California coast

Meet Our Alumni

Our alumni are a large and diverse group, with varied careers and life experiences. Some are working in geography related fields while others have moved on to totally unrelated careers. There are alums who work in office settings, others spend their days outdoors, and a few spend time in both.

Whether you're a current or prospective student looking to discover the variety of career paths and opportunities that our alumni have forged, or you're an alum yourself looking up former classmates, the people on these pages have helped to make the department what it is today.

Kurt BaronKurt Baron
M.A., 2001, Physical Geography, GIS and Water Resources
Current Position: Senior GIS Analyst II, Atkins North America

Kurt Baron has over 20 years of experience. His responsibilities include integrating GIS into water resources engineering, acquiring data, and pre- and post-processing hydrologic and hydraulic information. He works primarily at the State and Federal level doing floodplain and dam failure analysis. He also teaches the graduate level GIS course for the SDSU School of Public Health.


Vince BertoniVince Bertoni
B.A., 1988, Transportation and Urban
Current Position: Director of Planning, City of Los Angeles

Lead the largest city planning department in the nation and charged with developing policies that shape the future of the City and guide development decisions for a diverse and dynamic metropolis of over 4 million people.


Ryan BurnsRyan Burns
M.S., 2009, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Calgary

My research and teaching interests are around the social and political implications of technology, bridging the gap between GIScience and human geography. Within this broad area I teach classes related to urban GIS, and focus my research energies toward understanding smart cities, digital humanitarianism, and critical data studies.

After growing up mostly in the South of the US (Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina), I moved to the west coast for graduate school. I earned my PhD from University of Washington in 2015 and taught for a year at Temple University before heading north in 2016. I'm into weird music, harsh coffee, whiskey, running ridiculous distances, 20th-century American literature, traveling, and messing around with technology. I currently live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Yi-Ting ChuangYi-Ting Chuang
M.S., 2015, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: GIS Data Analyst,

Prepare geospatial data and analysis for customized application development and create web-based data visualization.


James CraineJames Craine
Ph.D., 2006, Media Geography
Current Position: Professor, Cal State Northridge

Professor at California State University, Northridge

Philip ElderPhilip Elder
M.S., Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Automation Engineer

Software development and process automation to increase field engineer efficiency and data sharing for an enterprise IT company.


Timothy EvansTimothy Evans
B.A., 2015, Natural Resource and Environmental Policy
Current Position: Foreign Affairs Officer, United States Department of State

I serve in the Office of Global Food Security for the State Department, which is the lead office for diplomatic engagement and policy coordination for food security in multilateral engagement such as G7, G20, APEC, and others. The office also acts as an internal food security subject matter expert for the State Department on food security and nutrition, and it engages in interagency efforts like Feed the Future, which is the US Government’s flagship initiative to combat hunger globally.

My job within the office entails tracking Ambassador nominations to countries with food security issues and then drafting written papers and coordinating briefings with those Ambassadors. My main focus regionally is on food security issues in Africa and tracking topics like the impacts of COVID-19, desert locusts, and other major events on food security in Africa and globally as well.


Debbie FugateDebbie Fugate
Ph.D., 2008, Demography
Current Position: Deputy Director, National Geospatial Program, United States Geological Survey

I was just named Deputy Director of the National Geospatial Program at USGS in 2019. I'm still discovering what my new responsibilities entail. I was previously Deputy Director of the Office of The Geographer and Global Issues in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State.

Denise GoerischDenise Goerisch
Ph.D., 2013, Human Geography
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies, Grand Valley State University

I teach courses on leadership, social change, and interdisciplinary research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level. I'm currently researching issues related to college affordability.

My research focuses on the socio-economic lives of children and young people. I’m currently researching college students’ engagements with the costs of pursuing higher education in the US, not just the financial costs but also the socio-cultural and emotional costs of attending college. I’ve published on topics related to emotional labor and girlhood, children’s work and play, leadership in informal educational spaces, research ethics, and more recently, faculty care work. I currently live in Allendale, MI USA


Rebecca GroverRebecca Grover
M.A., 2011, Political Ecology
Current Position: GIS Analyst, San Diego Association of Governments

The award-winning GIS team I am a part of at SANDAG works to create products and services that support departments such as land use and transportation planning, modeling and forecasting, binational collaboration, active transportation (pedestrian and bicycle), and mobility management. I provide GIS and research support by performing duties such as creating maps, performing analysis, designing and maintaining GIS data and databases, assisting with project development, and organizing staff participation in GIS conferences and events.


Jeremy Hamm
M.S., 2010, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Software Developer,

Full stack software developer for enterprise learning company.


Lesley HandaLesley Handa
M.S., 2016, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Ornithologist

I study birds in the San Diego region.


Laurel HanscomLaurel Hanscom
M.A., 2015, Human and Environmental
Current Position: Program Director and Research Scientist, Global Footprint Network

In my role as Program Director, I develop organization-wide and programmatic strategy, work closely with our CEO and management team to maximize the impact of our work, and represent the organization externally at conferences and workshops around the world. As a researcher, I manage projects, contribute to scientific publications, and oversee our open data platform, the Ecological Footprint Explorer.


