The Human Element

Matthew and his motorcycle on a mountain road.

Matthew Slattery | Ph.D. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Class of 2018 | Colorado Springs, CO | ARCS Scholar

Now and the Future

I love to buy, fix, travel on, and sell motorcycles. Since starting graduate school, I practice meditation daily, and get lost playing guitar loops for hours on end. In five years I see myself working with an environmental consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest to provide guidance on issues related to public health and ecosystem preservation.

The Impact of Toxicology

Environmental toxicology struck the right balance between biology, chemistry, and engineering for me. The field is highly interdisciplinary, and I enjoy the holistic approach we use in our research. My studies with nano-enabled pesticides will help society manage crops without sacrificing environmental or human health.

The College of Agricultural Sciences works with TEAM-Tox, our student toxicology organization, to facilitate science demonstrations for primary school children. Leading these demos provides valuable experience communicating my research to the public and always leaves me impressed with how sharp young students can be.

Gaining Experiences

I once had an opportunity to speak with the Lummi Nation, a Native American tribe, about the risks of consuming clams from contaminated waters. They acknowledged the problem, but explained that the preservation of their culture and traditional practices meant more to them than an increased risk of disease. I realized that in science, it is easy to dismiss the human element and forget that not everyone shares the same value system.

Deciding Your Education

Your academic institution is more than its rankings and acceptance rate. Pick a place that speaks to you, even if it doesn't seem to be perfect on paper. I moved hundreds of miles from my family and friends to pursue my degrees. While the distance is painful at times, making connections with people around the world has helped me find a sense of belonging and feel at home in the most remote locations.