Spring 2019 Student Spotlights
By Alexandra Howard
Junior environmental management and protection major Cici Xiao is an active participant in department clubs and events and currently serves as president of the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP). Xiao is an international student from China who came to the U.S. five years ago to pursue her passion for building a better environment. After two research projects, she learned that the best way to create substantial change to the environment requires collaboration between computer science and geospatial analysis.
Xiao is minoring in geographic information systems (GIS) and computer science. She participates in both fields by working as a GIS peer assistant at the Kennedy Library Data and GIS Resource Center. She will intern for ESRI, a privately held GIS (GIS) software development company, this summer as a software development intern, combining both her skills in GIS and computer science.
Xiao is expanding her environmental science knowledge by working as a research assistant for Professor Yi Wen Chiu on an environmental system dynamics project looking into sustainable agriculture. She will be responsible for analyzing the relationship between water usage and almond yield to better understand how to minimize irrigated water loss.
Xiao involves herself in other leadership roles at Cal Poly as the Chess Club president and International Club vice president. In her free time, she enjoys competing in chess tournaments, practicing photography, and hiking. Xiao plans to pursue a doctorate in geospatial analytics to educate the next generation of students with similar passions.
Senior Danny Han came to Cal Poly to pursue his passion in environmental management and protection and discovered an interest in watershed management and geographic information systems (GIS).
His knowledge in both environmental science and GIS inspired him to pursue research on the ecological impacts that potential off-shore floating wind farms could have on California seagulls and marine animals. This research evolved into his senior project, working with an interdisciplinary team of biology, economics and physics professors to inform decision-makers about the viability of offshore floating wind farms.
Han utilizes his knowledge to teach others in the community. He is in his second year working with Lecturer David Yun as a teacher's assistant in NR 218: Applications in GIS. His experience as a GIS technician for the city of San Luis Obispo helps him guide many NRES students through the program and its tools. Han participates in Sprout Up as a volunteer general environmental science teacher for local first- and second-grade classrooms, planning and instructing weekly lessons for elementary students on topics involving sustainability.
Han was an agricultural intern for Children of Hope in Kikuyu, Kenya, where he worked to help determine optimal crop production and incorporate advanced agricultural techniques with local farmers. With plans to graduate in spring 2019, he plans to return to Africa and join the Peace Corps. He just recently was accepted through a competitive process to the Peace Corps as a forestry and environmental specialist in West Africa, where he will work to increase crop yield on a local level and create programs to empower youth.
For more stories, read the rest of our Spring 2019 Newsletter