CReSIS Undergraduate Selected for Internship at the National Geographic Society


By Nick Mott
Spring 2011

For those who love travel, faraway places, and scientific innovation, a simple yellow portrait frame conjures far more meaning than does a mere monochromatic rectangle. The image, a picture KU senior Julia Guard would be quick to identify, is the logo of the National Geographic Society. The Society recently hired Guard as an intern, a prestigious position at an organization dedicated to informing the public about scientific breakthroughs and exploring the natural world.

The National Geographic Society accepts only five to eight interns a year out of a pool of high-achieving juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Guard will be assigned to work on the Society’s magazine, website, educational initiatives, or special projects. “I want to get my hands on everything when I’m there – take on as many projects, or roll around as many ideas as I can,” she said.

Guard, a senior in Geography with a minor in business, works as a Research Assistant at CReSIS. At CReSIS, she has created GIS-based lesson plans and compiled data on Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. Guard said that her work as Research Assistant might be particularly attractive to the National Geographic Society since CReSIS has twice been featured in the magazine. She presented her research, entitled “Glacier Change in Antarctica: From Idealism to Substance,” at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 2.

In her time at KU, Guard spent over three years on the women’s rowing team and studied abroad twice, once in Northern Ireland and once in South Africa. She feels that her travels shaped her personally and made her a more attractive candidate to the National Geographic Society. Guard tries to live by a self-described “cheesy” piece of wisdom: Travel is the antidote to ignorance. “It’s really become my anthem,” she said. “I think travel is really important and it’s been a vital part of my life.” Her time in South Africa also inspired her undergraduate Honors thesis about HIV/AIDS transmission networks in the country.

Guard is excited for her time at the National Geographic Society. “Working for them is not only a great stepping stone to any other career ambitions in the future, but you’re also part of something that a lot of people respect and care about,” she said.

Guard thinks that National Geographic is a truly universal magazine. “Anybody can pick it up and appreciate the quality of the writing and the photographs,” she said. “I think it’s a great way that we document this earth, and National Geographic does a fantastic job.”

Julia Guard