Alumni Interview

Barry Vance ’04

B-Vance -with -familyCurrent status: Earned environmental science degree, and now lives in the Ocala, FL, area. Position: Associate scientist at Water & Air Research

Tell us about your job at Water & Air Research. What projects have you worked on, and how long have you been there?

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 current job?

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 weeks earlier.

What are some surprising aspects of your job that one might not expect to anticipate starting out in your field?

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 SLU?

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 students?

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.