William & Mary

Doug DeBerry

Environmental Consultant and Biology Professor

Doug DeBerry is a Biology Professor at William & Mary. He is a full-time, non-tenure eligible professor, and works part time as an environmental consultant. Read below for a full interview description.

{{youtube:large|OE6F5KeDACI, Interview with Doug}}

  • Do you think you have a green job? 0 to 1:33

Mr. DeBerry states that although others might disagree with him, his job is a green one. He acts as an intermediary between companies (who want to do a certain amount of polluting) and the government (which has laws about environmental degradation). With a strong science background and a PhD, Mr. DeBerry is able to explain governmental regulations to those being regulated. He explains that commerce drives environmental regulation, and his job is to please his clients while preventing environmental harm.

  • Why do companies need a consultant? Why not do this work themselves? 1:33 to 2:39

Companies must file for permits in order to pollute, and they can save time and money by hiring a consultant to do the paperwork and fieldwork for them. He needs to communicate scientific ideas to people outside of the scientific community.

  • What’s the balance between teaching and consulting like? 2:39 to 3:55

Mr. DeBerry is a full time professor at William & Mary. The balance is tough, especially with a family, but he loves his work. The focus of the private sector (consulting) is revenue, and when he was working full time as a consultant, he often worked above and beyond the required hours. He notes that he felt busier as a full time consultant than he does now having both jobs. He adds that “if you can sustain the pace of it, it’s actually an incredibly rewarding job” because you “get to go out in nature.” Overall, the consulting position is a minor part of his work week because of his dedication to teaching.

  • What is it like having a non-tenure track teaching position? What is your relationship like with your peers? 3:55 to 4:37

A professor who is non-tenure eligible (NTE) has the risk of being let go if the state reduces funding. Some decisions in the department do not involve NTE professors, but other than that NTE professors are treated like all other professors in the Biology Department.

  • Were you originally looking for a job that involved working with nature? 4:37 to 5:40

Mr. DeBerry graduated from his undergraduate university with a degree in environmental science in the 90’s, so he wanted any job that “felt like environmental science.” He worked at a small firm for 13 years as his first job. I then asked if consulting was the only option at the time, and he explained that he could have also worked for a government agency.

  • Did you ever plan to be a professor? 5:40 to 8:07

Absolutely not. Mr. DeBerry explains that as a young consultant you can make a lot of money, and you do not need advanced degrees to progress. He explains that although climbing the ranks was not impossible, he was unable to receive the mentorship from his seniors that he craved. After a few years, employees transition from mostly field work to a lot more time in the office. As he matured in this position, he missed research, and wanted to learn more about wetlands and broader ecosystems. He decided to go back to school at William & Mary to get his Masters and then PhD. While going for his doctorate, he decided he would enjoy teaching, as this would compliment his passion for mentoring fellow employees.

  • Why did you choose to get your PhD and become a professor, as opposed to stopping at your Masters and teaching high school students? 8:07 to 9:39

“I just really relished the opportunity to do research,” Mr. DeBerry explains. He also likes working with college students so he can be an advisor to them and help prepare them for the workforce.

  • Skills: 9:39 to 10:33

Mr. DeBerry recommends coming in with some GIS knowledge, and very good writing skills. He recommends preparing for an interview by printing out your best technical writing piece.

  • How do you improve your communication skills? 10:33 to end

Listen to NPR programs or other audio sources where the speaker talks in full sentences. Practice this yourself and get comfortable talking to strangers. Finally, get your interviewer to talk about themselves, and have enough interests to be able to talk about anything.

If you have further questions for Doug, you can email him directly  at [[w|dadeberry]].