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Geography Portfolio

Kim Kresan

University of Montana 2022-2024

Graduated Summa Cum Laude

B.S. Geography

Certificate GIS and Cartography


Geography has been a life-long passion of mine, though I didn’t know that for most of the time. It’s something I’ve found myself gravitating towards from myriad different angles and directions, never really knowing exactly what that central thing was that I was seeking. My goals in this field are motivated primarily by a deep need to see our environment (and the land around me that I am hopelessly and forever in love with) preserved and protected by use and development that is intelligent, efficient, and respectful. However, truly and selfishly, I love geography because of the infinite possibilities of study that it offers to a mind ill at ease in a single topic. I can jump from one thing to the next - from the history and implications of Soviet era housing to innovative stormwater management in Portland - and never feel like I’m losing ground. Nothing is lost, only ever gained - and there’s always a connection, or an insight, or a way in which one topic informs another, as the great sweeping patterns of the world build upon each other. My pursuit of a B.S. in Geography from the University of Montana came secondary to my pursuit of GIS as a career. A year before I enrolled (for my second bachelor’s, no less – something I swore I’d never do), I had never even heard of GIS. A chance encounter brought it into my orbit, and it was like all of the pieces of me suddenly clicked into place. As I began taking Geography courses, the pieces kept on clicking. Weather and Climate (ERTH 303N) and Intro to Physical Geography (GPHY 111N) introduced me to many of Earth’s physical processes, illuminating the functions of my environment and igniting a passion for science that I never realized I had. Geography of World Regions (GPHY 141S) felt like a global buffet cart of knowledge and inspiration– going beyond the assignment requirements, I took mini-deep dives into wildly varying topics, from Soviet Era planning policies to railroads in Sub-Saharan Africa to green energy projects in the Middle East. This really allowed me the chance to explore the field at large, casting a wide net for my own particular interests. Field Techniques (GPHY 385) and Raster GIS (GPHY 487) gave me the tools to collect my own data and perform my own experiments, rather than solely relying on the results of others – techniques such as repeat photography, image classification in GIS, field spectroscopy, and the ever-important art of observation. I was able to steer my Field Techniques final towards my interest in urban planning by collecting and analyzing decibel readings from Reserve Street, a local business and transportation corridor. My partner and I took to the field on a cold October day, collecting data in Survey123 and processing it in Microsoft Excel, ArcGIS, and other software. The project was well-received and the professor suggested that it could make an excellent thesis topic. Finally, Environmental Planning (GPHY 466), taught by a retired local planner, allowed me to really dive into the complex mechanisms of planning policy and the interconnected nature of the natural and built environments. Readings and assignments covered topics from Agriculture to Hazard Mitigation to Green Infrastructure, and I learned about and used many of the tools available in the planning process, such as soil maps, LESA (Land Evaluation and Site Assessment), and public meetings and involvement. For my final project I dove deeply into my burgeoning interest in Stormwater Management by analyzing innovative green infrastructure programs and practices being used in Portland, Oregon. When I began my studies at UMT, I knew that I loved maps, and had hand-drawn a number of them during my career as a freelance artist, but I had no idea how to create a real map. Since completing my Certificate in GIS and Cartography, creating maps and visualizations has become one of my favorite ways to explore a topic in-depth, and I rarely pursue a project or interest that doesn’t include them. Cartography has also become very special to me as the perfect nexus of my artistic passions, my penchant for fact-based inquiry, and my lifelong obsession with place, and I cannot imagine a more ideal vehicle for my own personal expression. I consider myself very lucky to have received such a passionate introduction to the field, as Intro to GIS and Cartography (GPHY 284) provided me with not only the technical basis for GIS and map-making within ArcGIS, but also instilled what I believe will be a lifelong love of the art of cartography. Just after completing this course, I was able to secure a summer GIS internship with Water & Environmental Technologies (WET) in Butte, Montana, which continued into regular employment that I held for two years before moving onto a Cartography role at S&P Global. The context of my work within the environmental engineering industry relied upon and expanded my GIS skills as well as my knowledge of environmental subjects and planning practices. My passion for stormwater has supported my work as well, and I am now a fully certified SWPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan) Preparer and Administrator. Beyond my employment with WET, I have also completed a cartography internship with the Historic Museum of Fort Missoula, as well as work as a Remote Sensing Technician employed on-campus, both opportunities which have allowed me to fill gaps in my GIS knowledge. Back at the university, I took Programming for GIS (GPHY 491) to expand my capabilities beyond GUI GIS software. I found this class to be my most challenging to date, as I grappled with the frustrations of learning how to think in an entirely different way, and in multiple programming languages. I found the struggle immensely compelling despite the pain and continue to build on the Python and R that I learned in that class, adding in bits of ArcPy and GDAL as I build my own cartography and analysis workflows and automate repetitive daily tasks. I was once again able to steer some of my coursework towards planning, and my Applications of GIS (GPHY 488) group focused our final project on analyzing bus route efficiency for campus’s U-DASH bus lines through network analysis. I wrapped up my GIS certificate with Advanced Cartographic Design (GPHY 481), a strong contender for one of my favorite classes of all time. I poured countless joyful hours into the creation of beautiful maps, re-learning my way around Adobe Illustrator and relying on my existing knowledge of Photoshop and design principles. My final project combined a map of Russia’s Kronotsky Nature Reserve with a short expository article, and I enjoyed the work so much that I have continued to study and map the area in my free time, working towards an Atlas of Kamchatka as a passion project. I also continue to create maps for my own enjoyment, and brought several of them along with me to the 2023 NACIS Cartography Conference in Pittsburgh, where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow GIS professionals from countless industries and experiences, all while being inundated with cartographic knowledge. As a person who thrives on constant learning and discovery, I believe I have found my niche in GIS. There is always room for growth and expansion within the skillset, and the breadth of my geographical knowledge has provided me with a lifetime of intellectual fodder. I am confident that my passion for technical details, enthusiasm for the broader context, and the demonstrated efficiency and quality of my work will suit me well within any environmentally-minded organization.


