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An Eco-Opportunity Employer

Now that the U.S. Geological Survey’s Maryland-Delaware-Washington, D.C. Water Science Center is on campus at bwtech@UMBC, research partnerships with faculty and career opportunities for students are growing.

For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association recently awarded a three-million-dollar grant to UMBC, USGS, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Princeton University to provide real-time, wireless, online data on Baltimore’s Gwynn Falls watershed. As the USGS-UMBC team’s eco-research reputation increases, more opportunities for student internships and employment will take root. Just ask Lonnie Lanham ‘98.

Lanham, a geography and environmental systems (GES) major with a certificate in Cartography, connected with USGS during his last semester at UMBC thanks to the advice of GES mentors like Joe School, Keith Harries and Tim Foresman. His internship and work experience in departmental laboratories helped Lanham land a job at USGS combining his geographic information systems (GIS), mapmaking, technical illustration and Web design skills.

“The experience that I gained while actually working within my major was very valuable,” Lanham said. “I feel that it gave me a definite edge when it came to getting ‘a real job.’” Lanham has remained at USGS since, working his way up from webmaster to lead information technology specialist for the USGS Center.

In his job, Lanham makes sure a multitude of USGS servers, workstations, network equipment, printers, scanners, cameras, data projectors, hand-held devices, and as he puts it, “lots of other things that a geography major would not likely want to get involved with,” are all working reliably. He credits several USGS officials for their mentorship, including USGS acting chief information officer Paul Exter, publications unit chief Jean Hyatt and Jim Gerhart, director of the MD-DE-DC Water Science Center.

Dan Soeder, hydrologist and information and outreach coordinator for the USGS Center, notes that while the USGS is seeking to be more efficient and streamlined in staffing, they are always looking for talented interns to fill highly competitive student positions. “We want to attract students who demonstrate the talent, skills, and abilities the USGS needs,” Soeder said.

“The work is fascinating and there are many opportunities in the Federal Government as well as in the private sector,” said Lanham. “A major in the arena of environmental sciences, especially geography, can offer a good foundation on which to build a career.”

Students, faculty and staff looking to learn more about the USGS should attend the MD-DE-DC Water Science Center’s Open House event on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

(10/19/07)