Human Geographers on the Front Lines of Environmental Challenges

Audrey Grismore and Jessica Simms, two LSU alumni, have recently taken on new positions that require their talents as human geographers to deal with pressing environmental concerns.  Both are now working on the front lines of critical coastal issues that have profound implications as sea levels rise and society must make choices about how to adapt.

Audrey Grismore, (Ph.D. 2018) joined the Water Institute of the Gulf as a Research Scientist/Cultural Geographer this past summer and is a member of  the Human Dimensions team.   The Water Institute is an independent, non-profit, applied research institution, based in Baton Rouge,  advancing science and developing integrated methods to solve complex environmental and societal challenges.  Much of its research focuses on Louisiana’s coastal challenges.  After years of working with FEMA, Audrey’s  duties now include developing a tool to  help ports develop resilience and assessing recreational  potential for New Orleans neighborhoods.  She is also  working with communities in east Texas to gather local  knowledge about flood risks following Hurricane Harvey.  She is quick to  point out that her background in geography helps her work with cross-disciplinary teams which is essential in so  many professional settings today.

Jessica Simms (Ph.D. 2017) recently transitioned from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, where she worked with the Isle de Jean Charles relocation project, and has taken the  position of Associate Program Officer with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program.  Its focus on the Gulf of Mexico came about following the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 and it is  involved in a range of research projects.  Jessica’s primary responsibilities  will be working with a  multi-year community engagement initiative that will partner with select communities in the five Gulf Coast states (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX) and the Cook Inlet region of Alaska to build and enhance health and community resilience at the local level.  She  notes that “Geography spans so many areas - soil, water, history, politics, cities, cultures, just about anything you can think of that involve people and places and their relationships - the latitude is enormous!”

The Department of Geography and Anthropology offers a concentration in Environmental Studies within its B.A. degree option.  Watch special programs in this concentration that will  help prepare you for satisfying and meaningful careers.