Skip to main content
Michael Blaylock

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.

Environmental Science & Sustainability in the News
data-content-type="article"
May 18, 2020 09:58 PM
ESS professor Zach Aanderud and his team of students use cutting-edge molecular methods to track COVID-19 in municipal wastewater.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="oneOffPage"
ESS undergraduate Natasha Griffin has presented at conferences in Europe, ridden in a helicopter and visited both the North and South Poles to figure out how humans are affecting the Earth.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
April 08, 2020 10:36 AM
ESS PhD student Sara Sayedi wanted to use science to improve policy in her home country of Iran, but politics limited her work in the public arena. Now at BYU, she is influencing policy at a global scale.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="video"
BYU team investigates ecosystem resilience to wildfire, linking plants, streams, climate, and society
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="video"
Professor Sam St. Clair from the Environmental Science & Sustainability program takes the vitals of one of North America's keystone tree species.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
January 16, 2018 10:00 PM
ESS professor Ben Abbott presents a new tool to fight nutrient pollution. Streams can be “sensors” of ecosystem health, allowing both improved water quality and food production.

overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
September 11, 2018 10:00 PM
Dance professor Keely Song and ESS professor Ben Abbott teamed up to promote BYU's free UTA passes to students, employees, and their families.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
July 03, 2020 03:29 PM
While at BYU, Dr. Gary Booth taught a wide range of subjects. Students and faculty alike appreciated Booth and his impact on the college.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
July 23, 2020 09:56 AM
After reading 115 studies on COVID-19, ESS faculty and students published non-technical report on the effectiveness of masks at slowing the spread.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
June 27, 2013 10:00 PM
If Utah’s quaking aspen appear to be quaking more than usual this summer, the trees have reason to tremble, says a Brigham Young University biologist. In dappled forests across the West, aspen trees are battling deadly killers from heat stroke to bud-nipping predators to tree “heart attacks.”
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
March 17, 2020 11:10 AM
ESS professor Ben Abbott co-authored a study in Nature on the permafrost climate feedback. Working with an international team, he found that abrupt permafrost collapse could double carbon release.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
June 10, 2019 10:00 PM
A new study in Nature Geoscience led by ESS professor and students found that the global water cycle is incorrect even in modern papers and textbooks. 85% of diagrams show no people, despite human domination of water at a global scale.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
June 29, 2020 02:18 PM
Professors and students from Environmental Science & Sustainability lead research projects from Antarctica to Alaska.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
February 03, 2019 10:00 PM
The solution to nutrient pollution could be right below out feet. Literally. New study reveals the active and dynamic world of groundwater microbes.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
By Carlee Reber
June 05, 2019 01:06 PM
Will we show up in the geologic record in millions of years? The Anthropocene suggests the answer is yes: collective human impact on the environment will leave a definitive mark in future bedrock.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=