Bailey Wolf wasn’t sure what she wanted to study at Missouri State, but she had a few ideas.
- She wanted to do research.
- She wanted a major related to science and/or the environment.
- With an associate’s degree in general agriculture, she wanted to apply what she already knew.
She talked with professors in the department of geography, geology and planning (GGP). The department emphasizes student-involved research.
“I was really nervous about coming back to school, especially at a university and everything. The department, right off the bat, really took time to get to know me and see what my interests were.”
Wolf took her shot.
“I had never actually meant Dr. Dogwiler. I just left him a résumé,” Wolf said. “I had to do an interview with him to see if he would take me on for research.”
Dr. Dogwiler had an opening, but it involved geographic information science (GIS).
“I had not taken GIS yet,” Wolf said. “He said, ‘I can give you a crash course if you think you can jump in there.’
“So I said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try.’”
For her main research project, she explored how many ground control points (GCPs) are needed for accurate drone mapping.
Overcoming hurdles to become a star student
Wolf faced a few challenges.
She was a transfer student and had taken a few years off school after completing her associate’s degree.
She also had little-to-no experience with the technology she was about to use.
Wolf described the computer software and data as a “foreign language” at first.
“Yes,” Wolf said.
Wolf recalls the moment it all clicked. She was processing data from a drone flight.
“Dr. Dogwiler gave me a really nice, step-by-step thing on how to run the programming,” Wolf said. “You have to process all the data, go through and refine it and everything.
“Before I knew it, I was not even looking at (the guide). I was just going through the data like I knew it all long.”
Now feeling confident, Wolf got more involved.
- She presented at the Geological Society of America (GAS) conference.
- She made a first-place presentation at CNAS Undergraduate Research Day in 2019.
Wolf, a geology major, credited the dedication of GGP’s professors for helping her succeed.
“I know it sounds biased, but they really outdo themselves,” Wolf said. “I’ve never encountered a group of professors that have genuinely devoted themselves to making sure we get the education promised to us.”
Her next step
Wolf plans to continue her studies and research at the graduate level.
“I’m hoping that doing grad school will solidify everything I’ve done so far,” she said. “And then also, I’m trying to get on as a teacher’s assistant. Maybe I can also be that person to help the incoming students have the opportunity I had.”
One day, she hopes to tie everything together.
“I love the idea that I can mold my agricultural and geological/geospatial interests together,” Wolf said. “I would like to find a job that allows me to improve environmental conditions and that could also help farmers and the community.”