USC

Harrison Knapp

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I am currently pursuing both a B.S. in GeoDesign and a B.A. in Earth Sciences. The interdisciplinary quality of the GeoDesign program has opened my eyes to the interconnectedness of both the natural and human factors in weather and natural hazards, and studying spatial and temporal patterns of these events have taught me that human nature and natural phenomena are not isolated systems. I realize the importance of the relationships between our own human systems and those of the environment we live in. No issue exists in isolation, and in order to solve problems that exist in the world, we must first understand how all the independent factors are related, a feat that is uniquely possible through GeoDesign.

GeoDesign has taught me what it means to look at issues holistically, and I experienced this during my summer internship with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My research topic was “Predicting Grunion Migration Patterns and Spawning Areas in Response to Changes in California’s Oceans.” In collaboration with the Grunion Greeters Project and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, my research team evaluated oceanic environmental and ecological factors that affect grunion spawning patterns. Earth observation data products were used to create time series of the California coastline and the Pacific Ocean from 2003 to 2018. Analyzing how a changing ocean affects the California grunion allows for more accurate predictive modeling of spawning behavior and provides the knowledge base needed to protect this unique species. Along with this summer internship experience, I can confidently say that my expertise in GeoDesign have enabled me to be an innovative problem solver as I look forward to my career in this field.

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