Alumni Corner

Keep in touch with us, and let us keep you in touch with your fellow alumni, professors, and other members of the EVSS community.  Take a minute to fill out the EVSS Alumni Contact Form, and ensure that your contact information is up-to-date.

The results from our most recent alumni survey are posted on our Alumni Survey page.

Where are EVSS Alumni working? Find out!

EVSS Alumni Spotlights

Michael Cranford ('21)


Michael graduated from the EVSS Program in Fall 2021 and currently resides in Columbia, SC, where he works as a Marketing Specialist for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. In that role he serves as the Farm to School Program Coordinator and the Executive Director of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association. Michael's thesis looked at the strategic planning efforts of small farms. He interviewed a variety of small farms in the Charleston area in order to learn what planning techniques they utilized and what influences were present in the planning process. "I believe that the EVSS program most prepared me for my job through its emphasis on social sciences. I think it is easy for people to forget that humans are, in fact, a part of the environment. I think the EVSS program has taught me see the environment, examine how systems are interacting, and know how to work with people to improve our communities and food systems."

Cheryl Carmack ('14)


Cheryl grew up in North Alabama and went to school in Birmingham, but has been in Charleston for 10 years now. She currently works as the Staff Scientist and Volunteer Coordinator for Charleston Waterkeeper. While in the EVSS Program, she did an internship with Charleston Waterkeeper in which she developed their first water quality monitoring program. This included writing a quality assurance project plan that was approved by DHEC, getting the laboratory equipped and certified, and getting the program launched and operational. Cheryl was hired by Charleston Waterkeeper upon graduating, after having interned for 2 years during her time in EVSS. "EVSS gave me the hands-on experience that I needed to easily transition into my career. From the practical applications of my internship project to the research topics in class that helped improve my knowledge in my field, EVSS was critical in preparing me for my path in water quality." Her advice to current students would be to network! You can get involved with Charleston Waterkeeper and view volunteering events here.

Kelsey McClellan ('17)


Kelsey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Biology from Clemson University, where work in the lab became fundamental in furthering her need to explore and research the environment. She then earned her Master of Science degree in Environmental Science from the College of Charleston, where she held various research and teaching assistant positions while working as a tour operator and USCG captain for Barrier Island Eco Tours. She considers this some of the most meaningful work she’s done. Her EVSS thesis was entitled “Assessing the Effect of Climate Variability on the South Carolina Recreational and Commercial Blue Crab Fishery”. She says “The EVSS program was extremely helpful in preparing me for working in the real world-- one of the most attractive qualities of the program, in my opinion, is the relationship between the College and the state and federal agencies like SC Sea Grant, SC Department of Natural Resources, and NOAA Office of Coastal Management. With those key organizations in geographic proximity to the College, it primes the pathway for Master's students to reach out and integrate their thesis research into real-world applications and projects.”  Her advice to current EVSS students is to use the resources you have available to you! Kelsey is currently working as a Coastal Management Fellow for NOAA in the Saipan Islands.

Chelsea Acres ('18)


Chelsea was featured in the CofC Today newspaper for her work with rare and endangered species. Chelsea is currently working in Austin, TX with the Texas Parks and Wildlife department as a rare and listed species grant coordinator. She helps organize and review grants, and manages projects for the whole state. Chelsea loves that she gets to directly impact wildlife conservation within the state. You can view the full news article here

Zachary T. Stephens ('21)


While attending CofC I was the Graduate Student Association President 2018-2019 and VP 2017-2018. Now, I am the CEO & Co-Founder of Sustain Edu, an education technology company redefining social good and student success through the power of data. The EVSS program prepared me for the real world by providing a varied selection of elective courses and project-focused coursework. The ability to take a wide selection of electives has proven useful in networking or professional development settings as I am able to understand or add my input into various dialogues. With a majority of coursework focused on project-based deliverables, this directly translates into the professional environment where I must balance multiple projects across a variety of clients or business development operations at once. A few of my favorite classes which coincidentally have proven the most professional value have been ‘Social Science Methods’, ‘Cultures, Economies, and Environmental Governance’, and ‘Political Economy of Natural Resources’.” Zachary was able to attend the 2018 Future Cities Conferencein Dubai through MESSA and Program Funding." (click here to read more about this experience)

