May 27, 2019  

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Southern Miss Alumna Recognized by NASA Program

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Jamie Thompson

University of Southern Mississippi alumna Jamie Thompson was recently recognized for her participation in NASA’s DEVELOP program at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss.

Part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, DEVELOP addresses environmental and public policy issues through interdisciplinary research projects, applying the lens of NASA Earth Observations to community concerns around the globe. Bridging the gap between NASA Earth Science and society, DEVELOP builds capacity in both participants and partner organizations to better prepare them to address the challenges that face society and future generations.

Thompson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Southern Miss in 2014, was recognized by DEVELOP for participating in the program for five terms, working on three projects as a team member and two projects as a team lead. 

Thompson participated in the DEVELOP program for almost two years and was an intern while attending the University’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. Her work included providing wetland analysis to entities such as the National Wildlife Federation, analyzing ozone data in different areas after forest fires and calculating salinity measurements to aid with placement of oyster reefs.

“The experience I had with DEVELOP has been absolutely wonderful. I made some lifelong friends in the program and learned more than I could ever write about,” she said. “Every project in DEVELOP is a team project, so I learned a lot about working with a team to solve difficult problems. Since I was fortunate enough to lead a couple of projects, I also learned how to lead and guide my teams in these efforts.”

Currently, Thompson works as an application developer for GEO Jobe GIS Consulting where she builds web-mapping software for users of the geographic information system. She credits Southern Miss and DEVELOP in preparing her for her present position. 

“I had no GIS experience prior to DEVELOP, so I learned all of my GIS skills there. With the computer science skills I gained from USM and the GIS skills I learned during my time with DEVELOP, I feel confident with my current job. I couldn't think of a better way to combine the two skills,” she said.

Thompson was recently invited to join the Southern Miss Industry Advisory Board for the School of Computing. In this role, she will act as an industry representative, providing feedback to the computer science program to help the department better meet the needs of local companies that hire Southern Miss graduates.

Tom Rishel, Southern Miss instructor of computer science, said Thompson was an excellent student who was always well-organized and dependable. He also stated how creative she was, using cat-themed graphics in her presentations that were not only entertaining but exuded her personality as well. 

“I am very proud of Jamie and the work that she has done since graduating from our program. She always approached assignments and projects with a positive attitude and a spirit of personal investment,” he said. “The DEVELOP program certainly helped her to develop the skills to acquire and excel in her current position.”

In regard to her future goals, Thompson hopes to develop software for a major company or create video games, which she says is her passion. In the meantime, she hopes her professional experiences and choices will encourage others to pursue their dreams. 

“The accomplishments I have made so far are just the beginning of what I want to accomplish, and I hope I can inspire others to work hard and achieve their goals,” she said. “I never thought that I would be a person that other people would read about or admire, but then I asked myself, ‘Why not?’”