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Environmental Science/Land Rehabilitation Student Inquires



I stumbled on this impressive Q&A after gaining interest in your Remediation Manual for Contaminated Sites on Amazon and searching your name in Google.

This is my third year at Montana State University studying Land Rehabilitation within their Land Resources and Environmental Sciences dept. The root of my inquiry lies in my inexperience in the field.

In short, I can't help but get the feeling my classes aren't preparing me enough for real-world applications (maybe this will change as I complete my BS), and thus I've been searching for external resources to compliment my studies.

What recommendations might you have for an anxious student who is ready to get out and implement practical remediation skills?

I have a background in Americorps conservation programs, I've helped teach an intro-to-soils lab, and I had a research proposal funded by my university last spring to investigate whether ammonia off-gassing from the tail-end of cyanide-gold-extraction processes could have measurable effects on an adjacent mountain range.

Performing research is fine but I enjoy hands-on projects much more!

As an expert in this field, what extracurriculars do you recommend to help me prepare for graduation?

Thanks for your time!

Let's talk.
I can call you if you send me your phone number and a time to call.
for security purposes, use my e-mail address for providing your phone number.
Dave Russell

I decided to follow up anyway and provide some advice. I think that you need to look at an intern program or summer work with some of the bigger remediation firms.  That will give you practical experience.  You should also consider doing some work in the Chemical Industry.  From what you report, your chemistry and soils knowledge appear to be adequate to what you want to do in your career.  Additional Chemistry and math never hurt, and some groundwater modeling courses would be a large plus.
Learn to set up a 3 d model, and use the existing models for movement of groundwater, and vapor through the soils. Manage and set up the chemical reaction programs for your work, and then see if you can look at dynamic solutions for the work and predict the results.
You might also want to look into dynamic wastewater modeling, as that field will be up and coming in the years, and it gives you a feel for some of the actions and interactions of the natural soil bacteria and what they need as well as what they have to feed on.  In that regard, some microbiology and organic chem might also be useful if you haven't had them.
In the area of hydrology and wells for remediation, you should look at and be familiar with the hydraulics of wells.  In that regard, the Johnson Well Screen company has an excellent technical reference with about everything you wanted to know about wells and screens and flows in aquifers, but they don't address horizontal wells, and if you are interested in that application, I can help-- just ask.
Lastly, look at some of the research symposia by the  - the governmental panel of regulators and their technical input.  They are doing some interesting stuff.
Some statistics, especially baysian statistics would be helpful in evaluating the data.
These are the up and coming areas, and they have all types of applications to the regulatory area, environmental work, and practical remedial applications.  You have a lot of reading to do.
Lastly, take what you know and twist it and see what shakes out.  What else is the cyanide- gold treatment scheme used for, and how can you apply it to other industries.  That's a cultivated skill.
You will need to think like a freak, an acquired skill.  The freak knows that the easiest way to catch a rabbit is to disguise himself as a carrot and let the rabbit come to him.  So write up and publish your results in the pulp magazines- don't necessarily shoot for the peer reviewed journals, until you feel that you are ready. The pulp trade magazines have a voracious appetite for information and articles and simple studies, and those help you build your reputation and will help you find and get jobs.
Need I say that you will need some professional licensing.  Possibly as a PG, or maybe as a member of one of the environmental organizations which have certification exams.
All in all, you have a bright future, and Ih ope that I've provided a bit of guidance.
If you still want to talk, drop me a line with a time to call.
Between the 15 and the 25th, I'll be out of the US.
Dave Russell

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David L. Russell, PE


I`m a Chemical,Civil and Environmental Engineer and have a number of projects in all phases of the environment. I have worked in the chemical industry and am active in professional societies, and am currently on an industrial wastes committee for the Water Environment Federation, and have taught courses in remediation in the US and abroad. I have written one book on Remediation of petroleum Contaminated Sites, and have a second book on PRACTICAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT to be published by John Wiley in September, 2006. I've also written over 30 articles on various elements of environmental problems and cleanup. Most Recently, I have addressed a NATO Scientific and Techical Conference on Ecoterrorism, and have worked with the same group on remediation of sites contaminated with Chemical Warfare Agent materials and othe materials as well. . I can answer q`s about Chemical and Environmental Engineering, land development, air pollution, water pollution, soil and water cleanup, combustion, international environmental problems, industrial processes chemical processes. Civil and Environmental and Chemical Engineering. Overall, I have over 35 years of experience in this area. Note: I do not answer homework questions


I love work in the third world and developing areas because it is challenging and one can get a sense of accomplishment.

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