GSS Spotlight!

TOAN TRAN

What is your education and professional background?

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I am an international student from Vietnam. I first came to the U.S. in my senior year and graduated from Mt Tahoma high school in Tacoma, WA. After that, I started my post-secondary education at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and am currently in my final year. I major in Physics/Engineering Science with minors in Mathematics and Computer Science. My junior year marked the beginning of various experiences where I gained valuable skills and knowledge, including working at GSS. The highlights for me are my research project with Dr. Demian Cho on information processing with respect to criticality and the CPBF summer school program at Princeton University over last summer, which contributed greatly to my commitment to go to graduate school. 

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

As I was searching for a suitable university, SMUMN was recommended to me by a close friend of our family who was attending the university at the time. Ultimately, I chose Saint Mary's as my home for the next 4 years of my life. Also through her recommendation, I applied for a job in the admissions office at SMUMN and worked there for 2 years. It was a good experience but I wanted to find something more in line with my interest and personality. I then found out about the GSS summer work opportunity and have been working with GIS ever since.

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

The project I am currently working on involves mapping various wetland landscapes in Wyoming. This is the first project in which I started learning about using Google Earth Pro in conjunction with the given collateral data to aid the processes of delineating and attributing the wetlands. It taught me the benefits of going beyond the basic tools, which is particularly substantial in this line of work due to the importance of accurate data.

How do you see GIS fitting into your future? 

Although GIS may not be a part of my career goals, my time at GSS has been a valuable working experience. It enhances the diversity of my experience with data analysis as well as my capacity for adopting new technology and working as part of a project team, which is extremely useful no matter what line of work I ultimately pursue.

Where can we find you outside of GSS? 

Outside of GSS, I normally would be in my room in Brother Leopold residence hall or the Science & Learning Center and Saint Mary's Hall. In my free time, I like to watch movies, play Ultimate Frisbee or basketball, and hang out with my friends.