Environmental Science Alum Works to Protect California Coast

As Watershed Programs Coordinator at The Bay Foundation, Loyola Marymount University Environmental Science alumnus Chris Enyart ‘18 is working hard to protect his native coast. Though his journey in this field did not take him far from his home in Agoura Hills, CA, it did take him on a journey into the health and history of the Santa Monica Bay.

Enyart began his education at Cal State University, Channel Islands where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology. Though he was tentative about the prospect of graduate school, he put out feelers to programs rumored to have hands-on faculty and strong research opportunities.

When Enyart sent an inquiry to Joseph Reichenberger, a professor in the Civil Engineering and Environmental Science Department, he was blown away by the enthusiasm and wealth of information in the email he received in response. Visiting the school and meeting John Dorsey –  professor of civil engineering and environmental science, who would later become Enyart’s thesis advisor – is what inspired Enyart to earn a Master’s of Science in Environmental Science at LMU.

During his time at LMU, Enyart appreciated the diversity of coursework, the small class sizes, and the dynamic, collegial atmosphere. What he enjoyed most, though, was the opportunity to do meaningful research. In collaboration with The Bay Foundation, Enyart embarked on an expedition through hundreds of thousands of lines of City of LA and County of LA data, all of which examined bacterial concentrations in the Santa Monica Bay.

By piecing together thirty years of data into one master set, Enyart was able to determine long-term trends for surf zone water quality. Such data helps determine the best water management practices for the area, from low-flow diversions used in dry weather to rain gardens and bioswales in wetter weather.

Enyart applied to the Bay Foundation during his last semester at LMU and was thrilled to be hired as their Watershed Programs Technician. His January 2019 promotion to Watershed Programs Coordinator put him in charge of watershed restoration, including a beach dune restoration aimed at combating sea level rise and creating habitat for nesting shore birds. The foundation also worked on the Malibu Lagoon restoration.

For Enyart, the best part of his job is being outdoors and helping to protect the land where he grew up. Moreover, as part of the Coastal Research Institute, Enyart gets to work with undergraduate interns from LMU. “Giving them real-world work experience is so rewarding,” said Enyart.

When he is not collecting water samples or promoting best water management practices, Enyart plays ice hockey.