Inside an eco-friendly music studio in Atlanta, Georgia, you can find Stefan “The Scientist” Moss concocting rich musical sounds and writing songs when he’s not teaching environmental science at Georgia State University. Stefan started his journey in music as a young boy and has been an avid lover of science and the environment. He was born in Grand Bahama in The Bahamas and grew up in New Providence. Over the years his music and science careers earned him several accolades including multiple awards and an opportunity to be featured in Chemosphere, a distinguished international scientific journal on environmental science and engineering.
A little over a decade ago, Chemosphere highlighted Stefan’s ground-breaking research in herpetology, the branch of zoology that focuses on amphibians and reptiles. His research focused on turtles in the Tennessee River Gorge in the United States. Initially, he aimed to discover the chemicals contained in the river and any possible effects of the chemicals on humans and the environment. In the process, he obtained useful information about herpetology. After four years of dedicated effort and toil, his work was published.
Achieving his goal of becoming a scientist, Stefan received bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Lee University in Tennessee, and a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Today at the Georgia State University, he’s a favourite among his students. He’s also a member of prominent environmental groups in the United States such as the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau and the Rocky Mountain Science and Sustainability Network. His past experiences involved consulting with the National Park Service and US Forest Service in the United States and working on United Nations’ projects in the Caribbean including the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. His other experiences include working in the field of ecotoxicology on environmental remediation projects in the United States for Fortune 500 companies like Exxon Mobil and BP.
Stefan’s decorated career in science is paralleled by his music career. He won the Caribbean gospel music Marlin Award three times. In the United States, he won the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award in 2005 with Grits, a two-time Grammy-nominated hip-pop duo. Under his independent record label, Greendub Records, he has released singles and independent albums. His songs feature themes on community building, social justice and environmentalism. Eco-friendly practices are exercised in his home-based studio to minimize the carbon footprint. All releases are digital, and the instruments used are pre-owned and vintage. Promotional content is printed on recycled paper. A future goal for the studio is obtaining the Wildlife Habitat certification by the National Wildlife Federation Habitat in the US.
Stefan’s career and experiences exemplify the possibilities of exploring one’s passion for the arts and STEM. He’s thankful for the chance to inspire and has some words of encouragement for aspiring environmental scientists from the Caribbean. Read more below.
At what age did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in science?
I was about 16 years old. Even though I had this dream of pursuing a career in science, I had no idea how it would be possible to earn a living as a scientist in my home country.
Did you have a favourite subject in school while growing up? If so what was it?
Yes, I did. My favourite subject in school was Chemistry.
What were some challenges you’ve faced as a scientist? How did you overcome them?
One major challenge was believing in myself when others, even close friends and mentors, couldn’t see how I would be able to achieve my goal. I definitely had to focus and ignore doubters. Another challenge was seeing very few people that looked like me when I attended conferences and other science-related events. I often felt like an oddball. However, over time, I learned to be confident in my abilities and to just do my thing.
Is there one experience or event that stood out to you the most while studying to become an environmental scientist?
Yes. My mentor Dr Thomas Wilson was a great inspiration to me and joining his lab as a budding scientist was a turning point in my life.
In your free time when you’re not busy saving the environment or enlightening the future generation of scientists, what do you like to do?
I love writing/producing music, travelling, and spending time with my family.
How do you balance your career with your everyday life?
I just try to keep things in perspective. Some days are harder than others. It’s definitely a work in progress. Any perception of balance is due to my incredible family that helps keep me grounded and focused.
What advice would you give to young aspiring environmental scientists from the Caribbean?
Dream Big! You never know what opportunities exist out there for you.
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