GSS Spotlight!

KATHERINE ETHEN

What is your education and professional background?

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I graduated from Pacelli Catholic High School in Austin, MN and am now a senior at Saint Mary's University, studying Environmental Biology. In the summer of 2017 I worked at Cascade Meadow in Rochester, where I helped clean up some of the invasive plants they have. Last summer I was able to start working at GSS and continued working there once school started up again. Both of these opportunities have been student internships through Saint Mary's.

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

My dad and several other family members all graduated from Saint Mary's, so I already knew about it and was familiar with the campus. I was also originally planning on being a theater major, which they have a very good program for. I did end up switching to environmental biology at the beginning of my sophomore year and was first introduced to GSS during a GIS mapping class. Andy Robertson came and talked about the projects they were doing, as well as his visits to Alaska which really peaked my interest. When the school started sending out emails about a summer internship working there, I was very excited to start working (even though I knew it didn't mean a trip to Alaska!). 

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

The first project I worked on was part of a 2 year project that covered northwestern Minnesota. It was my first time working with GIS outside of class and it helped me get a better idea of how it worked. I also learned a lot about different types of wetlands and waterways, and how those are categorized. 

How do you see GIS fitting into your future? 

I'm not sure yet! I know that it can be used in a whole range of fields for a lot of different reasons, so just having a better understanding of it will be super helpful for whatever I do end up doing. 

Where can we find you outside of GSS?

Once I get off work I can normally be found outside, kayaking or hiking or hammocking. I also enjoy reading, spending time with my family, and painting!