What’s It Like To Be… an Adventurer Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. My name is Trish Sare. I’m the founder and owner of BikeHike Adventures in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I started BikeHike 24 years ago after spending seven years living abroad. My life is about experiences, much more so than accumulating things. I am also passionate about animals, especially furry felines. What do you love most about traveling/adventuring? I love exploring new lands, meeting the local people and learning about their cultures. Adventure travel enriches one’s life and opens us up to how others in the world live. I also love to be active and challenge myself with new activities. Why is it important to travel and see and do new things? To gain an appreciation for other cultures and the world and experience how other people live in developing and developed countries. To never experience other lands besides home will make for a very insular and sheltered perspective of the world. There are so many different landscapes, cultures, religions, types of flora and fauna, languages, cuisines and political systems to be exposed to. International travel gives one a well-rounded worldview. What is something you wish everyone knew about traveling? In my opinion, it is one of the best educations that one can have in their lifetime. It is not learning from a book but experiencing firsthand. It is also a great opportunity to meet people. People tend to be much more open when they travel compared to when they are at home. Conversations flow much easier. Also, it’s easy to travel, especially today with the digital world offering so much information. Just always ensure to have your street smarts when traveling into foreign lands. If you could travel to another planet, would you? Right now, I don’t think that I would go to live on another planet. I find it rather intimidating to travel through space to get to another planet. It’s just a little too far from home and takes me out of my comfort zone too much. However, as we learn more about space travel and develop safer and speedier passages to get there, my views on this may change. One day I may look at space travel the same way (I view) traveling to another country.
Algorithm Engineer Wild Weather Jobs: Algorithm Engineer Jamese Sims, Ph.D. If you look at a weather satellite up close, you can tell it’s a pretty complicated piece of hardware. What you can’t see are the hundreds of algorithms – math equations written in computer language – which allow the satellite to collect weather information, send it down to Earth and transform the information into products for weather forecasters. In her job as an algorithm engineer for NOAA/NESDIS/Office of Satellite Ground Services at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Jamese Sims understands the computer algorithms of the GOES-R series satellites inside and out. We recently spoke with her about her work, her career path and advice for others who might want to do similar work. Wondering about the weather Sims, who grew up in Mississippi, has been fascinated by the weather for many years. “I became interested in weather patterns as a child, trying to understand how the weather could be so hot in Mississippi, yet at the same time, extremely cold in Indiana where my uncle and aunts live,” she says. However, she didn’t know right away that she wanted to have a career in observing and understanding the weather. She entered college at Jackson State University as an accounting major, but eventually changed her major to meteorology because of her love for math and science. “My interest was in forecasting hurricanes using numerical weather prediction. I took advantage of NOAA internship opportunities while in college that allowed me to learn various computer languages and methods. During my first NOAA internship as an undergraduate scholar, I used a genetic algorithm to locate the Gulf Stream while working with scientists at the National Weather Service’s Environmental Modeling Center. The next summer, I studied historical hurricanes at the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory Hurricane Research Division in Miami,” Sims said. After college, she went on to earn a doctorate in atmospheric sciences from Howard University. During this time, she built up her skills in enhancing computer models to predict the location and intensity of tropical storms. She then went on to work as a NOAA/National Weather Service meteorologist for 12 years. Not just numbers Although many parts of Sims’s career involve computers, her job requires lots of people skills, too. “In my time at NOAA, in addition to numerical weather prediction, I also assisted managers in understanding the needs of their customers and helped them to build partnerships,” she says. “My tasks vary from day to day,” said Sims, “but most of my job consists of overseeing and providing coordination between different offices and partners for GOES-R series Products, Systems, Development and Implementation, or PSDI. My goal is to ensure that GOES-R series satellite products are properly designed and will meet the needs of our customers.” The products that Sims supports will assist researchers and forecasters in understanding the information collected by GOES-R series