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Alumni Profiles

David Rohde

Dave Rhode

Geographer David Rohde interviewed with the city of Edmonds because city planners were looking to reorganize their GIS infrastructure. After interviewing, the CIO realized that David’s experience would be better suited for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) project. The project consisted of creating a GIS for the City’s stormwater drain network to comply
with national NPDES standards. David initially converted the CAD data into a GIS (shapefiles) and then created a project to use a highly accurate handheld GPS to update accuracy. David completely managed the project, purchasing the hardware and directing and training a Public Works employee to do the data recording.

During the first few months of the original project a number of other GIS needs were brought to David from a number of departments, including the Fire Department, Engineering, and Police. David is now the City’s full-time GIS Analyst and does a wide variety of jobs involving GIS, including developing standards for Snohomish County Cities GIS data working with GIS professionals throughout western Washington.

David attributes his success in his new role to the project skills learned in the department that helped him manage large workloads and complex relationships with different people, departments, and cities. The projects and assignments in the Department of Geography have proven themselves to be extremely useful when dealing with the organization of a workplace. The GIS classes were a great introduction to the technical experience that he needed to be hired as a GIS professional; however, once again, the overall design of those GIS classes around projects and working with a mix of individuals and organizations was most valuable.

J.J. Bach

J.J. Bach

Department of Geography graduate J.J. Bach interned with the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Utilities while an undergraduate in the department, serving as a GIS Data Maintenance Intern with the City of Seattle from July 2007 - June 2008. This position lead to a temporary position with King County Roads Division GIS as a GIS analyst (official title: Technical Information Processing Specialist), editing and maintaining the transportation network feature data layer, and then a GIS Analyst position with the Seattle Pub lic Schools. At SPS, J.J. works closely with the district's other GIS Analyst to create maps and data for school board members, internal staff meetings, and assorted general purposes. The job is centered around student enrollment data, school closures, attendance patterns, demographics, website map updates, and production of maps for the district enrollment guide. In addition to map creation using ArcMap, Adobe Illustrator, and PhotoShop, he uses Microsoft Excel and Access for analysis.

In his city and county jobs, J.J.:

-- worked with the Water and Sewer & Drainage groups performing data maintenance tasks to annotation, watermain, sewer mainline, and maintenance hole feature data layers

--interpreted source materials such as engineering plans, water system map book, online mapping services, side sewer cards, and legal descriptions

--created procedural documentation, attended staff meetings, and participated in two separate field studies using a hand-held GPS device.

Wendi Pedersen

Wendi P

Wendi Pedersen wanted to apply her knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) learned in the UW Department of Geography to the field of environmental science. Coupling GIS as a methodological tool with her other analytical training in the department could, she believed, prove a powerful combination. Ultimately, her work to combine these interests has led Wendi to the United Nations (UN).

Wendi first interned with the Nature Conservancy in Thurston County, Washington, developing a method to locate oak woodlands and prairies in the county. Equipped with knowledge, experience, and a new skill set, Wendi made a huge but rewarding jump to an internship with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, arranged through the EUSA European Internship Program at the University of Washington.

Cartographically displaying the interrelationship(s) between climate change, geopolitical instability, and refugee movement, Wendi primarily studies the status of refugees in areas of conflict referred to as environmental ‘hotspots’. These ‘hotspots’ are regions where environmental issues such as flooding, cyclones, and drought are frequent and severe; these pressures atop political instability can lead to deeply vulnerable refugee populations, the group UNHCR exists to serve. Using GIS, Wendi maps refugee locations and population movements, overlaying this data onto maps demonstrating environmental threats.

Ethically, Wendi is motivated by the fact that the populations most impacted by climate change are often the most vulnerable. Accelerated climate change has been responsible for situations including environmentally-induced migration and tensions over dwindling energy and land resources. In turn, this leads to political and social conflicts, further displacing communities and threatening political stability. Wendi uses GIS in multiple ways:
** To see patterns of weather and geographic change
** To examine climate change geographically
** To understand how refugee camps are altering the surrounding environment
** To map the movement and numbers of displaced people
To provide a visual of human suffering that will garner increased attention and support for vulnerable populations

The outcome is that UN officials can use this information to anticipate camp needs and prevent the establishment of camps in high-risk zones. Wendi is also responsible for map creation requests from multiple other UN departments. Wendi says that “GIS is a powerful tool in connecting the dots between the many facets of a multilayer situation, and through its visual representation we can bring the reality of those situations to the forefront of popular thinking.” She enthusiastically encourages students to pursue internships with the United Nations and other organizations, stating that multiple opportunities exist for training, career development, and personal enrichment. She believes our fundamental responsibility is to expose conditions of suffering and environmental degradation globally, truly embodying the idea of a global citizen.

Whitney Bosel

Whitney Bosel

Whitney Bosel became interested in the discipline of Geography after enrolling in Professor Vicky Lawson’s Geography 230, Urbanization and Development: Geographies of Global Inequality, her freshman year. The class exposed her to global injustices, inspiring her to learn more and get involved in social justice issues. For Whitney, geography brings together many personal interests, including material covered in departments such as Community and Environmental Planning, Urban Planning; Law, Societies & Justice, and International Studies.

Whitney is fundamentally interested in the concept of space central to geographic inquiry, as well as the relationality of people and places across the globe and how those relationships produce injustice. She also has a passion for traveling, having studied in Rome Geography Professors Sparke and Mitchell, lived in France during high school, and is considering studying abroad with Professor Craig Jeffrey in India this coming fall.

Whitney is an member of the University of Washington’s Honors College, and, in addition to majoring in Geography, is also earning a BA in Art and a minor in French. She has recently been named a member of the honors society Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she's considering either earning a Law/Business degree or getting a Masters in Fine Arts. Either way, she plans to continue her social justice/action-oriented work in the future.

While at the University of Washington, Whitney has participated in the Darfur group, WashPirg, and with Amnesty International groups on campus. She also sits on the board for the new Social Sciences Learning Link, SLink. Much of Whitney’s extra-curricular time is spent on artwork. The current Interdisciplinary Visual Arts Senior Exhibit includes an installation of her photography titled ‘lightplay’.