completing my Master’s degree I became a middle school science teacher. The knowledge I gained throughout my studies in the DoGG has helped me immensely in my teaching. As an 8th grade science teacher, I teach topics ranging from weather and climate, to environmental science, to historical geology. It is often that I reference my experiences during field studies or use pictures that I took during courses like Geomorphology and Coastal Processes. Having strong content knowledge is one of the most important parts of teaching, and I feel as though the coursework I completed in the DoGG really prepared me for that.
JaLeesa Tate - B.S. in Geography 2012
I currently serve as the Environmental Planner for the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County. The position entails minimizing the adverse impacts associated with development by protecting natural resources and adequately managing the land. The courses I completed in the Department of Geography and Geosciences played a major role in my ability to carry out the functions of this position. Whether it is the appreciation of natural resources or the understanding of the importance of development, all the courses I completed in the program have helped me find a balance in my current position. Working in a smaller Planning Department requires employees to have multiple skill sets and take a holistic approach when developing solutions; as a result, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) skills I obtained have proved invaluable in the day-to-day functions of my current position. Additionally, the host of Planning courses I completed prepared me to complete an internship with the Maryland Department of Planning, provided through the Department of Geography and Geosciences. The experience I gained from the internship coupled with the knowledge I obtained through my course work prepared me to become a successful Environmental Planner.
Bryan Thom - B.S. in Geography 2010
Currently, I work as a GIS Analyst for the privately owned science-technology consulting firm Research Planning, Inc (RPI) in Columbia, SC. RPI combines the natural science disciplines with geospatial and quantitative analysis to address unique challenges in coastal and environmental management, namely oil and chemical spill. As a GIS Analyst at RPI, I have responded to multiple oil spills as a NOAA emergency response consultant in the role of Data Manager and Data/GIS Support as part of multi-agency Incident Command Posts. Other major projects I work on are Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps that combine natural, physical, and human use elements to be used in the event of an oil or chemical spill. These maps allow planners and responders to identify the most sensitive shoreline and endangered flora and fauna that will be affected.
My education at Salisbury University was unique and helped provide a strong foundation in not just geospatial science, but also in coastal geology. Being able to understand coastal processes and apply that knowledge to my current job helped immensely when, just days after graduation I found myself in the middle of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. I was able to come on the job and not only understand my role as GIS support, but also understand issues described by coastal geologists working on the spill. My time at SU was spent in an educationally nurturing environment with small class sizes and I was always encouraged to challenge myself by my professors. That has helped me achieve success in a very challenging and stressful line of work, where on a response we work seven days a week and often for 14 hours or more a day with our work being used to help guide the entire response effort.
Adam Thomas - B.S. in Geography 2006
In the fall of 2009, I began my career as a Meteorologist at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. This job has given me the opportunity to provide weather support for various missions and operations, including the resupply of the International Space Station. Had it not been for the extraordinary experience and education I received from Salisbury University’s Department of Geography and Geosciences, I would not have been prepared for grad school or my current career. I am very grateful to have been a part of this exceptional culture that promotes intellectual engagement between professor and student.
Leah Visakowitz - B.S. in Geography 2013, M.S. in GIS Management 2014
I am currently working for Maryland Environmental Service (MES) as a GIS Specialist. A majority of the projects I work on involve data collection and preparation for state agencies and watershed analysis. Coming from the DOGG at Salisbury University automatically gave me an edge when it came to GIS in the public sector. As an undergraduate student, I was exposed to a variety of different areas in geography between course work and experience in the field brought on by the help and encouragement of the DOGG professors. Continuing my graduate education in the department extended my technical knowledge of GIS to the administrative side which provided me with the wider outlook necessary to thrive in the field.
David Votta - B.S. in Geography 2008
I graduated from Salisbury University’s Department of Geography and Geosciences (DoGG) in the spring of 2008. I currently work as an Environmental Scientist at Century Engineering, Inc. in Hunt Valley, Maryland. As an environmental scientist, I assist with stream restorations and conduct natural resource inventories, habitat assessments, wetland and forest assessments, report writing, conservation planning, and draft comprehensive map/plans using GIS and AutoCAD. I attribute the skills I use today to the courses I took during my time in the DOGG at Salisbury. Courses including GIS, Map Interpretation & Analysis, Environmental Planning, Coastal Processes, Resource Management, Soil Water & Environment, and Research & Writing played an integral role in providing me with a strong foundation that I have built upon during my professional career.
James Wilkerson - B.S. in Geography/Planning-GIS Track '12, GIS Management '13
After completing a bachelor's degree and master's degree at Salisbury University, with a focus on GIS and Planning, I currently work as a GIS Planner with the Maryland Department of Planning. In this position, I get to apply the skillsets acquired from the dedicated faculty in Salisbury University's Department of Geography and Geosciences to real world problems and analyze or "crunch" data to produce maps as a career! My pursuit of planning and the beliefs instilled in me through this experience and Dr. Amal Ali, enable me to do my job with a true sense of purpose and service.