Megan Shearer-Hall ('19)


Megan grew up in Clarksville, Maryland and attended Washington & Lee University for undergrad where she received a BA in Art History and Environmental Studies. While in the EVSS program, Megan’s thesis was about Program development for Clemson Extension Cooperative Extension in the area of invasive fire ant education and legal treatment for K-12 educators and maintenance staff. “The EVSS program was a great way to learn about opportunities in the local environmental field and network with local professionals. Especially for students who have moved here from out of town, the program shows you all the possibilities in the environmental field.” After completing her thesis project, Clemson Extension had executed her fire ant training program four times (complete with income for the program and 4.5 DPR pesticide credits) across the state with positive feedback. They then offered her a job as a Program Assistant with the School Gardening for SC Educators program. Megan’s advice to current EVSS students is “Apply for as many internships as possible, even if it might not sound the most exciting or it doesn’t seem to align 100% with your interests. Even if it’s not your dream job, it will give you the experience and networking you need along the way to finding your dream job. And it very well may open up the opportunity (through lateral moves, promotions, or networking) to a career you really enjoy!”

Katherine Gerling ('17)


Katherine Gerling, a Concurrent Program Alumna, earned a Master’s in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and a Master of Public Administration in 2017. Her graduate internship was working with Charleston Waterkeeper (CWK), a local nonprofit whose mission is to increase the cleanliness and access of local waterways. She created a survey to measure who their constituency is, how they receive their messaging, what their knowledge base was, and then made infographics for CWK to use in outreach methods going forward. After graduating from the Concurrent Program, Katherine worked for Charleston County’s Floodplain Division. Now, she works for the City of Folly Beach as their Environmental and Land Use Planner.

Miranda Dziobak ('21)


Alumna Miranda Dziobak earned her bachelor's in biochemistry at the University of Toledo and her master's in environmental and sustainability studies at the College. After finishing her master's thesis on dolphinecotoxicology in Spring 2021, her next step is starting the Environmental Health Sciences PhD program at USC in Fall 2021. This PhD program is the "perfect fit" for Miranda, as it focuses on "the adverse effects of environmental conditions or contamination on human health and the impacts of human activities on the environment (USC Columbia). She will continue to conduct research with Dr. Hart at USC. Her PhD research will continue her master's thesis work on "understanding phthalate contamination in bottlenose dolphins using urine samples to quantify exposure." She will investigate other avenues to observe chemicals from plastics (phthalates) in dolphins through other methodologies that sample "blubber, feces, and gastric fluid, correlating gut microplastic contents with detectable phthalate metabolite concentrations." This work will investigate "what marine phthalate contamination looks like and resultant effects," and make this methodology applicable to more locations and species.

View Miranda's full highlight here

Brittney Parker ('19)


Brittney, a 2019 graduate, recently started as the Policy Specialist for Resilient Coasts, Flooding, and Marine Conservation at the National Wildlife Federation! In this position, she tracks legislation relating to the aforementioned topics, participates in broad coalitions of organizations to build support and engagement around the US, works with congressional staff to introduce and refine bills, and works to advance organizational policy priorities that support conservation and sustainable resource management for people and wildlife! Before her job at National Wildlife Federation, Brittney was also a Knauss Fellow! In this experience, she learned about flooding and hazard mitigation at FEMA, giving her insight of how federal policy is written and implemented. Brittney is excited to see how the new administration will address climate change, resilience, and equity, and she looks forward to engaging with Congressional offices and general agencies on all these topics!

Lucas Hernandez ('19)


One unique aspect of the EVSS program is that many of our alumni stay local to the Charleston area after graduating, which creates a large network in the lowcountry and beyond! One alumni, Lucas Hernandez, has served as the Resilience Specialist at the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) since graduating from the program in 2019. His thesis project creating flood maps caught the eye of KICA amidst an island-wide drainage project the organization was working on. In his current position, Lucas coordinates efforts between critical entities on the island and represents Kiawah in forums, workshops and advocacy groups off-island. He also assists with planning and prioritizatoin of flood mitigation projects, emergency preparedness/management and the coordination data management of all environmental monitoring on Kiawah Island.  

