GSS Spotlight!

CHRIS HOOD

What is your education and professional background?

I attended the University of Akron in my home state of Ohio and earned a B.S. in Geographic Information Sciences with a minor in geology. I am currently enrolled in the new Data Intelligence and GeoAnalytics M.S. program at Saint Mary’s University. I started working at GSS back in April and this is my first encounter with GIS outside of a classroom setting.

What led you to GIS? More specifically, how did you get to Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (SMUMN) in Winona? 

Since my parents purchased me my first globe, I have always been fascinated with maps. On long car trips, the best way to keep me occupied was to hand me the AAA TripTik, allowing me to follow along as we headed toward our destination. It was not until college that I realized there were actual careers in the use, presentation, and analysis of maps. I was introduced to Saint Mary’s through a friend I met during undergrad in Ohio and I felt it was time for a change of scenery.

Explain briefly a project at GSS you've done that contributed to your overall knowledge and educational experience.

Since joining GSS, I have worked on updating the National Hydrography Dataset of Alaska for the areas of Kuskokwim and the Cook Inlet. I enjoy working on these projects because it allows me to strengthen my knowledge and skills while using GIS in the real world. It also allows me to incorporate my brief background in geology. It is rewarding to be able to use both my degree in GIS and minor in geology while working on these projects.

How do you see GIS fitting into your future? 

At this point, I am not quite sure where my path will lead me. Things that seem to interest me include finding ways to better apply GIS in areas unknown. The mapping of caves is still a long and treacherous task that is usually done by hand. Developments in LIDAR allow us to shrink the device to be used in smaller environments, either worn by a human or transported remotely into areas that are often inaccessible. NASA’s New Horizons is approaching its next potential target and in 2019 we will be in contact with MU69. Once New Horizons reaches MU69 next year, the information sent back will need to be analyzed. Hidden within the images taken from various instruments, we can find and examine the building blocks that created our solar system. Various maps will need to be made of the object, both digitally and physically with the use of 3D printing. My ultimate goal would essentially be working with GIS application in geology

Where can we find you outside of GSS?

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When I am not in my office, one could find me either at the RAC lifting weights or out hiking at one of the many parks around the area. Most of my time is spent training for upcoming Spartan Races or working on my studies. A few of my hobbies also involve being under the surface of the earth. I am an active SCUBA diver and will be heading down to Bonaire in November for a week of diving. While there I will also get the chance to enjoy my other interest of caving.