October 2022: Nicole Spero, undergraduate student | Department of Geography and the Environment

October 2022: Nicole Spero, undergraduate student

Cooler weather is finally here! I can't believe we are almost halfway through the semester. As we head toward the second half of the semester, we would like to present our October student spotlight, highlighting Nicole Spero who is a senior in our GIS + CS Bachelor of Science degree program with a minor in Geography. She is studying with Dr. Lu Liang and is a research assistant on Dr. Liang's Irrigation project. As a research assistant, Nicole is helping develop an algorithm that can identify irrigation patterns from aerial imagery. Through the use of deep learning approaches, Nicole has assisted in detecting different agricultural irrigation practice types through fine aerial images. In her position, she is responsible for organizing and maintaining the image database as well as performing basic image processes and visualization. She also leads the coordination of image annotations.

In high school, her interest in geography sparked after taking AP human geography. She also enjoyed art classes that helped her discover that she is a visual person. This eventually led her to UT Arlington as an architecture major, but she felt something was missing. Through departmental guest speakers she learned about GIS and how it can be used in the context of architecture. She was able to gain more insight in the field of GIS through her dad, who works with GIS specialists at BNSF Railway. This led her to move toward geographic application of GIS and the visual manner of map-making. Since UT Arlington did not have a geography program, Nicole transferred to UNT. Here, she could study GIS while re-sparking her high school interest in human geography topics. This eventually led to her becoming a GIS + CS major with a geography minor. A good balance she feels meets all of her interests!

To Nicole, one of the best parts about being an undergraduate student at UNT is the people (students and staff) that she has met. She mentioned that, "the people here have made this campus a friendly and laid-back environment." Just about everyone Nicole has met has been pleasant, especially the students and staff in the geography program. Because of this she has made some good friends in the program. She commented on how kind and approachable the professors have been in the geography department, and that "their commitment to helping students learn and succeed is evident in their interactions." One lesson Nicole has learned during her time as an undergraduate student is, "I need to constantly save my work on my computer as I am working on assignments." This was something she had to learn the hard way.

Nicole's plans after graduation are not solidified, but she is currently looking into GIS positions in public safety, transportation, government, and environmental companies. She plans to gain years of work experience and eventually teach others the knowledge and experiences she gained from the workforce.

Some fun facts Nicole shared was that she has an identical twin sister, she likes to do yoga and roller skating, and learning about wildlife in her free time. From her youth to teen years, she was raised in martial arts. She received her black belt in taekwondo at nine years of age and explored other types of marital arts like hapkido and kendo. She mentioned, "yes, I played with bamboo swords" during her time involved in marital arts. For Nicole, Denton Square is a "hidden gem." She said, "I cannot think of another spot in Denton where I am able to get dinner, buy a plant, look at books, go the arcade, and get ice cream all in one Saturday evening!" We could not agree more. There are a lot of nooks and crannies of places to explore on the Square, and as Nicole mentioned, events year around.

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Student Spotlight

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