Meet Samantha Lewis, a graduate student at Saint Mary's University.
My education and background:
I’m currently a graduate student at Saint Mary’s University in the Master of Science in Applied Science program under the supervision of Dr. Danika van Proosdij. My research involves the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to measure and monitor the geomorphic evolution of a salt marsh restoration site on the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. My past education includes a Bachelor of Science (majoring in Earth and Environmental Science, minoring in Biology) from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, and an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Sciences (remote sensing specialization) from the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown, NS. After graduating from COGS I started working as a research assistant at the Applied Geomatics Research Group, and was able to broaden my geomatics and remote sensing skillset, including gaining experience with RPAS operations. This directly led me to Dr. van Proosdij’s research lab at Saint Mary’s University and their graduate program, where I could merge my two interests, environmental sciences and geomatics.
What interests me about geomatics:
My favorite aspect of geomatics is that it requires a lot of problem solving. Every problem is like a puzzle, and there are many different ways to solve every puzzle. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out which solution is the most efficient for each task I’m working on. I also love that the possibilities for using geomatics to solve problems are endless. Geomatics can be applied to so many different situations, and new uses for technologies like RPAS are being developed every day. It’s a very quickly advancing field, and it’s exciting to be involved in that advancement.
How I decided on a career in geomatics:
My introduction to geomatics was not deliberate. I had a friend who suggested taking the “Intro to GIS” course at UBCO during my undergraduate degree, and I signed up for the class without knowing what GIS was. The class sparked an interest for me that sent me to COGS in Nova Scotia, where I ended up learning about remote sensing, and deciding it was the right path for me. While I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing after graduating, I’m positive it will involve remote sensing and GIS.
My career goals:
Since starting my graduate studies (co-op stream), I’ve been managing the RPAS operations for CB Wetlands and Environmental Specialists, an environmental consultant company that often partners with SMU on costal restoration projects. An ideal career for me would involve this sort of work, as well as the managing of field operations and GIS analyses.
My ideal employer:
My ideal employer would be a company thatsupports a strong learning environment and encourages employees to pursue their interests and incorporate new techniques into their work. I also want to work for a company that does a lot of fieldwork, as I thrive in an outdoor environment.
Advice for other students:
Broaden your skillset as much as possible while you are in school. You never know what skills will end up being helpful once you’re in the workforce. Having knowledge of varying subjects will also allow you to approach problems from many different directions and give you new ways to problem solve.