My journey in GIS started 10 years ago when I needed to decide on a college major. Growing up, I had a passion for learning about the environment and Earth. Therefore, I decided to major in Earth Science during my undergraduate year of studies. Later on, I entered a water resources and hydrogeology program in our department because I was particularly interested in interactions between soils, water and climate.
To me, the most fascinating part of my undergraduate studies were the diverse field trips and mapping activities I conducted over the summers. This marked my first experience with geospatial information and GIS techniques. With the help of GIS applications, I was amazed that I had a much clearer understanding of current and historical geology and topography.
After my receiving my bachelor’s degree, I entered Penn State University’s Ph.D. program in soil science and agronomy to continue pursuing my professional interests. At Penn State, I for the first time received systematic trainings on GIS, ranging from commercial software like ESRI products to geospatial analysis in R or Python. More importantly, I applied GIS every day to conduct my thesis research projects. Without GIS, it is impossible to test the role of precision/digital agriculture in water quality improvement or to connect field-scale farming practice to watershed-scale impacts. I really enjoyed working with geospatial data, maps and coding scripts every day.