satellites. When she’s not at work, Sims loves spending time outdoors, going to museums and hanging out with her family and friends. She is also very passionate about mentoring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students from underrepresented groups and helping them prepare for the workforce. Launch time “The absolute best part of my job was attending the GOES-16 launch. Everyone’s excitement and energy about the advancement of science that GOES-16 provides made every work day worth it and more important,” she says. “It is a great feeling to know that data and products from GOES-R series satellites will save lives by providing such a great amount of details about our beautiful planet Earth.” Tips on entering this field Sims says her advice to middle school and high school students is to fall in love with learning and exploring new ideas. “Take as many math, science and computer courses as you can; find a mentor in a field you’re interested in and do lots of activities outside of school to help you develop as a whole person,” she says. “Don’t ever be afraid to try and be great at something new or different!” This article reprinted with permission from NOAA/NASA SciJinks website, scijinks.gov
Each state handles the details of elections differently. is month, we talked to Daniel Simpson, an Elections Specialist in North Carolina. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. My name is Daniel Simpson, and I work as an Elections Specialist at the North Carolina State Board of Elections. I graduated from Duke University in 2011 and from Northwestern University’s graduate school in 2014. I have lived in North Carolina all my life, and I absolutely love it. My father and grandfather are my greatest career inspirations. Please tell our readers a little bit about what the board of elections does? Board of Elections is the state agency charged with conducting elections in North Carolina and ensuring that they are fair and accurate. We work directly with all 100 counties in the state to ensure that they have no problems administering elections in their counties. Why is this work important? The ability of citizens to elect their government is one of the cornerstones of U.S. democracy. For everyone to have faith in our government, it is essential that elections are carried out in a consistent, fair and speedy way. I can think of no job more important than protecting and administering an essential right of Americans. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about voting and the Board of Elections? I wish people knew how much planning, preparation and manpower go into running an election. It is an enormous operation that deploys thousands of volunteers and takes months of training to prepare for. Most people only see what happens on Election Day, but the election process in far more involved. What do you do when there are no elections going on? There really is no such thing as “no elections going on.” Once one election is over and the results are finalized, we are already preparing for the next election. Between general elections, primary elections, municipal elections and special elections, there is always something to plan for. For example, we are already hard at work developing a new computer program for election administration in future elections What is the coolest thing about your job? My job allows me to aid people of all ages, races and political persuasions in exercising their right to vote … what could be cooler than that? is past year I’ve helped many people, including a 100-year-old woman, a Marine colonel, a Duke University professor and an NBA player. Being able to see people from many different backgrounds all so passionate about voting makes me proud to do what I do, and proud to be an American citizen. What kind of training does it take to work at the Board of Elections? First, you need a working knowledge of how government and elections function. And you must be willing and open to learning new things because election laws change often. Most importantly, you need to have an open mind and a willingness to put your work above your politics. Can you tell us something challenging about your work? Because I work with so many different counties, I must be constantly mindful of my audience. For example, a process that works well for a small mountain county might not be the best for a large coastal county. Being able to identify with so many different people is tough, but it really makes their life easier, which is exactly my goal. What is a typical day like for you? A typical day at the Board of Elections is never dull! I work together with 12 different counties and stay in touch with them o en to see how things are going in their areas. I also work on processing voter registration forms when I’m not advising the counties. Additionally, I spend time designing computer programs and forms to make life easier for other administrators. What do you like to do when you are not working? One of my favorite activities is simply spending time with my girlfriend and our two dogs, Echo and Charlie. I’m also an avid sports fan and enjoy watching football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. When I get some time to myself, I love to read science fiction. My favorite authors are Ray Bradbury and Dan Simmons.
