Nicholas Nairn-Birch, D.Env, LiS Class of 2009, ESE Class of 2012
US EPA, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Environmental Protection Specialist
I first learned of the LiS program while getting my MS in statistics. At the time I had a strong personal interest in environmental issues and wanted to direct my studies as much as possible toward a career in sustainability. One of the first things I learned from the LiS program was that sustainability is not easy to define and, as an academic discipline, does not belong in any one province of UCLA’s campus. Through regular interaction with highly motivated students and faculty from all across campus, I soon learned the importance of viewing environmental problems in a much broader context.
Based on this experience I decided to pursue a doctorate from the IoES’s interdisciplinary Environmental Science and Engineering Program. My continued involvement in the LiS program became particularly valuable when my dissertation research led me away from my engineering and science background and into the field of business strategy. Now that I’ve completed my doctorate and am working for the US EPA, I am continually reminded of the value of being able to work across disciplines. Whether through formal rule writing or designing voluntary programs, my job in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention requires me to assimilate the work of chemists, engineers, toxicologists and economists while interacting with chemical companies and trade associations. The ability to effectively speak to and facilitate dialogue across each of these groups is fundamental not only to my career but any leadership position in the field of sustainability.
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013