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The Importance of “Mapigation”

By: Karlee Kocon, Communications Intern
Our Communications Intern Karlee Kocon interviewed Hannah D. Bellone, MS, EPI, who is a Regulatory Specialist at Stantec and GIS Instructor at Duquesne University about the importance of Mapigation.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself (education, job, etc.)?
    I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Saint Vincent College of Latrobe, PA and a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from Duquesne University of Pittsburgh, PA. During my time at Saint Vincent, I served as the Program Assistant to the Director of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. I helped to develop new courses and outreach programs in the then newly launched major at the college. While at Duquesne, I interned at a nonprofit helping families mitigate asthma symptoms through in-home educational interventions. I also interned with Duquesne’s Business Development Center helping local small businesses comply with environmental, energy, and safety regulations. Since Duquesne, I have been working in Environmental Permitting and Transmission Line Siting for the Energy Sector including both electric transmission line and natural gas pipeline projects. My focus is on project operations and execution including the development and maintenance of scopes, budgets, schedules, and deliverables for clients. I have a strong proficiency in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and data management and have field experience with data collections for streams and wetlands, rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) species, and groundwater and air sampling.
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    Photo taken during Summer Members Day 2014
  2. Can you talk about how maps play a crucial role in your occupation?
    I use maps all day every day at my job. I would say maps are the single most important tool I use to complete tasks large and small. I use maps to decide where to place transmission lines in relation to sensitive resources (environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic); I use maps to direct my field teams when conducting various environmental studies; I use maps in permit and clearance applications to help agencies visualize proposed routes.
  3. What got you interested in working with maps?
    In addition to maps becoming a basic necessity in my field, map making and spatial analysis are intriguing concepts. With new technologies developing every day, it can actually be more difficult to understand what you cannot study with a map then what you can.
  4. Although you work with digital maps, do you think that it is important for kids to learn how to read a physical map? Why?
    It is important to keep in mind that most maps are generated digitally and then printed when needed. For example, my team develops maps that they use in the field (and as a backup in the case of electronic failure, like dropping an iPad in a stream). Yes, it is important for children to learn how to read a map. Having this capability allows you to navigate independently and with confidence.
  5. How often do you have to collaborate with others working on maps?
    As I said previously, all day every day.
  6. What is your best piece of advice for others who are learning how to read maps physically or digitally?
    My best advice to those learning how to read maps is to understand the basic elements first. That is, know which direction the map is facing (north arrow) and know how the scale relates to real life distance, for example one inch on the map equals three miles in real life.
  7. What is your favorite outdoor activity? Why?
    My favorite outdoor activity is downhill skiing. I picked this up a few years ago and have been able to progress rather quickly. I use an app called OnTheSnow to get trail maps.

Our Summer Programs calendar will be available soon, and with it, lots of geocaching and mapigation! Check back on our Activities Calendar for updates.

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