Christopher Round ’12, Environmental Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton
As a transfer student who majored in biology, Christopher arrived at Merrimack College unsure of his professional plans following graduation. After listening to a lecture on climate change given by Professor of Biology Jonathan Lyon, he discovered a passion for environmental biology.
After graduation, Christopher attended Harvard University as part of their Special Students program in the Harvard Graduate School for Arts and Sciences, ultimately working in the fossil fuel and divestment movement. In 2015, Christopher completed a dual Master of Environmental Science and Master of Public Affairs degree at Indiana University Bloomington where he specialized in Climate Change Ecology.
As a graduate student, Christopher had the opportunity to intern with the Clinton Foundation. His work supported programs that developed renewable energy projects in developing countries, as well as their ecosystems and livelihoods program. During his time with the foundation, he was fortunate enough to meet former President Bill Clinton.
Christopher is now an Environmental Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm, where he works with federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.
“My job is interesting because it is extremely interdisciplinary. I have been on projects where I’ve needed to combine machine learning, environmental science, and my knowledge of domestic environmental policy. My academic research is focused on climate change and how environmental policies could interact in an attempt to mitigate and/or adapt to it,” says Christopher.
Christopher is also pursuing a doctoral degree at George Mason University, specializing in Environmental Science and Policy.
How did your experience at Merrimack help you as a professional?
Merrimack played a major role in my decisions after graduation. Particularly the mentorship of Associate Professor of Biology R. David MacLaren. Dave helped me get into the top environmental policy master’s program in the United States: the Indiana University School for Public and Environmental Affairs. Dave invited me to IU for a conference when I was part of his research lab and that’s how I learned about the program. He was the one who suggested I move in the direction of environmental policy, since it combined my love of politics and environmental science.
Merrimack College gave me a very strong foundation going into graduate school. Perhaps the best example of this is that I was someone who was somewhat math phobic throughout much of my life. My professors in the math and physics department really changed that for me. My work now is very quantitatively intense and I wouldn’t have been able to develop the necessary skill set without that support.
What is the best advice you could give current Merrimack students?
Use your passions to pick up hard practical skills. I didn’t find statistics or programming particularly interesting when I was an undergraduate, but I let my interest in ecology and climate change drive a desire to learn those skill sets. That alignment of my passions with skill development was what ultimately got me into my present professional role. I would also advise taking advantage of the opportunity Merrimack provides STEM majors to become good writers.
What is your Favorite Merrimack memory?
Going to Belize with Dr. Jon Lyon and Dr. Cary Johnson. The discussions it provoked around conservation and economic development were really important for me intellectually. Those discussions and spending time on the coral reef in Belize are two of my happiest memories.