Department of Geography and the Environment

Environmental Science Alumni


Emily Mixon

B.S. in Environmental Science - Geography, Spring 2015

PhD student in Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to graduate school, an environmental consultant for aci, LLC.

I worked for a summer as an intern at TCEQ doing GIS work related to state superfund sites. I then worked for 2 years at aci, LLC, which is a small environmental consulting firm in south Austin. I worked on the geology team, so my days were spent doing GIS, writing reports, and going in the field to do surveys for sensitive hydrogeology features (karst features). I also got the opportunity to learn about and assist on Phase I hazardous materials reports and worked with some fun biologists to help with vegetation, wetland, and bird surveys! My interest in rocks grew, and in 2017 I returned briefly to UT and fulfilled the requirements for a B.S. in Geology at the Jackson School before beginning graduate school at UW-Madison in the fall of 2018. Here at UW-Madison I work on problems related to the formation of our earliest continents via both petrologic and geochemical observations, namely radiogenic isotopes. I also have a strong interest in how these same isotopes can be used as tracers of environmental process in deep time.

I transferred to the B.S. in Geography later in my undergraduate career (as a junior) and it allowed me to explore and expand my knowledge of the earth system. The physical process-based classes really got me excited about feedbacks and relationships between different parts of the earth system, while maintaining my initial Plan II-based interest in human policy and behavior. Ultimately, I ended up with a stronger curiosity towards the processes that shape earth now as well as in deep time, and thus pivoted to geology via my job and then subsequent degree/research choices. That said, the EVS degree in Geography gave me a strong foundation for thinking creatively about problems across multiple spatial and temporal scales.

The technical and applicable spatial skills I gained in EVS Geography (GIS, remote sensing, spatial statistics) continue to serve me well in my work as a geoscientist, both when I was consulting, and now as a graduate student. The emphasis on research, writing, and synthesis projects in many upper-level classes also equipped me both to be comfortable on a team in the workforce, and to take projects from start to finish in my academic work. Most valuably, the EVS Geography degree equipped me to make connections between many different natural systems and tackle integrative ‘big picture’ relationships and questions—a creative approach I find invaluable in my current research.

I really enjoyed the community I found in the Department of Geography. I had great mentors in both graduate students and faculty, without which I would not have found my taste and confidence for conducting independent research. As a result, I try to do my best to pay mentorship forward as a researcher and graduate student now.

Eileen Villasenor

B.S. in Environmental Science, Spring 2017

Hydrogeologist at Envireau Water, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

After graduating, I did an internship at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Watermaster program, water division. Then, I immediately started a full-time job at TCEQ in the Environmental Assistance Division and worked as the lead program coordinator for the RENEW program and co-coordinator for the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards program. I worked at the TCEQ for a year before moving to the UK in September 2018 for my master's degree. I finished my graduate course in Sept. 2019 and received an MSc in Hydrogeology and Water Management. Then, I had an internship with Envireau Water as a Hydrogeologist and they hired me full-time in March of this year. Currently, I have a visa to work and live in the UK as a Hydrogeologist and mostly work on projects related to private water supply, borehole development and abstraction licensing.

I was always interested in environmental science and really enjoyed the variety of topics offered in the geography track. All the courses further solidified my interest in a career that aims to protect the environment. I always gravitated towards the specific topics surrounding water - the water cycle, water management, flood risk, natural water systems, etc.

Most of what I do in my job involves thinking about the risks to the water environment and conceptualizing a site. Conceptualizing a site requires some understanding about the landscape, geology, topography, water cycle, etc. and brings all of those elements together. My education at UT Austin has prepared me for my current role by giving me the knowledge and experience in subjects that support my ability to conceptualize a site and think about the risks as a hydrogeologist (e.g. landscape ecology, geomorphology, natural environment). I also use GIS every day for spatial analysis and to create maps for consultancy reports. The GIS and advanced GIS courses within the Department of Geography and the Environment have really prepared me for the work that I do.

The faculty in the Department of Geography and the Environment massively contributed to my success in the program and my interests. It was obvious to me that they were all passionate about what they were teaching and were always extremely helpful during office hours. I did my capstone research project with Dr. Ramos on land use changes and sediment yields in La Parguera, Puerto Rico and truly value the time and effort that he offered as my supervisor. I also had lots of help with the GIS elements of my project and am grateful for the support. Ultimately, I value the professors and TAs for all the inspiration and support.


  • Department of Geography and the Environment

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