Vanessa van Heerden is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. Her research focuses on ecosystem services provided and protected by Louisiana’s barrier island system. Vanessa was born and raised in Louisiana. She received two B.S. degrees; Environmental Science and Resource Management, and Biology from CSU Channel Islands. She has conducted research in LA, CA, South Africa, and the Cook Islands including sandy beach ecology, African game management, and creating a management plan for preserving coral reefs at Aitutaki atoll, Cook Islands. Vanessa is an ArcGIS nerd; any geospatial research makes her super happy.