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. My name is Kyle Stetz and I have had a life-long passion for history. I grew up in western New York state near the Pennsylvania border. Growing up, I visited historic sites, and nearly every summer, I visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania., as I had, and still have, a great interest in the American Civil War. Now living in Virginia, I am surrounded by history at every turn. Please tell our readers a little bit about Montpelier and what you do there. Montpelier was the life-long home of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States of America, his wife Dolley Madison, and several generations of slaves that labored on the plantation. At Montpelier, I am in charge of our student programming as well as our many “Hands On History” programs. Montpelier sees more than 5,000 students each school year, plus several thousand additional participants in our summer hands-on programs. It’s my job to create meaningful and engaging programs for learners of all ages. Why is this work important/how does it apply to everyday life for most people? James Madison was known as the “Father of the Constitution” because he did more than any other individual to help create the system of government that the United States still operates under to this very day. The Constitution, the laws of the land, apply to each and every citizen of the United States on a daily basis. It was at his home, Montpelier, that James Madison brainstormed the ideas that would go into the final version of the U.S. Constitution. Why is it important to study history? The study of history not only informs us of past peoples and events, but it informs us of present-day issues and our society. History can also help us to look to the future. James Madison knew this as he began to brainstorm ideas to take with him to the Constitutional Convention — a big meeting that took place in Philadelphia in 1787. As a result of that meeting, the United States Constitution was created. Madison looked to history to help him figure out what types of government had worked, and not worked, for countries throughout world history. He took the best ideas and expanded upon them to outline a workable system of government for America. What is the coolest thing about your job? I love to develop creative programming for our visitors that allows them to connect to James and Dolley Madison and the enslaved community that lived and labored at Montpelier. Whether it is developing a new activity or taking visitors on a tour of Montpelier, making connections from the past to the present is always exciting. What is a typical day like for you? I never feel like I have a “typical” day. Each day is different — I talk with teachers to plan their class field trips, give tours of Madison’s home and the surrounding grounds, attend meetings to plan for future events, create programs, train our guides and a host of other tasks that keeps me on my toes. What kind of training does it take to do your job? My job is in the public history field — a simple definition of public history is to think about anywhere that history is shared with people outside of the classroom setting. Public historians are trained to work at historic sites, museums and archives (places where they store lots of old documents). I went to college and received my degree in education and American history, then went on to get my master’s in public history. When/How did you know you wanted to work at Montpelier? I knew that I wanted to work at Montpelier after the very first time I visited the site. Montpelier has the ability to share omore than 200 years of American history. Our story not only includes the history of the Madison family, but the history of the many generations of African Americans that lived at Montpelier throughout the period of slavery to freedom and beyond. What is something cool most people don’t know about Montpelier and/or James and Dolley Madison ? Throughout James Madison’s lifetime the only way to take an image of someone, was to sit for a portrait (a painting of a person). His wife, Dolley lived several years after James died — long enough to see the invention of photography. The year before her death she was photographed by Matthew Brady, and you can see her picture on the Library of Congress website today. What are some challenges you face in your work? There is never a dull moment in my position. Sometimes I feel like a juggler. Keeping up with many different teachers and schools, planning field trips and assisting my staff in our programming means that there are always details to keep straight. What do you like to do when you are not working? I love spending time with my family, visiting other historic sites and collecting Civil War antiques. There’s not much I do that doesn’t involve history and the past — I love it! Thank you for your time!
Executive Director of the American Student Government Association? Butch Oxendine is the Executive Director of the American Student Government Association, which serves and supports collegiate Student Governments nationwide. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. I’ve been working with student leaders and student governments for nearly 35 years. I was a student government officer myself in college, and for many years, I edited the national magazine Student Leader and other statewide magazines in Florida. I’ve written three books, including So You Want to Be President:How to Get Elected on Your Campus. I live on a small farm in Florida with my wife and five children. We homeschool our children. My four boys play baseball and I coach three of them on a team.Please tell our readers a little bit about the ASGA (or your SGA) and its mission and why it is important. ASGA helps student governments improve. Theyneed to have more students run for office and vote in their elections so they can prove that student government represents students. They then can champion issues and changes to the people who run the colleges and universities. What do you do at the ASGA ? I’m the executive director. I teach at our conferences and also talk to members and answer their questions. I help member colleges do research and train their members. How does student government help students (andschools) learn about governing? Student governments run elections, survey their constituents to learn about needs, appoint students to serve on committees (food service, parking,athletics and more), recognize and often fund clubs and organizations and frequently presents ideas and suggestions for improvements and changesto college and university administrators like thepresident and dean of students. Do you have any cool facts you can share about government and SGAs? More women than men serve in student government nationwide, but more men serve as president. About 80 percent of student government presidents are compensated for their work, usually by scholarship, tuition waiver or salary. How do SGAs help kids and schools? Student Governments help kids and schools by representing student needs, desires and interests to school dministrators who can work to make changes and improvements. SGAs also provide great leadership training opportunities for students to grow personally. What is the coolest thing about your job? I speak at all of our conferences and get to perform while teaching. When/How did you know you wanted to work with SGAs? I was in SGA in college. During college, I started a magazine, Florida Leader, that grew to be a statewide leadership magazine and published for nearly 22 years. Florida Leader inspired our national magazine Student Leader, which wrote about student government issues. When the web came about in the mid ‘90s, our team started thinking about a web resource for student governments and this led to ASGA in 2000. We launched ASGA in 2003 and we now have 1,500 member institutions and training 3,000 students at year at our 10 conferences. What do you like to do when you are not working? I coach a baseball team. Three of my boys play on it. I love the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, the Florida Gators football team, and the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. I like to work outside on our farm. I love to go to the beach near Tampa Bay. Thanks for your time!
