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On April 16th, 2019, the Master of Public Administration Program at the College of Charleston announced a new Executive format starting Fall 2019.

MPA students and faculty attend the 2019 ASPA Conference in Washington, DC.

“At its core,” the program’s official press release reads. “Executive education allows ambitious mid-career professionals to earn an advanced degree without having to withdraw from work and life commitments.”

The new Executive MPA format courses will be offered at the Lowcountry Graduate Center (LGC) in North Charleston, SC. Here, Executive students will engage in courses taught in a hybrid format of online and in-person classes that meet intermittently on Saturdays throughout the semester.


Graduates of the traditional MPA format have gone on to work for the City of Charleston, the City of North Charleston, MUSC, the American Heart Association, Charleston County School District, and other major public organizations in the Lowcountry and beyond.


Applications for the new Executive MPA are being accepted now through July 1st for a Fall 2019 start term. Those interested in learning more about the program should contact Program Director Dr. Judy Millesen at MillesenJL@cofc.edu.

under: Academics, Arts Management, Deadline, Graduate Programs, News, Prospective Students, Public Administration, Urban and Regional Planning

13th Annual Graduate Research Poster Session Winners!

Posted by: Haley Schanne | March 26, 2019 | No Comment |

On Wednesday, March 13th, the University of Charleston, S.C. held our 13th Annual Graduate Research Poster Session! The Graduate Student Poster Session provides an introduction to the impressive research activities currently taking place in our graduate programs. Students are encouraged to participate even if they are only in the beginning stages of their studies. The Poster Session recognizes the ongoing contributions of graduate students to the betterment of our local, state and global communities.

This year, we had 20 incredible entries into our poster session, with representatives from 8 programs present! Below are descriptions of all the winning projects from this year’s competition:


Documenting LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry

Presenter: Emily Jaskwhich

Program: M.A. in History

“Through centuries of discrimination and criminalization, LGTBQ communities have been conditioned to be discrete and secretive, which has detrimentally affected any efforts to record the history of these communities. In recent decades, the fields of gender and sexuality studies have become increasing popular and scholars have quickly realized that sources are next to nonexistent. The groundbreaking project, Documenting LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry, was developed with this problem in mind and is working to fill the evidentiary gap concerning LGBTQ life in South Carolina. The mission of this project is two-fold, developing a permanent LGBTQ archival collection in the College’s Special Collections Department and documenting the personal narratives of LGBTQ individuals through oral history interviews. While there are several projects throughout the country endeavoring to preserve LGBTQ history, very few are based in the Deep South and even less are attempting both archival and oral history preservation. Since its inception in June 2018, the project has processed three archival collections, that are now available for researchers, and conducted nearly thirty oral history interviews, nine of which are weeks away from being published online through the Lowcountry Digital Library. The project is ongoing, and hopefully will be for years to come, but within the span of a year, it has already produced an impressive collection of information on a subject that was virtually impossible to research prior to this project.”



Analyzing the Effect of Drainage Infrastructure on Watershed & Stormflow Characteristics

Presenter: Christopher Brown

Program: M.S. in Environmental Studies

“A traditional practice in stormwater management is to install drainage ditches and culverts that carry runoff away from areas of development and toward tidal creeks. This practice alters the natural flow of water, affecting the water balance and ecology of tidal creeks and marshes. We are analyzing the effect of human infrastructure on drainage basin shape and size and evaluating how these changes have altered stormwater runoff volumes and peak flow rates during storm events compared to how watersheds would behave in an unaltered state. Drainage modifications also allow for tidal flooding to reach further upstream than would naturally occur. The increased tidal flooding increases the frequency of compound flooding events (the coincidence of tidal flow and stormflow), where neither input would have resulted in flood conditions individually. We are assessing the tidal and non-tidal flow of the study creek and building upon recent research to model tidal conditions in coastal South Carolina. These models will be linked to a stormwater modeling system (SWARM) to identify the conditions when stormwater volume exceeds the tidal volume within the creek, and the influence of stormwater, tidal flow, and groundwater discharge will be modeled in relation to water depth, thereby highlighting the conditions when and where flooding can occur.”

