A light-hearted Q&A with the president and CEO of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation.

Stephen Ursery, Editor, Waste Age Magazine

April 1, 2011

4 Min Read
Commingled Conversation: Bryan Staley

As president and CEO of the Raleigh, N.C.-based Environmental Research and Education Foundation, Bryan Staley has carved out a well-earned reputation as one of the industry's more scholarly minds. But what are this guru of research's interests when he isn't busy reviewing a study on, say, the microbial methane oxidation of landfill top cover systems? Read on to find out about his favorite movies and TV shows, as well as his favorite 1980s hair bands (SPOILER ALERT: Twisted Sister gets a mention.)

Waste Age: What is your pet peeve?

Bryan Staley

Bryan Staley: People with a sense of entitlement. It's got to be earned first, and once obtained doesn't need to be worn on one's sleeve … a little humility goes a long way.

What is your idea of the perfect day?

No looming deadlines, sleeping in and hanging out with family.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

The best advice I've received recently is what to tell my daughter when she is old enough to date: "Never kiss on the first date … and never date the same boy twice."

What was the last book you read?

"A Matter of Days" by Hugh Ross.

What is your favorite movie?

I like a wide range of genres, but have always enjoyed the sci-fi/fantasy/action stuff, so I'd say the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy gets my vote.

What is your favorite TV show?

I don't watch TV much these days so I don't have a recent favorite. I wish they would bring back re-runs of "CHiPs" — I get a kick out of some of those campy 70s TV shows.

Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Both are classic. However, I grew up in the '80s so I'd have to tip my hat to some of those big hair bands influenced by the Beatles and Stones. Even now, hearing Van Halen, Def Leppard, the Scorpions, or Metallica takes me back to some good times. Oh, did I mention Twisted Sister?

What is the strangest piece of trash you've ever come across?

I was a summer research intern on an MSW composting project in Asheville, N.C. We were processing a load of trash from Dodge City, Kan., and came across an item, well … let's just say it's too racy to describe here. My co-worker was quite enamored and decided to hang the item from the truck antenna to see who might take notice. It stayed on that antenna for nearly a month.

Do you prefer the beach or mountains?

I love the beach but grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and there's nothing like fall up in the Blue Ridge mountains.

What is the one thing you couldn't live without?

My family … and coffee.

If you weren't the CEO of EREF, what would you like to be?

Owner of a tiki bar in the Caribbean, a land developer, and a college professor.

What is your favorite sports team?

Washington Redskins. I'm especially nostalgic for the days of Joe Theismann, Art Monk and the Hogs.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To read minds.

What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Not sure if it's the MOST adventurous, but to me it's one of the more interesting things: A buddy and me came across some old dynamite blasting caps and decided we wanted to see what would happen if we used a car battery to set them off. Let's just say a properly positioned blasting cap can be used to take down a small tree. I know, I know… this falls into the "Hey ya'll, watch this!" category.

What's the one talent you have that not many people know about?

In another life, I might have been a country or southern gospel singer.

If you have suggestions for future interviewees, send us an e-mail at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Stephen Ursery

Editor, Waste Age Magazine, Waste360

Stephen Ursery is the editor of Waste Age magazine. During his time as editor, Waste Age has won more than 20 national and regional awards. He has worked for Penton Media since August 1999. Before joining Waste Age as the magazine's managing editor, he was an associate editor for American City & County and for National Real Estate Investor.

Prior to joining Penton, Stephen worked as a reporter for The Marietta Daily Journal and The Fulton County Daily Report, both of which are located in metro Atlanta.

Stephen earned a BA in History from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

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