Meet Dr. Harold Brooks. He is a senior research scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and in his words, “ran around a bunch of places for college and graduate school.” He has lived in Norman, Oklahoma, since 1990, working on a variety of projects including studying where and when storms occur. When most people think about the weather they think about forecasts. What is a good forecast and how do you try to measure that? We know that forecasts are never perfect. There are a lot of ways to measure how wrong they are. For example, how closely does the forecast match up to what happened in the weather, and also how useful the information is. Does it help or hurt the person using it? Just because it looks like weather that doesn’t mean it is useful to people. Better information doesn’t help make better choices if it is not timely. If a tornado warning was five seconds in advance, you can’t use it. One that is 15 minutes in advance would be more useful. Please tell our readers a little bit about what a research scientist at NOAA does and why it is important. We need to understand what the weather is. We want to try to understand what clues we have from the atmosphere and what conditions are associated with different kinds of weather. Conditions that lead to snow are not the ones that lead to a tornado. We want to know what we can measure that can help us predict the weather and help people plan for it. We want to know things like where and when does weather occur? What causes the event and can we use information to help people? We know we don’t always observe things exactly right. There are errors sometimes. What tools does NOAA use to warn people about tornadoes and other dangerous weather? Forecasting is one way. We can sometimes say that a storm is likely in a certain area up to 6-7 days in advance, so people can think about the weather that day and plan for it. With storms, we use radar to see what is going in inside the storm. We can’t always see the tornado, but we can see the conditions within the storm that lead to tornadoes. We also use spotters, which are people trained to look for things that indicate tornadoes – they can answer question for the forecasters. What is the coolest thing about your job? One of the great things about science is that there is a time when you work on something and you know something that no one else on the planet knows. It doesn’t last long because you have to tell other people, and that is neat, too, being able to share new information with other people. What kind of training does it take to be a research scientist? Most people need to go to college and graduate school, and some have Ph.Ds. There is a lot of math. You need math. It is the language we use to do our work. You need to learn how to ask good questions. These are questions that are important, interesting and solvable. Learning how to ask good questions and look at others’ questions goes into how do we learn new things. Being curious is a big part of it, too. That is hard to measure but it is important. What do you like to do when you are not working? I have two things. My wife is a middle school teacher. She teaches pre-engineering and coaches the competitive middle school math team. I help with the really competitive kids. We have won state three years in a row. I work with a lot of really good middle school math kids. The other is I am a volleyball official. I referee high school and college level. I line judge college matches and I have judged international matches held in Oklahoma. I worked a lot with the sitting volleyball teams, too.