David HansenDavid Hansen
B.A., 1999, Physical Geography
Current Position: Hydrographer 3, East Bay Municipal Utility District

I collect and manage large stream flow, groundwater, and meteorological data sets, performs strategic planning to assess future water needs and resource availability, performs quantitative data analysis, data quality assurance, and first order level surveys. Manage gauge station ratings, oversee ongoing station maintenance.

I currently live in Castro Valley, CA, USA


Mary C. HenryMary C. Henry
M.A., 1996, Remote sensing, biogeography, fire ecology
Current Position: Associate Professor of Geography, Miami University

I teach physical geography, global change, remote sensing, natural hazards, & landscape ecology. I do research on the impacts of fire and invasive plants on forest ecosystems using remote sensing and GIS. I have recently been working to map burn scars in Kenya and estimate fire emissions.

I currently live in Oxford, OH, USA


Jessie HongJessie Hong
M.A., 2007, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Associate Professor, University of West Georgia

I teach introductory and advanced level GIS courses, with a research focus on GIS in K-12 and higher education


Sarah Hudson (Hinton)
M.A., 2006, Human Geography/Demography
Current Position: Demographer, San Diego Unified School District

Enrollment forecasting, monitoring, analysis, and reporting; managing attendance boundaries and address-to-school lookup; resident and non-resident student trend analysis; map-making; geocoding; student generation rate analysis for new residential development.

Married, two kids. Hobbies include kids’ school and sports activities, gardening, beach, hiking, sleep whenever possible. I currently live in San Diego, CA, USA


Elias IssaElias Issa
M.S., 2016, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Senior Engineering Technician, San Diego Airport Authority

I am responsible for the creation, modification, and quality control of essential geospatial infrastructure data for Airport-wide use in a variety of critical applications. This includes the analysis and assembly of GIS and CAD data utilized to support engineering designs, real estate plats, planning exhibits, and capital improvement projects.

Catherine JainCatherine Jain
M.A., 2000, Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
Current Position: Professor, Palomar College

As a full-time faculty member I teach physical geography, meteorology, and various field courses, and serve as advisor to both the geography and environmental studies degree and certificate programs. In my free time I enjoy birding, an activity introduced to me over twenty years ago by Dr. Phil Pryde.


Eric JohnstonEric Johnston
B.A., 1995, Natural Resources and Environmental Geography
Current Position: Senior Project Manager, Baldwin & Sons

For the past 24 years I have worked as a land entitlement project manager for utility scale wind and solar projects, commercial and light industrial projects, and residential projects. CEQA, NEPA, TEPA experience, along with all regulatory agencies.

Born, raised, educated, and residing in San Diego. I currently live in San Diego, CA USA


Andrew Kerr
M.S., 2017, Remote Sensing
Current Position: Senior Data Scientist, Masego Inc.

Data scientist in the defense space, supporting various government clients with ongoing imagery and human geography related projects.


Ick-Hoi KimIck-Hoi Kim
Ph.D., 2012, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Research Fellow,

Developing Web GIS applications


Chung-Rui (Ray) LeeChung-Rui (Ray) Lee
M.S., 2010, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Research Assistant (Academic Professional), Academia Sinica

I currently live in Taipei, Taiwan


Carmen LeedhamCarmen Leedham (Baily)
B.A., 2020, Geography with Emphasis in the Environment and Society
Current Position: Senior GIS Analyst, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency

I perform spatial data analysis to improve public access to health and social services to raise individual outcomes in the County of San Diego. I am dedicated to promoting the sustainability of our communities utilizing a data-driven approach to increase economic equity and access to social programs.


Christopher LippittChristopher Lippitt
Ph.D., 2012, Geography
Current Position: Assoc. Professor of Geography and Env Studies, University of New Mexico

I currently live in Albuquerque, NM, USA


Joshua LogsdonJoshua Logsdon
B.S., 2023, Geography Information Science
Current Position: GIS Analyst, City of San Diego

In the City of San Diego‘s Stormwater Department, I use GIS to ensure our asset inventory is current and accurate, facilitating the work of city planners, engineers, and field technicians. I build models and applications to streamline workflows for monitoring the lifespan city assets.


Chris LukinbealChris Lukinbeal
Ph.D., , Urban and Cultural Geography, GIScience, Cartography
Current Position: Professor, University of Arizona

Professor and GIST Director at the University of Arizona.

Jennifer MasonJennifer Mason
M.S., 2011, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Ph.D. Student, Penn State University

I am currently finishing my Ph.D. at Penn State University in fall of 2017 while teaching online GIS courses for UCLA extension. I will next start a postdoc with the Geography Department at UCLA.


Colin MattisonColin Mattison
B.S., 2006, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Presales Engineer, Pitney Bowes

As a Presales Engineer, I bring awareness to the Pitney Bowes' global location data portfolio. My goal is to empower organizations to cut costs and save time while maximizing revenue and operational efficiency through the use of spatial data, spatial analytics, and precision geocoding.

