Chris Black

  • My undergraduate education at the Geography and Regional Planning department of IUP prepared me well to move into the professional GIS workforce as well as to pursue graduate education. The sequence of GIS courses provided me with a strong foundation in the theory and particle application of the technology. The faculty of the department provided me with a number of valuable opportunities to gain practical experience and build my resume. This included: a summer internship with the NRCS, two semesters as a GIS lab monitor, as well as student research assistant position in an acid mine drainage watershed remediation study.

    After graduating with my B.A. from IUP, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, and began working for the National Parks Service Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC) as a GIS specialist. WACC is a cultural resource service center for the Park Service. My work there primarily entailed creating cultural resource oriented GIS databases for parks in the western U.S. As part of this work, I got to travel to many of these parks. The education and experience that allowed me to get and succeed in this position came directly from my time at the IUP Geography Department.

    While in Tucson, I continued my education at the University of Arizona’s Renewable Natural Resources program. I feel that my undergraduate studies at IUP helped me development the critical reasoning and research skills to succeed in this program. Furthermore, my work with watershed pollution and remediation at IUP awakened a strong interest in the topic. Following that thread, I completed a master’s thesis in which I created a GIS model of non-point source pollution risk in the Verde Watershed, Arizona.

    After finishing my M.S. at the University of Arizona, I took a position as a GIS analyst at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. I work as part of the Environmental Science Management (ESM) team for the Barry M. Goldwater Range. The range, which covers much of southwestern Arizona, is a vital training ground for military aircraft. The range is also home to important cultural and natural resources including several threatened and endangered species. My role at the ESM entails managing our Oracle geodatabase and ArcIMS applications, and conducting analysis and creating maps for the archeologists, biologists, and environmental planners on the team.

    For all the courses and opportunities at IUP’s geography department, the most important thing to me is the people. The faculty is excellent, they have a true passion for educating and a concern for the success and well being of each student. The level of interaction between faculty, graduate students, and undergrads alike is something that would be hard to find elsewhere.

    Chris Black
    B.A. (1998): Geography - GIS/Cartography Track, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    M.S. (20005): Renewable Natural Resources – GIS Concentration, University of Arizona