Former ESP undergraduates who took the required GIS course share how it has helped them

Below are career success stories shared by students of the GIS course EVPP 430: Fundamentals of Environmental Geographic Information Systems taught by Dr. Vivek Prasad, adjunct professor of environmental science. This course is a core requirement for the Environmental Science, BS degree.

September 2018
Bergit Uhran
Student Contractor, Land Change Science Program
United States Geological Survey |

In your graduate level GIS course, I learned how to work with ArcGIS and what can be done with this technology. I now use GIS in my position with USGS. We are using existing landcover, carbon stock, and carbon flux data to learn new things about land management. The class was a great, hands-on introduction to this powerful tool. I’ve been able to build on the topics from the course to further my knowledge in this area and advance professionally.

May 2018
Katherine S. Clark
GIS Analyst
Research Environmental Solutions |

It has been a long time since we’ve talked, but I wanted to take the time and write you to say thank you for your help in starting me on my career path.

I graduated from George Mason in May 2016 with a BS in Environmental Science, concentrating in Aquatic Ecology. My fascination with the potential of GIS started after taking your introductory course on Environmental GIS (required for all Environmental Science majors). I proceeded to conduct an independent senior project using GIS to research habitat suitability for the Blue Catfish in various areas of the Chesapeake Bay, and also took a number of online courses (mostly through Coursera) in order to increase my knowledge and expose myself to more areas of GIS.

Since graduating (and after a lot of time and hard work, I admit) I have been lucky enough to secure a position working as a GIS Analyst at an environmental consulting company, RES. I initially interviewed with this company for a stormwater inspector position, but I was called back for a second interview after one of the employees here saw the GIS experience on my resume. Without your introductory course being a requirement for my major, I never would have gotten that initial exposure or experience to present to employers.

I’ve been working as a GIS Analyst now for about 8 months, and have been specializing in web GIS, creating and managing applications with ArcGIS Online that are used by various departments across the company. I find every aspect of my job engaging, as I am still learning new things every day and often have to troubleshoot difficult problems, which can be extremely rewarding.

Learning GIS has been such a positive experience in my life, and I would hope to extend that opportunity onto other students. Knowledge of GIS is an extremely in-demand skill and can open so many more job opportunities to graduating students. Even those with the job title “Ecologist” are expected to know a basic level of GIS in my company, so this skill is still applicable to students who don’t wish to become full-fledged “GIS Analysts”.