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Geographic Information Systems

March 2018

Reptile Species Distribution


The Reptile Species Distribution project is being done in partnership with Conservation International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Two student interns from the GIS Program will be assisting in this project by mapping the geographical distribution of reptiles in Central and Southern Africa. These maps will ultimately support the red list for threatened species.

The goal of this project is to comprehensively assess reptiles globally by the end of 2018. The GIS program is aiding in the mapping effort. James Madison University is among the other institutions helping with regional mapping.

Overall the project is aiding in the national goal to understand reptile distribution. Click here for more information on the red list. http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Get to Know Alec Cottone


Alexander Cottone, or more commonly Alec, is the new GIS Statistical Data Analyst working under the Maryland Highway Safety Office’s Grant. Hailing from Scranton, PA, he graduated from Gettysburg College in 2017.  

He found himself at Washington College’s GIS Program because he loved the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, collegiate atmosphere, and opportunity to inspire his passion for GIS into students. So far, he says that working for MHSO has been a rewarding experience and he “loves being able to make a difference in [his] new community”.  

Alec’s Fun Facts 

He used to work at Poor Richard’s Pub, a location talked about on The Office!

Favorite Activities: Fishing, hiking, and kayaking  

International Women’s Day


Who run the world? GIRLS! Today is National Women’s Day! To celebrate, the GIS Program has talked to some super cool female interns to find out their thoughts on being a woman in the field.  

Madeline Haslam WAC ’20 

According to Madeline, working at the GIS program “means you have the opportunity to make a difference and you see the difference you make in the time you’re working here”.  

She feels it is rare to have such a great opportunity in college and is grateful to be here.  

Rylee Ely WAC ’19 

Working at the GIS program is “motivating for other women to be in a ‘mans’ field of data analysis”. Rylee says that working in GIS shows that woman can do anything, “this is not just a man’s job”.  

Sarlina Joseph WAC ’20 

Sarlina feels that working with GIS as a woman makes you unique because you wouldn’t normally see a lot of women in this field. “You’ve got to be smart because you have to understand a lot of programming and data clean-up, your supervisor does not hold your hand”.  

Annamaria Coca WAC ’21  

As a freshman as WAC, Annamaria believes the ability to already be a student intern at the GIS program is “a great opportunity”. She says it’s “really cool to work with maps and systems”. Annamaria believes that the WAC GIS Program does a really good job of representing both female and male students. 

Michelle Ly WAC ’21 

According to Michelle, the ability to work with GIS is prompting more women to go into the STEM fields. Encouraging women to work in GIS “opens the door for more inclusion” in the field.  

Sarah Megee WAC ’20

Sarah just recently started at the GIS Program but is excited to be working here because “it’s cool to be able to understand the tech field”. She feels people typically view technology as a “guys thing” but women employees in GIS are starting to change that! 

Elizabeth Cassibry WAC ’20 

As a woman in GIS it’s “exciting because I see more women in the office than men, which you wouldn’t have seen 20-30 years ago”. Elizabeth also finds it super cool that her supervisor is a woman.   

As said by our interns, women are truly starting to run the world through the GIS Program. We are crushing the stereotype of technology and GIS being a “man’s field” with our all-star lineup of female interns. Happy International Women’s Day and watch out because girls are about to rule the world! 

February Student of the Month


The GIS Program has named Jacob Vassalotti the Student of the Month for February 2018. Jacob’s supervisor, Michael McGahee expressed that “Jacob has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills in organizing and training our student workforce on project principles”. Congrats and keep up the great work!