Past Alumni Profiles

2020 Alumni Profile: Martin Derby

Martin and Laurie Derby.

Martin and Laurie Derby on Mt. Norquay overlooking Banff Alberta

Martin Derby in front of Cooke Hall North Campus.

Martin Derby in front of Cooke Hall at the University of Buffalo.

How did you become interested in geology?

I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and exploring.  In my adolescent years, I spent a lot of my time either camping, canoeing or hiking, either with my family or the Boy Scouts.  During my high school years, I developed a passion for physics/astronomy and planetary science.  After I received my associate degree, I then commenced with my studies in geological sciences at UB.   I was really fortunate to learn from some great UB professors including Drs. King, Cazeau, Jacobi, Ebert and Mitchell. Field camp really fueled my passion to learn more and brought all the classroom/textbook information into real life; that’s where geology all came together for me.  My real passion and career foundation is engineering geology, although I’ve worked as a hydrogeologist for many years, and now as a practice leader in geohazards.  Ironically, my favorite places to vacation/visit with my wife are Arizona and Utah which are not far from some of our geology field camp areas.  

What is your current job and how does your geology background influence it?

My official title is Sr. Geohazard Practice Leader; however, I cover a lot of different technical and management roles (wear many hats as they say).  On the technical side, I oversee the Appalachian region which includes geohazards and geotechnical investigations…. we perform geohazard assessments and identify and delineate landslides and subsidence areas mostly for the natural gas sector.  I’m also a global account manager for a company in Madrid, Spain, which includes travel to both Europe and South America.  Additionally, I provide senior leadership and business development to our personnel/offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Horseheads, NY as well as for our geophysics team in Buffalo.

I’m immersed in geology every day, mostly around geohazards identification, geotechnical investigations and geophysical surveys, and for me, that’s the real fun part of my job. I’m very thankful for my educational background, and for the professors who put their heart and soul into providing a great learning experience.

What academic degrees do you have, and from what institutions?

I received my first degree in Civil Engineering Technology (AAS), then transferred to UB and received my bachelors in Geological Sciences.  After graduation I started working as an engineering geologist in NYC and took evening classes and received my masters in Geosciences from Montclair State University.  It was always my dream to teach geology classes at the college/university level and to conduct research. So, in 2017 I decided to go back to school/UB and started my PhD in the geohazards program.  My current research focuses on a comparative analysis of in-situ instruments and groundbased remote sensing for landslide monitoring.

How did your education at UB influence your career, and what was the most memorable aspect of your time at UB?

Anyone who loves the outdoors, and learning new things about our earth, and is concerned about our resources and sustainability should consider the field of geology. My career in geology has been extremely rewarding……it has fulfilled a lifelong journey of exploring and learning new things about our planet.

The best advice I can give is to follow your passion or the subject that interests you most.  That passion or drive will get you through the difficult times and will make you appreciate the good times which builds a successful career and life.