Former ESP undergraduate students share their career success stories

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 |

I was recently hired as a student contractor in the Land Change Science program at USGS. I have a variety of roles, including helping to write research papers that incorporate policy decisions (mostly regarding land use/land use management and emissions from managed lands) and providing GIS support in that field. Your class was a great introduction to this area!

I am currently trying to find the carbon flux in national wildlife refuge areas. I split them up according to geographical region (fish and wildlife management regions) so we can show how much carbon is stored in each region.

I feel very fortunate to have found a position that involved so many things that I care about and enjoy working with.

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”.