GSS Spotlight!


What is your education and professional background?

I'm from Marshfield, Wisconsin and I graduated from Marshfield Senior High in 2017. I'm currently a sophomore at the Saint Mary's University of Minnesota pursuing an Environmental Biology major and Criminal Justice and Zoology minors. I've had multiple jobs in the past that were in retail until my last summer before college when I worked for the City of Marshfield as a landscaper. I've also assisted in some ecological research, the removal of invasive species, and introduction of native plants all in the area of Winona County.

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


I was very intrigued by the University because I was familiar with the area from visiting friends at Winona State University. The area of Winona blew me away, especially all the water and trout streams so close to the town and University. I was also recruited heavily for the Men's Varsity Soccer team after I attended an ID camp held at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. After looking further into the school's Environmental Biology program and speaking with current professors I decided that it was a perfect fit for me. Before getting the job here at GSS, I had only a little knowledge on GIS from my Invasive Ecology course where we used it to map out where Japanese Barberry was in the bluffs behind the University and in Trempealeau State Park. Then Dr. Pauli emailed me about a summer job for GSS only a handful of weeks before the semester was over and after discussing it with Andy Robertson and my family, I took the internship. It was a big jump for me because it was only my first year of college and I was already going to be living on my own. 

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

The project that myself and a group of other college students and technicians worked on this summer was for the Minnesota DNR. It was for the National Wetland Inventory and was a two year project mapping the wetlands of Northwest Minnesota in the Red River Valley, Detroit Lakes, and other areas like Itasca State Park. This project really opened my eyes to the world of GIS and all the different wetlands we can have in Minnesota. The majority of what I mapped was lakes, ponds, rivers, and floodplains. There was also a good amount of emergent vegetation mapping like cattails, reeds, and bulrushes that indicate that an area is wet. It was awesome to be able to identify all these areas and map them by creating polygons using tools like previous maps, lidar, and infrared coloring. 

How do you see GIS fitting into your future? 

I plan on working for GSS throughout my college career here at Saint Mary's University because it is a great job that gives me a lot of experience in an important field. This application has so many uses that it will look really good for any job in the environmental field that I may apply to in the future. I hope for finding a job in the National Parks Service or DNR and although I may not be working directly with GIS in my job, I am positive I'll run across it and have to use it in any job I have. 

Where can we find you outside of GSS?

The mostly likely place you'll find me is on some stream here in the Driftless Region of Minnesota. I love to fly fish and if my busy schedule allows some free time, I try to get out and try my luck. Other than that I've been skiing various mountains this winter break because that is my second favorite hobby, but it can be hard to do it around Winona when we don't have much snow on the ground. I also tend to be on the soccer field and weight room a lot because I am one of the many college athletes here at Saint Mary's. The last thing I love doing is just spending time with my friends everyday outside of class and enjoying the weekends here in Winona.