Cathleen Torres Parisian

Image by Cathleen Torres Parisian

This week’s featured scientist is Cathleen Torres Parisian, Cathleen works as a Geospatial Support and Education Specialist at the Polar Geospatial Center in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Cathleen’s research interests include polar science, remote sensing, geographic and information science, cartography, and climate change. Read further to hear about how Cathleen got into what she does and her favorite parts of her work.


How did you get into the work that you do?

In college, I studied abroad in Ecuador and Thailand, learning about social and environmental injustices, and realized the power of data, specifically spatial data. Which influenced me to get my master’s degree in geographic information science for development and environment. I wanted to do purposeful work in GIS and climate change and that is how I ended up working at the Polar Geospatial Center, a research facility at the University of Minnesota.

What is one of your favorite aspects of your work? What is the most challenging?

My favorite aspect of my work is working directly with scientists. Working with scientists has enabled me to teach GIS/remote sensing but also learn new techniques/findings in polar research. 

The most challenging aspect of the work that I do would be using, knowing, and preaching the significant impact of commercial satellite imagery to polar science, but being restricted by the license that keeps it from being publicly available.

If you could study any one topic or idea, and money/time/equipment/ were not an issue, what would you study?

I would study how social and environmental injustice relates to climate change.

Outside of your scientific studies, what other subjects or interests do you enjoy?

I enjoy indigenous studies, art history, science visualization, and social and environmental justice.

What is a fun fact that few people would guess about you?

I co-founded a pizzeria in rural Mexico (now owned by my brother-in-law).

Header Photo by James Eades