Current status: Earned
environmental science degree, and now lives in the Ocala, FL, area.
Position: Associate scientist at Water & Air
Tell us about your job at Water & Air Research.
What projects have you worked on, and how long have you been
I started working at Water & Air Research immediately
following my graduation from Saint Leo. I started doing water
quality sampling on lakes and rivers in central Florida. Since then
I have worked on an array of projects from plankton and
macroinvertibrate studies, to wetland restoration and monitoring,
to gopher tortoise relocation. I love that about this field– you
never know what you might be working on next week!
How has your Saint Leo degree prepared you for your
I believe the hands-on nature of the science classes I took
really correlated with what I started doing in my job. I literally
graduated on a Friday and started working on the next Monday. So
for instance, some of the tasks I was asked to do in my new job
were similar to some of the things I had done in chemistry labs
What are some surprising aspects of your job that
one might not expect to anticipate starting out in your
The variety of work surprised me the most. You could be in a
stream one day, a forest the next and in the ocean another day …
all in the same week!
How have classes outside of environmental science
prepared you for your current job?
The few business classes I took have helped in the project
management aspect of my job.
What is your most cherished memory of your time at
Meeting my wife, of course! (Candice Shive Vance ’03, DVM, was
profiled in the 2014 Dean’s Report on Page 5) Second would
have to be just being on campus in the spring and smelling all of
the orange blossoms–love it!
What advice would you like to offer current biology
The first is to keep an open mind. There are so many directions
that this career can take you. The second, and most important, is
to get experience. I wouldn't be where I am at today without the
internship I was able to get while at SLU. Drs. George and Patrica
Dooris (former SLU professors) helped me tremendously in obtaining
an internship with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
I could not have done it without them, and I would not have gotten
this job without the experience gained in that internship.