Undergraduate Spotlight: Julia Santos
Julia Santos is a 2nd year is a double major in the Physical Geography BS with the Ocean Science Emphasis and Environmental Studies BA.
Why did you choose the geography major?
What areas of geography interest you? I chose to major in Physical Geography with an Ocean Science Emphasis because of my love for the ocean and passion for using geographic information systems. As a visual learner, I find GIS extremely fascinating and very applicable to other fields of studies, especially Environmental Studies which I am also majoring in. I am especially interested in coastal geography and understanding and analyzing the effect of sea-level rise through the lens of a geographer. Majoring in Geography is giving me an entirely different perspective on my studies and it has been such a formative experience.
What have your favorite experiences in the major been?
I am in the middle of completing the GIS series (GEOG 176A-C). This series promotes an environment of creativity and collaboration, and through these courses, I have become friends with so many amazing and intelligent individuals who are just as passionate about GIS as I am. My professors, TAs, and peers are also incredibly supportive.
What opportunities have you found through studying Geography, and how has your experience in Geography prepared you for it?
I am currently conducting research under Werner Kuhn (who was my professor for GEOG 176A). I found this opportunity through FRAP and immediately ask Professor Kuhn if I could participate in his research. The research is based on the UCSB Reads book, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush, and we are analyzing the tangible effects of sea-level rise on the local Santa Barabara county using geospatial data and GIS procedures. The knowledge I’ve gained from upper-division Geography courses is helping me immensely when it comes to research.
Do you have any ideas of what you would like to potentially pursue after graduation?
I know I’m only a sophomore, but I do have plans for pursuing a master’s degree in the future. I’m not sure what exactly I want to do, but I aspire to help people, especially communities most vulnerable to climate change.
Do you have any advice for other geography majors or people considering declaring the major?
The Geography Majors offer a wide selection of courses that cannot be found anywhere else on campus. Learning how to use GIS is such a valuable and rewarding skill to know. The Geography Department has such an amazing and supportive advisor (shout out to Patty Murray for helping me with anything and everything!). Most importantly, the professors clearly care about their students and are very passionate about the work they are doing. Also, there are countless opportunities to get involved in research or internships. If you can’t major in Geography, you should at least consider taking some classes!
Thanks for sharing Julia!