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People : Alumni

Abeyta, Andres , M.A., 1994
After finishing the grad program in '94 I worked for ERDAS for a couple of years as an instructor. Then I broke out on my own and formed a consulting company called IGIS Technologies . In addition to the typical GIS, GPS, and RS consulting, we have branched out into some nifty applications in GIS Modeling and ArcIMS programming. Not enough time to keep up on it all. I can also put diaper changing on the resume as we have a 2 year old and one in the oven. (6/02)

Augenstein, Eric , M.A., 1989
After several years as a graphics software tech writer and later as Training Manager for the ER Mapper software, I started Earthstar Geographics, a consulting firm in San Diego. My specialty is remote sensing and image processing, and I highly value and have put to good use the solid geography education I received at SDSU. At Earthstar (my one-man show), I assist with and help plan remote sensing projects, teach ER Mapper training classes, and consult for various clients in the petroleum, agriculture and environmental industries. Lately I've been doing more work with image compression, 3-D visualization, and Internet mapping applications. In 2004 I developed TerraColor, a global 15m simulated true color satellite image dataset that I market through the website. (8/06)

Barnes, David , B.A., 1995
After leaving SDSU I spent the next couple of years earning a master's degree at the excellent Geography program at Penn State (M.S. in Geography, 1997), where I specialized in cartography. Since then I have been working at ESRI in Redlands, CA, where I am part of the software development group and a member of a tem working to enhance the cartographic functionality of ESRI's software. (6/02)

Baron, Kurt S, M.A., 2001
After completing my degree I took a position as GIS Group Leader with WEST Consultants, Inc. in Rancho Bernardo, California. WEST is an environmental consulting firm specializing in hydraulics, hydrology, sedimentation, water quality and erosion control. My work includes acquiring data for projects, preprocessing the data for input into hydraulic and hydrologic models, running the models, post-processing the models and producing floodplain maps, for example, and creating figures and writing sections for draft and final reports. I've also been involved in field surveys on projects, attending conferences and professional meetings, and continuing my education with programming classes. I stay in contact with people in the Geography Department through work, at the gym, at the movies and local restaurants, hiking, and on the softball field.

Barto, Wendy , M.A., 1999
I currently work at the City of Encinitas as the GIS Coordinator. I've been at the City since January 2001. Previous to that, I worked for several years at Ogden Environmental (now AMEC) as a GIS Analyst. At the City, we are working on a few very big GIS projects, including bringing GIS to enterprise-wide status, and implementing a comprehensive GIS-based asset management system for the Public Works department. I moved to Encinitas in January 2001, and live in the Community of Leucadia, in a great place right on the bluffs overlooking the beach. During the summer, I can walk to work along the beach - it takes about an hour, and everyone's always very envious that I can do that. (6/02)

Bell, Chuck , M.A., 1972
State Conservationist, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Dept of Agriculture. (3/03)

Bertoni, Vince , B.A., 1988
Currently, I am the Planning Manager for the City of Santa Clarita in Northern Los Angeles County. Santa Clarita is a suburban community of 150,000 people, encompassing 45 square miles, and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. As Planning Manager, I direct the operation of the City's Planning Division which has 11 planners. Before coming to Santa Clarita in 1997, I was the Planning Director for the City of Malibu and had worked as a planner for the Cities of Rancho Cucamonga and Poway. I am active in the American Planning Association, serving on its Legislative Review Team, and am a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Blackwell, Steve , M.A., 2001
Got that internship in Yosemite in 1995. Worked for HTI making SURE-Maps-Raster 1996-1998. Conducted my graduate field work while working as an interpretive ranger, Yosemite 1998-2000. Learned to wield a chainsaw while I was a Prescribed Fire specialist 2001-2001 NPS -YNP also started painting again, mostly large mountain landscapes. Married the Saturday after Sept. 11th, 2001 and moved to sunny Sacramento. Worked for Pete Dangermond (yes, Jack's brother) for a few years on parks and recreation projects. Currently at URS as an environmental planner and GIS analyst. Living the dream; two kids, one dog, and a large mortgage! One day at a time, Steve B. (8/06)

Boles, Mark , B.A., 2002

Currently on active duty, National Guard. Location unknown. (2/03)

Bolick, Leslie , M.A., 1995

Doctoral Student, SDSU, Biology Department

Bortman, Amy , M.A., 1994
Currently working for the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Australia.
Married Stuart Phinn (Ph.D. graduate 1997) and we have a two year old daughter. (8/06)

Bost, Alec , M.A., 1998

salizarstreet at [gmail] (dot) [com]
Although it took 5 years to finish my degree, I was working most of that time at San Diego DPC (ahh, those were the good ol' days). I then went over to Ogden Environmental to join several other SDSU Geography alums as a GIS Specialist for a little over a year. I moved over to Racal Pelagos (British company) as the GIS Manager , which later became Thales GeoSolutions (French company), and then later Fugro Pelagos (Dutch company), for about 4 and 1/2 years. It was a lot of fun developing GIS applications for the submarine telecommunications industry. I asked for a transfer to the headquarters located near The Hague and got one (be careful what you ask for!) and have been here for over a year now. My next plan is to move to northern Germany in the next couple of months so that... (10/05

Brown, Christopher , Ph.D., 1998
I have been at New Mexico State University since June of 2000, and the last few years have treated me well. In April of 2005, I was promoted to Associate Professor and granted tenure, and the same year, I also inherited management of an applied GIS laboratory from my mentor at NMSU, Bob Czerniak. The same year, I was also elected to serve as President of the Association for Borderlands Studies. This year, I was named to the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, a U.S. Presidential and Congressional Advisory Board that provided input on U.S.-Mexico border environment issues. At the beginning of this academic year, I was also granted the NMSU Research Council?s Award for Exceptional Achievements in Creative Scholarly Activity, which was quite humbling and appreciated. All of this reflects the wonderful training I received at SDSU, and I very much thank Richard Wright and Phil Pryde, as well as other members of the SDSU faculty, for all they did in this regards.
On a personal note, I have been similarly blessed. In 1999, I married Carol Placchi, and we have two wonderful children, Jared (age 5) and Shelby (age 2). They never cease to amaze and amuse, bringing us much joy. (9/06)

Brown, Matthew , M.A., 2000
Hello, fellow Aztecs. I enjoy reading, playing basketball, and raising my three kids. Nowadays, you can find me at the San Diego County Water Authority. One of the best things about my job is working with former SDSU geograds.