Captive populations as a tool for wildlife research: Non-invasive methods assess the stress hormones and health of gentoo penguins

Presenter: Jessica Karan

Program: M.S. in Marine Biology

“Recent studies on gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, have revealed significant differences in the health of several Antarctic colonies, but the source(s) of these differences remains unknown. Sampling limitations and data deficiencies have made it difficult to establish correlations with gentoo health measurements. Captive populations therefore provide an invaluable tool for discovering more about animal biology, as they are easily accessible and detailed long-term records are maintained for each individual. By assessing captive gentoo populations, I seek to determine variables that have a significant effect on gentoo penguin corticosterone levels and ornamental coloration, both of which provide an index of health. These parameters are measured non-invasively through analyses of feather hormones and carotenoids in penguin beak spots. Samples from eight wild gentoo colonies will also be compared to the captive penguins. Partnering with several zoos and aquariums across the country will allow my findings to reach a wide audience, and my results will give institutions a better opportunity to understand their animals and possibly improve overall husbandry practices. Ultimately, I hope to better inform research and conservation decisions for wild gentoo populations.”



The Effects of a Child Life Directed Teddy Bear Clinic on Preschooler’s Knowledge

Presenters: Maura Burns, Chelsie Lang, Katherine Lowe, & Haley-Marie Ragan

Program: M.S. in Child Life

“Teddy bear clinics educate children about medical settings, procedures, and medical personnel. A teddy bear clinic is an interactive educational intervention for children to use a stuffed animal as their patient while they perform medical procedures on their stuffed animal. Children use their stuffed animal “patients” in various medical stations to practice the procedures with realistic or play medical materials as they progress through the clinic stations. Previous research has evaluated the health education intervention of a teddy bear clinic. These studies concluded that teddy bear clinics are effective in reducing a child’s fear of medical tools, procedures, and environments by helping the child normalize all of these experiences through play opportunities. The study’s results will provide further information on the effectiveness of a teddy bear clinic as a health educational methodology for preschoolers. Little research has been performed with this intervention style among preschoolers. Through a successful trial run of an interactive teddy bear clinic, researchers hope to develop an educational tool that can be easily implemented in other preschool classrooms.”




Brian Arne, M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences: Visualizing deep learning networks trained with brain connection data: Connections that are wired together fire together.”


Ashton Basar, M.S. in Environmental Studies & M.P.A. Concurrent Program: The Role of Ambient Temperature and Influenza Outbreaks: A Case Study of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic”


Lindsey Beard, M.S. in Environmental Studies: Development of Data-Driven Decision Management Tool for Monitoring Nitrification at Mt. Pleasant Waterworks


Zachary Bedell, M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences: Improving Audio Classifiers with Synthesized Data


Peter Bergeson, M.S. in Marine Biology: Predator Advantage: Costs of Egg-Carrying in Snapping Shrimp


Danielle Bloom, M.P.A.: How Reentry Programs Influence Reentering Citizens’ Trust in Government


Jennifer Croucher, M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy: Where and How do Pre-Service Teachers Develop Efficacy Beliefs in Relation to Caring Pedagogy


Alejandra Enriquez, M.S. in Marine Biology: From the Seafloor to Estuarine Shores: Zetapreteobacteria in Charleston, SC


Katherine Hoffman, M.S. in Marine Biology: Turtle Tracking Trouble: Do Carapace Morphology and Composition Dictate Observed Satellite Tracking Durations for Kemp’s Ridley and Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtles?


Julie Loewenstien, M.S. in Marine Biology: Characterization of the coral metabolome under different pH and temperature regimes, via 1H NMR


Jake Merotta, M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences: Topsoil: An Open-Source Alternative for Geochronological Data Visualization


Luis Mejia-Ricart, M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences: Adversary Models for Cybersecurity


Brittney Parker, M.S. in Environmental Studies: Microplastic Occurrence in Coastal South Carolina Fishes


Grant B. Thompson, M.S. in Environmental Studies: Novel Applications for Drone-Based Remote Sensing


Blake Waring, M.S. in Environmental Studies: Volcanic and Environmental Interactions in the Late Amazonian Period, Mars


Chelsea Woodruff, M.S. in Environmental Studies: Assessment of Willingness to Pay for Coral-Safe Sunscreens



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Apply for Fall 2019 for Free before January 31!

Posted by: Haley Schanne | January 15, 2019 | No Comment |

The new semester is just beginning, and application deadlines are looming for many of our graduate programs and certificates here at the University of Charleston, S.C.

Applications for our Master of Science in Child Life close January 15, 2019. This program provides graduate level instruction and clinical experience that prepares students to become Certified Child Life Specialists.  Advanced training in child life, child development, family systems, pediatric illness, and stress and coping allows student to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to provide state-of-the-art emotional support for children and families facing challenging events related to health care.  The program is centered on an evidence-based approach to family-centered-care, the promotion of optimal development of children facing challenging life experiences, play, and advocacy in the health care and community settings.

