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Department of Earth Environmental and Geospatial Sciences

Kristen Grady

Kristen Grady

Current location

  • Brooklyn, NY, USA

Date of Graduation from Lehman

  • June 2013

Type of degree/major/specialization/certificate

  • MS-GISc

Title of MS-GISc capstone project

“Allocating New York City Election Results to Census Geography Using ModelBuilder and Python Scripting”

Positions held since graduating

  • LiDAR Project Manager/Technical Lead, New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (NYC DoITT) (Consultant for Spruce Technology, Inc.)
  • GIS Specialist, New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM)
  • Alumna Board Member, Lehman College MS-GISc Program
  • Director-at-Large / Board Member, NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society)

Type of work you do there

As LiDAR Geospatial Project Manager/Technical Lead I was responsible for managing the 2017 NYC LiDAR capture project, as well as leading and coordinating the QA/QC efforts of the LiDAR-derived datasets. Our project resulted in high resolution tidally-coordinated hydroenforced TopoBathymetric LiDAR data, which included 61 new and updated data products, resulting in 1 terabyte of data! The data included: LiDAR point clouds, digital elevation models (DEMs), digital surface models (DSMs), land cover, tree canopy change, and an updated shoreline. I worked closely with the GIS team at NYC DoITT, various GIS teams at NYC Parks, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP). My primary responsibilities were to make sure the project was continually meeting contract specifications, to develop and coordinate multi-agency QA/QC efforts, and to quickly identify any issues or uncertainties with the data and to make sure that our vendors resolved these issues promptly. I had a chance to present the results at City Hall, the NYC GIS Data Liaison Meeting, and the 2018 Northeast ArcUser (NEARC) conference in Saratoga Springs. The resulting data will be used by numerous City agencies as well as the public (the data is freely available to the public. yay!) to aid in projects related to: coastal protection, sea level rise inundation, flood insurance research, water flow analysis, site planning, urban heat island analysis, impervious coverage, green infrastructure assessment, and so much more...

Specific accomplishments of which you are most proud

  • Managing the 2017 NYC LiDAR capture project, which resulted in a ton of really useful data for the City and citizen scientists who are interested in countless projects that aim to protect NYC from the risks associated with climate change.
  • I advocated hard for the GIS Division at NYCEM to use more Python in their work, in an effort to automate processes and to help the team move more quickly during emergencies. I created a Coding and Applications manual that set important standards for using Python in the division.
  • Some projects that I worked on, as part of an incredible team at the Center for Urban Research’s CUNY Mapping Service, during my time at Lehman, were picked up by various news outlets and blogs, such as the NY Times, Atlantic Cities, and NY1.
  • Being a student alumna panelist on a NYC ArcUser’s Group panel discussing the GIS Industry’s outlook and which skills current students may want to focus on to make themselves more marketable in a rapidly changing industry.
  • Being offered my job at OEM, one of the coveted NYC City Agency GIS positions.
  • Getting elected to the NACIS Board of Directors!

Geography or GISc activities/accomplishments/awards/internships/publications

  • Working closely with Professor Maantay and Professor Maroko while a research assistant in the Urban GISc Lab at Lehman, where they allowed me to co-author a few publications. Some of the topics included: Data Visualization of Environmental Health Justice and Measuring Access to Parks in NYC.
  • USDA Research Fellowship while at Lehman, in which I became somewhat of a subject matter expert on Food Deserts. This culminated in a really interesting project called “Locating Bronx Food Deserts by creating a Food Desert Vulnerability Index”
  • Several years of hard work at the CUNY Institute of Sustainable Cities paid off with the publication of some of my maps in Mayor Bloomberg’s Hurricane Sandy-inspired special report, “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” which tackles the resilience of infrastructure and buildings throughout NYC. The maps show the delineation of potential future flood extents due to climate change-induced sea level rise.

Overall assessment of how Lehman’s EEGS Program prepared you for your current life

When I think of my time at Lehman and how it has prepared me for my current career path in GIS and Cartography and for my life in general, I think immediately of two things: critical thinking skills and academic rigor. Often these skills and experiences go undervalued or are invisible to a student altogether when a student’s focus is on acquiring as many technical skills as possible to make herself more job-marketable. But these non-technical skills and experiences are just as essential as the technical skills and have helped me tremendously in my professional and personal life.

While I had excellent training in the technical aspects of GIS at Lehman, a major part of my education there also involved reading and responding to academic journal articles, writing for publication, and learning to think critically about the nuances of GIS and Map-making. I believe these “skills” helped me in securing a professional GIS job because not only was I prepared for the technical aspects of the job, but I proved that I am capable of working and feeling comfortable in those more “fuzzy” areas of the profession, where questions about the ethics of mapmaking, your audience, and the potential message you’re conveying in your work become of utmost importance.  

Comments on the EEGS Dept Program you were enrolled in

The instructors of the EEGS GIS Program are simply outstanding. All of them. I enjoyed and thrived in all of my classes there and miss the vibe and culture of the department often. Everyone is down-to-earth, super smart, and helpful. I would not be where I am today without all of them.

What else have you been up to?

After the LiDAR project concluded, I decided to take a “life” sabbatical, focusing on other things in my life that are important to me, such as my family and other interests and hobbies. One thing in particular I have spent a great deal of time learning about is how our autonomic nervous system works and the incredible role it plays in mental wellbeing and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, fear, trauma, and social connection. I have personally benefited from learning about the autonomic nervous system, and I would love to work on multidisciplinary projects that combine this fascinating subject with my love of geography.