Maggie McCabe ('20)


Recent alumni Maggie McCabe is finding great success after graduating from the EVSS program! Her thesis work included a partnership with Charleston Waterkeeper, where she developed an environmental education prgram and evaluated their current education efforts towards adult volunteers/participants. She credits this experience with contributing valuable skills such as the ability to educate both informally and formally, verbally communicate with audiences of various demographics, and develop important documents for professionals as well as laymen. These contributed to her uniqueness as a job candidate in the field, and helped her land her new position as the Institutional Partnerships Coordinator at American Farmland Trust. Here she conducts research and analyses, assists with grant applications, and distributes information across the organization. 

Kristen Gold ('18)


Kristen began as a Staff Serpentologist in Fall 2020 after what she calls a "pretty linear career path". Her passion for reptiles and thesis research at CofC involving Texas horned lizard populations near Charleston fueled her to learn more about venomous snakes and to take a handling course with The Rattlesnake Conservancy. After that, she took a seasonal job in Austin, Texas as a Natural Resources Technician mainly surveying for endangered birds, wheree she encountered many rattlesnakes. 


Aaron Holly ('16)


Aaron Holly, a graduate from 2016, now works as a community planner for the Montgomery County Planning Commission in Philadelpha, PA. Aaron's internship project with Charleston Moves and Coastal Conservation League led him to work for the City of Charleston after graduation in their planning department to develop similar projects including the People Pedal Plan, Charleston's downtown bike plan.


Lee Bundrick ('19)


We want to recognize Lee for the important work he is doing at the Kiawah Conservancy as the Land Preservation Coordinator. In this role, Lee monitors the Conservancy's 2,273 of protected coastal land, manages conservation easements, and coordinates environmental research projects on Kiawah Island. As an EVSS student, Lee developed skills and knowledge about the fundamentals of land use law, geographic information systems, and environmental governance, all of which are helpful tools in his current position. 


Amanda Voges ('18)


Graduates of the EVSS program enter many different industries and hold a wide range of titles. One such alumna is Amanda Voges, a graduate in 2018. As an EVSS student, Amanda found her passion for wetland science through an internship with Robinson Design Engineers. This discovery led her to pursue a career that builds on her interests and the skills that she learned while in the program! 


Keith McCullough ('05)

Ketih now works for The Charleston County Parks and recently made this video so you can test out your bird sound identification skills, check it out!

Jenny Wiedower ('06)


Jenny received her M.S. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies in 2006. Her internship was with the national nonprofit organization Urban Land Institute and focused on sustainable land development in South Carolina. This internship helped establish the SC chapter of the Urban Land Institute's national network. Her internship led her to the position she currently occupies as the Senior Manager at the US Green Building Council for K-12 Education where she helps existing schools incorporate sustainability into their operations and educational programming. Coming in with a B.A. in English Literature, Jenny discovered her career aspirations in sustainability from the exposure to social and natural sciences in the EVSS program. 

View her full highlight here! 

Maggie Dangerfield ('13)


Maggie received her two master's degrees in Environmental Studies and Public Administration in Fall 2013. During her time in the program, she designed and implemented a commercial food waste compositing pilot program in 10 schools within the Charleston County School District, which led to an expansion to 48 schools. Her internship as Sustainability Coordinator led her into her career with the Charleston County School District, where she now serves as the Parent and Community Engagement Officer within the Division of Strategy and Communications. Her role serves parent-teacher-student associations (such as PTOs or PTAs), school improvement councils, and strategic partnerships. Maggie reflects on her time during the concurrent program as enriching in both her personal and professional life. The program offered her "abundant opportunities to learn and to make valuable connections" that can lead any prospective student to "embark on a multitude of career pathways in life."

Chelsea Acres ('18)


Chelsea Acres graduated from the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program and investigated bottlenose dolphin health in the context of hazardous waste sites. She is now working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Management as the Rare and Listed Species Grant Coordinator. She is responsible for managing the State Wildlife Grant and Section 6 Endangered Species Grant funds that the state of Texas receives from US Fish and Wildlife. She helps select criteria for project selection, manage funded projects, and help acquire lands for species recovery and/or habitat conservation planning. Even though Chelsea’s current position is quite different from her thesis topic, her thesis work prepared to apply her understanding compliance to policies and regulations of protected species and environments to her current position. The program’s curriculum also prepared her for her current position by developing her proficiency in federal environmental policy literacy. Read her thesis here.

