Michael F. Meyer '10
MENDENHALL FELLOW & RESEARCH GEOGRAPHER, UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Industry – ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
EDUCATION – PHD, ENVIRONMENTAL & NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCE, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY; FULBRIGHT FELLOW, IRKUTSK STATE UNIVERSITY; CRITICAL LANGUAGE SCHOLAR, KAZAN INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL & HUMANITARIAN STUDIES; BS, BIOLOGY, BA, RUSSIAN STUDIES, SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY
Describe what you're working on and/or what you're most proud to have accomplished.
My work for the U.S. Geological Survey uses satellite-based imagery to understand how surface water quantity and quality are changing throughout the nation. By combining disparate national-scale sampling efforts with an ever-expanding catalog of satellite imagery, I lead projects aimed at uncovering emerging threats to water quality and detecting how ecosystems are responding to climatic and anthropogenic disturbances.
I am most proud of my efforts in the “Open Science” movement, where I am co-founder of the “Community for Data Science and Open Science in the Aquatic Sciences” or simply “DSOS”. With a focus on empowering early career researchers with data-intensive skills and increasing participation among less-represented, often intersecting, identities, DSOS brings together over 650 researchers from 50+ countries and 6 continents annually to share their research, to engage in hands-on training, and to develop networks that lead to community building.
You know we have to ask it. Do you have a favorite SLUH memory or teacher?
I can definitely trace my current career back to the Russian program with Mr. Robert Chura. The summer exchange was particularly influential for me, as it was the first time I remember feeling exceptionally independent as I learned to adapt in a new language and culture.
What topic are you most excited about in your industry?
We are witnessing a revolution in the environmental sciences, where we can now use massive data volumes to further our understanding of the world and make a more equitable, just, inclusive society.
Think back to senior year. Was this the job you dreamed of? If not, then what?
No. I was more interested in medicine or more traditional biology, and I wanted to pursue a career in medicine or administration.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your field of interest?
My inspiration comes from empowering people with data and information, while also having the flexibility to ask questions that no one has ever thought to ask or had the tools to answer.
What does the future of your industry look like? What else would you like to accomplish?
The future is complex. To date, much of our knowledge about freshwater is based in the US midwest, northeast, and western Europe. The world is much larger, and now we have the tools to scale up.
How are you acting as a Man for Others in your current role?
I am engaged in “Open Science”, a movement to democratize data and knowledge that allows for increased participation, and hopefully helps create a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just world.
What advice would you give to current students?
While reflection on the past is important, nostalgia can cloud the present. Keep searching for opportunities to expand your experiences and skills for future growth.