The University of South Carolina is a top-tier research university, and research is an important part of what we do in the Department of Geography. As geographers, we pride ourselves on undertaking research that helps to solve pressing problems and that provides critical insight into complex social and environmental phenomena.
Our faculty members have fieldwork sites worldwide and have recently investigated such topics as neighborhood identity in Istanbul, dune dynamics in Brazil, irrigation practices in the Nile Delta, mining conflicts in Ecuador, forest microclimates in New Zealand and landcover changes on the Tibetan Plateau. Our faculty members can be found measuring, monitoring and mapping atmospheric pollution, sedimentation and beach erosion, and learning how communities locally and around the world respond to environmental change.
An important part of our mission as a department is to train graduate students to formulate and to execute original research. We also encourage undergraduate students to pursue research opportunities and take advantage of our facilities and expertise. If you're interested in geography research as an undergraduate, you should begin by consulting the Office of Undergraduate Research about university research programs.
Research Institutes and Centers
Center for Excellence in Geographic Education/South Carolina Geographic Alliance
The South Carolina Geographic Alliance is a network of K-12 educators and university geographers using geography to improve the education of our children. The alliance's primary goal is to bring the concepts and methodology of modern geography to the K-12 classroom by providing high-quality, low cost, professional development opportunities and materials for South Carolina educators.
Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments
The Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program. CISA researchers work with stakeholders across South Carolina and North Carolina to incorporate climate information into water and coastal management and related decision-making processes.
Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute
The Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute (HVRI) is an interdisciplinary research and graduate and undergraduate training center focused on the development of theory, data, metrics, methods, applications and spatial analytical models for understanding human vulnerability to natural hazards, including hurricanes, tornados and other extreme weather events.
Center for GIScience and Remote Sensing
The Center for GIScience and Remote Sensing coordinates research and teaching relating to all aspects of GIScience, including spatial data mining, cartographic visualization and the development of techniques to analyze remotely sensed imagery. The center provides software and equipment (including drones and GPS units) needed to collect, model, and analyze spatial data. Finally, the center houses our campus GIS program, which provides training and assistance across campus relating to mapping, spatial data analysis and application development.
International Center of Excellence on Big Earth Data for Coastal Resilience
The International Center of Excellence on Big Earth Data for Coastal Resilience (ICoE-Coast) is a joint program between Department of Geography at USC and Hainan Key Laboratory of Earth Observation, Sanya, China. It is one of eight ICoEs established through the International Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) Science Program (Pakistan, Italy, Morocco, Zambia, Thailand, Finland, and Russia, and USA/China). The interdisciplinary and international team aims to conduct productive research on Big Earth Data and applications for coastal observation, adaptation and disaster management.
Departmental Research Labs and Facilities
Climate Research Lab
The Climate Research Lab includes faculty and students whose research and teaching interests encompass variety of temporal and spatial scales. Lab members employ both modeling and monitoring approaches in research. The Climate Research Lab provides technical support and equipment for research relating to climate change and variability, synoptic climatology, climate impacts, microclimatology, physical climatology, historical and paleoclimatology, aerosols and climate, and air pollution.
Critical Ecologies Lab
The Critical Ecologies Lab is an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty and students who analyze contemporary environmental issues through the lenses of culture, history, and political economy.
Earth Surface Patterns and Processes Lab Complex
The Earth Surface Patterns and Processes Lab Complex within the geography department provides facilities and equipment in support of teaching and research in biogeography, geomorphology, hydrology and sedimentation.
Geoinformation and Big Data Research Lab
The Geoinformation and Big Data Research Lab integrates cutting-edge computing technologies and geospatial methods to advance knowledge discovery and decision making with applications to climate change studies, disaster management, human mobility, and public health.
The USC Department of Geography WIND Lab (Wind-Induced Nearshore Dynamics) is co-led by Dr. Jean Ellis and Dr. April Hiscox. Based on their common research interest in wind-land Interactions, the WIND Lab focuses on a variety of wind-induced phenomena at multiple spatial-temporal scales.