Resume and CV

Classes Taken

Selected Coursework and Projects

Field Techniques
Lochsa River Corridor Final - Web.jpg

GPHY 385 Field Techniques

Observation and Field Journaling - Multimodal and Mixed Use Paths and Trails
I observed, collected, and analyzed data representing multi-modal use of of dedicated shared used paths as well as bike lanes and sidewalks in order to lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding of Missoula's non-motorized transportation system.
Final Project - Noise Pollution on "Stroad" Developments
"Reserve Street is Missoula’s version of a motif that is repeated in nearly every sizable city across America - avoided by locals if at all possible, it is known as a place of noise, congestion, concrete, and box stores. A nightmare to cross on foot and serviced by limited bus stops, it is car-dependent and pedestrian-unfriendly. The Stroad is on full display here - driveways and intersections pepper the full length of this 45mph street, the sidewalks are noisy and dwarfed by large signs not to human scale, and where it is available, the shoulder bike lane feels wildly unsafe for travel. On top of all this, the start and stop of heavy truck traffic can be deafening at times. This project seeks to measure traffic levels and the subsequent noise pollution that vehicle traffic creates along stroad development - namely the Reserve Street commercial corridor in Missoula, Montana - and how both distance and land cover affect noise levels."
Lochsa River Corridor Final - Web.jpg

GPHY 466 Environmental Planning

Lochsa River Corridor Final - Web.jpg

GPHY 481 Advanced Cartographic Design

Final Project - Green Infrastructure in Portland's Stormwater Management Plan (An Overview)
Faced with heavy rainfall and a changing climate, the city of Portland, Oregon has tested and implemented many innovative solutions to contain, purify, and utilize stormwater runoff. This paper explores the community and geographical context of a number of Portland's stormwater programs and includes case studies of green streets and green roofs within the Innovative Wet Weather Program.
Lochsa River Corridor Final - Web.jpg

GPHY 488 Applications of GIS

Selected Projects
The gallery below features various projects created for this class, which focused on bringing the design software and principles to bear on cartographic projects. Cartographic workflows were tested, established, and refined, utilizing such software as ArcGIS Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and 3D visualization software.

I created a map of Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka, Russia, for submission as my final project for the Atlas of Conservation Cartography. The full map and accompanying write-up can be viewed at the link below: