Miller Research LLC: President and Study Director
BS Botany—Biotechnology: BYU
MS & Ph.D. Plant Pathology: Washington State University
Where do you work? How long have you worked there? What do you do?
I am the president and study director at Miller Research LLC. Each year I contract with private companies to perform research related to agricultural crop production. The bulk of the research relates to pest management. I design research trials, oversee experimental pesticide applications, evaluate plants for disease and insect damage, and evaluate research plots for yield and quality of the finished plant product.
How is your profession related to Environmental Science?
Many of the research trials I conduct involve the use of pesticides. Some trials focus on the effectiveness of a specific product. Others generate data that are used by the Environmental Protection Agency in determining the maximum allowable pesticide residue that can be applied to crops. The data generated from both the efficacy and residue trials is used to generate and refine pesticide labels, thus improving the stewardship and proper use of pesticides in the environments. I also conduct research designed at developing non-pesticide methods for pest control.
What are the most rewarding aspects of managing your career?
The most rewarding part of my job is working with crop producers. I also enjoy being involved in field-oriented crop production research.
How has your BYU education benefited your career and would you recommend any specific course background for your field?
My BYU education has been extremely helpful to me in my career. I graduated with a B.S. in Botany—Biotechnology. Almost all the courses in the biological sciences were helpful as I entered graduate school. Genetics, Evolutionary Biology, Plant Systematics, and Plant Morphology helped me most be ready for graduate school. Intensive Writing was also a great help and I recommend it for everyone.
What changes do you see or expect in your profession in the near future?
Consumers are demanding more organic food. As a result, more non-chemical alternatives for pest control are needed. I believe the pesticides will continue to play a significant role in crop production, and that new technologies will make pesticide use safer.
There is a common misconception of lumping environmental science with environmental activism. How can our department best address this perception problem with our students and employers?
Great question – and I’m not sure I have a good answer. I believe that environmental activism can be good, but the extreme elements in the environmental activist movement have done much more harm that good. For me personally, I don’t automatically equate “Environmental Science” with activism.
How can students best network within your profession in order to gain employment or internships? Does your company have internships that may be of interest to our students?
I think the best way is to seek out businesses or individuals who are working in a field of interest and then contact that person directly. I am always impressed by students who call or email directly to ask questions or simply to introduce themselves to express interest in employment. Another good way to network is to attend professional meetings.
Does your company have internships that may be of interest to our students? Who should they contact?
Yes, full time employment opportunities? Yes If so, who should students contact? Contact me at either 208-531-5124 or email@example.com. I am always interested in hiring interns for the summer (June-August). Full time employment opportunities are only available from time to time. I would be more than happy to visit with any interested students.
Do you have any general advice for our students or our faculty with regard to your profession?
As I prepared to go to graduate school, I was told that anybody can do applied research, and that if I wanted to go after the prestigious training, I would need to focus on basic research. I feel that this was not good advice. Applied research is very rewarding and just as rigorous as basic research. All areas of research are critical to improving crop production and gaining knowledge that enables our society to be better stewards of the planet we inhabit.
Would you share a favorite memory of your BYU professors?
I have many great memories! One of the best was listening to Dr. Paul in the chemistry department read from The Bishop’s Horse Race while teaching us the chemistry of making soap. I really enjoyed the trips with Dr. Kimball Harper to various far-flung places to learn the taxonomy of Utah flora. These trips provided a lot more education than simply being able to key out flowers from a book.