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National Marine Protected Areas Center

MEET: Jordan Gass

Geographic Information Specialist
National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center

As a GIS specialist for the National Marine Protected Areas Center, I maintain the MPA Inventory databases. I am responsible for conducting spatial analyses on MPAs throughout the United States, creating maps and other cartographic products, and updating the inventory as new data become available.

Jordan Gass

What do you like most about working at NOS?

I work with an exceptional group of people at the MPA Center. We are involved in some very exciting projects that will provide important information to the MPA community as well as to many other sectors of the nation.

What is the hardest part of your job?

GIS technology is constantly evolving. It can be a full-time job just trying to keep up to date with changing software and analytical techniques, not to mention the broader evolution of marine science and management.

What is your educational background?

I earned my bachelor of science in natural resources from Cornell University. I received my master's in environmental management from Duke University with a major in coastal environmental management and a certificate in geospatial analysis.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

I grew up near the ocean, so it has been a primary source of recreation all my life. My fascination increased when I got scuba-certified, and could see all of the amazing things that were going on under the surface.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

After graduate school, I was selected as a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow. Fellows get on-the-job training while working in state coastal zone management programs. Through the fellowship, I met a number of NOAA employees whose passion for their work influenced my decision to work for NOAA.

What advice do you have for young people wanting a career in the "ocean realm"?

To be successful, you have to be multidisciplinary. It's not enough just to know technology or policy or science — to make progress in one of those disciplines requires that you have some understanding of the others. Whatever you do, you will be part of a team. Getting things done requires working well with others, being flexible, and figuring out how to leverage one another's strengths.