Burns, Blake H, M.A., 1989
Employed by Woolpert LLP (600 Brickell Ave, Ste 801, Miami, FL 33131-2511, phone 305-358-1565), a multidisciplinary engineering services firm based in Dayton, Ohio. Woolpert has over 700 employees among 22 offices nationwide. My primary responsibility includes business development for the following innovative technology services: photogrammetry, remote sensing, GIS, GPS survey, and IT. A full description of these services, as well as representative projects, can be found on our website at

Cardoza, Tim , B.A., 2002
I was hired immediately after graduation by the Cleveland National Forest, which manages about 1/2 million acres of public land in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. My job title is Recreation, Lands, and Minerals specialist. The primary role of my position is to assist in the management the Forest's Special Use Program. The public, private companies, and government agencies have long established uses of National Forest Lands and applications by prospective users are often received. Special Uses of Forest lands range from recreational events like mountain bike races and ultra-marathons to utility uses like power lines and telecommunications sites. The permits have to be administered and reviewed for compliance with environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. The broad background in environmental issues and natural resources, which the geography program provided, prepared me well for this position.

Carnevale, Sue , B.A., 1979
Worked for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the regional planning agency for the San Diego region, for about 30 years. Specialized in project management, developing multi-agency collaborations, and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assist in a variety of complex planning projects and applications, principally to support habitat conservation planning and other environmental projects. SANDAG coordinates with federal, state, and local government agencies, non-profits, private firms, and the public on regional planning issues such as growth, transportation, environmental management, housing, open space, air quality, energy, fiscal management, economic development, and criminal justice. SANDAG, 401 'B' Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101, . (12/09

Cohen, Michael , M.A., 1997
I am presently a Research Associate with the Pacific Institute in Oakland, where I work on issues closely related to my thesis and interests at SDSU. I am presently completing a critical assessment of the joint federal/ state restoration plan for the Salton Sea, and have also been compiling a comprehensive water balance for the Colorado River delta region. I studiously avoid remote sensing and can barely spell GIS. The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security is an independent, non-profit center created in 1987 to do research and policy analysis in the areas of environment, sustainable development, and international security. Underlying all of the Institute's work is the recognition that the pressing problems of environmental degradation, regional and global poverty, and political tension and conflict are fundamentally interrelated, and that long-term solutions must consider these issues in an interdisciplinary manner.

Conley, Gary , M.A., 2005
After completing my degree I accepted a position as a Water Quality Analyst with the National Ocean Atmosphere Administration's Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in Santa Cruz. I synthesize water quality data sets from monitoring organizations on the central coast to report the status and trends of water quality within the Sanctuary and its watersheds. I spend my time setting up meetings with data generators and stakeholders in the region, crunching data, performing statistical analysis to identify spatial and temporal trends, and investigating relationships between water quality parameters and land use management practices. My office is right on the beach, so I can go surfing at lunch time! During the summer I teach surf lessons on the weekends and I am currently teaching introductory geology part-time at Monterey Peninsula College. 10/06

Cox-Jensen, Alicia , M.A., 2005
After graduating from SDSU I accepted a position as a land use and environmental planner with UC?s systemwide office in Oakland, where I work with the ten UC campuses on implementation their Long Range Development Plans and compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for new campus buildings and other projects. I also help advance sustainability at UC through implementation of the Policy on Sustainable Practices, particularly sustainable transportation. My experience in the Geography masters program at San Diego State was fantastic! (7/07)

Curran, Judd , M.A., 2005
Toward the end of my graduate studies, I was employed for three years as a Hydrologist in the California Water Science Center of the U.S. Gelogical Survey. This position involved surface and groundwater qualitative and quantitative studies, data collection, data processing, publishing, and web-based GIS hydrology database development. While at USGS, I also taught introductory Geography courses at various community colleges in San Diego County. Currently, I am a full-time tenure track Geography instructor at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, California. I am committed to improving student learning and encouraging new Geography majors that will continue their education at SDSU and other four-year institutions.

Davidson, Liz , B.A., 2001
I graduated in 2001. I graduated with a double major in Anthropology (emphasis in archaeology) and Geography (emphasis in physical geography). Even though my passion is in archaeology I wanted to compliment it with a broader knowledge of geography and particularly GIS. I started out as a field archaeologist but because I had an interest and background in GIS I was allowed to explore and develop ways to use GIS to produce site maps as well as other maps for archaeology. Currently RECON is working an integrated archaeology GIS database for parts of the Imperial County.

Dorner, Steven , M.A., 1996
After graduating I worked at San Diego Data Processing Corporation for three years before going on to teach GIS in China. (At the Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping in Wuhan, Hubei province). With no job prospects in the San Diego area I returned to my hometown, Washington DC. where I currently live with my wife and two kids. Currently I work for the ESRI Washington DC regional office as an Oracle-ArcSDE database administrator. (8/06)

Eckmann, Kimberly , M.A., 2006
After graduating from SDSU, I moved to Austin, Texas to work as a land planner. In 2008 when the real estate market crashed, I decided to go to law school and get my broker's license. I graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth in 2011, and began practicing real estate law in 2012. I now work for HDR Engineering, Inc. in Austin with the right-of-way group, doing eminent domain for the Texas Department of Transportation, and floodplain acquisitions and relocations for the City of Austin following the devastating Halloween flood of Onion Creek in 2013.

