After graduating from Louisiana State University, Gerdes received a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. As a National Geographic Explorer, she conducted an oral history project about the New Orleans Ninth Ward neighborhood and blogged for National Geographic News Watch (Voices) and National Geographic Traveler magazine’s Intelligent Travel Blog. She has spoken about her Ninth Ward research at the 2014 Columbia University Oral History Summer Institute and at National Geographic Headquarters on multiple occasions.
While living in DC, she was published in The Huffington Post and Bethesda Magazine’s Applause, in addition to DC arts publications. In Pittsburgh, she served as the development editor at Pop City Media.
Gerdes’ book, based on her National Geographic project, “An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward” was published in April 2017 (Pelican Publishing). At age 27, this was her first book. She has conducted book readings across the country.
Her freelance credits include working as a contributing writer for millennial women’s site Bustle.com, working remotely as a digital producer for National Geographic Museum & National Geographic Live and serving as a journalism instructor and trip leader for The New York Times Student Journeys. She has been published in HelloGiggles, XOJane, Thought Catalog, Time Out New York, National Geographic Magazine online, National Geographic Travel, The Advocate (Baton Rouge) and more.