Scientist Profiles - Matthew Jefferson, Environmental Engineer
By Stephanie Nardei, Outreach Information Specialist

Photo of Matthew Jefferson
"We have only one earth and if we trash it, we lose it" is Matthew Jefferson’s favorite quote taken from the movie Global Warming done by Al Gore. Mr. Jefferson is an environmental engineer with the Environmental Health Protection Agency (EPA) who realized as a child what his destiny was going to hold when coming back from a family trip to Bakersfield, California, coming down over the mountains, a haze was clearly visible all over the valley. “Pollution gets trapped in the environment and I realized I am breathing this stuff” stated Jefferson, as his realization point.

The thing that Jefferson loves most about his career with the EPA is working with people; he loves hearing their stories and loves seeing the picture being painted. Jefferson thrives on “seeing something that was ugly and helping to make it clean.” An example of this comes from Beit, Montana, where there is a 100 year fold mining contamination. Water came and blew it out down stream, causing minimal vegetation. The water was orange and dirty, the whole river was trashed. However today, so far EPA has cleaned about seven miles which is half and “you can see an amazing difference and being a part of that was a great feeling.”

Jefferson urges kids who are interested in the environment to get involved with community efforts such as a recycling program at school or home or church. If none exist, look at trying to start one. EPA does offer programs to assist individuals in starting a recycling program. Jefferson’s overall message about pursuing a career in environmental health is “to always love what you do.”

“Preservation is the key - preserving a trail for others to follow,” quotes Jefferson as his final take-home message. We want to preserve “some place for people to go to enjoy nature.” It is vital to “keep it there so the rest of the world can enjoy beautiful things such as nature hikes and outdoor recreation.”

Matthew Jefferson is an Environmental Engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco, California. To contact him send email to jefferson.matthew@epa.gov.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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