SDSU provided me with a solid foundation in Urban Geography which I continue to build on and has led to a very exciting and rewarding career. I am forever thankful to Dr. Larry Ford for mentoring me and teaching me about his love for Cities. I particularly enjoyed our walks around various San Diego neighborhoods. Although I grew up in San Diego, I learned more about that fantastic City from him than I had previously in my entire life living there! Dr. Ford sparked the same interest and love for Cities in me. I am proud to continue his legacy of working to make our urban environments the best they can possibly be.

I also want to thank Diana and the department's internship program - they placed me with HDR in San Diego while I was attending SDSU, and I am so happy to now be back with the company in Austin, with more skills to offer and increasingly exciting work to do. I recently reached out to several other Alumni now working with HDR in various parts of the world - it's wonderful to see things come full circle! (10/14

Fenner, Teri , M.A., 1992
After completing my thesis, and returning from a three month trek around Chile and Argentina, I accepted a position as Environmental Specialist with Kea Environmental (KEA). KEA was founded by Christine Keller, another SDSU Geography graduate from the 1980s. At that time (1992), KEA was a small, environmental consulting firm of about 10 staff offering professional services to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Over time the firm grew to a staff of 100 persons with biologists, archaeologists, social scientists, land use planners, and many GIS specialists. In 2001, KEA was acquired by EDAW, a 750-person design, environmental, economic, and planning firm with 22 offices worldwide. I am now a Principal at EDAW and work in the San Diego office which has a staff of approximately 90. I am responsible for managing large, multi-task contracts with public agencies such as SANDAG, the City of San Diego, and the U.S. Navy. A recent project was preparation of the environmental document, permits and monitoring for the Regional Beach Sand Project which involved dredging 2 million cubic yards of sand offshore and piping it to 12 beaches from Oceanside to Imperial Beach. I also perform quality control as a CEQA/NEPA expert and training within the office. (Visit the EDAW website at EDWA employs many SDSU geography students including Paul Moreno, Eric Coughlin, Alys Wall, Dave McIntyre, Megan Ashbaugh, and Karen (Sievert) Brandt. My husband Trace and I were introduced by a graduate student friend and I just returned from a week-long trip in Baja with my graduate school office-mate, Joan (Wingate) Isaacson. The geography program was a great learning experience, resulting in many enduring friendships, and continues to provide for networking. I now struggle to find a happy work-life balance (the Holy Grail of 21st century women) while my husband and I raise our two children in San Diego (5/02)

Fitzgibbon, John P, B.A., 1998
Following my graduation from SDSU in May 1988, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for SANDAG. I worked on the Assistance to Transit Operators program, specifically, the transit ridership data collection program. I provided the region's transit agencies data and analysis that helped them make service level and expansion decisions. I left SANDAG as an Associate Research Analyst to take a job in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota region as Transportation Analyst for Metro Transit. My primary roles as Transportation Analyst include, 1. Modeling, forecasting and planning the bus operator work force of over 1,500, 2. Writing and managing custom database applications to better manage the bus operator resource, 3. Annual development and regular analysis of the Division's $75+ million budget. I am enrolling in the University of St. Thomas to pursue a graduate degree in business administration

Fleming, Jeff B, M.A., 1989
I am currently residing in San Diego, California, and managing the San Diego office for CERES Technologies, an environmental consulting firm specializing in "due diligent" surveys of commercial property for the real estate and banking industries. This includes historical research, assessment of contaminated soil, groundwater, and building materials (radon, lead, and asbestos), and issues involving underground storage tanks and the use of hazardous materials in industry. The consulting field draws on individuals with varying backgrounds, including geology, engineering, biology, law, and business. My interdisciplinary background in physics and geography has been a great benefit to me as a consultant. I consider my experience working with the SDSU Geography faculty an invaluable asset to my growth in this field. To learn more about CERES, check out our Website at

Gero, Nicholas , B.A., 2006
After graduation I continued to work for the US Forest Service, while working on getting my EMT certification. I just recently got a job with City of Santa Cruz as a Park Ranger. (7/07)

Gordon, Sharon , M.A., 1997
I am currently the Director of Research, Marketing and Public Relations at The Telecom Intelligence Group, a company which provides market intelligence and business-to-business publishing for the telecom industry worldwide. (4/06)

Granger, William , M.A., 1994
After nearly eight years of living in Northern California, I moved back to San Diego in February of 2002 and took a position as the Water Conservation Manager for the Otay Water District ( My duties include overseeing the water conservation garden out at Cuyamaca College overseeing the water conservation garden out at Cuyamaca College ( along with Otay's water conservation efforts. (5/02)

Henry, Mary , M.A., 1996
After finishing my M.A. in Spring 1996, I took some time off to teach before starting my Ph.D. at the University of Arizon. My dissertation research focused on using remote sensing to study fire-related forest patterns in the Arizona Sky Islands. I finished my degree in summer 2002 and am currently an Assistant Professor in Geography at Miami University (in Ohio).

Hinshaw, Philip L, M.A., 1975
I was employed as a Research Assistant at SANDAG for two years following graduation. The next four years as the Rancho Santa Fe Association Planning Director were most interesting ones. In 1983 I opened an environmental consulting business and have prepared numerous environmental documents during the ups and downs of business cycles in the development industry. Most of the projects have been quite interesting, especially the unusual ones such as new cemeteries.

