Dane Zammit - Class 2010

Hi, my name is Dane Zammit and I am a graduate from the inaugural M.Sc. SERM/ISAT class of 2010.  I am Maltese-American and am currently working with the Virginia Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University as the Center’s offshore wind analyst.

Having been born and raised in New York City until I was eleven, I have always toyed with the idea of moving back to the United States.  In Malta, I pursued an undergraduate degree mathematics and physics, which I completed in 2009.  While I found the degree extremely challenging and interesting, I still had not decided on a career path.

Things changed when I heard of the new and upcoming SERM program during my senior year.  The SERM program appealed to me because I was very interested in obtaining a degree from an American university, and the program description suggested to me that I would be able to find a career path that would be both practical and well-suited for my undergraduate background.  Moreover, I realized that the program would expose me to areas I had not really thought about during my undergraduate life, such as the role of policy in science and technology.

It has been over two years since I first started the SERM program, which is now in its 3rd year.  While the program had its faults and shortcomings, overall the program has been very successful in preparing me for the everyday challenges in environmental management and sustainable development, which are not only scientific but can be political, economical or social.  I quickly became intrigued in renewable energy as a career path, and after some consultation and research, I decided to do offshore wind, which was the topic of my SERM dissertation.

It was during the summer when I was writing my thesis that I approached my advisor and current boss, Dr. Jonathan Miles, about furthering the work I was doing over the summer and finding a job in offshore wind in the United States.  I felt like I struck gold when he informed me that he was in the process of securing a research grant in offshore wind energy research at the Virginia Center for Wind Energy.  I immediately expressed my enthusiasm in joining the team and when the research grant was secured, I was brought over from Malta to work under this grant in June 2011.

As I explained earlier, I am an offshore wind analyst at the Virginia Center for Wind Energy.  The ultimate goal of our research at JMU is to analyze the feasibility of both land-based and offshore wind turbine test and/or demonstration pad sites; to characterize the wind resource and metocean design environment at these sites, to work on environmental and community acceptability; and to help prepare the documentation required for permitting.  

As one of the key researchers under this effort, some of my responsibilities are to schedule meetings between different working groups; attend offshore energy workshops/conferences, stakeholder meetings and other important meetings; design and create content for a Virginia Offshore Wind website, which should be online in the coming weeks; wind resource assessment and wind farm output calculations based on real weather data; study grid interconnection options and issues; and viewshed analysis.

For future prospective SERM students, I would recommend it to anyone seeking a Master’s degree in environmental management, whether you are an engineer, biologist, business manager, policy maker or a geologist, amongst other careers.  While you probably will not learn much in the field you specialized in your undergrad degree, you will be exposed to so many new areas, which will help you become a more balanced professional, which is essential for any professional seeking a career in environmental science.

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