Doug graduated from Aber in 2005 with a PhD in Environmental Policy Analysis. He is a Senior Vice President with Sonoma Technology, an air quality and climate change consulting firm in California (link: https://www.sonomatech.com/), and an Affiliate Professor in the University of Washington Masters Program in Sustainable Transportation (link: https://www.sustainable-transportation.uw.edu/academic-experience/faculty).
What do you remember most about your time at Aber?
I received tremendous support and encouragement from my advisor, Professor Peter Wathern, who was a wonderful mentor and colleague and a great cook and storyteller. As a bonus, Peter and his wife Julie proved to be delightful hiking companions as together we explored the wilderness both in Wales and northern California.
What are you doing now career-wise and how has your Aberystwyth degree helped?
I have had a remarkably enjoyable and productive environmental career as a manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant to industry and government agencies, and a professor in academia. My Aberystwyth degree has proved pivotal to this success. It enabled me to develop long-term teaching positions at the University of Hawaii and the University of Washington; facilitated my leading numerous research programs over the years; and enabled me to take on leadership roles in my field. For example, under the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, I chaired the Transportation Research Board’s Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Committee, an appointment certainly aided by my Aber PhD. Today, I am increasingly focused on teaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders, and on supporting efforts to address climate change, especially through electrification of the vehicle fleet. For example, in 2023, together with other colleagues, I published a study documenting how electric vehicle use can address inequities in air pollution exposure (link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-023-00799-1).
What advice would you have for a student doing your course now?
As I reflect on my educational and professional experiences, two things stand out. First: forge long-lasting relationships. Take time to get to know your fellow students, professors, and others in your academic community. Also, be sure to nurture those relationships over time. Life is ultimately about our connections with others, a point driven home dramatically by the isolation felt worldwide as we all muddled our way through the global pandemic. Second: pursue your interests. Take the long view – decades, not months – and realize that throughout life’s ups and downs, if you work on topics that have deep personal meaning for you, those interests will sustain you over time, making your career and life more satisfying. As you gain experience, it is entirely reasonable to expect your interests to change over time. We are continually evolving as people, after all. Remember though, that if you spend time on topics you care about, with people you like and respect, your journey will be more rewarding and fun.