Hinton, Sarah , M.A., 2006
Following grade school I have remained in the San Diego area. I worked for two years at SANDAG as a research analyst, helping to produce demographic estimates and forecasts, and doing custom geographic analyses. Then I worked at the San Diego Zoo for a year in the Horticulture department, mapping plants and related features around the zoo. Now I'm back in an office job as demographer for San Diego Unified School District. My responsibilities includes preparing enrollment forecasts and various reports, maintaining GIS data including schools, attendance areas, and our street address lookup application, and using GIS pretty much every day. I had a great experience in the Geography department at SDSU, particularly working with Dr. John Weeks, and my degree successfully prepared me for employment in the demographics/GIS field. I'm getting married in September 2010 so we'll see what new excitement that brings. (6/10)

Hofmockel, John L, B.A., 1979
Employed by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) (401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101-4231, phone 619-595-5386. SANDAG is a regional planning agency with 75+ employees located in downtown San Diego. SANDAG provides the public forum and decision point for significant regional issues such as growth, transportation, environmental management, housing, open space, air quality, energy, fiscal management, economic development, and criminal justice. I am a Senior Research Analyst working as part of the Geographic Information System (GIS) team. I develop, maintain, and analyze GIS databases of land use, transportation, population, housing, and employment using ESRI's ARC/INFO and ArcView software. I have helped produce the Existing Land Use, Planned Land Use, and Land Available for Development Maps as part of SANDAG's published map series.

Jennings, Joel , M.A., 2003
I am currently a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, England. I am writing my PhD dissertation on trans-national migration from Latin America (particularly Mexico and Central America) to the Midwest region of the United States. For additional information please see my biography and CV at the following hyperlink:

Kelly, Jennifer , B.A., 1991
I worked for several years as an environmental consultant performing Phase I Hazardous Materials Site Assessments, Site Investigations, and Remedial Investigations/Feasibility Studies. Working as site safety officer for hazardous waste operations projects led me to become more interested in, and focused on, occupational safety and health. I completed my MS in Public Health (Industrial Hygiene) at SDSU in 1997. Today I am a Safety Engineer/Industrial Hygienist at Sony Electronics, Inc. in San Diego. My primary job duties include employee safety training, safety program development and implementation, accident investigation, safety audits, air monitoring, and noise monitoring. With so many employers combining the functions of their safety and environmental departments, my degree in Geography is a perfect complement to my degree in Public Health.

La Grone, Bob , B.A., 1995
I started working for Earth Resource Mapping (ER Mapper) right as I graduated in 1995 in their market development group based out of San Diego. This discipline is so fun and challenging because of the rapidly changing/updating technology. More recently, I took a position with Autodesk, Inc. up in San Francisco where I am Strategic Alliance Manager in the GIS Market Group. It's my job to keep a close eye on new and emerging technologies and work to bring these technologies to the GIS/Mapping community. The geography education at SDSU was unparalleled and really prepared me for the GIS/Mapping market not only by teaching me what was "here and now" but also giving a glimpse of what was coming.

Lukinbeal, Christopher , Ph.D., 2000
I am currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography, Arizona State University, Tempe.

Mailander, Melissa , B.A., 1987
Since my graduation in 1987 and subsequent 2 years of post graduate studies with the Geography Department (emphasis Natural Resources Management and Conservation), I have worked at P&D Environmental (2 years) and then moved on to work for the San Diego Unified Port District. I have been working with the District for 10 years as part of their Environmental Management/Land Use Planning departments. I have been the District's Environmental Review Coordinator since 1998. I handle all of the environmental processing the District must do for its projects or those of its tenants as dictated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The projects I have worked on are very diverse including: San Diego International Airport Master Plan, Hyatt Hotel Expansion (presently being built), Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Containerized Cargo Expansion, San Diego Convention Center Expansion, and Campbell Sediment Remediation/Aquatic Enhancement...just to name a few. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to utilize my natural resources management skills in the management of the District's two wildlife reserves found in South San Diego Bay. So I am not always stuck behind a desk and actually get to do field work. I am always happy to speak with geography students seeking internships or deciding on the career path. On a personal note, I have been married for 10 years and have a 5 year old daughter who keeps us quite busy. (5/02)

Mains, Susan , M.A., 1994
After graduating from the Masters program in Geography at SDSU, I undertook a PhD in the Geography Department at the University of Kentucky. I completed my Ph.D. addressing activism and representations of undocumented immigration and the US-Mexico border in May 2000, and then took up a position as Research Officer in the Knowledge Section, Education Department, at the British Film Institute in London, UK. While at the BFI I undertook research exploring media images of race, immigration and nationalism, and was the Director for the Inaugural International Media Conference. In September 2001 I took up a full time faculty position in the Geography and Geology Department of the University of the West Indies-Mona, and I am now based in Kingston, Jamaica. I teach a range of courses here addressing different aspects of human, cultural and political geography in addition to qualitative methods. My current research continues my ongoing interest in immigration, media and transnationalism, and I am developing projects that explore different forms of mobility (including tourism) between the UK, US and Jamaica. I am also exploring the Use of documentary film as a research and pedagogical tool.

Martin, Ross P, M.A., 1999
Employed at the Department of Planning and Land Use, County of San Diego (DPLU - GIS), I am currently one of the primary GIS analysts in charge of the management and analysis of spatial information for the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). Working at DPLU - GIS has allowed me to stay "up to date" with the state of the art in GIS hardware and software. We are currently utilizing ERDAS Image for remote sensing applications and monitoring programs (e.g., assessing the health and viability of endangered fauna populations in San Diego County), one of which was a $45,000 grant which I wrote. Additionally, working at a first rate GIS facility has exposed me to numerous diverse and challenging projects that are not primarily focused on MSCP, e.g., San Diego County population growth and planning. Many of these projects have drawn upon my interdisciplinary background in biology. Finally, my original thesis work is currently being adapted and published in an upcoming issue of Ecological Modeling #678 *Simulating the Effects of Different Fire Regimes on Plant Functional Groups in Southern California*.

