Carrying on a family tradition by working in nature
Ali Simpson was destined to work in a career that melds his love of science with the outdoors. His father was a forester and he spent his happiest times with him in camping or simply spending time outdoors.
Simpson, a district environmental scientist, says, “My parents inspired me to love the outdoors. It wasn’t until college when I majored in biology and I started my grad school in environmental sciences that I really caught a love of working outdoors, especially in Florida.”
Simpson began his career with the district in 2015 as an intern before working as a contractor in the same bureau. Four months later, he applied for and was hired in a staff position as an environmental scientist.
Whether he’s surveying a site or in the office, no two days are alike for Simpson. He loves the diversity of his work.
“I get to help and work with many people in the Bureau of Water Resources,” he says. “Some days, I help with field work, and others I’m at my desk. One of my big projects right now is developing an algorithm to use satellite imagery to map algal blooms in large waterbodies throughout the district.”
Seeing how all the survey work and data gathering before, during and after a project is exciting for Simpson, who says, “It’s getting the answers and proving what we’re doing as a district is working.
What would he tell students interested in exploring STEM careers? Simpson says to remain resolute. “I would tell all young students interested in STEM to keep pursuing it,” he says. “It is a very rewarding career choice and I am happy that I stayed in the STEM field, even when things looked as though they might not pan out.”