Sewanee's Integrated Program in the Environment (SIPE) has over 30 faculty and staff that are engaged with students on a variety of research and applied field projects. Come join us for a truly unique experience in environmental study and the liberal arts.

SIPE Faculty

Deborah A. McGrath

Professor of Biology and Assistant Dean for the Environment. An ecosystem ecologist, McGrath focuses on restoring biogeochemical processes to address global environmental challenges. Her studies include the impact of payment for ecosystem services on afforestation, carbon sequestration and agroecosystem resiliency in Haiti and constructed wetlands to remove and recycle pollutants from wastewater locally and in China.

Sid Brown

Professor of Religious Studies | Walsh-Ellett 215 / ext. 1529. Prof. Brown focuses on religious, especially Buddhist, responses to environmental issues and religious conceptions of relationships between human and other-than-human animals. Brown is especially interested in the breakdown of categories such as religious/non-religious and human/non-human.

Lisa Burner

Assistant Professor of Spanish | Gailor 230, Ext. 3140. Professor Burner studies Peruvian and Chilean literature and culture. She examines how writers express hopes, dreams and fears about mining and other forms of natural resource extraction. Burner’s literature classes cover Latin American culture in relation to environmental concerns as well as gender, economics, race, social class, and imperialism.

Daniel Clay Carter

Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies | Woods Lab 110 / ext. 1418 Daniel Carter is currently teaching courses in Environmental Policy, Introduction to Environmental Studies, Environmental Education, and Land-use Policy. Daniel was born, raised and currently lives on a cattle and sheep farm in the Sewanee region and has a passion for land conservation. He spent several years prior to his current academic service as a county government consultant with the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service, working with rural local elected officials in Tennessee. His research involves analyzing the cultural, financial, and environmental impacts of land-use change in the south Cumberland Plateau as timber companies have divested thousands of acres for development purposes in recent years.

Kristen K. Cecala

Associate Professor of Biology, Co-Director Island Ecology Program | Spencer Hall 152 / ext. 3153. Professor Cecala is an ecologist with a special interest in amphibians and reptiles. Her research principally focuses on understanding how human-driven changes on the landscape affect aquatic organisms. Current research focuses on climate change impacts on the behavioral, population, and community ecology of stream amphibians.

Michael Coffey

Visiting Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy | Woods Lab G1 / ext. 1817 After 35 years at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Professor Coffey joins the Physics Department where he teaches a popular course on the Foundations of Global Warming. Research in the areas of atmospheric composition and chemistry continues with colleagues at NCAR and NASA.

Max Dahlquist

Assistant Professor of Geology

Professor Dahlquist is a geologist studying the influence of tectonic and climatic forces on the evolution of landscapes. He is especially interested in interplay between extreme events (i.e. earthquakes, outburst floods) and mundane (daily thermal stress, hillslope creep). He teaches physical and structural geology, sedimentology, and geomorphology.

Aaron A. Elrod

Associate Professor of Economics | Carnegie 114 / ext. 3156. Professor Elrod studies the effect of environmental regulation on various aspects of firm behavior. More recently, his research focuses on the Clean Water Act, examining whether factors such as gubernatorial political parties, campaign contributions, and politicians’ stock holdings influence Clean Water Act monitoring and enforcement efforts.

Jonathan P. Evans

Professor Evans is a plant ecologist whose research examines the importance of clonal growth as a mechanism for population persistence in plant communities. He also studies how land-use history, introduced species, and climate change contribute to the loss of plant diversity in the southeastern United States.

David G. Haskell

Professor of Biology | Walsh-Ellett 213B / ext. 1528. David Haskell’s work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of nature. His books include The Forest Unseen, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, and The Songs of Trees, winner of the John Burroughs Medal.

Eric Keen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies. Professor Keen studies oceanography and the ocean’s largest predators, whales. His focus is upon the interactions between whale habitat use and coastal industries such as shipping along our continent’s west coast. He teaches hydrology, geology, and coastal survey techniques in Sewanee’s Island Ecology Program on St. Catherine’s Island, GA.

Elise Kikis

Associate Professor of Biology. Professor Kikis is a molecular biologist whose research focuses on the connections between protein misfolding and neurodegenerative disease. Using a variety of animal models, including the nematode C. elegans, she is currently studying the molecular mechanisms by which environmental stressors, including air pollution, exacerbate or otherwise contribute to diseases of protein misfolding.

Martin A. Knoll

Professor of Geology | Snowden 203/ ext. 1713. Professor Knoll’s research interests include surface and groundwater quality and dynamics in the southeastern US, with special emphasis on heavy metals and microplastics. He teaches courses in hydrology, paleoecology and climate change of the past.

Karen Kuers

Professor of Earth and Environmental Systems | Snowden Hall 207 / ext. 1421 Professor Kuers studies the ecology and management of upland hardwood forests and forested urban ecosystems, with a special interest in traditional uses of plants for food and medicine. Kuers conducts research in Sewanee’s Split Creek Watershed, and is a founding member of the national Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN).

Roger S. Levine

Associate Professor of History | Walsh-Ellet 307 / ext. 1785 Professor Levine researches and writes about South African history, and teaches broadly across Africa, North America, the Anglo-Atlantic World, and global history. Environmental studies (which was his undergraduate major) and environmental history are foundational to this teaching and research. Currently, he is engaged in ongoing research projects on the history of sustainability and sustainable development, and on how constructions of the environment informed popular understandings of race and whiteness in segregation-era South Africa.

