Max Leveridge (Class of 2018)

photo of Max Leveridge

  • senior Environmental Earth Science major, with Environmental Science and Sustainability co-majors
  • student in Combined Bachelors-Masters Program in Environmental Science and graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science (expected in 2019)
  • from Dublin, OH
  • conducted research and presented results on potential links between wastewater injection during fracking and earthquakes in southeast Ohio
  • Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship, Miami's Undergraduate Research Award, and the Western Program's Gerber Inquiry Award
  • student speaker at 2018 CAS Recognition Ceremony
"If you want to get involved in any kind of research, don't hold back. Find professors whose research you are interested in, email them, and say you have read some of their papers and would love to get involved."

Why Miami?

"Everyone from my high school went to Miami, and I felt I didn't want to be a sheep following the herd. But my mom took a look and convinced me that Miami looked pretty great (which is ironic considering she graduated from Ohio University). We arranged for a college visit, and I liked Miami's small, undergraduate-focused classes and variety of research opportunities. On top of that, Oxford is basically in the middle of nowhere, and I loved being able to see stars at night, especially around Western campus.

Max Leveridge presented his research at the Government Relations Network Poster Session.

"I lived in Peabody with the Environmental Awareness Program living and learning community (LLC) for both my freshman and sophomore years. There were a lot of Western Program students living there as well — who wouldn't like waking up 5 minutes before class and going down in your pajamas?

"Until junior year of high school I was planning to go into music, but it's extremely competitive. I have always been good at science, especially related to the environment and animals, so zoology or environmental science became my path.

"From the start of my first semester I got involved doing research in the Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science. I learned about it during freshman orientation, when professor Mike Brudzinski told us about his research and technology in the classroom. I looked at some of his papers, which revolved around how hydraulic fracking and wastewater injection affects the environment, and it was super interesting. I talked to him and decided to enter the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) Program, which paired me with chair and professor of psychology Joe Johnson as my research advisor. We toured different labs around campus to get a sense of all the research opportunities. By my second semester, I was working in Mike's lab making posters and practicing elevator pitch-like presentations on his environmental science research."

Best Miami Experiences

"I've loved so many classes, especially those in ecology, mammalogy, and conservation biology. Since coming in I've been in 4 different research labs doing 4 different things, all of which has been fantastic. I've been able to present posters and papers over a dozen times, both locally, at the Undergraduate Research Forum, and nationally, including annual meetings of the Seismological Society of America, last spring in Denver, as well as Capitol Hill and the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, through Miami's Government Relations Network program. I even have one published paper (Seismicity induced by wastewater injection in Washington County, Ohio: Influence of preexisting structure, regional stress regime, and well operations) and one in preparation.

A colleague maintains a seismometer in the field.

"Most of my research has been involved with Mike Brudzinski on how deep wastewater injection can cause earthquakes here in Ohio. Mike has given me all sorts of experiences to prepare me for my graduate thesis: applying for funding, designing the outline and basic study concept, going through the analysis, interpreting results, and presenting. He has even been advising me on preparing for grad school!

"My research has helped me join the combined bachelors-masters program in environmental science, which I will complete in a year (though I'll be done with my bachelor's this May!). For my Master's thesis, I'm looking at people's attitudes towards large carnivores (wolves, bears, cougars, etc.) in British Columbia, Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, which is the world's largest relatively intact temperate rainforest.

"I ultimately plan to go for a PhD so I can continue doing research in one way or another. Ultimately I'd like to work for organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or the United Nations Environment Programme. Specifically, I want to work on endangered species and how to protect them."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"The Miami Plan, which enforces a liberal arts education, has led me to classes that I would not have found otherwise — microeconomics, architecture, film studies, and many more. I understand now how markets work, and I try to tie that knowledge into sustainability, environmental science, and policy to understand why people act the way that they do, especially in how they treat the environment.

"Environmental science is incredibly interdisciplinary. You are not just studying one thing all day every day. There's chemistry, biology, geology, and a lot more because all these elements interact and, in turn, they influence what happens in the world on multiple levels.

"My microeconomics course, ECO 201, was probably the most connected with my own research and environmental science co-major. It was cool to see what drives people to buy different products and services or what drives the market to one way or another. This gave me some insight into what I do — the environment is always affected by economics in some way."

Studying Earthquakes Caused by Wastewater Injection in Ohio

Max discusses his research on earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing in Ohio.

Studying Earthquakes in Ohio II Video Transcript

Advice to Students

"I am extremely biased, but I feel that everyone should take at least one environmental science class in their lives. The field is very interdisciplinary, but it is also important to understand when you hear in the news about things like climate change, species extinction, or algal blooms. A lot of people these days hear the term 'climate change,' think about how politicized it is, and tune it out. This is extraordinarily bad.

"Environmental science and sustainability classes are just as important as political science or economics — it's just one of those classes you need to understand what is happening in the world.

"If you want to get involved in any kind of research, don't hold back. Find professors whose research you are interested in, email them, and say you have read some of their papers and would love to get involved. Ninety to 99% of the time, that professor will be like, 'Of course!'"

[May 2018]