Brooke Czwartacki ('13)


Brooke is a hydrologist with SCDNR and was recently featured in the Post and Courier for her work studying groundwater and salt inundation along the SC coast. Brooke graduated from the EVSS Program in 2013 and conducted a thesis project titled "Time and Tide: Understanding the Dynamics in a Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetland." Brooke is the only hydrologist in the state who is keeping track of salt in our groundwater. According to the article, Brooke monitors water changes in 40 wells throughout several coastal and Pee Dee counties with 11 wells showing saltwater intrusion. Click here to read her thesis.

Check out the article here!

Photo by Lauren Petracca (

Alumni in the National Estuary Research Reserve System

Multiple EVSS Alumni work within the National Estuary Research Reserve System. South Carolina is host to the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), one of the largest undeveloped estuary systems on the east coast. The ACE Basin NERR aims to protect wildlife and preserve the cultural history of the area through long term research, education, stewardship, and water quality monitoring. This 140,000 acre protected area was designated in 1992 in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). All staff in the South Carolina ACE Basin are either currently in the EVSS program or alumni. There are 29 Reserves around the country and EVSS alumni work within at least three reserves!

Blaik Keppler (‘08)

Blaik Keppler

Blaik is the Manager of the ACE Basin Reserve in Charleston, SC.

"I am grateful for the knowledge and experiences gained through [EVSS] Program. The program is very interdisciplinary, just like most jobs in this field. For me, the mix of a scientific thesis and coursework focused both on science and policy has been hugely helpful preparing me to navigate a position that requires knowledge in both areas." View her thesis here.

Julie Binz (‘05)


Julie is the Education Coordinator for the ACE Basin Reserve in Charleston, SC.

“Since the Reserve works on a variety of projects from land stewardship to water quality research to education, I had to have a wide range of prior knowledge. With the [EVSS] program’s interdisciplinary approach, I was able to gain skills in scientific research, effective communication, and environmental policy. My internship directly led to my first position as an environmental educator for the Friends of Coastal SC, and then my current position. The connections that the faculty of the [EVSS] program have in the community helped me build a network within the environmental education field in Charleston and continues to support our work in the area.”

Sarah McGuire ('05)

Sarah nuss

Sarah is the General Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia is one of 29 NERR sites across the country set up to monitor, protect, and educate about estuaries.  Sarah's job as the Education Coordinator for CBNERR allows her the opportunity to work with K-12 students, teachers, graduate students, and the general public.  Some of the projects she is working on currently include training graduate students at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to develop lesson plans on their current research, training teachers and pre-service teachers on how to conduct outdoor field investigations, and planning the 2019 Discovery Lab series which is a family-friendly event offered monthly for people in the local area to learn about a marine science topic.

"The skills gained through the [EVSS] program include general skills such as time management, but also background knowledge in coastal resources and management, and access to networking and internship opportunities that contributed to some of the colleagues I still work with today.  It is great to continue to work with [EVSS] graduates on national level initiatives through the NERRS system!"

Sarah Falkowski (‘05)

Sarah is the Educator Coordinator for the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples, Florida. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the gulf coast of Florida, and represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. This reserve contains 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. It is host to 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals. As Education Coordinator, Sarah has the opportunity to oversee three main types of programs: school field trips for grades K-20, public events such as lectures and festivals, and guided boat and kayak ecotours.
"The [EVSS] program taught me the value of getting out in the community to share the cool stuff we do.  As the former Race Director of the MESSA 8k for H2O, I learned how to network with community partners to raise funds and awareness.  Those skills still apply today as I promote the mission of Rookery Bay Research Reserve. Going in the field with our Research team and then sharing pictures of shark tagging or rescuing sea turtle hatchlings with students is a fun way to connect people with what we do here.  Teaching audiences K-gray about the animals that live here and what they can do to preserve this unique habitat is a rewarding way to spend my day!"

