Fatih Gordu:

Engineer embraces challenges of environmental work using the best available data and science

Inspired by his father, who worked for a water agency in Turkey, Fatih Gordu is a Technical Program Manager working in the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Palatka headquarters who leads hydrologic analysis and modeling of minimum flows and levels program.

Gordu, who has worked for the district since 2014, first became interested in a STEM career while in middle school.

In his work he embraces many challenges, considering both climatic and anthropogenic influences to ensure that the district can protect environmental resources while providing sustainable water supplies for people in Florida.

While some days are spent engaged in typical office tasks — such as participating in meetings, answering emails or working at a computer — those long days are rewarded when he joins colleagues, usually ecologists and hydrologists, in the field to visit lakes, rivers and springs to collect site-specific data.

“I work with MFL hydrologists to make sure that the MFLs are established and assessed using the best available data and sound science,” Gordu says. “In addition, communicating complicated scientific and technical information to stakeholders is a big challenge and an important part of the district’s work.”

Knowing that his work is important because it benefits people and the environment, Fatih would encourage students to not be intimidated by science, technology, engineering or math, saying “Instead, students should focus on how STEM connects us to nature by helping us understand how things work. There’s a lot to enjoy in this field once you make that connection.”