KVN: Please tell our readers your name a little bit about yourself. My name is John Slupecki, and I have loved nature and being outdoors since I was a small kid exploring in the woods behind our house. I was born in Toledo, Ohio, and lived growing up in other states like Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Now I live in Florida. I have been married for 26 years, raised two kids, and we recently welcomed our first grandchild. I loved teaching my kids about nature and hope to continue with my grandchild and future grandchildren. I enjoy all outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting, free diving, paddleboarding and work. I always wanted a job where I could spend time and work outdoors. I never wanted to work in an office. KVN: What do you do and how does it relate to erosion? I went to the University of Georgia and was overwhelmed with the opportunities and decisions to make. I took courses in marine science and forestry and finally decided that I liked weather and climate the most. I graduated with a degree in geography. Since college, I have taken many extra courses within our industry like wetland and stream mitigation, identifying invasive plants, worksite safety and state educational courses across the country. KVN: What does erosion do and why is it important to manage it? Erosion is a normal process. However, during the development and clearing of our soils during construction, accelerated erosion occurs onsite at a much faster rate. When the grass and trees are removed for the construction process, the soil is left more exposed to weather and climate. Raindrops and concentrated water flow easily remove the soil without protection from leaves, and roots. The soil that is lost is most often the most organic top soil. It’s important to people who live downstream, because when this soil leaves the construction site it accumulates in those streams, rivers and lakes, causing stress on animals and people. KVN: How does erosion (or erosion control) affect everyday life for most people? Erosion control teaches people about how fragile our soils are. When our soils are not preserved it can cost people living in those areas lots of money to clean up the environment, and the environment can be changed for the worse. KVN: Do you have a favorite tool or piece of technology that helps you do your job? If so can you tell us about that? I love the weather apps on my cell phone. I track the weather with my customers to determine when the best window of opportunity is to plan and provide our erosion control plan. KVN: What is a typical day like for you? I communicate with engineers, contractors and suppliers over the phone and in person to work on erosion control plans. Then we initiate those plans in the field on the project site and make sure the erosion control is installed properly as we all designed it to be. KVN: What is the coolest thing about your job? I love to travel around the country and meet new people and learn how they do their jobs. It’s fun to learn how erosion affects different soils in different states. I also enjoy when everyone comes to one decision and works together. KVN: What kind of training does it take to do your job? An interest in science is a great start. Many people have degrees and studied environmental science, horticulture, geography and engineering. These areas will help you build compassion and interest for your job. KVN: When/How did you know you wanted to work in this field? I became interested in erosion control after my first job. I started my career after college working for a city permitting and inspecting home construction. Often when they build new homes, they clear the soil completely. The results from the erosion were so severe that I decided this was a very important career. KVN: What are some challenges you face in your work? Erosion control solutions are very hard to complete within the time frame of a project and install before the weather affects the site. It feels likes it rains more and the storms are getting stronger. It’s also hard to train the contractors that Erosion and Soil Control Specialist less disturbance is better. KVN: What do you like to do when you are not working? I love fishing, and diving under water. I love watching nature when it’s undisturbed and still. Our lives are so busy, and I travel so much, I love these natural outdoor place to relax and catch my breath. KVN: What a cool job! Thanks so much for telling us about it!
Rachael Zuch Museum Curator I am the Museum Curator at CCHS. I started with the Society as an intern in 2004. I love that history is so easy to find in Cumberland County, whether it’s picking something up off the ground or shopping at an antique mall. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. My name is Rachael Zuch. I grew up in Pennsylvania and work at the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I started working here as an intern when I was in college and I am now the museum curator. Please tell our readers a little bit about the Cumberland County Historical Society, its mission and why it is important. We are the local historical society for our county. The mission of the CCHS is to collect, preserve, interpret and promote research and education about the history of Cumberland County. We do this in several ways through our library, museum and programs. It is important to share local history so that people living here today understand how the landscape and culture around them developed. It is important to collect and preserve things so future generations have the same opportunity to learn from artifacts as we do. What do you do at the Cumberland County Historical Society? I am the museum curator, which means I care for and exhibit the artifacts given to our museum. Every year we are working on new changing exhibits on different topics. In the last few years, I’ve worked on the 1960s, mills, historic papers and the Civil War. Why is it important to learn about our country’s history? Many decisions we take for granted today came from history. For example, Colonial settlers did not just build roads wherever they felt like it. Instead, they followed the trails started by Native Americans. I think it is amazing to drive to the grocery store today on a road that was once a trading path. Many of the early roads in this area share that history, however, interstate highways have a different story. Do you have any cool facts you can share about what life was like during Colonial times? During Colonial times, money was not as available as it is today. People bartered or paid for services with goods. Imagine paying for a doctor visit today with a cartful of firewood or a couple of chickens! How was life during Colonial times different from the way most kids live in America today? One major way life was different was travel time. Today, you might drive 10 miles to the store and be home in an hour or two. Back then, the round trip would take around two days — and if you didn’t have a horse, you had to go on foot. Since people didn’t move around as easily, often times you lived in a community where your neighbors raised your food, made your shoes and most everything else you might need. What is the coolest thing about your job? The coolest thing about my job is getting to handle items that are old and unusual. What is a typical day like for you? Never the same! Some days are quiet and I do research and writing. Other times, I am painting or moving furniture to design museum exhibits. Some days I give a tour or answer people’s questions. Many days, I do all of the above. What kind of training does it take to do your job? Museum curators generally go to college and study a field they are interested in, like history, art or science, or they can take a Museum Studies course to learn about museums in general. When/How did you know you wanted to work in a museum? I always liked history in school, and my favorite part of history is learning about the things people left behind. I also love variety, and working in a small museum means I get to use many talents, including research, writing, construction and graphic design. What are some challenges you face in your work? One challenge is not knowing the answer to the question “What is it?” A little research and I can usually figure it out, but some things in the world have even the experts stumped. What do you like to do when you are not working? I spend time with our animals — we have four dogs, a dozen chickens and a pair of peacocks. I also like to garden, work on building projects around the house, read and play video games.