February 1, 2019 marks the date when applications close for our Master of Science in Marine Biology, and our Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The purpose of the Graduate Program in Marine Biology is to offer students a well-rounded, Master’s degree level of education in marine biology that will allow graduates to pursue further study or professional employment in marine science.  The curriculum is designed to provide students with breadth in their education, while focused research projects develop depth.

The MFA in Creative Writing offers advanced degree training to students who wish to gain expertise in the writing of poetry and fiction. The program assumes that, as in music or the visual arts, the best education for the artist includes: training in the history and traditions associated with the student’s discipline, training in theoretical and formal approaches to the craft, and intensive peer and faculty feedback.

All applications submitted by January 31, 2019 will have their application fee waived! If you’re thinking about graduate school, this month is a great time to apply! Contact gradstud@cofc.edu with any questions regarding our masters programs and graduate certificates!

under: Academics, Accountancy, Arts Management, Business Administration, Child Life, Communication, Computer & Information Sciences, CPAD, creative writing, Early Childhood Education, Education, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Studies, ESOL, Fine Arts, Gifted & Talented, Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Historic Preservation, History, Languages, Marine Biology, Mathematics, Middle Grades Education, Performing Arts, Prospective Students, Public Administration, Science & Math for Teachers, Special Education, Statistics, Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy, Tips on Applying to Grad School, Urban and Regional Planning

Fall 2018 Graduate School Grants Roundup

Posted by: Haley Schanne | December 11, 2018 | No Comment |

Another Fall semester is coming to an end, and campus has emptied out for the winter holidays. Here at the Graduate School, we’re looking back at all the great opportunities we helped students make happen through our Graduate School Grants! We granted a total of $8,480 to fund 34 students for 13 projects. Below are all the students and projects we funded this past semester:

Amanda Bayless – M.S. in Marine Biology

Amanda was granted funding to attend the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America annual meeting in Sacramento, CA. There, she presented her research project “Determining Potential Water Quality Threats to Acropora palmata Reproduction at Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve”. Amanda made great networking connections with organizations like NOAA, the EPA, and state government.

“The positive experience I had at SETAC has made me want to attend more meetings in the future,” Amanda says. “I am very grateful for the financial support from the College for this opportunity and for the support of my mentors.”

M.S. Child Life Cohort

The Graduate School helped fund 17 Child Life Students attend the Florida Association of Child Life Professionals in Orlando, FL. There, students attended educational workshops and networking events with their Program Director, Dr. Susan Simonian and other program faculty.

Danielle Bloom – M.P.A.

Danielle was granted funding to attend the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration (SECoPA) conference in Birmingham, AL. There, she presented her research on how citizens reintegrate into society through prisoner reentry programs. Danielle also had the opportunity to attend panel discussions, share research with others in the public sector, and listen to guest speakers. In collaboration with UCSC faculty members Dr. Latasha Chaffin-DeHaan and Dr. Kendra Stewart, Danielle has submitted the article she presented for potential publication!

Jillian Brenner – M.F.A. in Creative Writing/ Graduate Certificate in Arts Management

Jillian was given funding to attend the Fulbright Association Conference in Puebla, Mexico. As the Graduate Assistant with the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, Jillian utilized the opportunity to attend the conference to establish connections and cement her interest in working with the Fulbright Program after graduation! Jillian plans to apply for Fulbright funding in the future to complete research in Lithuania and Greece for her novels.

Alejandra Enriquez – M.S. in Marine Biology

Alejandra was funded to present her research at the 2018 American Geophysical Union Conference in Washington, D.C. At the conference, Alejandra presented her research poster and networked with future PhD programs and future employers. She also attended workshops that pertained to her thesis work on the Distribution of Iron-Oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria in the Charleston area Shoreline and Rivers.

Rebecca Fanning – Concurrent M.S. in Environmental Studies & M.P.A.

Rebecca was funded to attend the Spikenard Farms Honeybee Sanctuary Advisory Session in Floyd, VA. She has worked closely with Spikenard Farms for her work with the student garden at Dixie Plantation, and the Graduate School helped fund her trip to the advisory session. There, Rebecca learned techniques for winter apiary maintenance and was able to stay a few days on the farm to learn about their unusual approach to gardening.

Savannah Haury – M.A. in History

Savannah was granted funding to present her research project “Resistance on the Riverfront: Enslaved Boatmen in Colonial South Carolina” at the Fourth Annual Slave Dwelling Project Conference at Middle Tennessee State University.