Other EVSS Alumni:

Ben Stone ('10)


Ben graduated from the EVSS program in 2010 and currently works as a Shellfish Biologist at the SC Department of Natural Resources in Charleston. During his time in the EVSS Program, Ben worked with The Nature Conservancy and SCDNR to complete an internship project. He conducted an in state and out-of-state survey of shellfish dealers to determine 1) how much oyster shell should be available for shell recycling in South Carolina and 2) where is the oyster shell ending up (i.e. restaurants) to determine where to concentrate the state’s shell collection efforts. His internship helped him attain his current position at SCDNR immediately after graduation. Ben is currently working on a living shoreline project at SCDNR testing various materials that could potentially be used by private property owners to help protect their shoreline.

"The [EVSS] program gave me the opportunity to work with NGO’s and state agencies providing me with real world experience. The [EVSS] coursework provided several useful courses I use for my day-to-day work week such as GIS, environmental statistics, wildlife law, etc. The [EVSS] program continues to work with several NGO’s, state agencies, and federal agencies. I would encourage students to try and collaborate with one or more of these groups for their thesis/internship project to gain useful real world experience." 

Catherine Main ('96)

Catherine Main

Catherine was the very first graduate of the EVSS program in 1996! She completed an internship with Anne Hale Miglarese who directed remote sensing and GIS programs as Chief of the Coastal Information Services branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal Services Center (now known as the Office for Coastal Management). After graduating from the EVSS program, Catherine was hired as a Coastal Planner at the NOAA Coastal Services Center to continue the work she started as an intern. She worked for the federal government for 4 years and had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects all over the country. Her work included looking for the best solutions to rapid coastal population growth, the loss of valuable coastal resources and coastal hazards. In 1998, she entered into non-profit coastal conservation work in an effort to seek more readily available private funds to save coastal land before it is too late. Catherine has worked for 4 different land trusts and continues to be passionate about coastal conservation particularly in the lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia.  

Catherine is currently the Executive Director of the East Cooper Land Trust and has been in this position since 2013.  She enjoys putting together creative land conservation deals.  She is inspired to do this work because she knows the lands she helps permanently conserve will be appreciated by many people for generations to come. 

"The interdisciplinary nature of the MES program prepared me to help bridge the gaps between the environment and other fields.  I learned to seek and bring people to common ground through better communication and understanding."

Aaron Holly ('16)


Aaron Holly graduated from the concurrent EVSS/MPA program in 2016 and is currently working as a Planner for the City of Charleston. He completed a joint internship with Charleston Moves and the Coastal Conservation League using GIS to analyze bicycle and pedestrian incident data on the peninsula to identify hot-spots and make policy recommendations to help improve safety conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. 

While working for the city, Aaron has been fortunate to work on many diverse issues and projects including: The city’s new short term rental ordinance, Holy Spokes: The Charleston Bike Share, Plan West Ashley, People Pedal: The Downtown Bike Plan, and the City’s Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge Team among others. 

“The [EVSS] and MPA programs helped prepare me for my career in a many of ways. Most importantly, it helped me understand the importance of policy and the role we can play through helping communicate and translate complex topics to help decision makers make better, more informed policy decisions, and also the importance of communicating and working with multiple stakeholders to achieve goals.”

Kelsey McClellan ('17)

Kelsey McClellan

Kelsey graduated from the EVSS program in 2017 and is currently working as the Coastal Management Fellow for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). She works with the CNMI Division of Coastal Resources Management to establish and pilot a stakeholder informed method of determining the user capacity of both well known and emerging tourist sites in the CNMI and to translate the results into clear management recommendations for sustainable development of the tourism industry.

"The [EVSS] program prepared me for this opportunity in several ways; in terms of coursework, my social science and biometry courses, taught by Dr. Lovelace and Dr. Strand, prepared me for the social science experimental design, data collection, and analysis required to develop a successful tourist carrying capacity model, while my GIS courses and independent study, taught by Dr. Levine, were a perfect avenue for me to learn geospatial analysis, planning, and product development. 

Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the dedication to providing students a supportive network while in the program and after, I was able to cultivate my professional career at SC DNR and SC Sea Grant, thanks to the connections I fostered while in the [EVSS] Program." Read her thesis here.