Dr. Emily Deaver


Environmental Science Professor Dr. Emily Deaver has made a positive impact on the University since arriving 15 years ago.

Born in New Mexico and raised in Virginia, she made her way to SMSU in 2003 and has been a fixture ever since.

She initiated and continues to coordinate the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, which began in 2006. It began as a way for science students to display and discuss their research, and has shown continued growth ever since. Last year, the 11th annual, 285 students gave 124 poster presentations and 45 oral PowerPoint presentations. Twenty-one different academic programs from across campus participated, including 31 different faculty advisors supervising research.

Her support of undergraduate research expanded when she became one of the co-creators and council members of the Minnesota Undergraduate Scholars, a consortium of Minnesota State institutions that support research, scholarly work and creative activity of undergraduates. The first conference was held in 2012, and Emily has taken outstanding SMSU students to the event every year since.

She began the Redwood River Monitoring Project, a collaborative effort between SMSU students, and Marshall High School and Middle School students. This project tests the water of the Redwood River at 3 spots, twice a year, and involves SMSU students teaching high school students, who in turn teach junior high students about the process.

She also initiated a partnership with ADM for a DNR Adopt-a-River program in Marshall. SMSU students team with ADM to annually clean a 3-mile stretch of the river.

Most recently, she earned a Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant which expands the Redwood River Monitoring Project to include Ag Ed students mentoring high school FFA students.

She took an unconventional road to academia, and worked for a Florida fish farming operation, an aquaculture venture in Virginia, and for a construction company before returning to school and earning her Ph.D. in pursuit of a college teaching position.

She’s been interested in the environment since her school days and loves the interaction she has with her students throughout the year. She says that Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary major that includes Biology, Chemistry and Physics, in addition to Environmental Science, and that students who enjoy the outdoors are attracted to the major. “There are a huge number of options that you have with an Environmental Science major,” she said.

A past winner of the Cathy Cowan Award — SMSU’s most prestigious award presented at Commencement — she said she’s very humbled by this alumni award. “SMSU is a very special place, with special students and welcoming, supportive colleagues,” she said.