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School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment


Society, Policy, and Environment

Public policy is the crucial interface between societal goals and environmental science, to address environmental problems. Faculty are involved in research in diverse areas within this interconnected set of processes, including environmental policy and regulation, energy policy, remediation, adaptation, cultural and social responses to environmental degradation, communication and education, among other topics.

Society, Policy & Environment Faculty

Jessica Barnes

Jessica Barnes

Dr. Barnes received her Ph.D. in sustainable development from Columbia University in 2010 and held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Yale Climate & Energy Institute and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies from 2011 to 2013. She joined the University of South Carolina in 2013 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography with a joint appointment in the School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment .

Phillip E. Barnes

Phillip E. Barnes

 Career focus has been applied research in the implementation and integration of international management systems and sustainable development plans within various types of national and international organizations, including, government agencies, and manufacturing and health care facilities.   Co-founded, the International Sustainability Management Education (ISME) Network, and established the Environmental Management Systems Program in 1996.

Monica Barra

Monica Barra

 Monica Barra completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York in 2018. Additionally, she holds a masters degree in American Studies from Rutgers University and a bachelors degree in Urban Studies and Literature from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands. Monica joined the University of South Carolina in 2018 as an assistant professor in the area of Race and Environment at the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology.

Claudia Benitez-Nelson

Claudia Benitez-Nelson

Biogeochemical cycling and export fluxes of nutrients. Global climate change in past and present day environments. Utilization of cosmogenic and uranium series radioisotopes to study ecological processes. Development of new analytical techniques.

Bruce C. Coull

Bruce C. Coull

Marine Science and Biological Sciences; Dean Emeritus, School of the Environment. His marine research focused on small bottom-living animals (meiofauna) and their role and ecosystem function, including: their role of as food for juvenile fish; lethal and sublethal effects of sediment bound contaminants (heavy metals, PCB's, etc.) on meiofauna; and their population density, diversity and genetic makeup.  As Dean of the School of the Environment he focused on sustainability development and incorporating environmental ethics into teaching, practice and outreach (for example, through initiating UofSC's Green Quad).

Kirstin Dow

Kirstin Dow

I am interested in the co-production of science to inform decision-making climate change, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation.  I work primarily with a large interdisciplinary research team, the Carolina Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA), one of the 11 NOAA-supported Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments projects. CISA addresses climate modelling, drought, human health, watershed modelling, coastal hazards, and adaptation.  My current research projects focus on understanding limits to adaptation, the role of social networks increasing adaptive capacity, analytical-deliberative processes for adaptation, and drought impacts and early warning systems.

Madilyn Fletcher

Madilyn Fletcher

Marine Science, Environment and Sustainability, and Biological Sciences; Director, School of the Earth, Ocean, & Environment - Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, Microbial Ecology, Bacterial Community Ecology, Bacterial Colonization of Surfaces and Biofilms.

David Fuente

David Fuente

Dr. Fuente's research is situated at the intersection of infrastructure planning, environmental policy, and international development and focuses specifically on the provision of water and sanitaiton services in low- and middle-income countries. Trained as an environmental economist, urban planner, and environmental scientist, Dr. Fuente has conducted extensive fieldwork in East Africa (Kenya), the Middle East (Egypt), and South Asia (India). His research has been supported by the World Bank, USAID, the SIDA-funded Environment for Development Initiative, and the Global Development Network.

Gwendelyn Geidel

Gwendelyn Geidel

Prediction, prevention and remediation of ground and surface water contamination caused by mining and other anthropogenic disturbances of the earth’s surface. Examples include investigations of rock-water interactions from mining activities (including both coal and metal mining in the US and Canada), the degradation of water quality from the oxidation of sulfide minerals, laboratory evaluation of acid and alkaline potentials from rock strata, field investigations of the long term effects of mining, and the implementation at field sites of constructed wetlands, anoxic limestone drains, alkaline trenches and other remediation and reclamation technologies.

