DEVELOP Alumni Spotlight

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In the Spring of 2020, Chloe Schneider had just completed her dual undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was looking for the next step in her professional career. While working toward her degrees, Chloe completed carbon research abroad in Ecuador, motivating her to combine this field experience with more impactful solution-oriented research opportunities. Her passion for environmental research drove her to pursue opportunities that stayed true to her love for the environment.

Image credit: Chloe Schneider
Image credit: Chloe Schneider

It was then that she found the NASA DEVELOP program and felt excited by the opportunity to bridge scientific investigation with addressing environmental and policy issues. Chloe’s DEVELOP work began in the Summer of 2020 based out of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to address Hemlock species decline using remote sensing techniques. After her first term, Chloe served as a Project Lead on a two-term project in the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021 with the Montana Climate Office, developing a Composite Moisture Index to better monitor drought and flooding events using satellite data.

"DEVELOP helped me refine these [technical] skills and made me feel more comfortable with different coding languages. I still reference materials created during my DEVELOP projects, and the research planning and execution has been helpful in transferring my skills into a full-time, large-scale operation."

Since her DEVELOP work, Chloe has had the opportunity to apply skills gained in the program to her professional work at the Environmental Defense Fund. She is currently a Forest Carbon Storage Research Analyst and utilizes both Geographic Information Systems and coding skills in her daily work. She notes, “DEVELOP helped me refine these [technical] skills and made me feel more comfortable with different coding languages. I still reference materials created during my DEVELOP projects, and the research planning and execution has been helpful in transferring my skills into a full-time, large-scale operation.” Beyond these technical skills, Chloe credits DEVELOP’s quick paced, 10-week terms with teaching her to manage different responsibilities at once and balance tasks with communicating with others. Her self-identified most valuable learned skill is project management and feels that DEVELOP was informative in teaching her to be organized and thorough in a professional environment, and she feels comforted by the similar nature of her current work to her past DEVELOP work. Chloe also noted, “DEVELOP is a great place to try new things, fail, and have the support to figure things out.”

It was through DEVELOP that Chloe was able to grow outside of her comfort zone and explore different topics and opportunities that would eventually support her search for her ideal job. When reflecting on transitioning from DEVELOP into the work environment, Chloe has one major recommendation: look for jobs that meet your passions. “You don’t want job hunting to be a chore, so you should work to narrow down your job search to combine your skills with your interests. Don’t be afraid to take some time off to reignite your passions for what you do. I would have felt burnt out without a break between DEVELOP and starting my new job, so I recommend taking time to balance work and life.”

Paxton LaJoie is the current node Fellow at DEVELOP’s Alabama – Marshall location and works on the Communications team. She has a B.S. in Environmental Studies and an M.S. in Environmental Observation and Informatics, with a thesis focusing on coastal resiliency planning for Southeast Asia. She’s interested in the intersection of geospatial science and sustainable planning.

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