Through the Natural Resource Analysis Center we do a lot of multidisciplinary research. Most of it has a geospatial mapping component. It involves a lot of environmental and ecological monitoring and mapping using Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing. With GIS, you can analyze that information. For example, if you couldn’t identify the source of poor water quality in a stream, then we would use mapping and imagery and GIS analyses to look at the whole watershed.
We do stream and wetland restoration projects where we improve habitats for fisheries and then we study that habitat to see what kind of an ecological uplift you can get from it.
If you weren't working at WVU, what's the most likely alternative?
Probably doing similar things, but more in a consulting fashion.
Moment you knew what you wanted to study?
I remember being at WVU. I had been there for a year, and I went to see Dr. Kim Martis. I always loved maps. I was drawing maps as a kid, and I didn’t know about geography or GIS or any of these things. I went to see him and he started explaining about this environmental and very practical applied side to geography. You know, most folks think that geographers are, “What’s the state capitol,” right? But geographers are very diverse from atmospheric scientists to hydrologists, so I just fell in love at that moment. I was like, “This is it. This is what I want to do.”
Moment you knew your current role was right for you?
When the previous director of NRAC passed away, I just knew that he had the confidence in me (to lead the center). And I knew what I wanted to do with the center, so that was the moment that I knew this was right.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It would be right here in West Virginia. I’ve traveled a lot around the world, and I’ve seen incredible places, but this is home. We have a diversity of landscapes from Dolly Sods to the New River Gorge. It’s just an amazing state. We can be in D.C. in a few hours, in Pittsburgh in a few hours; we’re just really well situated. And I just have a love of the place.
Favorite part of social distancing?
I think fishing is like the original social distancing, and I love to fish. So I’ve had more time to fish through this.
Least favorite part of social distancing?
Not getting to shake someone’s hand or giving somebody a hug.
Just for Fun
Favorite book: The Grapes of Wrath
Favorite movie/tv show: Forest Gump
Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: Led Zeppelin
Favorite local restaurant: Ogawa
Favorite local activity: Whitewater Kayaking