Meet Erik Naylor, Project Chemist/Environmental Scientist
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. I made a five-year stop in Moscow, Idaho, for university and then migrated west and have called Portland home for the past 13 years.
What do you do at MFA?
I wear many hats at MFA. The best description would be that I’m a jack of all trades, with expertise in analytical chemistry and environmental data analysis. The bulk of what I do these days is project management, planning, execution, and reporting for environmental investigations. I’m also a team coach here at MFA.
What’s rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding parts of my job are problem solving through the application of science and evidence to improve communities and collaborating with my wonderful and talented colleagues.
Why is what you do important?
Every day is Earth Day. We all live in this environment, so we should take care of it for our own health.
What’s your favorite restaurant/place to go in your area?
This is an impossible question! I am obsessed with food and eating, and love to explore all the options that this region (and other regions when I’m traveling) has to offer! Current favorites include Chop and Banh Mi Up in Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood.
What skills do you bring to your work?
Problem solving, team building, contextualizing information, and attention to detail.
What do you like to do off the clock?
Spending time with my wife and our one-year-old son is my number one, but when the little guy is napping or if grandma comes over to babysit, I try to get out to mountain bike, run, surf, snowboard, or rock climb as much as possible. I also enjoy cooking, music, and building furniture.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a work colleague?
The advice that I come back to again and again is to “seek first to understand” and “begin with the end in mind.” It is helpful for me to say these things to myself at various points in a project to gain perspective on what I’m trying to accomplish and how to best meet the needs of clients and stakeholders.
If you were not a project chemist/environmental scientist, what would you be?
Carpenter, chef, or sports medicine doctor. It depends on the day that you ask me.
What’s on your bucket list?
So many things. My wife and I have always wanted to live in the magical forest of Fontainebleau, France, for a few months. We visited for a week once to climb (world class bouldering), and we just loved the vibe and the food (not to mention the climbing!). A European bikepacking trip is also high up on the list.
What was your favorite childhood movie/TV show?
The original Star Wars trilogy and Indiana Jones for sure.