Geology major assists conservation efforts through cartography in APEX Fellowship

Justine Paul Berina ’22

When taking Geographic Information Systems with Shelley Judge, associate professor of geology, his junior year at The College of Wooster, Justine Paul Berina ’22 who’s originally from Legazpi, Philippines made a connection that led to an internship opportunity. Jeff Opperman, who is the lead global freshwater scientist at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), collaborated remotely with the class and offered the students the opportunity to continue their work over the summer. With support from APEX, Berina pursued an internship at the WWF in their conservation efforts. His role included mapping the impacts of global dam construction on endangered species, which allowed him “to master mapmaking techniques and apply them to real-world problems” and gain experience as a geology major.

“These skills are useful in my career interests in geology, law, and forensics. And, of course, in building a sustainable and equitable world together—today and tomorrow.”

—Justine Paul Berina ’22

What interests you most about the work you did? What were some of the things you did each day?

“I enjoy cartography. It lets me communicate science and express my creativity. In addition, mapmaking fosters my resourcefulness, grit, and attention to detail. Each day, I peruse articles on hydropower dams’ impacts, download GIS [Geographic Information Systems] datasets, and create maps to be studied.”

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career?

“One of my assignments was predicting through ArcGIS [Geographic Information Systems software] the most cost-effective pathway that connects future dams to existing roads. It required me to learn Python programming and cost-distance analysis—measuring how expensive it is to travel across a surface based on things like distance, topography, and land cover. These skills are useful in my career interests in geology, law, and forensics. And, of course, in building a sustainable and equitable world together—today and tomorrow.”

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you?

“My internship has enabled me to know a good workplace. I thrive where I’m supported, recognized for my accomplishments, and expected to perform well—every day. In addition, I prefer teams that demonstrate fairness and stability. That said, my experience with WWF has been guiding me in searching for potential graduate school advisors and employers.”

How did your fellowship mentor help you to succeed in this position?

“My fellowship mentor, Professor David McConnell, facilitated crucial self-reflection, enabling me to see how my day-to-day activities contribute to my life goals.”

Posted in Experiential Learning on August 2, 2021.

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