Featured Alum: Dustin Meyer and Large Energy Consulting
Hello FES-Blog people! I hope the last blog about housing in New Haven was helpful for you! Definitely let me know if I left any major questions unanswered. I lied when I said my next blog would be about what fun things there are to do in New Haven–but don’t fear! Several such blogs are on their way!
I figured it was time to go back to some cool alumni and their awesome post-FES work. This time, I caught up with Dustin Meyer (MEM ‘12, pictured with his faithful companion, Captain Wilson), to chat with him about his work with one of the bigger energy consulting firms out there. Since there are so many of you interested in doing energy consulting work, I thought his perspective would be helpful to you all.
Emily: Hey Dustin! Thanks for talking with me!
Dustin: No problem! Excited to help.
Emily: Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Where were you before FES?
Dustin: It feels like forever ago, but I got a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton in 2007. I was lucky enough to be brought on at NRDC in Washington, DC after college. Working with the litigation team, we filed a lot of NEPA, CWA and CAA cases, many of them challenging development of traditional coal plants. I was essentially just a paralegal, but it was a front row seat to really important cases litigated by a supremely talented group of lawyers—terrific exposure.
Emily: And how did you get into the energy field?
Dustin: For most of undergrad, it felt like I was headed down more of a wildlife biology road, but I somehow ended up writing my thesis on cellulosic ethanol policy. This was my first interaction with energy—renewable or otherwise—and it really stuck. At the time, climate change was finally entering the broad public consciousness and there was a tremendous amount of excitement (some would now call it hype) around the potential for alternative energy. I found it all fascinating, and wanted to be in the center of it.
Emily: So you were working for NRDC, learning about energy policy. How did FES come into the plan?
Dustin: I worked at NRDC for two years before deciding on FES. A lot of past and present NRDC folks had been through FES and without exception, every one them adored the program. So it really was a no-brainer for me.
Emily: What was your time at FES like?
Dustin: I remember the course offerings at FES were a bit overwhelming—I wanted to take every single class. Narrowing down the list was a real challenge, but I decided to focus as much as possible on Energy.
Emily: Any classes you would recommend to new students?
Dustin: I took all of Arnulf Grubler’s classes, which were immensely helpful, and several courses through SOM and the Law School. Marian Chertow and Bill Ellis had a great seminar on the energy industry; Green Energy Finance with John Anda at SOM was terrific. And there were so many speakers that would come, especially through the Energy SIG. That being said, two of my favorite courses had nothing to do with energy: Fred Strebeigh’s writing course, and Harvey’s Weiss’s Global Envt’l History. So lots of opportunities for a very well-rounded experience.
Emily: Awesome! And so what are you doing now?
Dustin: I came back to DC after graduation and started working for ICF, International, doing Energy and Climate Change consulting. I had been following the company for a while because it seemed like a lot of their work matched nicely with the skills and knowledge developed at FES.
Emily: How did you find the job?
Dustin: I was lucky enough to connect with an alum from my undergrad, and he was doing a lot of work at the intersection of energy and agriculture, which aligned nicely with my background—so it was a good fit.
Emily: Can you give me some more info about what you’re doing at ICF?
Dustin: I mostly work with federal clients to develop technical analyses for current or future policy. It’s interesting because a lot of the projects are tackling the exact same issues that were so often discussed at FES. For example, I’m working with EPA on a project to determine how GHG emissions from stationary bioenergy sources–for example a power plant that burns wood chips–should be counted under the Clean Air Act. This involves a lot of desk research and reviewing the literature that exists, but also a lot of interfacing with experts at EPA or academics working in the field. I’m also working with USDA to develop an online tool for private landowners, like farmers or foresters, where they can log-on and answer a few questions about their land and management practices, and from that get an estimate of their carbon emissions. The challenge there is making it as scientifically defensible while still producing a tool that’s accessible to non-technical audiences. So it’s exciting to be a part of that effort.
Emily: Anything else?
Dustin: And I love DC—great place to live, and certainly lots of FES’ers!
Dustin Meyer, ladies and gentlemen! Yet another FESer out in the world doing awesome things! Stay tuned for next time and another featured student!
In the mean time, you are welcome to send any questions, comments, or concerns my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.