McDowell, Thomas P, M.A., 1989
Recently retired from the City of Chula Vista. (6/10)

McElroy, Steve , Ph.D., 1999
Steve is currently working at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Tucson; he also lectures part-time at the University of Arizona.

McGhie, Gavin R, B.A., 1993
After graduating, I moved to Santa Barbara to obtain my MA in Geography at UCSB. While attending UCSB, I worked at the Remote Sensing Research Unit under the guidance of Jack Estes. My emphasis at UCSB for both my degree and my post graduate work was the creation of a GIS based Managed Areas Database for the conterminous United States. This database was a 1st of its kind and has been used extensively in further research. I also developed and still manage a website ( to distribute this database. In addition, I managed the creation of a Marine Protected Areas (MPA) GIS database for the State of California. After graduating from UCSB, I moved to Marin County, CA and began working at the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) where i now reside as the GIS Coordinator. As Coordinator, I manage the GIS program which includes maintenance of the water distribution infrastructure as well as the Natural Resources on our 21,250 acre watershed. I also serve as MMWD's Steering Committee Member on the MarinMap, which is a countywide GIS data and application sharing consortium.

McIntyre, David L, M.A., 2000
I started working at the US Army Yuma Proving Ground for the environmental services support contractor as an environmental scientist in November of 1999. I was responsible for preparing NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) documentation on test and projects and I assisted in some leaking underground storage tank site characterizations. I was also responsible for helping with the implementation of an ISO 14001 compliant environmental management system. Recently, I left that position and will be working for KEA Environmental in San Diego as a project manager. I think the geography department at SDSU is fantastic and almost everyone that I have interviewed within the environmental industry is very impressed with it. I hope the department can continue to grow and excel and that alumni are encouraged to participate with that process.

McLeod, Ron , M.A., 1977
Ron joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena after graduation in 1977 where he was a member of the science staff responsible for the development and application of digital image mapping technology. In 1984, he joined System Development Corporation of Santa Monica as an image processing applications engineer. After a two year stint with Kodak, Ron moved to Alabama to work for Intergraph Corporation where he was involved in a number of high profile projects related to drawing and document management. He developed a professional services consulting practice for Intergraph that specialized in custom software development in the federal marketplace. Now living in Cedar Park, Texas near Austin, Ron operates a consulting practice engaged in mentoring small IT services companies. He has traveled worldwide including Asia, North America and Europe. Several trips to Asia have found him climbing the Great Wall of China on Christmas Eve, crossing the Gobi Desert on the 4th of July, winding through the Stone Forest near Kunming, and traveling up the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges. "It seems that every place I go, there is geography." (6/02)

McMichael, Christine E, Ph.D., 2004
I am an Associate Professor of Geography in the School of Public Affairs at Morehead State University (Kentucky) – where I have been since the fall of 2003. I teach a variety of classes at MSU including remote sensing, research methods, GIS applications, and physical geography. My current research projects include remote sensing of forest recovery following ice storm damage and prescribed fire, as well as watershed modeling of land use/land cover impacts on water flow and quality. I feel fortunate to work with such wonderful faculty, staff, and students here at MSU. I enjoy coming into work every day, and I am grateful to all the people at SDSU who helped make this possible - especially my masters and dissertation chair, Allen Hope. On a personal note, our mini-farm now comprises 34 animals (2 dogs, 2 cats, 19 chickens, 6 sheep, and 5 geese), in addition to a large garden filled with vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers. 6/10

Meserole, Paul , B.A., 1993
Upon earning my B.A., I started graduate classes the next Spring and managed 3 semesters of classes before taking a job as a cartographer in Los Angeles, for a small map distributor. As always, plans to finish never happened, and for the next 5 years I worked at a number of map companies, managing departments and mapping most of Southern California in the process. In 2000, I moved my family to Kansas City to begin a more GIS-focused position mapping pipelines for companies in the Oil & Gas industry, in order to help reduce risks associated with poor pipeline management, such as leaks and explosions.
I have now progressed to Houston since GE bought our small company, and am working on the Commercial side of the business, to understand how to put together profitable and valuable projects, and manage associated contracting lifecycles. As a Commercial Operations Team Leader, I am using the MBA in Technology Management I earned through the University of Phoenix to better understand data management and IT issues in the context of the bigger business concern.
What I really value the most is the ability I gained at SDSU and in the Graduate Dept. for critical thinking, clear writing, and the curiosity that comes from doing exciting work, and getting better at it every day. And especially, the support of my wonderful wife and son. 12/09

Millar, Susan , M.A., 1988
From San Diego I moved to New Jersey to complete a PhD in Geography at Rutgers University. During that time I also taught courses on climate and landforms at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and conducted field work, both in the Rockies and in central Alaska. After completing my degree in 1995 I have held an assistant professor position at Central Connecticut State University ( in New Britain, teaching physical and environmental courses. Currently I am a visiting assistant professor at Syracuse University in New York. My research focus is primarily on cold non-glacial regions, with an emphasis on slope processes and topoclimate.

Minnoch, Heather(Pray) , M.A., 1997
Upon the *near* completion of my Master's Degree at SDSU, I began working with ERDAS in the summer of 1992 as a sales associate. I finished my degree the summer of 1997 (At this point, I think Dr. Stow would want me to say, "Don't leave until you finish"). Today I am the Western Regional Manager of ERDAS, Inc. located in San Luis Obispo, CA. ERDAS is an industry leader in Geographic Imaging Solutions. My responsibilities at ERDAS include overseeing the business and account management for 19 Western US states. I value my education from the SDSU Geography department and am thoroughly enjoying a career in geographic imaging.