Geology is an earth science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change. KN: Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. My name is Kathleen Neset and I am a geologist. I grew up in New Jersey and I now work in the oilfields in North Dakota. I help oil companies find oil and natural gas in wellbores that they drill. North Dakota produces over one million barrels of crude oil every day. North Dakota is the number two oil-producing state in the nation and helps to fuel our great country and to provide a safe form of energy for our daily lives. KN: Please tell our readers a little bit about what a petroleum geologist does. As a petroleum geologist, I work at a drilling rig, and I look at drill cuttings, which are samples of the rock that is being ground up by the drill bit. These samples are then circulated to the surface and I catch a sample of these cuttings. I then wash and sieve them, and then I examine them under a microscope. I look for porosity— or holes in the rock — and I look for oil shows, which indicate a rock unit that may have oil and natural gas trapped in the rock. A lot of my work is done looking at rocks under a microscope. I use a computer in a lot of my work. KN: Why is this work important/how does it apply to everyday life for most people? The work of a petroleum geologist is so very important to many aspects of our daily lives, as well as to the security of our country. A petroleum geologist helps an oil company find oil and natural gas. This oil is refined — or separated into various components — such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products. Petroleum is used in so many different parts of our daily lives. Some things that we don’t think about when we talk about petroleum and crude oil are the many uses of petroleum products. We all know that crude oil is used to make gasoline to run our cars and trucks, and lubricants for our engines, but did you know that crude oil is also used to make synthetic fabrics and textiles? Many of the fabrics that make our very cool clothing are made from petroleum-based products. KN: What is the coolest thing about your job? The coolest thing about my job is that I get to do a job where I get to work outside at a drilling rig — and I get to work inside a mobile lab looking into a microscope at rocks. While studying these rocks, I sometimes see fossils in the rock — very small, microscopic remains of plants or animals that were alive on this earth hundreds of millions of years ago. I can learn to identify these fossils, and by studying paleontology, I know how long ago the fossils were alive. KN: What is a typical day like for you? The typical day for a petroleum geologist who works at a drilling rig involves going outside with a hard hat, fire resistant coveralls, safety glasses and steel-toed boots on and climbing up on a drilling rig and catching samples of the rock as it is circulated out of the wellbore. We also evaluate the gas that is circulated out of the well. These things help the geologist to identify the rock unit they are drilling in and help determine if the well is drilling in an oil-bearing zone. In most of the drilling today, the wellbores drill horizontally in the target formation, and I help the oil company keep the drill bit drilling in the correct (target) rock layer. In North Dakota, that rock layer is called the Bakken formation. KN: What kind of training does it take to do your job? First, a petroleum geologist must study a lot of mathematics and science. They must go to college for a minimum of four years to get a bachelor’s degree in geology. Then, they must learn specialized techniques to evaluate rocks under a microscope and identify oil and gas in formations. This type of special training is very interesting. Some petroleum geologists work very hard to study how to map the underground formations and determine where oil and gas may be located before the oil company even decides to drill the well. KN: When/how did you know you wanted to work in the energy industry? I started my college work studying mathematics. However, when I took my first class in geology, I enjoyed the work and being outside so much that I decided to concentrate my studying in geology. As I learned more about geology, I decide to interview for a job in seismology and I got the job and began the work right after I graduated from college. This was work that was in the oil fields of Michigan. From there, I continued my work in geology and looking for petroleum. I moved to Texas and Wyoming before coming to North Dakota and working in the oil fields here. This work was all energy-related work and I just enjoyed it very much. KN: What is something cool most people don’t know about fossil fuels? Did you know that petroleum is used in making cosmetics — such as our mom’s lipstick? It is made from petroleum! How about pain medicines? They are made from a base of petroleum products called benzenes. And, how about petroleum products used to make our bicycles? The tires, seats, hand grips and all the comfort parts of a bike are made from petroleum-based products. A bicycle with no petroleum-based parts is all metal — and very uncomfortable to ride! KN: What do you like to do when you are not working? I like to do things outside. So — when I am not working I like to…
