Meet the Team Tuesday: Kristen Long

As part of our Meet the TRG Team Tuesday series, we’d like to spend some time today introducing you to the newest TRG team member, Kristen Long, who rounds out our diverse group of research professionals as an Environmental Specialist. Kristen has more than twenty years of environmental experience in the regulatory and consulting communities. Prior to joining TRG, she held a variety of regulatory roles with a state environmental agency before serving as a staff scientist at Cardno, Inc. We look forward to the unique perspective Kristen has on the vast range of research issues related to our environmental and toxic tort projects. To learn more about that perspective as well as a bit about Kristen’s life outside of TRG, read on!

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

When I’m not hunting down fun facts for clients, I’m typically found running around after my kiddos. With three very active children ages (nearly) 15, 12, and 10, we are constantly on the go with baseball, softball, band, scouts, and a myriad of other activities. However, when said kiddos are all off to their sports or otherwise taken care of, I’m often in the kitchen baking or prepping to entertain, and, of course, watching Gamecock football.

If the TRG team was out at a quiz or trivia night, what would be your area of expertise?

This is a tough one because I feel like I have a little bit of knowledge about a lot of different things, but am not a general trivia expert at any one thing. I’m good with pop culture from the (gasp) ‘80s and ‘90s, history, geography, and anything relating to cooking/baking, which might be my job in my next life.

As a TRG team member, we know you’ll be traveling to research repositories throughout the country, but what about previous travel experiences? Tell us about a memorable trip.

There is so much to see in this world, and I’ve been to lots of fabulous places, but my favorite trips have to be the excursions I took with each of my kids when they turned nine. We called it “Nine in NY” and I was blessed to have uninterrupted one-on-one time with each of my children while exploring various parts of The City That Never Sleeps based on their individual interests. With my daughter it was American Girl and Dylan’s Candy Bar and The Lion King; my middle son was as many iconic buildings we could cram in (think Empire State and Rockefeller Center) and Wicked; and my youngest boy was all about the museums, the Brooklyn Bridge, and seeing Hamilton at the Richard Rogers Theatre was a highlight for us both. For me it wasn’t just the place – but experiencing it through their eyes that made it super special.

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What drew you to the field of environmental sciences? Did you know you wanted to enter it as an undergrad at Whitman College? What solidified your interest in the field and inspired you to pursue your Master of Earth and Environmental Resources Management (MEERM) degree?

When I started college, I was law school all the way. I wanted to pursue law and nothing else. As I took more classes and my interests grew, I was drawn to the environmental and geology classes that I took as part of my required credits, and soon found I wanted to blend the law with the environment. Eventually, I became so enamored with environmental studies, that I fully pursued it as an undergraduate with a degree in Geology and a minor in Environmental Studies. After a post-graduation research trip overseas and some working experience as an environmental regulator, I was happy to discover the MEERM program at Carolina – as it blended business and law with the environment and sciences. It was a perfect melding of my two primary interests.

Tell us about what inspired your recent career transition from scientist to a more historical research-centric role at TRG?

All along, since day one of undergrad, I’ve had a strong interest in research, finding out more, and digging around in old things. Once upon a time, I worked hand-in-hand with the environmental and real estate law communities when I was a regulator, researching site histories and drafting voluntary cleanup contracts for brownfield sites in South Carolina. In more recent years, I’ve enjoyed researching the histories of communities and municipalities in the crafting of brownfield grant applications. Both of these endeavors required a strong background in the environmental sciences, yet didn’t afford me the opportunity to do the larger-scale/hands-on research that I really am interested in. This position with TRG brings together the two worlds I am most passionate about. Getting the chance to play environmental detective on a daily basis is a big thumbs up in my book.

In terms of environmental history, is there a particular period your passionate about?

I think I’m most interested in the environmental history surrounding World War II. So much happened at that time, from the development of the atomic bomb (and the environmental ramifications of that) to the introduction and use of different chemicals at a time when “all was fair in love and war” and little to no consideration was given to the environment. We have learned so much since those days about the impact our actions can have on the environment and have come a long way in terms of understanding hazards and best practices in dealing with them.

In 280 characters or less, tell us something about environmental sciences or environmental research that would surprise those outside of the field.

Sometimes we have to look beyond traditional environmental sampling methods at outside-the-box sources like the footprint of a former drainage basin of wastewater on an old aerial photograph or old Sanborn maps to find a contributing source to an ongoing environmental concern.