Career Advice from Paisly

By: Kelly Siegel

I am currently taking a GIS class as part of my Masters program.  I am learning so many GIS skills, I decided to sit down with GIS Specialist, Paisly Di Bianca, turn learn how these skills could turn into a career.  After hearing more about Paisly’s career, I decided to take an intermediate GIS course next semester!

What is your position at the EPA?

I am a GIS Specialist. GIS is Geographic Information Systems. It is used to analyze and display spatial data.

What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t have a typical day! One day I might be giving a training class on GIS, another I might be making a map to support another program or division.  This week, for example, I am correcting areas in a database of visited facilities.  This is a resource available to the public. 

What is the best part of your job?

I get to do what I studied in school every day – not everyone gets to do that!  When working with maps and geography I get to be creative and problem solve. 

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

I was always eco-conscious: I reduce/reuse/recycle, take public transportation as often as I can, ride my bike, buy recycled paper products, encourage my friends to do the same. Growing up in the 70’s, living the green life was almost inherit.  We knew the environment was important. 

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I have a certificate in GIS, which means I took 5 classes on different areas of GIS.  I am also finishing a masters degree in Geography and Environmental Studies.  Some specific classes I took and utilize include GIS for the Natural Environment and an Interactive Mapping class – this deals with websites with maps. 

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

Study geography!  Embrace science and computers – don’t be afraid of them!  Think about all the maps you see today – they are all made on a computer. 

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends

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