Why is this work important/how does it apply to every day life for most people? Maps surround us. We use them daily to get to a meeting across town, to understand results of political races, what the weather will be. In recent years, we see them all over the news and social media. As a map reader it’s important that we understand that a map is authored. This means that someone makes decisions about what and how data are shown on a map. We should be aware of all of these decisions, so we can fully evaluate the veracity of a map. When/how did you know you wanted to be a cartographer? I love converting complex data to an easy-to-read graphic. I’ve always been drawn to this, and at it’s heart this is what cartography is. Cartography adds the extra complexity of where things happen. What is the coolest thing about your job? I get to (virtually) visit any place in the world with each map that I make. Not only do I get to go anywhere, I also get to explore any range of topics. One day I might be working on the trade of hazardous waste, the next day, I might be exploring demographic information, and even the next day, I might be looking at historic pollen records that show how species have changed over time. Another day, I might be in Asia examining farming practices, or indigenous people of New Zealand. I might not know what topic or region I will be studying when my day begins. What is your favorite thing about maps? Only one thing? When it comes to the process of making maps, I enjoy the design process of making a map, experimenting with different representations. When it comes to working with clients, I enjoy the “a-ha” moment when a researcher has been studying a subject for many years, and they see the map, and suddenly they say, “Oh, now it makes so much more sense.” The map can bring a topic to life in a way that words can’t always achieve. How have maps and the way people use them changed in the past 20 years? Are maps still important and why? Wow, maps have changed so much. In the last decade maps have changed from mostly printed maps to a combination of printed maps and maps available on the computer — many of them interactive. Interactive maps allow the readers of the map to “dig” into the data further, or represent it differently. Often the reader of the map can look at more data below the surface of an interactive map. Additionally, more tools are available for people to use maps to do their own analysis. That is, software and technology have made it more accessible for more people to explore spatial data. There has been a move in cartography and geographic information sciences to open data, open technology and to offer documentation that allows more people to work with spatial information. What is a typical day like for you? It is different everyday. Many cartographers work at a computer for the majority of the day, working with data in some way. This might include more of what you would expect from a graphic designer. Or, it might be more of what you would think of for someone working with statistics. Additionally, a lot of cartography requires research, both through internet searching and using the library. Readers of maps put a lot of faith in maps, so we need to be sure that everything is absolutely as correct as possible. This requires very careful editing, often with a colleague who is responsible for that task. What kind of training does it take to do your job? You can major in geography and cartography or geographic information systems in college. This training prepares you to think spatially, to understand the importance that place plays in how or why things happen. You can go on to earn advanced degrees in our field, too. Some people receive training in computer science, or design. What are some challenges you face in your work? I train students to become cartographers. Some of the biggest challenges are keeping up with the changes in staff, because there is a constant turnover of students who need to be brought up to speed in order to take on new projects with the speed and accuracy required for our field. What do you like to do when you are not working? I am an avid reader, I especially like to read books about leadership and creativity. I am a full-time graduate student, working on a degree in industrial and organizational psychology. I am the Executive Director of the North American Cartographic Information Society. I like to spend time on the weekends getting outside with my family and our Bernese Mountain Dog.
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