Highlight on Alumni

Alumni who have graduate from the program are involved in a variety of significant roles in the environmental sector. Learn more about what some of them are doing and their experiences with the program.

Laura Nollen Bacon, Class of 2014, EPA Senior Biologist

Laura Nollen Bacon

Laura Nollen Bacon

What year did you graduate? I graduated in 2014, with a M.S. degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I am a Senior Biologist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the Office of Pesticide Programs. I work in the Health Effects Division (HED), where I conduct occupational and residential exposure and human health aggregate risk assessments. I am also Chair of the HED’s Exposure Science Advisory Council.

Why did you choose to get your master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins? I chose to get my Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins because of the prestige of the University, accommodations of the program for working professionals, and the varied opportunities to gain hands-on experience through field and laboratory work.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My most memorable experiences have been those that have taken me out of the traditional classroom setting. During my first semester in Geological Foundations of Environmental Sciences, I was able to attend a weekend field trip with an overnight cabin stay. During a summer Field Methods in Ecology course, I was able to participate in several field excursions, including bird banding activities. These, and other field activities have brought me closer to both the material learned in lectures and to other students.

How has the program enhanced your career? Beyond having learned about a wide variety of environmental science and policy topics, the professional connections with I made while in the program were beneficial to my career. I used the knowledge and self-confidence gained through my time at Hopkins to leverage my career toward a Senior Scientist position at EPA.

What are your plans for the future? In the future, I hope advance my leadership role as a civil servant in the Federal government, where I may positively impact environmental issues.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program? The small class sizes, coupled with students from a variety of backgrounds, generally foster interesting class discussions from diverse perspectives. There are ample opportunities to participate in online courses, and the interdisciplinary course offerings allow students the flexibility to shape degrees more toward a science or policy focus.

Would you be willing to share your email so that current or prospective students could contact you?
lauranollenbacon@gmail.com

Omar Gardner, Class of 2013, Environmental Protection Specialist for U.S. Department of Agriculture

Omar Gardner

Omar Gardner

What year did you graduate? Did you have a concentration? I graduated in 2013. No concentration.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I work for the United States Dept. of Agriculture – Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and I serve as an Environmental Protection Specialist. I have a variety of tasks such as GIS mapping, drafting a variety of Environmental documents such as: Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Environmental Assessments (EA), Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) involving the regulation and deregulation of Genetically Engineered (GE) organisms (primarily plant crops).

Why did you choose to get your master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins?  I selected the master’s degree program in Environmental Science and Policy because I was interested in pursuing a career in the Federal Government, and wanted to work as either an Environmental Scientist, or Environmental Protection Specialist.

What was your most memorable experience from the program?  My most memorable experience from the program was taking the elective course Intro to Geographical Information Systems (GIS). When I applied for my current position, I was told by the recruiter that completing this course allowed me to stand out from others within the applicant pool.

How has the program enhanced your career?  The skills from the program (primarily policy) enhanced my career by allowing me to receive 3 promotions since I was hired in 2013. As most of the work is policy based, the program’s core course Environmental Policy Analysis prepared me to have the fundamentals needed for working with environmental policy.

What are your future plans?  My future plans are to continue working in the Federal government in the field of Environmental Science or General Sciences.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program? It is a fantastic program, especially for individuals who are seeking a career in Environmental Science within the Federal Government.

Would you be willing to share your email so that current or prospective students could contact you?  omargarder14@gmail.com

Robin Sawyer, Class of 2009, World Wildlife Fund

Robin Sawyer

Robin Sawyer

What year did you graduate? 2009.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? World Wildlife Fund, and I’m the Program Officer for TRAFFIC. TRAFFIC is a strategic alliance between WWF and IUCN that provides objective scientific analysis and recommendations to ensure that wildlife trade is sustainable and legal, benefiting both conservation and communities. I specialize in looking at the US wildlife market, and identifying both legal and illegal trends for wildlife trade. I’m also interested in looking at the emerging issue of wildlife laundering, which is how illegally-caught wildlife is being ‘laundered’ through the legal system by falsely claiming that the animals were captive-bred.

Why did you choose to get your master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins? My undergraduate degree was in wildlife biology, so I was interested in getting more involved in the policy side of environmental issues. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to merge my two interests of wildlife and policy and work in that realm.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? The people. Everyone seemed to come from a different educational and professional background. Some were changing their careers entirely, and others were looking for more expertise in a particular aspect. I think that made for excellent discussions during classes (and post-class happy hours).

