Richard Runyon has had a successful career and an amazing life. Following a colorful childhood that you can read about here, Richard obtained a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1971 and furthered his education with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in biology from Humboldt State University, now known as California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, from which he graduated in 1978. His published research on Poinsettia toxicity generated worldwide interest. He continued his association with academia by serving as an adjunct assistant professor at Chapman University from 1979 to 1989, where he taught classes in environmental health, drugs and genetics. During this period, Mr. Runyon notably conducted classroom instruction at Vandenberg Air Force Base, now known as Vandenberg Space Force Base, and the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc, California.
After serving as an environmental health specialist for Santa Barbara County between 1979 and 1984, where Mr. Runyon assisted in regulating swimming pool construction and operation, water wells and water system design and construction, he excelled as a facilities coordinator at the Lockheed Space Operations Command at Vandenberg between 1984 and 1985. In this capacity, he managed a plant treating the space shuttle launch suppression water that had become acidic and contaminated with heavy metals during the launches. In addition, Mr. Runyon expertly managed the hazardous materials program for Santa Barbara County from 1986 until 1989.
From 1989 to 2000, Mr. Runyon worked as a senior scientist at NUS/Scientech Inc., serving as a global provider of consulting services aimed at improving safety, plant performance and reliability. He aided in risk assessment and emergency management in diverse locations, including with Taiwan's EPA, refineries in Mexico, petrochemical plants and pipelines in Trinidad, petrochemical and heavy industries in Saudi Arabia, conventional power plants in Nevis and in managing emergencies at nuclear plants in Yugoslavia and Japan. Between 2000 and 2014, Mr. Runyon excelled as a supervisor, investigator and senior program analyst for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working in the office of the Associate Commissioner of Regulatory Affairs, ACRA. Furthermore, he has proven invaluable as an independent consultant in environmental health for Santa Barbara County.
Mr. Runyon notes that one of his most important projects involved the FDA in regard to a substantial pet food scandal against two animal food component manufacturers in China. As a senior investigator, he was sent to the country with a colleague to investigate an allegation that both animal food manufacturers were using various compounds, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of dogs and cats. The investigation found that both companies were no longer in business and the owners and operators of each business were detained and were subsequently arrested by local police. The FDA was also able to obtain indictments of those in both China and the U.S. who were aware of the contaminated pet food but chose to ignore it. The U.S. company was eventually convicted in Federal Court.
Civically engaged, Mr. Runyon has lent his time and expertise by hosting lectures and field trips to interested community members regarding the history of poisonous and medicinal plants. Mr. Runyon is also a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and is a respected member and past president of his local chapter of Toastmasters International.
To remain aware of developments affecting his field, Mr. Runyon is a professional member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mr. Runyon is also active as a member of the California State University Los Angeles Alumni Association and the Humboldt State University Alumni Association.
In a career filled with highlights, Mr. Runyon is most proud to have kept people safe throughout his entire professional journey. He cites his commitment to perseverance as a key factor in his success. Initially, Mr. Runyon wished to become involved in criminal justice, but after taking a biology course that was a prerequisite for his degree, he discovered a passion for the study of environmental biology and has prospered greatly as a result.