Harrison Knapp

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Weather has always fascinated me. Growing up in the Northeast, I was exposed to all sorts of seasonal climate and severe weather patterns, whether that be the muggy heatwaves of the summer, the hurricanes of the fall, or the frigid bomb cyclones of the winter. Constantly surrounded by these natural phenomena, my mind was always filled with questions: why and how does weather occur, what do we know about the extreme cases of natural disasters, and how can we better understand them?

Bringing these curiosities along with me to college, it wasn’t until I found GeoDesign that I realized I could pursue a course of study that answered all of these questions–and so much more. Through taking classes in the Spatial Sciences Institute and the Department of Earth Sciences, I have learned about the natural and human factors in weather and natural hazards, and have immersed myself in studying the spatial and temporal patterns of these events. The interdisciplinary quality of the GeoDesign program has opened my eyes to the interconnected nature of these issues, and has taught me that human nature and natural phenomena are not isolated systems. When before I thought of atmospheric science as a separate course of study from architecture and the social sciences, I now realize that 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.

Now, as a student pursuing both a B.S. in GeoDesign and a B.A. in Earth Sciences, I can finally say that I am in love with my academic pursuits. Through the Spatial Sciences Institute, I’ve had the opportunity to study sustainable energy solutions in Amsterdam, act as a research assistant studying the effects of light pollution in the National Parks with the Longcore Landscape & Urban Nature lab, and countless other unique opportunities. GeoDesign has taught me what it means to look at issues holistically, and I have no doubt that it will prepare me immensely for being an innovative problem solver as I go out into the world.

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