Emilie Johannes

The Wicked Problem of Arctic Oil and Gas Development

Interview with Emilie Johannes


Authors: Catherine Guilbeau and Ellie Carrano
Date: December 3, 2014

Emilie Johannes, a University of Dallas (UD) alumna, recently returned to campus to share her scientific interests through a talk entitled The Wicked Problem of Arctic Oil and Gas Development . Prior to the event, Johannes shared her journey from UD to the Arctic with editors of the University of Dallas Journal of Science (UDJS).

Johannes graduated with a degree in English and a concentration in Environmental Science from UD in 2011. Following graduation, she moved back to her home state of Alaska, where she worked in Anchorage as a technical writer and then as a federal employee for the Denali Commission. Though she had not originally planned on returning to school, Johannes decided to apply to graduate programs focusing on science and technical writing in pursuit of environmental consulting jobs. In the fall of 2011, she began her graduate career in Marine Resource Management at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Johannes chose to complete a graduate thesis at the summation of her time in Galveston in 2014, and conducted research on oil and gas policy in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean for this project.

Johannes has returned to Alaska and is currently working as an Environmental Specialist for BP Exploration Inc. Her current employment came after spending one summer interning for BP in Alaska when she was not working as a student and graduate teaching assistant in Galveston. Johannes is now participating in a three year program with BP in which she will work in two or three different roles. Her first role, which she began in August of 2014, allows her to work in areas of regulations and compliance. Her time is split between working in Anchorage at BPs office and working on the North Slope of Alaska where the permits are being implemented.

Johannes reflected upon the significant influence of UDs liberal arts education on her graduate studies and her success in a scientific field.  She felt that her rather unusual background in liberal arts, which fostered her ability to think critically and to communicate clearly, gave her an edge over fellow graduate students, who received an education strong in the hard sciences and technical skills but lacking in complementary fields of study.  Specifically, Johannes said she was thankful for the experience she gained in academic research and writing for her undergraduate English thesis, which she was able to apply to her graduate thesis.

Johannes deemed vital the ability to effectively communicate ones ideas and research to others. She gave high praise not only to UD for teaching her the necessary skills to communicate in the scientific world, but also to the UDJS for encouraging such open and diverse communication between sciences.  Johannes commented that a scientists research might be the most incredible and interesting work in the field, but is ineffective unless shared with others clearly and effectively. She highly encouraged students to contribute to the journal not only for their personal benefit, but also for the benefit of general scientific discussion that occurs within the UDJS and works to the advantage of all sciences involved. Johannes greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share her research interests with UD and hopes to continue seeing increased alumni involvement and promotion of UDs sciences at the university.





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