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Jacquelyn Strager

Jacquelyn Strager hiking.


For most of the time I’ve been at WVU, I’ve worked at the Natural Resource Analysis Center, a multidisciplinary research lab in the Davis College. We do a lot of work on different projects that involve spatial analysis, spatial data sets and natural resources. I’ll be starting a new teaching position within the Energy Land Management program in the Davis College soon and I’m very excited about that.

With NRAC, I have worked on different watershed and landscape modeling projects for the WVDEP and USGS and other agencies using Geographic Information Systems. We developed a modeling framework for looking at cumulative watershed impacts that has been very applicable to many different issues. I’ve also worked more recently on tourism and economic development with the WVU Extension Service.

My favorite project that I worked on is probably the very first one, which was the West Virginia Gap Analysis project, where we mapped land cover and distributions of terrestrial animals throughout the state. A lot of the data sets and techniques we used in that project we’re still using today.

What jobs did you have before coming to WVU?

Before coming to WVU for grad school, I had a job as a research intern at a biological field station on a large lake in New York State. I was looking at zebra mussels.

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your education?

I really enjoyed a class that I took as an undergrad called field biology. We had field trips almost every week. We learned different field techniques in wildlife and fisheries. We also had to learn how to identify all of the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and trees in New York State. So it was a lot of memorization, but it was interesting to me to learn how to identify the animals and get outside - unlike most of my other classes.

I also really enjoyed my very first GIS class, which was a long time ago when GIS was just being developed for personal computers. The class itself was rudimentary compared to what we can do now, but it was very interesting and fun to be able to make maps myself. 

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your job?

I teach a couple of different classes for undergrads. I enjoy updating those classes, working on new content and coming up with examples of how GIS is used in different fields. I like to be able to show my students the applications of GIS, not just how to use the software and press buttons, but how it’s used in the real world. I have something called “The Map of The Day” that I use in my lectures. They’re usually examples of GIS in current events. I spend more time than I need to looking for these examples. I have a lot of fun trying to think of interesting things that will capture someone's interest right at the beginning of a lecture so they’re able to relate to the content a little better.

What’s one thing you wish you had known in college? 

I wish I had realized there were certain classes I didn’t need to take, like organic chemistry, which was not my favorite. It also would have been nice if I would have known somehow that I was going to end up teaching someday. I would have paid more attention to professors that I enjoyed how they taught, ways they used to engage their students, what I liked and didn’t like about different teaching styles. If I had been more aware of where I would end up, I would have paid more attention to that. 

If you won a billion dollars, what would you do with the money?

I’d have money set aside for retirement and for kids’ education of course and maybe some nice vacations. I would also like to be able to contribute to land conservation to help preserve special natural areas. I’d help to make sure everyone has access to these areas for a long time to come. I would also try to make some contributions toward educational opportunities for kids.

What were you most grateful for in 2020?

I’m very grateful that my family and my extended family were all able to stay healthy. That's probably the most basic thing. My kids were able to remain learning even though they had to make a lot of adjustments. We were very fortunate to be able to remain healthy and remain in touch with family and friends even if we weren’t always physically in the same place.

What have you been surprised by in 2021?

I was a little surprised at the increased interest in outdoor recreation. I am still surprised this year at how this trend is still going on. It’s nice to know that more people are getting outside and enjoying themselves as a break from everything, especially here in West Virginia.


Just for Fun

What are you currently reading? Home Waters

What’s your favorite meal? Mountain Pies 

What’s a song that you can listen to on repeat? America by Simon and Garfunkel 

What’s one thing you can’t live without? To know where I’m going