GSS Spotlight!

JAMES LOKEN

What is your education and professional background?

I am currently a Senior studying Computer Science with a GIS emphasis. This is a 4+1 program so immediately after graduation I plan to enroll in the Data Intelligence and GeoAnalytics M.S. program at Saint Mary's University. I have no prior background in GIS, but I have been working at GSS for almost a year on the Minnesota and Vermont NWI updates.

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

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I am a local from Houston, MN so I was no stranger to Saint Mary's. I attended PSEO my junior year at SMUMN and after attending Winona State my senior year I decided to go to SMUMN, mainly because of the GIS program and it being close to home. I learned about the GIS program from my high school geography teacher, which led me to look into it, because at the time I wanted to be a land surveyor.

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

A project I have contributed to was the Vermont NWI update. My work on this project has been mainly creating linears along with correcting buffered line work. This project has greatly increased my knowledge of water flow patterns and also exposed me to a new a type of wetland mapping. I have also been able to increase my knowledge of how to analyze various collateral data such as hillshade and CIR imagery.

How do you see GIS fitting into your future? 

Well, as of now I have no set plans on what career path I will follow, but it will definitely involve GIS. In the short term I plan to continue working at GSS until I complete my Master's, then decide where I want to go from there. In the future I want to do some sort of surveying/field analyst work or something involving LiDAR and remote sensing.

Where can we find you outside of GSS? 

Outside of GSS I am normally found either in Winona or at my parents' farm. In my free time I enjoy kayaking, fishing, motorcycling, playing basketball and helping around the family farm and businesses.