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Alumni Adventures: Dr. Krithi K. Karanth

Dr. Krithi K. Karanth – Chief Conservation Scientist at the Centre for Wildlife Studies

When did you attend UF? What degrees/certificates did you earn from the Department of Geography?
I was at UF between 1997 and 2001. I got dual degrees – a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a BA in Geography. Environmental Science degree was highest honours and Geography was high honours. I also got a minor in economics.

What is your greatest memory from your time as a GeoGator?
I had incredible teachers and mentors in the Department of Geography, particularly Dr. Mike Binford, who was my undergrad thesis advisor. I walked into his office as a 19 year-old and told him I wanted to do research. He made me part of his lab and for two years, apart from taking courses, I actually got to experience what it’s like to do research. I worked on a really nice remote sensing project looking at land cover and land use change in Thailand. It was amazing that somebody so senior at the time took a chance on a 19 year-old, and just gave me this incredible opportunity to get into research.

Of course, there were amazing faculty Dr. Peter Waylen and Dr. Tim Fik who were incredible teachers! I ended up taking three courses with each of them because I just loved their teaching style and how they brought every class to life. So, overall, I had planned to do just an environmental science degree at UF, but my geography courses ended up being so amazing that I went and got a second degree in geography, simply because of these incredible faculty that were there.

How do you use what you learned in the Geography Department in your life?
What I found in the geography department is that they are so interdisciplinar. You could come from any background and you would find a place there. I think it’s one of the most truly interdisciplinary departments that I have seen. I am, even to this day, inspired by incredible faculty who really care about their students and invest a lot of time mentoring them.

Do you have a message to share with current/prospective students?
I think geography is a very exciting field. It’s always been one of my favourite subjects. I think that becoming a geographer allows you to work in so many different worlds today – you could be in academia, you could work for large corporations, like Google, which innovate on mapping now, or you could work for a nonprofit NGO like I do. I think there are incredible opportunities in the field.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
I just loved my time at the geography department. When you are starting out your career, having people mentor you and give you opportunities and really believe in you makes a huge difference. And as a 19 year-old, the geography department, and particularly Dr. Mike Binford did that for me.

Find out more about Krithi’s work at the Centre for Wildlife Studies. She is also at Rolex Award winner, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and has been profiled in The Washington Post and on Round Glass Sustain.

If you would like to tell the world about your GeoGator Alumni Adventure, please send an email to Mike Ryan Simonovich.