Spring 2012

[Alumni News]

Kaitlin Yarnall

Finding a 'Perfect Blend of Art and Science'

Kaitlin Yarnall

KAITLIN YARNALL (‘05, Geography) remembers Humboldt State’s Cartography Lab fondly. It’s the place where she learned the basics of mapping, design and Geographic Information Systems—all skills that later helped land her first job.

Yarnall was recently named Deputy Creative Editor of National Geographic Magazine, where she oversees graphics, maps, art, design and e-publishing.

“Good cartography is the perfect blend of art and science, and that’s something I learned early on at HSU,” she says.

Yarnall credits HSU Geography professors Joe Leeper and Stephen Cunha for helping get her foot in the door. They nominated her for an internship at the National Geographic Society, the nonprofit that publishes the magazine, her senior year. Yarnall spent a summer compiling resource guides for high school geography teachers, then worked as a research cartographer for six years.

These days, she collaborates with writers, photographers, cartographers and graphic designers on the magazine’s creative direction.

In 2009, Yarnall was part of a team that profiled HSU Forestry Professor Steve Sillett’s research on the world’s tallest trees. For a recent issue on the Titanic, she worked with film director James Cameron and engineers from the U.S. Navy to create an interactive map of the ship’s remains. And earlier this year, she combed through world population data to create a profile of the world’s most typical person.

Yarnall says it’s rewarding to be part of team that produces one of the most popular photojournalism magazines in the world. National Geographic has a monthly circulation of about 8.5 million and 3 million internationally.

“The best part is being able to share what I learn with so many people,” she says.