Miranda, Marta , M.A., 1993
I am currently an associate with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC. WRI is an international non-profit organization that conducts environmental policy research (basically a think tank). I manage projects in Latin America focusing mostly on tropical forest issues, mining, and managing watersheds at an ecosystem level. To date, most of my work and travels have been in Venezuela and Colombia. Currently, I am working with a team to develop a global forest monitoring program called Global Forest Watch. This project, which relies heavily on mapping and GIS applications, is one of our most innovative efforts yet. We seek to track development (mining, logging, infrastructure, energy projects) in the world's last large blocks of forest, providing a credible early warning system for decision-makers and the public before critical forest habitats disappear. More information on this project and other initiatives at WRI is available on our website (

Moreno, Paul , B.A., 1997
Since March 1998 I have been a GIS Specialist for Process 2000 with San Diego Data Processing Corporation. We are working to reconstruct the digital land information for the City of San Diego. We use ARC/INFO and ArcView software to create, maintain, and review the various types of data. Prior to this I worked with the San Diego Police Department as a GIS Intern. In all I think GIS can be a fun job, when you get to work with interesting data. I still enjoy surfing, snow boarding, guitar and learning.

Murphree, Troy , B.A., 1978
I have worked for various environmental consulting firms since graduation, initially in mapping and graphics and later preparing environmental documents. For the last 10 years, I have been the Environmental Coordinator at Sweetwater Authority, a water District serving western Chula Vista, National City, and Bonita. While attending SDSU, I was married (Troy Davis), but divorced and have been a single mom since my daughters were toddlers. They are now in San Luis Obispo, one at CalPoly and one at Cuesta College. Now I can devote any extra time to my recently acquired 1924 fixer home in the College area (a long-time dream come true). Ms. Troy Murphree, Principal Environmental Coordinator, Sweetwater Authority, 619-475-9047 X 151.

Nicholas, Deile , B.A., 1984
I began my career as a navigator for an offshore oil exploration company. One of the final programs I worked on there was a computer mapping project for the U. S. Defense Mapping Agency. I eventually went to work as an estimator/designer for the Mission Viejo Company in south Orange County. During the early 1990's I had to struggle to find work in the land development field. I moved back to San Diego County and became a consultant for the City of Carlsbad. At the City I completed a variety of projects including the contract administration for the dredging of Buena Vista Creek. The project was extremely complex as it involved coordination with several state and federal agencies. I am currently working as a field engineer at Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's Eastside Reservoir Project. The reservoir when complete will hold 800,000 acre feet of water and secure a six month storage supply in the event of a major earthquake that damages either the Colorado River Aqueduct or San Diego Canal. My future plans include work on the Olivenhain Dam and associated water projects in an Diego County. If I can offer any advice to fellow geography students is be persistent you will be competing with engineers and geologist for similar work. You will be constantly educating people on what a geographer is and can do eventually your hard work will pay off.

Palomino, David , M.S., 2006
I am a Client Advisor for Geoscape International, which is a sales positon. We are based out of Miami, FL, but I work in San Diego, CA. At Geoscape, we use demographic and business data, analytic services and the latest GIS technology to help our clients access high-growth opportunities in our culturally-diverse business environment. Check us out at On the side, I also teach at National University in their accelerated one-month long classes.
Prior to joining Geoscape, I was a Product Engineer and Production Coordinator for four years at Esri (2007 – 2011). I worked on Esri’s Business Analyst (BA) products, mainly on BA desktop. I managed the cartography and optimized the draw-speed, improving the look of BA and increasing the draw speed by 77%. I also was one of two people in the whole group that properly knew how to do metadata. I also did some GIS contracting from 2003 – 2007 which included a couple of contracts with Nielsen-Claritas as I was wrapping up my thesis.
Living in San Diego, it's hard not to get involved with some sort of ocean swim meet, bike event, or biathlon what-have-you. Heck, San Diego is the birthplace if tris, and no one does it better than us! And with worthy fund-raising causes such as the “150 Mile Bike for MS” and the “CAF Tour de Cove”, there’s no excuse. Come to SDSU, get a top-notch education from one of the leading Geography departments in the nation, and get out there and move!
Finally, on an even more stoked note, I am engaged to Nicole Pascarella, the most beautiful and most awesome woman EVER!!! We are getting married in September, and I couldn’t be happier =o) I really am the luckiest guy in the world!!! (5/11)

Pastor, Bruce Jr., B.A., 2001
Associate Transportation Planner
CA Department of Transportation
District 11 Regional & System Planning Branch

I started at Caltrans on a paid internship during my last semester and have been at Caltrans Planning in District 11 (San Diego and Imperial counties) as a full time employee since graduation, in the System Planning and GIS branches. I am currently a Associate Transportation Planner. During this time I have played in various bands, co-writing, co-producing, and performing on a split 7" (45 RPM) record (Sk8 or Die b/w The Ruminants) and a CD with Sk8 or Die, and demo CDs with various other bands, as well as acting, writing, and pondering. According to my Facebook page, I am interested in the applied uses of grey things. To be continued... 12/09

Petralia, Rosanna , M.A., 2008
I studied urban and cultural geography with Larry Ford, and absolutely loved the experience and knowledge I have gained! Geography rules! I am currently living in the Santa Cruz Mountains and focusing in a career in nature interpretation and children education that also involve the use of mobile technology. I work two part-time jobs. I am a Park Interpreter Specialist at Butano State Park and Ano Nuevo State Park. That involves to research, develop, and conduct original natural and cultural history interpretive programs including guided walks, campfire programs, junior ranger programs, and informal roving interpretation. My second job is in the technology sector: I am the Italian Educational Content Analyst at Zoodles, a safe online service that promotes fun learning for young children. (6/12)

