Missouri State University
Gopala Borchelt

Gopala Borchelt

  • Executive Director, Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc.
  • Ozark, Mo.
  • BS, Agriculture, 2002, College of the Ozarks
  • MS, Geospatial Sciences, 2007, Missouri State

Love of natural places leads to a promising career

She's an alumna on the front line of environmental stewardship planning, helping to protect Ozark ecosystems and water quality.

Gopala Borchelt's path to Missouri State began when she listened to a presentation on geospatial information systems (GIS) and mapping. Soon after, she was volunteering with the Army Corps of Engineers at Table Rock Lake, working with GIS.

"The GIS coordinator told me, 'You're pretty good at this; why don't you check out the GGP program at Missouri State?' I just thought I would interview Dr. [Robert] Pavlowsky and ask a few questions. When I did, he needed a graduate student for a project that I was interested in, so it was a good fit."

When she first came to Missouri State, she came to appreciate the University community.

"[The student body] is hard working, they have a lot of drive, and they aren't looking for everything to be handed to them," she said. "The professors really cared about the community. Each professor that I came in contact with had extracurricular activities in the community. I think that's really a strength because it also encourages students to get out there and meet people in the community."

Working on her thesis led to networking opportunities that would lead her to a job after her graduation.

She said, "As I was completing my thesis on water quality, I came in contact with the director of Table Rock Lake Water Quality Inc., David Casaletto. With his permission I wrote a grant proposal to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for TRLWQ to do a project on septic systems. When they got the grant, they were able to hire me on as a project director, which allowed me to finish my thesis and start my career with them after graduation."

Her job includes a great deal of flexibility, which she enjoys.

"I'm always doing something different," she said. "Public education, research on water quality issues and technology, communicating with the media, writing grant proposals, accounting, payroll, everything! The diversity is fun for me."

She uses her knowledge of GIS to understand changes in water quality, including causes of water quality and positive impacts of installing engineering structures such as rain gardens.

Borchelt likes gardening, hiking, canoeing, painting and sculpting. She and her husband Joel have a 4-year-old named Elijah and a newborn named Daniel.

"[Missouri State] put me in touch with the right people to get where I'm at right now," she said. "It helped push me out of the box and into the right context; it helped me make it into the professional settings."