Erika Koontz is a rising sophomore and has been a member of the GIS team since her Fall semester, freshman year.
How did you get started working in the GIS lab?
After I sent my acceptance letter to enroll at WAC, I started to look for employment opportunities I could pursue and found GIS to be a good fit. I wanted to work here because I was really curious about how the organization combines important environmental work and geographic information systems.
What projects have you been involved with?
At the beginning of my fall semester, I started work as a Junior Intern on the Choptank Watershed project. This has been my main assignment since the Fall.
Can you tell me more about the project?
The Choptank Watershed project is funded with a fifteen-thousand dollar grant from the Chesapeake Conservancy and NOAA. These organizations have sponsored the project in an effort to improve the success of oyster restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay. Using the ArcGIS and ArcMap programs, I am analyzing satellite imagery of the watershed and using digitizing to classify land on a land-use, land-cover basis. The project will also map out the location of farm fields, forest land, confined feedlot operations (CAFOs) and more, but with knowledge of the locations of those areas, both organizations can better estimate daily nutrient pollution inputs. Olivia Hughes, Katherine Wares, and Amanda Kloetzli are also working on the project. We plan on finishing the project by the end of this semester.
What are your summer plans?
I will be staying on campus to do a research fellowship with Dr. Krochmal. I will be working with him and another student to research how Eastern painted turtles respond to catastrophic habitat destruction. In other words, we will drain their ponds, tag the turtles with antennae, and track their progress to other water sources via telemetry.