Highlight on Alumni

Gene Agnew

Gene Agnew is currently the Assistant Director of Environmental Stewardship for the federally recognized tribal government of Chickaloon Native Village in Alaska. Gene is working on projects related to environmental, transportation, and tribal governance topics. Gene has been involved with GIS and computer programming since the early 1990s while serving active duty in the U.S. Air Force and has continued working in disciplines where GIS has been an integral part of work. As a graduate from the JHU Master of Science in GIS program, Gene states, “The experience has broadened my view and understanding of GIS and spatial analysis. It has provided me with different ways of thinking about, and implementing, GIS projects along with pushing the boundaries of customary GIS uses.” Gene’s latest projects include cultural and historic documentation, economic development on tribal lands, and for his JHU Master of Science in GIS capstone project he designed and demonstrated the use of interactive mapping for teaching languages.

Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold graduated from the Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems at Johns Hopkins University in 2014. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He chose the MGIS program at Johns Hopkins because the coursework could be completed fully online and because of the courses that were offered. Brian began using GIS in his undergraduate program and uses it as part of his job at a local police department. He also uses it for his part-time job as a GIS Analyst for the city of Dayton and is currently working to reconstruct the city’s street centerline file in order to make the file more spatially accurate and preparing the file for future uses. Brian feels the program has far exceeded his expectations because of the availability to take classes such as spatial analysis, programming in GIS, project management, spatial data management, web mapping and data modeling. The professors who teach at Johns Hopkins are second to none and are always available for the students. Brian plans on combining public health with demographics when completing his capstone project. Brian credits his wife, three children, and his family for his success, allowing him the opportunity to complete a master’s degree at such a prestigious institution.

Lucia Bohorquez

Lucia Bohorquez is a GIS specialist and web developer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She developed a code in Python for an algorithm that measures the thickness of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Lucia utilized Geographic Information System techniques for data analysis and to provide a better understanding of specific variables in a given geographic location. She is originally from Colombia, did her undergraduate and graduate studies in the US and received the GIS certificate from Johns Hopkins in 2012. She says, “I joined the program because I wanted to combine my undergraduate and graduate criminology degree with a technical science and because of my strong interest in investigating crime spots and other demographical patterns. The professors were very supportive and knowledgeable and the GIS program opened a lot more opportunities than I expected. I was able to apply all the practical knowledge I learned to my career field.”

James M. Dolansky

James M. Dolansky is a GIS practitioner with an environmental consulting background who earned his Graduate Certificate in GIS from JHU in May 2012. His current work involves implementing GIS methodologies to utility infrastructure and municipal planning projects. James developed a strong interest in GIS when he was introduced to it as a tool for tracking natural resource impacts while working on a transportation project in the DC metro area in 2010. He soon after enrolled into the JHU GIS graduate certificate program as a part-time student in Spring 2011 after recognizing that GIS technology is a robust tool with endless applications, and continues to be embraced by a wide variety of industries; from natural resources, to data analytics, to health/medicine, to national security, and beyond. He states, “the online setting of the JHU GIS program allowed me to maintain my full-time professional schedule while learning new technical skills and practices at a convenient time and place. Since the virtual classroom has no geographic boundaries, I was afforded the flexibility to relocate from the Mid-Atlantic to New England in 2012 to explore new employment opportunities without any adverse effects on my studies or candidacy with the JHU GIS program.”

James is now involved with several on-going GIS projects and is also extending his geospatial knowledge as a M.S. Candidate in GIS for Development and the Environment (GISDE) at Clark University. His professional work projects range from wireless “Smart Grid” infrastructure studies throughout the country, to digital drainage network management in Connecticut, to property tax mapping in Massachusetts. The skills he gained in geodatabase design, spatial analysis, and Python scripting from JHU GIS courses such as Geospatial Data Modeling, Introduction to Spatial Data Analysis, and Programming in GIS have been essential to his advancement from novice to practitioner. The academic integrity of the JHU GIS program and its faculty has provided James with a foundational excellence in geospatial concepts and principles that are applicable to every aspect of his emerging career in GIS, today and in perpetuity.

Jonathan Gross

Jonathan Gross is an epidemiologist in the Office of Youth Violence Prevention at the Baltimore City Health Department. At Hopkins, he was assigned to read a study about homicide and spatial analysis that helped spark a new interest. Using GIS, he performs spatial analysis of non-fatal and fatal shooting incidents, other violent crimes, risk factors, and community assets. His efforts inform a range of customers from outreach workers mediating conflicts to leadership in local government. He says, “I gained extensive knowledge about spatial analysis that is vital to understanding the distribution and determinants of crime and health, and creating place-based solutions.”