Phillips, Mary , B.A., 1984

I graduated in 1984 with my B.A. in Geography with an Environmental emphasis. After years of influence of my geography degree I worked as a Planner for the Marin County Planning Department (1984-1988), then off to environment al consulting writing EIRs and EISs etc. from 1988-1994. After falling victim to layoffs in the mid 90s I went back to school and received in 1997 a Certificate in Landscape Horticulture with emphasis in construction and design. I now have my own landscape business applying my geography knowledge as well as environmental planning knowledge in gardens that I design and install for my clients. I love being outside with the geographic elements. I think of the days of SDSU and the research of the Torrey Pines for a class project under Dr. Fredrich. I love designing gardens using mostly natives and Mediterranean compatibles. I love combining my geographic education with horticulture, it is a wonderful match. I also work part-time as Landscape Supervisor for Children's Fairyland USA, a nonprofit children' s storybook theme park on 10 acres which will be 50 yrs old in 2000. (Walt Disney himself came in the early days to get ideas for Disneyland). It's just me and my Asst. gardener that maintain, design and install new plantings in the park. I started a Children's gardening program where children learn about soil and trees and vegetables. I also started an internship program for other horticulture college students.

Phinn, Stuart , Ph.D., 1997
Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Science
School of Geography, Planning and Architecture
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4072
I'm an associate professor in the of School of Geography, Planning and Architecture at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. I was fortunate enough to be the first to escape (graduate!) from the joint SDSU/UCSB doctoral program a long time ago. Currently I teach and run a research centre that covers remote sensing, spatial ecology and GIS applications - see for details.
Most of my work is on coastal and coral reef monitoring and management problems in Australia and various other places around the world.
Married Amy Bortman (M.A. graduate 1994) and we have a two year old daughter. (8/06)

Reck, James , M.A., 1970

SDSU prepared me well for my position as geography instructor at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Ca. since 1971. After 34years, I have decided that I want to teach at least another 34. I love what I do and consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world. What a life! I teach all year and then hit the road to find out more about this amazing planet. Several of my former students have moved on to SDSU after finishing at GWC. I have only been back to the Mesa a few times, but I have been to just about every home football game since my student days (Maybe we'll do better next year?). (10/05

Scherf, David , B.A., 1988
I have been the GIS Manager for the City of Torrington, in northwestern Connecticut since 2006. I graduated from SDSU with a BA in Geography in 1988, received an MS in Geography from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1995, a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science from Northwest Missouri State University in 2005, and was certified as a GISP, also in 2005. After nearly a quarter century away from southern California, I once had a strong identity as a fourth generation Californian, but am mostly an “east coaster” now. When I tell people here that there was a time when I wore shorts and sandals year round, and walked to college in beautiful, sunny San Diego, they nearly always ask why was I so crazy to move to the east coast. I just tell them that Geography made me do it! My wife Susan and I have two great kids, some chickens and cows, a sawmill and tractor, and are happily restoring a 1769 farmhouse and farm in the small, rural town of Bethlehem in Litchfield County, Connecticut. (7/12)

Schultz, Jeff , M.A., 1988
Since graduating from SDSU, I have worked in a number of different transportation positions for various government entities. I spent 2 years at the Michigan Dept. of Transportation working in the rail passenger program. I returned to California and worked for the South Coast Air Quality Management District for 18 months in the transportation programs division, working with employers to encourage car pooling and other strategies to reduce air pollution in the LA basin. I then took a similar position, working for the Washington State Energy Office in 1992. In 1993 I transferred over to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and have been working on the Intercity Rail passenger program ever since. I was project manager for the recent train purchase by WSDOT. Our train services, in conjunction with Amtrak, are consistently ranked number 1 in the nation. Check out our website Next time, ride the train!

Scott, Lauren , Ph.D., 2000
Research Analyst, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), Redlands, CA

Scull, Peter , Ph.D., 2002

Visiting Asst Professor in the Department of Geography at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY for AY2002-03. (5/02)

Smith, Darren , M.A., 1996
I'm currently working as District Ecologist at California State Parks, San Diego Coast District. I still get to get out and crawl around looking for areas of high plant species richness but I'm mostly in the invasive weed removal and restoration business. I continue to experience wonder at the natural world and more so at the sublime inanity of people's connections to it. Fortunately, these connections provide fertile ground for research at SDSU geography. (8/06)

Smith, Timothy , B.A., 1977
Head GIS Section, Los Angeles County Fire Department. Responsible for all GIS activities within the Fire Department since 1995. I forecast and model new stations for the department, analyze trends and make recommendations for new equipment based on incident analysis. Provide technical support for Incident Management Teams on all major disasters. I manage all computerized mapping activities in the department

Spero, James , B.A., 1981
I have worked in Sacramento, California as a Fire Economics Analyst with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Fire and Resource Assessment Program since 1990. Much of my work involves analyzing and modeling spatial data to further the development of fire protection program policy. Prior to this job I was with the California Public Utilities Commission, where my training in urban and transportation planning paved the way to an eight year stint with the Commission's Transportation Division. Dr. Quastler's Air Transportation Geography class came in very handy during the interview for that job ("Mr. Spero, what are the implications of the Airline Deregulation Act?'). Along the way, I picked up a Master's in Public Administration (Finance) at CSU Fullerton. I am also a professional jazz guitarist. (6/11)

Stein, Adam , M.A., 2003
I am working as technical support at the NOAA Pacific Services Center on Honolulu. We serve as a hub for coastal managers throughout the US Flag Pacific Islands. 808-532-3962 (7/04)

Steppan, Scott , M.A., 1989
After leaving SDSU I received a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago, and then did a couple of post-docs at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History (Mammal Division) and its Laboratory of Molecular Systematics. Most of my geography has involved moving rather than research, although biogeography continues to be a major component of my work. Now I have started a faculty position at Florida State University in the Dept. of Biological Science. No teaching yet as research is emphasized, but in the future I'll be teaching Evolution for undergrads and Systematics for grads, and later still possibly Biogeography. My research centers on using DNA and morphology to estimate evolutionary relationships among mammals (primarily South American rodents) and using those phylogenies to understand large scale evolutionary patterns in terms of microevolutionary processes. Fall 2000, Scott is now an Assistant Professor of Biology at FSU.