Conor M. Harrison

Conor M. Harrison

Dr. Harrison’s research examines the relationship between energy and society, with a particular focus on political economy and power relations.  Portions of his work have been published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geoforum, and Local Environment. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Center for Study of the American South, and the University of North Carolina.

W. Joe Jones

W. Joe Jones

Past Director of the UofSC Genomics facility, Joe Jones's research has focused on  conservation genetics, genetic connectivity, and  genetics of rare populations (especially in fish and plankton); molecular phylogenetics and ecology, microbial ecology, natural history, and technology development.  As the Faculty Principal of Green Quad, his most recent work connects this expertise to undergraduate and graduate hands-on learning experiences in aquaponics and heritage landrace propagation.

David Kneas

David Kneas

David’s research examines the history and contemporary articulations of Andean landscapes, in particular, how past discursive landscapes shape the material geographies of the present, and vice-versa. His current book project is a historical ethnography of an ongoing conflict over a proposed copper mining in northwestern Ecuador. This project draws on his doctoral dissertation, research that combined two years of two ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Ecuador with David’s own experience of working in the country since 2000, as well as archival research in the US and the UK.

John A. Kupfer

John A. Kupfer

Biogeography, landscape ecology, public land and water management, spatial analysis

Thomas Lekan

Thomas Lekan

Professor Lekan teaches specialized undergraduate courses and seminars on environmental history, the urban experience in modern Europe, and German social history. His research focuses on European environmental history and the global dimensions of nature conservation, ecotourism, and green imperialism; comparative urban and regional planning history; and the environmental humanities.  

Rudy Mancke

Rudy Mancke

Naturalist Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene which began it's long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. The National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America have honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards.

Timothy Mousseau

Timothy Mousseau

Mousseau  and his students have worked on a wide diversity of organisms, from bacteria to beetles to birds, and his primary areas of research interest include the genetic basis of adaptive variation, and the evolution of maternal effects. Since 1999, Professor Mousseau and his collaborators have explored the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the radioactive contaminants affecting populations of birds, insects and people inhabiting the Chernobyl region of Ukraine, and more recently, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. 

Dwayne Porter

Dwayne Porter

Dr. Porter’s research interests include exploring and expanding the increasingly important roles that technology and technological innovations play in monitoring, assessing, modeling and managing our coastal environmental resources and associated environmental and public health issues. Dr. Porter focuses on the use of the tools of Geographic Information Sciences (GISciences) to develop and apply spatial models to study the impacts of anthropogenic and physiographic influences to coastal resources. Dr. Porter has directed /directs several federally-funded multi-disciplinary projects focusing on land use and land cover patterns and how changes in land-use activities impact estuarine health and associated human health concerns.  

Jennifer R. Pournelle

Jennifer R. Pournelle

Millennial-scale urban sustainability and complex societies, studied through: landscape archaeology, anthropological archaeology, archaeology of the Middle East, cultural ecology, historical ecology, as they relate to wetland environments. Interpreting and relating air photography and satellite imagery to other paleoenvironmental data, toward reconstructing past landscapes.

Katherine Ryker

Katherine Ryker

Dr. Ryker explores connections between reformed classroom practices, student learning, teaching beliefs and the implementation of inquiry-based labs in introductory geoscience lectures and labs. Her research interests also include online educational resources, professional development, and student learning strategies and engagement in large introductory courses. She is part of a team looking at the connection between teaching beliefs and practices for geoscience faculty members at a variety of institutions across the country.

David Shelley

David Shelley

Dr. David Shelley, is the supervising Education Officer for Congaree National Park. His own specialties include Fluvial Geomorphology, Southeastern Geology, Watershed Studies, Science Communication, and non-professional science educator training.

Neal Woods

Neal Woods

Public policy (environmental policy, regulation), bureaucratic politics, federalism and intergovernmental relations