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Department of Geography

Guisel Marmolejo

Geography Student Profile


1. Why did you decide to major in Geography? 
  • As a transfer to student to SIUE, I took an Intro to Geography course which ultimately led to my choice to major in Geography with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. In that class alone, I learned about the earth's landscape, human-environment interactions, cultural backgrounds, and how GIS can visually represent data to show spatial patterns (how neat!). I immediately fell in love with how diverse Geography is and was able to gear my classes towards my passion for the environment and ecology. 
2. What do you like about the SIUE Department of Geography?
  • I absolutely LOVE the Geography department at SIUE mainly because of how approachable the professors are. The department is small and close knit while maintaining professors with diverse fields they are knowledgeable in. This is important for students within the department looking to reach certain educational and professional goals by talking to faculty with expertise in the fields they are interested in. Every professor I have encountered, whether I've taken them in a class or not, has been helpful and willing to help students.
3. What is a course you have taken in Geography that you think has been particularly challenging, insightful, or enjoyable?  
  • There are many courses that have been challenging, insightful, and enjoyable but I would have to say the Rivers course offered by Dr. Martinez combined my passion of the environment and ecology. We learned how important the transitional area from land to water, riparian zones, are important to stream health and organisms which is now the basis for my senior assignment research. Other topics discussed related to how a stream's geomorphology is affected by various factors such as logjams, dams, sediment transportation, discharge, and roughness. The most exciting part included a stream table experiment where you had the flexibility to choose your final project for the class; my group focused on the affects of a dam removal to the landscape and residential areas downstream. 
4. What opportunities have you had to be involved in Geography Department activities outside of classes?
  • The Geography Club and Gamma Theta Upsilon (The International Geographical Honor Society) at SIUE meet throughout the semester where we are able to meet other geography students through conventional classroom meetings and fun but failed attempts at trivia, hiking at Pere Marquette State Park, volunteering with local organizations, and an end-of-semester potluck.
  • I have also had the opportunity to work with Kerry Doyle as an Assistant Surveyor where we measure and monitor coal mine subsidence in Central and Southern Illinois. Our most recent survey site is Wolf Branch Middle School that has been affected by subsidence causing the building and structures to sag and crack in certain areas of the school that is now unused by students. This is an interesting place to monitor weekly and be able to visually see the affects of the subsidence on a more enhanced scale. 
  • Lastly, I have worked as a Geography Ambassador where SIUE Geography students visit surrounding High Schools and talk to Geography students about the disciplines within Geography, internship opportunities students at SIUE have had, and where Alumni are now working to show the various career opportunities available to them.
5. What internships have you had?  Why do you think an internship is important?
  • I was a research intern with the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center where I was exposed to data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation. My topic focused on 'A Comparison of  Field and Lab Sorting Methods of Aquatic Macroinvertebrates'. Similar to the research project seniors complete their final semester prior to graduation, I was able to complete a research project and present findings via a poster session. 
  • I also had the opportunity to intern with the Emergency Management division at the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) where I was able to see various government agencies work together preparing, monitoring, and sending resources to Southern Texas which was hit by Hurricane Harvey. During my time there, I was able to visit the regulatory department where I tagged along on a site visit to identify trees that had the potential house a certain endangered bat species and whether a property owner could remove trees along a river bed. Another department was the Geospatial Division where I learned about the various techniques used to analyze satellite imagery by using radar, LiDAR, and bathymetry. 
  • Currently I am an Aeronautical Analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency where I analyze airfield imagery to identify and update airfield information that is used by our military partners. This has been a neat experience in allowing me to apply the use of remote sensing and GIS skills I have learned at SIUE, but to also familiarize myself with the production of flight information publication creation at NGA which is used by military pilots (which I will soon be). Previously, I was a Cartographic Intern where I was able to apply my experience with GIS to produce finishing topographic maps within ArcMap. Due to NGA's location near SIUE campus students are able to continue part-time work during the school semester while also gaining college credit as a techniques course in the Geography Department.
  • Internship opportunities are important for gaining real world experiences, persevering through challenges you may encounter, and most importantly networking. Many internships can lead to a full-time position or prepare students for future career options. 
6. What kind of career would you like to pursue?
  • I want to make a positive impact in the communities I immerse myself by engaging with issues where I can further engage my passion for the outdoors. I enjoy interacting with local communities whether it is on a technical aspect by using GIS to analyze potential hazards and solutions or by directly engaging with the public through conservation efforts and education. I am open to a career where I can use various geographic techniques and components. Ultimately I'd love to be engaged with the environment and be a part of continuous research where I will continue to learn. 
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