UofSC experts: Environment, climate change and conservation

The University of South Carolina has a number of faculty members who are available to offer their expertise on environmental protection, climate action, biodiversity and conservation.

Climate action, biodiversity and conservation

Carol Boggs, a biology and ecology professor, can discuss the effects of climate and/or land use change on abundance and diversity of species, the effects of climate change species' ranges, and the effects federal land conservation could have on biodiversity and wildlife habitat. She can also speak to the effects of non-native invasive species on ecosystems and communities.

John Kupfer, a geography professor, can discuss the impact of conserving federal land and waters. He teaches courses about the management of federal land and on the National Park System, and he conducts research that helps natural resource managers address the impacts that climate change has on fish, wildlife, fire and ecosystems.
Xuefeng "Nick" Peng can discuss how microorganisms affect climate change (including consumption and production of greenhouse gases) and how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities. He studies both coastal/estuarine systems such as salt marshes and open ocean systems such as the oxygen minimum zones. His work offers a novel perspective on how marine microbial communities respond to environmental changes including pollution, warming and deoxygenation.

Distinguished research professor Jennifer R. Pournelle can discuss sustainability in the face of climatic stress at scales from decades to thousands of years. Her expertise lies in understanding how human actions shape the environment around them in ways that either support urban adaptation or trigger "collapse" of the food- and resource systems on which cities depend.

Lori Ziolkowski specializes in biogeochemistry, geochemistry and climate change. She can speak about the importance of climate action due to imbalances in the global carbon cycle and how we can tackle this thorny problem at the state and local level. Her current work focuses on the importance of meaningful action at the municipal level. In addition to teaching courses about climate change and marine science, Ziolkowski is chair of Columbia's Climate Protection Action Committee.

  • To arrange an interview with any of the above experts on climate action, contact Bryan Gentry, brgentry@sc.edu.

Development and land use planning

Josh Eagle, an environmental law professor, studies legal issues related to coastal development, including businesses and homes, ocean zoning, and offshore drilling. He was also a member of South Carolina Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management, established in 2010 for the purpose of assessing the efficacy of the state’s current coastal laws and regulations. To arrange an interview, contact Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611.

Ann Eisenberg, an environmental law professor, focuses her research on land use planning, specifically when in rural communities, exploring how law, policy and public institutions influence rural economic opportunities.  She also directs the Environmental Law Clinic, which helps its clients work through legal matters surrounding conservation, sustainability and community development initiatives. To arrange an interview, contact Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611. 

Assistant professor David Fuente can discuss water policy, water and sanitation, and environmental economics and policy. Trained as an environmental economist and urban planner, his research is at the intersection of infrastructure planning, environmental policy and international development, focusing specifically on the provision of water and sanitation services in low- and middle-income countries. To arrange an interview, contact Bryan Gentry, brgentry@sc.edu.

Energy, utilities and oil and gas 

Conor Harrison, an associate geography professor, studies the transformation of the energy industry. He is available to discuss the rise of renewable power and the role that government policy, investment and other factors play in green energy growth. His research examines the relationship between energy and society, with a focus on political economy and power relations. Past research has traced the historical development of electricity supply systems and markets in the American South and energy poverty in rural North Carolina. To arrange an interview, contact Bryan Gentry, brgentry@sc.edu.

Nathan Richardson, an environmental law professor, can speak on a wide range of environmental and energy issues, including U.S. climate policy (particularly regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act), state and local regulation of oil and gas development (including hydraulic fracturing), and the evolution of the electric utility sector. To arrange an interview, contact Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611.

Shelley Welton, an environmental law professor, has written extensively on how to transform our electrical grids. Her research focuses on how climate change is transforming energy and environmental law and governance, and she teaches courses on Energy Law, Environmental Law and Policy, and Climate Change Law. To arrange an interview, contact Rob Schaller, rschaller@sc.edu, 803-777-5611.

Electric vehicles and climate change

Tamara Sheldon, an associate professor of economics,  is an expert in environmental and energy economics and its intersection with public policy. Her research on climate change and the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles is published in top academic journals. 
“The Biden administration is targeting a 50 percent sales share for electric vehicles by 2030, and China has even more ambitious targets," Sheldon says. "[But] U.S. government policies, including substantial consumer incentives in the last decade, have barely moved the needle on electric vehicle market share. ... The full-scale commitment of major auto makers to EV production suggests not only that such ambitious targets may actually be feasible but also that the private sector might lead the way.”
To arrange an interview, contact Leigh-Anne Lawrence, leigh-anne.lawrence@moore.sc.edu.

Corporate social responsibility and recycling

Andrew Spicer, an associate international business professor, focuses his research on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Having served on the South Carolina Recycling Market Development Advisory Council, Spicer helps advise the state’s recycling industry, making recommendations to increase recycling practices in the Palmetto State. His international business expertise also allows him to connect the global and the local in understanding what happens to trash and recyclables after they’re thrown away. Recent changes in the global rules of the recycling industry are changing the economics of waste management in ways that most individuals and businesses who recycle do not yet fully understand. To arrange an interview, contact Leigh-Anne Lawrence, leigh-anne.lawrence@moore.sc.edu.

Agriculture and soil

Research associate professor Robin "Buz" Kloot,  a scientist and self-proclaimed soil health nut, is passionate about working directly with farmers on soil health projects that pull carbon out of the atmosphere, increase farm profits and reduce carbon emissions.  His passion for soils has moved him into the roles of storytelling through video.  His documentary “Under Cover Farmers” and his recent series on the “Science of Soil Health” and “The International Year of Soils" were produced with backing from farmers themselves. To arrange an interview, contact Bryan Gentry, brgentry@sc.edu.

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