How has the program enhanced your career? I think it made me a more well-rounded environmentalist. I also think being associated with such an illustrious university also helped in propelling my career forward.

What are your future plans? I really enjoy working on finding solutions to the wildlife poaching and trafficking crisis. It is something that has recently come to the forefront as being a top conservation issue.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program? I think the program is ideal for those working professionals that want to get more education, but need flexibility. The small class size helps foster a feeling of community and provides an excellent opportunity for insightful discussions.

Would you be willing to share your email so that current or prospective students could contact you?  robin.sawyer@wwfus.org

Theresa Savarese, Class of 2015, Strategic Communications for NYC Department of Sanitation

What year did you graduate? Did you have a concentration? I graduated in 2015 with no concentration.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I currently work at NYC Department of Sanitation as their Assistant Director of Strategic Communications concentrating on our Zero Waste initiative – eliminating waste to landfills by 2030.

Why did you choose to get your master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins? I chose Johns Hopkins because how flexible the program is and the name carries weight, I knew I was going to be taught by leading experts in their field.

What was your most memorable experience from the program?  I really enjoyed going behind the scenes at the Smithsonian for my Ecology class. We got to talk to the scientists leading the conservation efforts at the center and learn about the innovative research they are doing to save different populations like the cheetah.

How has the program enhanced your career?  The program has definitely helped my career, I have been able to tap a network I didn’t have excess to before and I believe it has helped me stand out when applying to jobs.

What are your future plans?  I want to continue communicating environmental initiatives to the public and sparking behavioral change. I would like to eventually transition my career into international wildlife conservation which is my passion.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program?  I highly recommend it, I came into the program not knowing how I wanted to translate my love for the environment into my career. After taking a wide array of classes that JHU offers, I was able to narrow my focus and better understand my passions.

Would you be willing to share your email so that current or prospective students could contact you?
tgsavarese@gmail.com

Mike Shelby, Class of 1999, NOAA’s Ocean Today

Mike Shelby

Mike Shelby

What year did you graduate?  1999.

Did you have a concentration? No.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? Currently I work as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist for the Communications and Education Division (CED) within the National Ocean Service (NOS), a line office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Silver Spring Maryland. I manage the Ocean Today program which consists of a physical kiosk located in 36 public locations around the country, Mexico, Canada and the UK and a web site: http://oceantoday.noaa.gov. The content shared on the kiosk and web site is a result of a three person team that I’ve had the very good fortune to work with since 2008. I couldn’t have done it without them. In addition to Ocean Today, I am a member of a four person team who assists with the publishing of several web sites for the NOS. I am also familiar with Federal Government purchasing processes and use this to help my office and the NOS.

Why did you choose to get your master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins?  I  chose to get my master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins because they offered a program that was tailored for the full-time working professional. There were also a few from my office who were in the program and they told me to check it out.  I was able to take classes after work which worked out perfectly for me.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My most memorable experience was having a professor from the Council on Environmental Quality and learning on a boat in the Chesapeake Bay, eating oysters from a trawl that we had just cast.

How has the program enhanced your career? I made a lot of great contacts and was able to use what I learned and apply it immediately to my daily work. Working as a public servant for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is something I’m passionate about and earning a master’s degree reinforced this in a way where I want to inform the next generation. They are our future and stories we tell within Ocean Today are targeted at a fifth grade level. Perfect for families to watch and understand together.

What are your future plans? I have the very good fortune to be leading a team in the building of a video studio at NOAA. This is a project that hatched in 2009 when my Executive Producer at the time, Katie Snider and I were decompressing from just having launched Ocean Today at the Sant Ocean Hall within the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. There are pockets of video excellence in different parts of NOAA. The video studio will bring the talent together in one space where I just know many great things will happen. NOAA will be able to broadcast live to media and distance learning can take place to classrooms right from the studio. Interviews and hands-on activity demos can be filmed under studio lighting. Producers and video editors will be able to glean insights and constructive feedback from their colleagues, which will in the end make the work that comes out of the studio the best it can be.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program? No, not that I can think of.

Would you be willing to share your email so that current or prospective students could contact you?
mike.shelby@noaa.gov

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