Pradip Malde

Professor of Art | Carnegie 305 / ext. 1537. Professor Malde teaches photography and documentary studies. Much of his work considers the experience of loss and how it serves as a catalyst for regeneration. He is currently working in rural communities in Haiti, Tanzania and Tennessee, designing models for community development through photography.

Ben Mangrum

Assistant Professor of English

Professor Mangrum teaches courses on literature and the environment. His research has examined Native American fiction and environmental politics, the relationship between digital culture and ecology, as well as canonical environmental writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Rachel Carson.

Katie McGhee

Assistant Professor of Biology. Professor McGhee is a behavioral ecologist whose research focuses on how stressors experienced by parents, such as encounters with predators, can affect future generations. Using freshwater fish, she examines how maternal stress affects offspring behavior and the ability of offspring to cope with their own stressful experiences later on.

David A. Neely

Visiting Professor, Biology/Earth and Environmental Systems. Professor Neely is an ichthyologist whose research broadly encompasses the systematics, conservation, and management of freshwater fishes. His recent work has focused on several groups of North American and Eurasian sculpins and minnows, including the enigmatic cottid fauna of Lake Baikal.

James R. Peters

Jim Peters' study of nature began at age six when he became a passionate lover of birds. As Professor of Philosophy, Peters teaches Environmental Ethics, a course which explores a diversity of perspectives on the question “What is the Value of Nature?” Professor Peters’ research focuses on the particular power of stories to illuminate the value of nature and on the understanding of nature as divinely infused and sacred creation in the Christian tradition.

Greg Pond

Professor of Art | Studio Art Bldg 110 / ext. 1870

Bran Potter

Professor of Geology | Snowden 201 / ext. 1479. Potter is a geologist with research interests in Structural Geology and the geology of the Cumberland Plateau. His introductory and upper level courses are field-based, and one concerns the geology of the Colorado Plateau in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. His Walking the Land course has a focus on local natural history and nature writing.

Celeste Ray

Professor of Environmental Arts and Humanities, and Anthropology. Coordinator Environmental Arts and Humanities. Celeste Ray’s research considers anthropologies of water and sacred ecology. Her most recent book (2019) focuses on Historical Ecology. National Geographic Explorer Grants have financed Ray’s current project considering Ireland’s holy wells as archaeological and biocultural resources.

Matt Schrader

Professor Schrader is an evolutionary biologist whose work focuses on the evolution of parental care. His current research examines how the social environment influences the coevolution of mating and parenting behaviors in Nicrophorus beetles.

Sarah C. Sherwood

Associate Professor, Co-Chair Department of Earth and Environmental Systems, University Archaeologist | Snowden 220 / ext. 3396. Dr. Sherwood is a Geoarchaeologist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Systems. Her research focuses on how people impacted their environment in the past and includes caves and rockshelters on the Southern Cumberland Plateau, earthen monument construction and tells in the SE US and E Europe, and soil fertility on Easter Island.

Ken Smith

Professor and Co-Chair, Earth and Environmental Systems, Snowden 209 / ext. 3219. Smith’s current work focuses on the use of mechanical thinning and prescribed fire on oak regeneration and shortleaf pine restoration on the Cumberland Plateau. Smith is also involved in long-term studies that examine human induced soil legacies and long-term changes in soils and plant cover on St. Catherines Island.

Lily Thompson

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Systems. Professor Thompson is a geologist whose research focuses on the material properties of the minerals at extreme conditions, enabling a better understanding of the constitution and evolution of planetary interiors. Her current focus is on combining high-pressure, high-temperature experiments and theoretical ab initio calculations to better constrain the distribution and cycling of hydrogen in the Earth's deep interior.

Scott Torreano

Professor of Forestry | Snowden 205 / ext. 1271. Dr. Torreano is interested in all aspects of forested ecosystems, from soils to tree tops. His primary work involves the relationships connecting forest productivity, soils and their environment. Some of his current work includes dendrochronology, the study of how tree rings and climate can answer ecological questions.

Keri Watson

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Systems. Snowden 216. 

Professor Watson is a landscape ecologist with a focus on how people benefit from natural landscapes. She studies land cover change and conservation tradeoffs between biodiversity and ecosystem services. Professor Watson is currently studying the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on nature access and the consequences for mental health.

John C. Willis

Jessie Ball duPont Professor of History | Walsh-Ellett 201 / ext. 1534. In his teaching and research, Professor Willis specializes in the history of the U.S. South. He has published on slavery in antebellum Virginia and on the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta’s postbellum frontier, and is now writing an environmental and social history of Tennessee’s southern Cumberland Plateau.

Scott Howard Wilson

Professor and Associate Dean for Global Education | Carnegie 106 / ext. 1173. Professor Wilson conducts research on China’s environmental governance with special attention to citizen participation. He has researched the role of Chinese civil society organizations in monitoring polluters and pollution levels, environmental litigation, and bureaucratic enforcement mechanisms. He uses these prisms to analyze state-society relations in managing China’s environmental crisis.

Kirk S. Zigler

Professor of Biology | Spencer Hall 152 / ext. 3153. Professor Zigler studies cave biodiversity. The southern Appalachians are a hotspot for cave biodiversity, and more than a quarter of Tennessee’s “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” are found underground. As most subterranean species are poorly known, there is much to discover about the diverse organisms that live in caves.