M.S., Environmental Sciences, 2012
Ph.D., Environmental Sciences, 2015*
*Among CC&E's first Environmental Sciences Ph.D. graduates
ENVS alumnus Dr. Gregory Olson currently teaches chemistry at Denham Springs High School in Livingston Parish. He recently talked with CC&E Today about his teaching and research experiences in both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs.v
How did your ENVS degree programs prepare you for your career?
I had the opportunity to teach ENVS 1126, on the essential principles of environmental sciences, comprehensive and fundamental understanding of sound science, stewardship and sustainability in environmental sciences. That, along with my experience in analytical environmental chemistry throughout my master's and doctorate, prepared me to tackle secondary education.
Want to give a shout-out to anyone in ENVS?
I worked with several professors who made a lasting impression on me. I worked for Dr. Ralph Portier while I was a graduate assistant. He was my major professor and my mentor, and he started me on my path as an environmental chemist. Additionally, I had significant help from Dr. Ed Laws and Dr. Vince Wilson during the pursuit of my graduate degrees, each offering their individual expertise helping me grow as a student and scientist. As a research associate I had the privilege to work for Dr. Ed Overton. This experience furthered the understanding I had gained in my graduate work, it refined my techniques and polished the knowledge that was cultivated by my graduate committee.
Additionally, working with both Dr. Wilson and Dr. Kevin Armbrust as an instructor/dual enrollment specialist for the CC&E helped me gain a better understanding of the logistical and administrative side of academic programs. All of these professors have had a lasting effect on me, each teaching me useful information to help me better myself as a lifelong student and scientist. I will always be thankful for my time under their tutelage at LSU.
You're teaching now, but is research still on your mind?
While working for Dr. Overton, I was able to expand my understanding of crude oil analysis and biomarker fingerprinting. This was most definitely helped along by working with Dr. Buffy Meyer in the RCAT lab. With the help of my colleagues I was able to develop a method for relatively quick biomarker analysis using established as well as in-house ratios as part of a program that can be easily used. It was a blend of functional knowledge augmented by a user-friendly interface. I am still working on additional ideas involving biomarker analysis; however I have slowed down since taking a position as a high school chemistry teacher. I am still involved in projects that stem from my work while at LSU despite leaving the department, and I plan on maintaining my research interests as long as I can.