M.S. in Historic Preservation Joint Degree with Clemson University

The Graduate School helped fund four Historic Preservation students on a trip to Texas Hill Country. There, the students conducted field work and documentation on German Vernacular Architecture for the Vernacular Architecture Forum this coming spring.

Kimberly Hlavin – M.S. in Historic Preservation Joint Degree with Clemson University

Kimberly was given funding to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in San Francisco, California. There, she was able to attend labs, forums, talks, and interactive tours all within the field of historic preservation, with many extending beyond the scope of the graduate program! Kimberly also experienced several networking opportunities with prominent members of the field.

Sarah Kell – M.S. in Marine Biology

Sarah received funding to attend the Society for Environmental Toxicity and Chemistry North America 39th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California. There, she presented her research project “Recovery of microplastics from fine grain sediment with a common density separation technique using different agitation methods”.

Julie Loewenstein – M.S. in Marine Biology

Julie was given funding to attend the NMRbox Workshop at the University of Georgia. Attending this workshop greatly contributed to Julie’s thesis work on corals and how they will be affected by changes in pH and temperature due to changes in the environment. At the workshop, Julie was able to network with experts in the field of coral science, as well as participate in hands-on workshops and lectures.

Annie Matlack – M.S. Child Life

Annie was granted funding to attend the Florida Association of Child Life Professionals conference in Orlando, FL. There, she presented her research project “Using Child Life Theory to Inform Community Assessment”.

Zach Proux – M.S. Marine Biology

Zach was given funding to travel to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Falmouth, MA. There, he boarded the R/V Atlantis to act as a research assistant to Dr. Peter Etnoyer, a marine biologist with NOAA’s Coastal Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR). Onboard, Zach was able to network with fellow graduate students, experts in the field of deep-sea coral research, and got to dive in a deep-sea submersible to depths of 1,400 meters!


Congratulations to all our incredible students, and we look forward to seeing all the great projects in Spring 2019!

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Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Clemmons, ’12

Posted by: Haley Schanne | October 26, 2018 | No Comment |

For alumna Ashley Clemmons, teaching is more than just her profession; it’s her passion.

Clemmons, a fourth and fifth grade math teacher for the last 13 years, graduated from the University of Charleston, S.C. in 2012 with her M.Ed in Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy (MTLA). This M.Ed program provides advanced study for certified P-21 teachers who are interested in becoming educational leaders and advocates for students, public schools, and the teaching profession. The program focuses in on improving educational practices, policies, and learning environments for students, especially those affected by poverty.

“When we, as teachers, are confident and passionate,” Clemmons explains. “Our students have a greater chance of success.”

With ten years of experience in intervention with struggling students, Clemmons found that the MTLA program was a perfect fit. She’s gained a more in-depth understanding of the children she sees in her classroom every day. By seeing these students and their families through the advocacy lens, Clemmons found it easier to motivate her students to succeed.

The MTLA program offers educators the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and skills in one of four concentration areas during their tenure in the program: Curriculum and Instruction, Diverse Learners, New Literacies, or Science and Mathematics. Students also develop research and advocacy skills, learn policy analysis techniques, utilize self-reflection, and undergo an application of theory to practice through a capstone project.

Through the program, Clemmons completed capstone research about teacher attrition, which gave her greater understanding of the needs of her colleagues. Her experience in the MTLA program has helped Clemmons learn to advocate for herself and the profession while building a greater level of confidence as an educator.

Recently, Clemmons was nominated for a local Mathematics Teaching Award within the Charleston community. She credits her experience as a graduate student at UCSC as a contributing factor towards her success.

“The MTLA program renewed my fire and passion for learning and teaching,” Clemmons says. “I’m so appreciative of the diverse and stimulating coursework and could not have asked for a better graduate program.”

To learn more about the MTLA program, visit http://teachered.cofc.edu/grad-progs/mtla.php.

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Graduate Student Spotlight – Macy Adams, M.P.A. ’19

Posted by: Haley Schanne | October 15, 2018 | No Comment |

As fall makes its entrance here in the Lowcountry, University of Charleston, S.C. student Macy Adams is reflecting on a summer spent helping to a local community foundation.

Macy, a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program was recruited by Program Director Dr. Judith Millesen to act as a boots-on-the-ground consultant to Incourage Community Foundation in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Macy lead staff training, fostered leadership development, and worked to solidify Incourage’s shift from a traditional community foundation to something that is rarely seen in the current philanthropy world.

