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Undergraduate Student

Catherine Steentofte


Expected Graduation Date: May 2015

Even as a kid, I had an affinity for geography although I didn’t realize it. While many of my friends flipped through magazines, I studied atlases for hours. Upon taking Human Geography in high school and learning of the interconnectedness between humans, the environment, and their geographic regions, this interest was only peaked further.

When I started at Virginia Tech, I didn’t even realize that geography was a field I could major in, let alone make a career out of. During my first semester I felt lost over what I should study until I stumbled upon the geography booth at the majors fair. After realizing that there was an entire field that focused on what I had always found riveting, I made the swift change to become a geography major and I have never looked back.

Since then, my eyes have been opened to the immense possibilities that await for someone in my field. In the summer of 2014 I interned at the NASA DEVELOP National Program at NASA Langley Research Center, a program under NASA’s Earth Science Division that fosters environmental research projects that address a community concern throughout the globe. During my time at NASA, I used NASA Earth Observing Systems, remote sensing data, and GIS to produce research on a remote watershed in Peru. By the end of my term, we were able to automate a code that is now an Open Source technology, being implemented by third-world countries across the globe for water resource management. I also spent the summer of 2015 as a GIS intern at Norfolk Southern Corporation in Atlanta in the Design and Construction Department rectifying and assessing GIS data in order to help move the company forward in many of its goals, including Positive Train Control.

My time at NASA and Virginia Tech proved that I do not want to work solely with GIS when I graduate, but rather use it as a platform for work that will positively impact the world. The prospect of gaining a deeper understanding of how to best apply my GIS knowledge to focus on natural resource conservation or environmental planning during my time with the Leadership Institute is exciting to me. My hopes are that the Leadership Institute not only deepens my knowledge but also prepares me for a lifetime of service as a leader who is ready to take on many of the global challenges we face today.

Area of Speciality

Geospatial and Environmental Analysis

Honors and Awards

  • Gamma Theta Upsilon Honor Society (International Honor Society in Geography)
  • Geography Department Representative for CNRE Student Council
  • Golden Key International Honor Society (for individuals in the top 10% of their class)
  • Virginia Tech Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • Dean’s List, fall 2012-spring 2015

25th Anniversary

Celebrating 25 Years

    1992 through 2017, 25 years

Join us Sept. 15-16 to visit campus and reconnect with alumni, faculty, staff, and friends.

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    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2017

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