Growing up on the Island of Borneo and moving to Colorado at the age of fourteen, I have had much exposure to many different cultures and perspectives. My father works in the oil industry as a geophysicist and greatly influenced my decision to pursue a bachelor of science in environmental science.
Many individuals hold the perception that having an environmental degree will equate to very few opportunities, but this perception is in fact untrue. Over the past two and half years, majoring in environmental science has led me to countless opportunities at Bryant University. The interdisciplinary aspect of this field has caused me to work in many different settings and meet wonderful passionate individuals all working in this industry.
Environmental science presents a multi-faceted approach of looking at the world and because of this one can specialize in their specific interests. For example, I work as a laboratory research assistant at the Laboratory for Terrestrial Environments at Bryant University. Working with Professor Qin Leng, I have been working to establish the “Bryant Botanical Club” (BBC) which aims to systematically identify, label, map, and archive all plant species on campus as well as establish a herbarium for education, research, and better management of the botanical resources.
While I have specialized in plants, other students and members in the lab have conducted numerous projects specializing in analyzing fossil and modern plant and animal material to study the effects of climate change. Some projects have already resulted in successful papers accepted by national and international professional conferences (for example, the Geological Society of America annual meetings) and one of them has been published in a high-profile international journal “Palaios”. All papers have students as the senior authors.
Working as a laboratory research assistant and attending speaker series has opened many doors into the environmental industry. I attended a speaker series on the interconnection between faith and the environment last semester. William Patenaude, a speaker on the panel discussion, works as an environmental regulator and engineer at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. This connection established from Bryant University has allowed me to actively pursue a summer internship at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and further increase my network. Due to the earth’s increasing population and intensified environmental problems, the trend towards sustainability has significantly increased over the last decade. A global shift has occurred towards better quality of life, energy needs, and awareness of resource constraints. Major companies and corporations have begun to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their business. The view that waste is an acceptable component of the business process is quickly changing. Companies now realize pollution prevention commonly known as “P2” will pave the way of the future. These global trends have caused an increase in the number of jobs for individuals with environmental and sustainability degrees.
After years of working towards the goal of a greener campus, Bryant set forth last summer to achieve “Bronze” status in the STARS program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), which was reached last December (Information about STARS is available at https://stars. aashe.org/).
As part of the ongoing effort to become greener, the Bryant University Sustainability Committee has been formed, chaired by Gaytha Langlois, Professor of Environmental Policy, and Brian Britton, Associate Vice President ….and comprising representation from a large number of university departments, including students, faculty, and staff. The immediate goals of the committee will be to formulate a mission statement and sustainability plan for the university.
Surveys of sustainability awareness have been conducted, courses and modules are now available in academic departments, expanded goals for energy efficiency are in place, and more effective waste management programs are underway. The University is again enrolled in the annual national contest, Recyclemania, with high hopes for improving our standing this year (See Bryant’s scores at the website http://recyclemaniacs.org/ scoreboard/participating-schools/ list?node_id=13475). With only one more week to go in the Recylemania competition, everyone on campus could really help to make a difference.
Clearly, Bryant University has created many opportunities for Science and Technology majors, and the new sustainability committee has intensified the university’s dedication to becoming a greener campus. I have not regretted my decision to pursue a degree in environmental science and am excited for what the future holds.