Mike Hendell

Mike Hendell graduated from the Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems at Johns Hopkins University in 2015. Mike works full-time as the strategic analytics manager for a health system in southeastern Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from James Madison University. He seeks to refine GIS applications for healthcare management through the development of predictive/prescriptive spatial analytics, health services utilization simulation, location allocation measures, and other decision analysis functions. “I have had a wonderful experience as a GIS student at JHU. This curriculum truly encompasses GIS as an information science, system, and as a source of technological innovation across many industries. Each course is built upon a strong foundation of theory and practice; course term projects enable students to hone their skills to solve real-world problems that are germane to their interests/professions. In my case, courses in Geospatial Data Modeling and Spatial Analysis afforded me the opportunity to design projects around health access and delivery efforts for my organization. I have observed virtually immediate return on my investment!”

Nannette Huber

Nannette Huber graduated from the Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems at Johns Hopkins University in December of 2014. She came to Johns Hopkins after earning her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Washington in Tacoma, Washington, and beginning her GIS graduate studies at another institution. She made the change to Johns Hopkins because the instructors are not only leaders in their fields but are passionate about teaching students and sharing the depths of their knowledge. JHU’s classes have proven to be an excellent balance of theory and application and have allowed her to tailor her education to her area of interest, watershed management in a mixed urban/rural environment and the health of Puget Sound. Currently, Nannette is working in water quality, studying how non-point source nutrients move through the watershed and out into Puget Sound, ultimately affecting the plankton communities which form the basis of the marine food web. Nannette feels GIS is the perfect decision support tool — harnessing the power of computing technologies to synthesize data, perform analysis, and help stakeholders identify the most effective decision path to managing our resources for the future.

Marynia Kolak

Marynia Kolak is a doctoral student at the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation at Arizona State University, working towards her PhD in Geography. She earned her M.S. in GIS with John Hopkins in 2014. She previously worked as a program coordinator at Northwestern University’s Institute of Public Health and Medicine, where she served as manager for collaborative engagement projects, coordinated the Chicago Public Health GIS group, and trained interested medical students in basic GIS concepts. While working at Northwestern she developed a Chicago public health data warehouse with the Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center as a capstone of her graduate work, and conducted an analysis of the spatio-temporal variability of Chicago food access with the Center for Translational Metabolism and Health.
Marynia believes her graduate studies with John Hopkins was essential to advance her technical and research skills, as well as discovering new possibilities of GIScience pursuit. The coursework at JHU introduced her to the complexities of GIS as a science, where concepts of representation and uncertainty require intensive investigation and thought. The data modeling and architecture courses further linked the computer science aspects of GIS in a new age of big data and data science at JHU, introducing new programming and systems-integrating concepts (like PostGIS, Python, and advanced SQL) necessary for GIScience today. She now integrates these concepts in both her research and teaching advanced GIScience to undergrads at Arizona State University.
Her current research investigates spatial aspects of causal inference in policy analysis, incorporating spatial econometrics techniques and focusing on scalable health applications. She also develops and contributes to new open source decision support technology for researchers and health officials, in collaboration with ASU, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Thomas McGill

Thomas McGill worked as a consultant while completing the Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program at Johns Hopkins University. After earning a B.S. in Geological Engineering from the University of Mississippi, Thomas spent more than ten years working as a research engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center. During that time, Thomas had opportunities to utilize GIS all over the world, including serving as a GIS specialist in Iraq. Other notable GIS projects that he worked on include developing a GIS-based levee condition assessment model for the US International Boundary and Water Commission, developing a three-dimensional hydrologic model of Mosul dam, and supporting Task Force Hope headquarters staff during Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. In 2014, Thomas decided to leave the Corps in order to relocate closer to family and to pursue his advanced degree. Coming into the program at JHU, Thomas knew it would be strong, but in his own words, “I have been thoroughly impressed not only by the faculty and staff at JHU, but by the students. Over the course of my semesters, I have gotten to know fellow students and have developed professional relationships with people who are already becoming leaders in their respective fields. The faculty have done an excellent job of not only presenting the subject matter, but of encouraging interactions with fellow students and fostering professional growth. I came into the program with significant GIS experience, but my foundational knowledge has been strengthened, I have gained a broader skillset, and I have been challenged every step of the way. I would highly recommend the program to people with little or no GIS experience as well as to seasoned professionals who want to expand their opportunities”. Thomas is interested in developing spatial decision support systems that the leaders of tomorrow can use to make more informed decisions about the complex challenges that face their communities, this country, and this world.

