Ryan Ozment Recognized by Environmental Organization

UM alumna named Air and Waste Management Association Outstanding Young Professional

Ryan Ozment receives the Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Air and Waste Management Association. Submitted photo

Ryan Ozment is all about air pollution control in Mississippi.

The University of Mississippi chemical engineering alumna (BSChE 14) recently received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Air and Waste Management Association, a professional organization for those involved in the environmental field.

The award recognizes individuals who are pursuing excellence in their careers and have made a valuable contribution to the association by serving in a leadership position. Candidates must be 35 years of age or younger and working in the environmental profession.

“I had only been involved in the organization for a few years but had served in leadership positions throughout that time,” said the Iuka native who works for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in Jackson. “It’s delightful having your efforts recognized. I just had not expected it to that degree.”

Ozment oversees air pollution control projects at chemical, agricultural and energy facilities across the state. This encompasses evaluating the types and quantity of air pollutant emissions, setting operating and control device standards to protect human health and the environment, and reaching out to the public for any concerns about environmental safety.

The honoree readily acknowledges her Ole Miss engineering professors as having been instrumental in her career achievements.

“I was blessed to have interacted with many great professors,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a chemical engineering student who knew him that wouldn’t say Dr. John O’Haver (professor of chemical engineering) was one of their favorites. He’s not just a great educator; he’s a great person.”

Cristiane Surbeck, associate professor of civil engineering, is another faculty member who influenced Ozment.

“When I was a student, there were no female professors in the chemical engineering program,” she said. “I happened to take her Environmental Engineering course. I really admired her as an instructor and advocate of sustainability. She and her course helped solidify my decision to pursue a career in the environmental field.”

Both O’Haver and Surbeck have great memories of their former student.

“Ryan always had a great personality, worked hard and was involved in things,” O’Haver said. “She was a great student, one who did things right and helped others.”

Surbeck’s most memorable interaction with Ozment happened after she graduated.

“Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ had just come out, and ‘Lean In Circles’ (reading groups using the book) were forming around the country,” Surbeck said. “Ryan became involved in one and contacted me about it. I was really honored that she reached out to me, giving us a common bond.”

Ozment, whose parents also are UM alumni, said she always knew she would attend the university and is happy with her decision.

“The problems you have to solve on a daily basis don’t always involve math or science but, instead, communication skills and creativity,” she said. “I believe my time at Ole Miss didn’t just teach me how to be an engineer but also how to be a professional and someone that people like working with.”