Striker, Maralee (Thomps , B.A., 1987
I graduated in 1987 from SDSU with a degree in Geography, emphasis Meteorology. I am currently living in Racine, Wisconsin, with my husband, Fran, and our two lovely children. We have moved quite a bit since leaving San Diego in 1990 due to my husband's career (initially, he was a naval officer and now, is a manufacturing consultant). Since graduating, I have worked for number of airports, forecasting centers and also, secured my advanced flying ratings. In 1999, I flew 500 hours for the Red Cross and life-flight which I found very rewarding and hope to continue in that area after my son starts pre-school next fall.

Swenson, Jennifer , M.A., 1995
About 4 days after I handed in my thesis to the copy center, I was on a plane to Ecuador, where I was to manage the GIS and remote sensing laboratory of a non-profit Ecuadorian environmental foundation, called EcoCiencia. At the time my Spanish was bad, but fortunately my geographic knowledge and skills were pretty good. For 2 and a half years I worked in the field and on the computer with a lot of creative geographic problem solving due to lack of data, and got used to electricity rationing, 9100 ft, transportation strikes, amoebas, and interesting cuisine like guinea pig. During my time in South America, I taught courses in remote sensing at the university and to professionals in Quito (relying heavily on Dr. Stow's 588 lecture notes!) and did some consulting. I also managed a rural general planning project with a team of 7, funded by the UNDP, in a coastal province. I am now working towards my Ph.D. in Forest Science with an emphasis in forest ecology and remote sensing at Oregon State University, Corvallis.

Thomas, Bruce , B.A., 1971
I was in AFROTC and joined the Air Force upon graduation and spent 10 years as a navigator instructor and left as a Captain. Stayed in the reserves and retired as a Major in 1993. Started with the State of California in 1981 and am currently an Investigator (peace officer) with the DMV. I live in Oakland with my partner of 15 years. I have two children and my daughter graduated from SDSU in 2000 with a degree in Criminal Justice (following in dad's footsteps?) Love to travel. (6/02)

Toney, David , B.A., 1998
After graduation, my wife and I moved to Santa Barbara, where I worked for a small cartographic company. I spent two years in production cartography, producing maps 'the old fashioned way, digitally' (in Freehand and Illustrator, with no GIS). I was lucky enough to have a map appear in a National Geogaphic Book, on, and a slew of telephone books and textbooks. I spent an additional two years in their sales department, selling their mapping services. After four years, we decided we missed San Diego, and returned home. Since 2002, I have worked for the Environmental Security office at MCB Camp Pendleton. My official title is 'Geographer'. I manage the environmental GIS system - everything from endangered species to archaeology to hazardous waste. These days, I'm working on converting our legacy coverages over to ArcSDE. When not doing my day job, I also have my own freelance cartography firm (, producing maps for small publishers and telephone books, as well as doing wedding, party and event maps for individuals. (7/04)

Van Mouwerik, Dave , M.A., 1993
I started working for ERDAS upon completion of my masters degree from SDSU in 1993. The ERDAS Western Sales office was relocated to San Luis Obispo, CA, one year ago. (San Diego climate is second only to the climate in San Luis Obispo....) From this office we market and sell software products developed at our headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Our main effort at ERDAS is to bring software tools to the market that provide image processing techniques and digital photogrammetry capabilities to the GIS community. I have always been extremely pleased with my decision to get a master's degree at SDSU Dept of Geography. I'm happy to be a member of this vital industry. Anxiously awaiting the launch of Space Imaging satellite IKONOS, I plan to drive down to Vandenberg AFB and witness that significant launch (with fingers crossed).

Vance, Jon E, M.A., 1996
Geography has been a career thread throughout my life. I am an avid outdoorsman, and reconnect and reinvigorate through annual backpacking treks to the high Sierra, where I spend weeks at altitudes above 10,000 feet. As an army infantryman using maps, I completed a military career with assignments in Germany and Korea. After retiring from the service and completing my geography degree under Dr. Richard Wright's very patient tutelage and much help from my geography colleagues, I spent 9 years with BAE Systems as a systems chief engineer and project manager developing data fusion products for the National Geospatial – Intelligence Agency. In 2006 I joined SPADAC, providing technology insertion in the Southern California area for geospatial data processing and predictive analytics. In 2008 I transitioned from the defense industry to the automotive space, joining Mitchell 1 in Poway to spearhead their data mining initiative. I also serve on the San Diego PMI Chapter board of directors. I have lived in San Diego for 23 years with my wife Amy and we have one adult son. I obtained my undergraduate degree from St. Bonaventure University and we are active members of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish. (1/11)

Weer (Wedgewood), Melinda J, B.A., 1989
After SDSU, I worked as a GIS analyst for Southern California Edison and KTU+A. It was at ESRI that I was able to combine my two loves: teaching and GIS. I was the Desktop Course Manager, Knowledge Base Manager, and an ArcView/Avenue instructor. Now, I teach homeschool; I have two sons. I have raised Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats on my farm, Goat Mountain View, since 2004. And, I work as a freelance copyeditor in the genres of science, technology, and medicine. My main client is Elsevier Publishing. I specialize in working with ESL authors. I’m also a correspondent for the North Kitsap Herald newspaper. (3/15)

Ying, Long Gen , Ph.D., 1998
Professor, Faculty of the College of Resources and Environment, East China Normal University, Shanghai

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