Allisa McMasters

Allisa McMasters is currently the GIS specialist for the Cultural Resource Management Program at Fort Campbell, KY where she is also an on-site archaeologist. Her research interests include landscape and mortuary archaeology, archaeological site prediction modeling, and remote sensing applications to archaeology. Allisa had worked for many years as a field archaeologist and saw how GIS was transforming the field. “I saw the writing on the wall and decided to become a specialist. It’s standard practice now that all excavations have a GIS specialist on site.” Since then, Allisa has worked on projects in Rome, Metaponto (Southern Italy), Pylos (Greece) and Yellowstone National Park. At Fort Campbell, Allisa has helped build and maintain the installation’s archaeological conservation geodatabases through both in-field data collection and historical research. Currently, she is building a historic architecture database for the installation. Allisa felt that the on-line curriculum at Johns Hopkins was the perfect fit for her often unpredictable field schedule. She also appreciated how she was encouraged throughout the program to use her own data for projects. “It gave me an outlet to explore the data beyond what was just in my contract at work.” A current project she is working on at Johns Hopkins that she hopes she can implement at Fort Campbell is a web mapping application accessible from a cell phone that would provide a guided walking tour of Fort Campbell’s historic district.

Heather S.

Heather S. is a graduate student in Virginia, completing thesis work in Urban and Regional Planning. Her research interests in urban watersheds include future open space and flood mitigation strategies for land use planning and policy. She writes, “I was seeking an opportunity to further my technical expertise with GIS technology, refine qualitative and quantitative research data, and expand my experience working with interdisciplinary professionals. Having never taken online courses before enrolling at JHU, I was surprised to find the virtual classroom just as rigorous and equally challenging as any graduate-level studio course. Each course provided dynamic collaboration between fellow students and expert faculty in various fields. This was a truly rewarding academic experience. The opportunity to explore the breadth and width of emerging research, within geographic information technologies, is being applied in my research and will be a vital tool in my profession as a planner.” Heather graduated in August 2013.

Janelle Versnick

Janelle Versnick is a full-time GIS Analyst at Citizens Property Insurance Corporation in Tallahassee, Florida. She graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies at Florida State University and has worked in the GIS Field for the over 10 years. She graduated from the Master’s Candidate in the GIS Program at Johns Hopkins in May of 2016. Janelle is very active in the local GIS community, serving as Board President of SHRUG, a non-profit GIS user group. “GIS is an exciting and constantly evolving field and Johns Hopkins has helped me to stay at the forefront of GIS trends and technology. The professors are leaders in their fields and have provided us with the knowledge and skills to make an impact in the profession.”

Kathleen Weiss

Kathleen Weiss, is a senior project management professional (PMP), and has worked in government, commercial, and non-profit organizations. She has a BS in Sociology, and an MS in Instructional and Performance Technology from Boise State University’s College of Engineering. Kathleen’s education and work experience include project management, performance consulting, system development lifecycle (SDLC), business intelligence, adult learning theories, instructional design, requirements gathering, and technology integration.
Kathleen states that, “After several years as a senior PMP, I felt it was time to further my education and update my credentials. I knew I wanted to expand my depth in business intelligence and decision making analytics, but was not sure what the options were. I spent over two years talking with co-workers and colleagues about degree and certification programs that would enhance my value to my clients. When I found the JHU GIS Graduate Certificate program, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. GIS can provide extensive value to my clients in any industry, with an infinite number of applications. The JHU GIS courses provided me with a well-rounded and in-depth understanding of how to manage and view geospatial data, and bring a new understanding to my client scenarios.”
Kathleen is currently expanding her use of GIS at every chance she gets as an employee, consultant, and volunteer. “GIS is a game-changer in the real world with its numerous applications. I know I will use it on all of my projects going forward, as it provides me the opportunity to expand my clients’ business intelligence and decision-making capabilities.” Kathleen plans to pursue the GIS Master’s Degree as she further defines the industry and contributions she would like to make using GIS.