Optimal GEO Student Success Awards Presented May 3, 2019 at The University of Alabama in Huntsville


Optimal GEO is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Optimal GEO Student Success Award. The Optimal GEO Student Success Award is designed to recognize UAH students involved in the geospatial sciences who have demonstrated excellence and growth over the past year and who intend to use geographic information systems in their future careers. “Optimal GEO is proud to present the scholarships to Caitlin, Krel, and Sara,” said John Merritt, VP Programs. “We are fortunate to be able to benefit from the excellent student development Dr. Robert Griffin and his colleagues provide in UAH’s Atmospheric Science Department.  The students that come to us from UAH have excellent problem-solving skills and a great sense of responsibility when it comes to the projects assigned to them.  We are excited to be able to contribute to the students continued development and to expand this mutually beneficial relationship.”


Dr. Robert Griffin added, “At UAH we are lucky and excited to continue to build this partnership with Optimal GEO.  Having industry partners like Optimal allows us to create pathways for our students into jobs after graduation, and it means we get constant feedback on how to tailor our students’ coursework to meet industry needs.  The winners this year are part of an exceptionally strong senior class and are great examples of how our students learn innovative methods and critical thinking skills which are so important after graduation.”


Caitlin Carr

Caitlin exemplifies how UAH students in ESS are multidisciplinary out-of-the-box thinkers.  She is a senior undergraduate ESS major with a focus in atmospheric science, although she has been increasingly studying and applying techniques in GIS.  Caitlin has demonstrated leadership and respect for fellow students and interns, serving a key role in the NASA-funded CAARE program at NSSTC last summer.  Her supervisor, Dr. Robert Griffin notes that “Caitlin led our NASA intern program by example, always focused on finding solutions and making sure that the environment was inclusive for all interns.”  In a very short time, she not only learned core principles in GIS and applied satellite remote sensing, but developed and aggregated tutorials and resources to help the overall group.  Overall Caitlin is a hard-working leader that will go far in the GIS industry, and her diverse background highlights the value of multiple disciplines in the Optimal GEO Student Success award.


Krel Haynes

Krel is a senior undergraduate major in ESS, focusing on GIS and remote sensing.  He has taken numerous courses in GIS and has put his coursework to use through external research projects, including most recently on a statewide project on watershed assessments.  As noted by his supervisor, Mr. Cameron Handyside, “Krel has demonstrated a keen ability to understand and complete projects for which he may have no previous experience.  He researches, understands and executes each task with enthusiasm and accuracy.”  In classes, Krel has developed a great eye for map design and cartography and he employs this attention to detail in his research projects.  Krel’s work on geospatial modeling along with map publication has made him a valuable part of the research group here at ESSC, and a worthy recipient of the Optimal GEO Student Success award for 2019.


Sara Miller

Sara is a senior undergraduate in the GIS track of the ESS program.  Over the past 3 years, she has been an active participant in the research community at NSSTC, through NASA internships at DEVELOP, CAARE, and Sally Ride EarthKAM.  She currently works on the NASA SERVIR project, where she assists in applied satellite remote sensing and geospatial analysis for developing countries in East Africa.  Her supervisor at SERVIR, Ms. Emily Adams says of Sara that “she is hard-working and incredibly smart. She has excelled at python scripting for automating GIS processes through cloud-based software.  We couldn’t be happier with Sara!”  Sara will be graduating early and pursuing a graduate degree after December, after which will take that knowledge of advanced geospatial analysis with her into the workforce.  This drive is what makes her a great candidate for the Optimal GEO Student Success Award.