As a professional geographer consulting on location intelligence and data for Pitney Bowes, I empower individuals and organizations to think and act with a spatial context. I guide companies augmenting their business strategy with data and spatial software to develop analytical models and applications, to improve operational processes, tailor better customer experiences, site new facilities, optimize supply chains, and support strategic decision making. I currently live in Bonsall, CA, United States


Christopher MorenoChristopher Moreno
Ph.D., 2010, Social and Cultural Geography
Current Position: Co-Owner and Ethnography Program Manager, Cultural Geographics Consulting

Provide geographical and ethnographic research and educational services to assist Native American Tribes and traditional communities develop and enhance cultural and natural resources management programs.


Frank Mowery
B.S., 2017, Geographic Information Systems
Current Position: Mapping Specialist I

I collect and extract LiDAR data using mobile LiDAR platforms. I also conduct topographic surveys and data collection surveys.


Cleo NeculaeCleo Neculae
M.S., 2011, Watershed Science
Current Position: Stormwater Grants Program Manager, State of Washington

Manage stormwater grants funded by the Washington Department of Ecology and awarded to municipalities that retrofit their stormwater infrastructure.


William NicewongerWilliam Nicewonger
B.S., 2022, Water, Climate and Ecosystems
Current Position: Sensor Technician, National Center for Atmospheric Research

As a technician at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the Earth Observing Laboratory, I am a part of the Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS) group in the In-Situ Sensing Facility. I perform mechanical and electrical assembly of tower infrastructure, atmospheric sensors, data acquisition systems, and transportation systems. I am involved with all aspects of world-wide deployment of this facility, including traveling to remote locations, erecting and climbing towers, connecting, testing, and monitoring meteorological sensors, servicing equipment, and documenting activities.

David PalominoDavid Palomino
M.A., 2006, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Administrative Analysts III, County of San Diego

Supervisory role with the County of San Diego's Live Well San Diego Team. Manages the data team in updating and giving presentations on demographic data as pertaining to health, safety/crime, and thriving opportunities.


Stuart PhinnStuart Phinn
Ph.D., 1997, Remote Sensing
Current Position: Professor of Geography, The University of Queensland, Earth Observation Australia

I’m a professor of Geography at the University of Queensland where I teach remote sensing and direct the Remote Sensing Research Centre, which includes programs recognized as world’s best practice, to support government agencies across Australia site using EO data. My research and teaching interests use airborne and satellite data sets for measuring and monitoring environmental changes and publishing/sharing ecosystem data. This work is done in collaboration with other environmental scientists, government environmental management agencies, NGO’s and private companies.

I currently live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Audrey PorcellaAudrey Porcella
M.A., 2012, Urban Geography
Current Position: Regional Planner, San Diego Association of Governments

I support transportation planning efforts that seek to enhance regional mobility (including the mobility of the elderly and disabled), encourage smart growth and transit-oriented development, and promote sustainability. I also administer two specialized transportation grant programs.


Jeff RoseJeff Rose
M.A., 2006, Human and Environmental
Current Position: Asst. Professor of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, University of Utah

I teach and conduct research in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah. My research uses qualitative and spatial methods to examine systemic inequities expressed through class, race, political economy, and relationships to nature. I use this justice-focused lens to study homelessness in parks, socioecological systems, outdoor education, and place attachment in protected areas.

Kelly SalamoneKelly Salamone
M.A., 2017, General
Current Position: Sr. Animal Trainer

I work with animals and provide the highest quality care. After graduation I began working on multiple research projects looking into animal welfare of endangered and threatened species.


Lauren Seaby
M.S., 2006, Watershed Science
Current Position: Post Doc, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Global hydrologic and dynamic vegetation modelling, analysis of climate impacts to terrestrial water and carbon

PhD University of Copenhagen, 2013, Geoscience

I currently live in Postdam (Berlin Area), Germany


Thomas SumstineThomas Sumstine
B.A., 2017, Physical and Environmental Geography
Current Position: Ecological Restoration and Monitoring Intern

I help plan and manage restoration projects, and I lead volunteers in implementing restoration projects.


Martin SwobodzinskiMartin Swobodzinski
Ph.D., 2012, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Geography, Portland State University

I am a faculty member in the Department of Geography at Portland State University. My current research explores human wayfinding, virtual reality technology and content, human emotion, and visual impairment.


John UrataJohn Urata
M.S., 2012, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Staff Data Scientist

Prediction of health related outcomes using location-based analytics of social media content.

Ninghua WangNinghua Wang
Ph.D., 2013, Geographic Information Science
Current Position: Principal Data Scientist, Tencent

- NLP toolbox, Knowledge Graph, Chatbot for retailing
- Team building
- Business building


Jay YangJiue-An (Jay) Yang
Ph.D., 2017, GIScience and Cartography
Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Scientist, University of California, San Diego

My current position focuses on the analysis of geographic information in personal and public health informatics, the implementation of machine learning algorithms in behavioral health studies, and the development of information visualization web-applications for Big data.