Home state: New Jersey
Major: Environmental Studies ‘01
NC Highlight: Internship with NASA
Current location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Employer: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center
Occupation: Senior Scientist
What I do: Study and improve metrics for monitoring forest disturbance and recovery

Northland College alumnus at his desk

How I got here.

When I was in high school in New Jersey, I wanted to branch out and be around people with similar interests. Without any doubt, it was the environmental aspect that drew me to Northland College.  My college experience was filled with all types of outdoor activities, whether it was rock climbing with friends or x-country skiing with some of my professors. Some of my closest friendships were made at Northland College. The bonds were so strong that I returned to Northland after surviving a serious car accident that left me as a paraplegic. I was determined to not let go of a place that I felt wanted me there.

At Northland, I realized that I was able to combine my passion for the environment with my interest in higher level mathematics and sciences when taking an Environmental Monitoring class, which introduced me to the field of remote sensing and GIS. This allowed me to use science to monitor Earth’s changes from satellite imagery.

Saskatchewan maps

Frank’s work was featured in the popular remote sensing journal, PE&RS, showing how the prevalence of burn scars has increased in Saskatchewan in more recent years and how it has changed the landscape.

Even with my limited experience in the field, I was fortunate to get an internship with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center one summer. During this internship, I worked with the Landsat 7 science team where I got to learn what the field is all about and made contacts with the most prominent scientists in the nation. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is, after all, the largest congregation of land remote sensing scientists in the world.

I am still at NASA working with the same folks that gave me the opportunity so long ago. With a graduate degree in geography and more focused experience in global forest cover change, I can now call myself an Earth scientist. One that got his start at a small liberal arts college in northern Wisconsin!

To celebrate Northland College’s 125th anniversary, we are featuring alumni and the work they do to make a difference in the world. Visit each week to see a new story and please, keep in touch.

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