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Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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Alumni news: Genevieve Clow '18

Using remote sensing to study algae in the Great Lakes


We were delighted to get this career update from Genevieve, who was a terrific GIS TA and research assistant with ESS faculty:

"My experience with the ESS department led me to two exciting opportunities after graduation: an internship with Esri, and the NASA DEVELOP program. Immediately after graduation, I moved to Redlands, CA, and started my internship with Esri, the GIS software company that produces ArcGIS. At Esri, I developed a greater understanding of GIS while gaining professional experience at a large software development company. I first learned about Esri when I started using ArcGIS during the Introduction to GIS class (ENVS 116). Taking ENVS 116 during my sophomore year helped me realize early on that I was interested in GIS, so I had plenty of time to pursue other GIS opportunities while at Santa Clara. I went on to take Intermediate GIS (ENVS 117) and gained GIS-related work experience as a research assistant, Mapping Health fellow, and teaching assistant for ENVS 116. I began considering a career path involving GIS, so I applied to Esri to learn more about GIS applications and development. At Esri, I was on the Community Maps Team, which updates the basemaps for GIS users. My primary role on the team was to reach out to local data contributors, such as city and county governments, to see if they needed assistance with preparing or submitting their GIS data. My role as a GIS teaching assistant helped prepare me for this internship because I had experience working with others to troubleshoot GIS problems. 

"After my Esri internship, I was interested in gaining hands-on GIS research experience. I am now participating in the NASA DEVELOP national program at Ames Research Center in Mountain View. NASA DEVELOP is a 10 week remote sensing research opportunity for current students or recent graduates. The research projects utilize NASA Earth observations to enable communities to make important policy decisions. For example, my team is working with an organization in Milwaukee to make their beach cleanup efforts along Lake Michigan more efficient. We are developing a tool that can predict where Cladophora, a nuisance algae, may wash ashore using remote sensing and lake current modeling. I was briefly introduced to remote sensing in Intermediate GIS (ENVS 117), but I became more interested in it when I had the opportunity to work with professor Iris Stewart-Frey on a remote sensing project using Google Earth Engine. My ESS Capstone class was also a relevant experience for the DEVELOP program because I learned how to work well with a team, conduct a research project in 10 weeks, and create a set of high quality deliverables.

"I highly encourage other students to take advantage of opportunities to get involved with the ESS department. Working on research projects with Iris Stewart-Frey, Chris Bacon, Lisa Kealhofer and others in the Mapping Health Fellowship was a highlight of my Santa Clara experience, and it led me to opportunities with Esri and NASA. I am grateful for my time with the ESS department and would like to thank the wonderful faculty and staff for inspiring me to pursue a career in environmental science."

Wonderful to hear about your successes, Genevieve!