Director, Agronomy Research and Development Edenspace Systems Corp.
BS Agronomy at BYU; 1986
MS Agronomy—Crop Science at BYU; 1988
Ph.D. in Soil Chemistry from the University of Maryland
Where do you work? How long have you worked there? What do you do?
Edenspace Systems Corporation for the last ten years. My responsibilities include directing research development activities for environmental technologies, managing contracts and remeiation projects and developing new business opportunities.
How is your profession related to Environmental Science?
We are directly involved with developing plant based environmental technologies, such as: phytoremediation for cleanup of contaminated soils, providing remediation services, and developing crop feedstocks for production of biofuels.
What are the most rewarding aspects of managing your career?
The challenge associated with identifying useful technology and developing it into techniques and products that can be used.
How has your BYU education benefited your career and would you recommend any specific course background for your field?
Environmental science is a broad term that covers many topics (geochemistry, biochemistry, chemical/civil engineering, botany, soil science, regulatory, etc.). You may get your first or second job because of your major, but your actual responsibilities and job duties will require you to spend a large part of your time doing things that weren’t part of your major course of studies. You need an area of specialization to distinguish your skills…but being able to understand and converse with professionals of other disciplines is extremely important, particularly in environmental sciences. I think BYU is very good in that respect. One of the important skills to acquire is writing. I spend a great deal of my time writing proposals, work plans, and reports. There are lots of people with strong technical backgrounds but not that many with strong technical backgrounds that can communicate information effectively. A business class would also be useful. Understanding client/customer relationships, regulatory issues and contractual language are important parts of this discipline.
What changes do you see or expect in your profession in the near future?
Hopefully an expansion of opportunities. The environmental sector has traditionally been dominated by engineers. As various technologies develop the need for a broader range of talents is emerging. With the move towards risk-based clean up standards as opposed to meeting fixed standards, the need for scientists who understand interactions between biological and chemical systems should grow.
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?
Focus on the science and train scientists. Because much of the public does not have a strong science base they are persuaded through their emotions with very little understanding of any of the science – ‘environmentalists’ filled that role. You need to emphasize the Science part of Environmental Science, so that students understand they are scientists working on environmental issues, not environmentalists working as scientists.
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?
We have often found professional meetings a good place to network and meet students, particularly those meetings that are more industry oriented than academically oriented. Although any of the meetings where you have poster presentations by scientists from industry are a good place to interact and network.
Does your company have internships that may be of interest to our students?
Our company has had internships in the past, but not currently. We will open these to BYU students as they come available in the future.
Do you have any general advice for our students or our faculty with regard to your profession?
Realize that Environmental Science takes in many disciplines and you need to be willing to work across disciplines and be flexible in your career choices. You likely will end up doing many different things, so your position in your first job is not as important as your ability to be flexible and show your value.
Would you share a favorite memory of your BYU professors?
We put together a student/faculty coed intramural softball team one year. I believe Von Jolley and Bruce Webb played with a group of graduate students and spouses. We had a great time.