Department of Geography and the Environment

Geography Alumni

Graduates from our Department are building amazing and varied careers. These alumni profiles are meant to inspire prospective and current majors in Geography, Sustainability Studies, Urban Studies and Environmental Science about potential career paths. If you're an alum of the Department, we'd like to hear what you're doing. Contact Dr. Molly Polk (mollypolk@utexas.edu) or Tiffany Swonke (tiffany.swonke@austin.utexas.edu) to share your career story. Please join the Department LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12031735/ 

Emma Hines

Emma Hines

B.A. in Geography and B.S. in Environmental Science – Biology, Spring 2017

Health and Air Quality Associate, RMI and Lecturer, Yale Climate Change and Health Online Certificate Program

I began a master’s degree in Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder immediately after graduating from UT. Following the completion of my master’s degree, I participated in a two-year fellowship with the Climate and Health Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. I am now an Associate in RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program, where I work on the climate, health, and air quality co-benefits of building electrification. I have also served as a member of the teaching faculty for the Climate Change and Health Online Certificate Program with the Yale School of Public Health for two years.

I started at UT as an EVS-BIO major, which is an excellent interdisciplinary program providing students with a strong foundation in the life sciences and training in field and research methods. However, I found myself craving a social science perspective and quickly added Geography as a second major. It allowed me to more holistically explore how humans interact with their environments, and understand the influence of cultural, political, and economic systems and processes. The combination of my majors certainly influenced my interest in addressing the mounting threat of climate change to human health and community resilience.

My Geography major definitely prepared me for a master’s degree and my current professional positions. In particular, I’m grateful for the topical expertise I developed in climate change and environmental health, and the training I received in GIS, remote sensing, technical writing, and science communication.

One of my favorite things about the department is the close-knit community of students and faculty. I was very lucky to participate in an excellent study abroad experience in Ecuador focused on nature, society, and sustainability. I was also a Geography Society member and officer for several years.

If you’re curious about Geography at all, sign up for a class and give it a try. You just might end up calling yourself a Geographer!

Libby Lenox

Libby Lenox photo

B.A. in Geography, Minor in Anthropology, Spring 2017

M.S. in Conservation Leadership - Global Specialization, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University

Program Associate, Weatherization Assistance Program, Colorado Energy Office

After graduating from UT, I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. During my first year after graduating, I worked for the environmental non-profit organization, Community for Sustainable Energy. I was the Grassroots Coordinator, a position that gave me experience with public education, outreach, and community support for local Colorado sustainable energy initiatives.

From my undergraduate studies and this first position, I developed a strong interest in the human/social side of conserving our natural resources. I wanted to pursue this interest further with higher education. I found a fitting graduate program called Conservation Leadership Through Learning at Colorado State University in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources department at Warner College.

I conducted my Master’s Capstone Project in Belize, which included the creation of a new 5-year management plan for the significant protected area, Golden Stream Corridor Preserve. I worked and engaged with diverse partner stakeholders and Indigenous Mayan communities to increase buy-in and management effectiveness for the conservation area. After completing the program, I obtained my M.S. in Conservation Leadership - Global Specialization.

After graduating with my Master’s, I began working for the City of Boulder’s Open Spaces & Mountain Parks as the Human Dimensions Research Technician. About a year later, another opportunity presented itself and I am now a Program Associate for the Colorado Energy Office’s Weatherization Assistance Program. With this position, I work with partners across the state to provide free, clean energy efficiency services to energy burdened Coloradans. 

My well-rounded education from the Department prepared me for my current job by giving me both technical and critical thinking skills. I have utilized GIS knowledge to produce maps and spatial analysis in ArcGIS Pro and Esri applications. I have also learned to appreciate the value of different cultures’ and societies’ ways of thinking and doing. This has given me an open-minded perspective, allowing me to think creatively and critically on complex and collaborative topics that arise in my work.

I really value the fact that I gained a pluralistic view of geography, being exposed to all aspects of the field. Because geography is a diverse study that leads to a variety of career paths and specializations, I appreciate how the Department requires students to take certain courses in various tracks, which can help you identify or further solidify a particular interest. With a B.A. in Geography, you have a well-rounded grasp of the field and the opportunity to dive deeper into a specific segment through following a distinct track.

From my discussions with past professors, colleagues, and partner organizations, they have all acknowledged to me that geography is a valued discipline. I even had one conservation practitioner from Colorado Parks and Wildlife tell me, if he could go back and do an undergraduate degree over again, he would have picked geography!

The curriculum and knowledge in geography can be used for so many different job types. From my personal experiences, I would advise anyone who is interested in conservation and the environmental sector to consider a B.A. in Geography.

Kevin Strybos 

B.A. in Geography, Minor in Government, Fall 2017 

M.P.H. in Epidemiology, UTHealth, Spring 2024

GIS Analyst, City of Pflugerville Planning Department

After graduating from The University of Texas, I started a full-time contract with Apple Maps and continued a part-time contract with Children’s Optimal Health as a GIS Analyst. After a year and a half at Apple, I took a short contract with the City of Austin as I prepared to leave for the Peace Corps a year later. Unfortunately, after serving for only about three weeks in Peace Corps Guatemala, my service was cut short as a result of the pandemic. Upon returning home, I was offered a temporary position with Austin Public Health to help run the COVID-19 dashboards. As many recent graduates will find nowadays (and has certainly been my experience), the workforce is dominated by contracts and temporary positions. So when a full-time GIS Analyst position was offered to me by the City of Pflugerville, I left Austin Public Health and began my role with Pflugerville’s Planning Department. 

My B.A. in Geography has enabled me to explore numerous career paths where GIS is used to analyze data. Having this technical skill that’s demanded by so many fields in conjunction with my liberal arts background has allowed me to explore and realize which industries suit my interests the most. As a result, since learning GIS I’ve worked for public health, transportation, land development, and international aid-focused organizations. Through all of these experiences, I’ve found that public health is where I’m most fulfilled, which is why I’ve enrolled in UTHealth’s Master of Public Health in Epidemiology program to further my education in the field. 

My education in geography and liberal arts prepared me for success in my career by teaching me the communication and analytical knowledge that is crucial for working as an analyst for the government. In this type of role, being able to manage data is just as important as having the ability to communicate your results to the public and have an open dialogue with your team. Therefore, I'm constantly reminded of the value of the social geography courses that I took, as they were as integral to my education as were my technical ones. 

The research projects I was able to participate in are what I value most about my experience with the Department of Geography. The University of Texas has an unending list of research opportunities for students to get involved in and almost every research team values an individual with GIS knowledge. I strongly feel that had I not taken advantage of those extracurricular research opportunities, I would not have known about or received the fellowships, scholarships, and job opportunities I’ve gained since joining the department. 


  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712
    512-471-5116