“I helped facilitate a deeper understanding of organizational values with the staff and board,” Macy explains. “That way, everyone would understand that every decision they make with Incourage is values-based, not what’s going to look the best on paper, or what’s going to bring in the most money. It’s about what aligns with our values.”

Incourage Community Foundation is a nonprofit focused on building a community that works well for all residents through equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship. There’s a commitment to responding to changing community needs, as well as a focus on highlighting and building upon the existing assets that already exist within the community, such as the talents and interests of residents, natural resources, and the networks of residents and support systems.

Macy acted as the organizational development consultant, helping Incourage as it shifts its mission, vision, and strategy to better meet the needs of its community. Through this position, she not only grew as a facilitator, she also gained confidence in her own abilities.

A big takeaway for Macy was getting to learn from Incourage’s CEO Kelly Ryan. Macy cites observing Ryan’s passion, drive, and expansive knowledge on community foundations priceless.

She also credits her experience with the Community Assistance Program (CAP), and her regional governance course as key components to her success in assisting Incourage this past summer. Under Bob O’Neill, a Riley Center Fellow, Macy learned the power of storytelling in both leadership and conflict management.

“There were times when I was working on developing staff leaderships skills, and there would be conflicts that arose,” Macy says. “This meant I needed to apply my Human Resources and leadership skills I’ve learned in the M.P.A. program in a real-life situation, and that was incredibly rewarding.”

Macy will continue with the CAP program, and hopes to work in policy after graduating in Spring 2019, but is open to new opportunities and experiences.

“As far as where I end up after graduation, right now I’m leaving that door open,” Macy explains. “I’ve found that some of the most rewarding experiences in life can happen as long as I’m open to saying ‘Yes’ to the unexpected.”


To learn more about Incourage Community Foundation, visit their website at https://incouragecf.org/ . For more on the Community Assistance Program with the Master of Public Administration Program, visit http://puba.cofc.edu/community-assistance-program/index.php.

under: Academics, Graduate Programs, Prospective Students, Public Administration, Travel

Spring, Summer, and Fall 2019 Applications are Open!

Posted by: Haley Schanne | September 17, 2018 | No Comment |

The Fall 2018 semester has just begun, but the University of Charleston, S.C. is already looking forward to welcoming our Spring, Summer, and Fall 2019 graduate students!

The application period began on August 1, 2018 for all 24 degree and 10 certificate programs offered here at UCSC. Each degree and certificate program has their own admissions requirements, so it’s important to ensure you are prepared to apply. These are just a few tips to keep in mind when applying for a graduate program. Applying to graduate school is big step in your academic or professional career, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult!

  • Check the admissions requirements for the program in which you are interested. The best way to ensure you meet the requirements of your chosen program are to either check the program’s website, or speak with the Program Director or Program Coordinator directly. Not only will this provide you with a face-to-face interaction with a professional in your chosen field, meeting with the Program Director helps put a face to the name on your application, and gets you both excited about the application process.
  • Set aside money for application fees, entrance exams, and transcripts. Most institutions, UCSC included, require an application fee when submitting your application. Planning ahead of time for expenses associated with applying for graduate school will help ensure a smoother, stress-free process. Institutions will also oftentimes charge for sending official transcripts to potential graduate schools, and the various entrance exams also have fees associated. These entrance exams will be covered more fully in the next section.
  • Determine which entrance exam you will need to take. For most graduate programs, the GRE is the required entrance examination. Split into three sections, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing, the GRE aims to reflect to admissions boards that you are prepared for the type of work and thinking process needed in a graduate environment. Free test prep is available for the GRE at ets.org/gre , which is where you also can register to take the exam.
    Additionally, some programs will accept another test score called the GMAT, namely business programs. The GMAT is split into four sections, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning, and aims to measure one’s critical thinking and reasoning skills, which are very relevant to business programs. Test prep and registration can be found at www.mba.com.
  • Solicit letters of recommendation. These are important admissions materials, and serve as your opportunity to have the skills and experiences covered in your resume or cover letter validated and verified by working professionals. They are a chance to highlight your work ethic, experience, intelligence, and personality. Ensure you ask individuals who can positively, and honestly, speak to your readiness for graduate studies when soliciting for recommendations.
  • Request transcripts from all academic institutions you have attended. It’s important to have these transcripts be both official and sent directly from your previous academic institutions. Ensure you allow plenty of time before the application closing date to have the transcripts sent. It’s a good practice to include an unofficial copy of your transcripts with your application, just in case!
  • Write your statement of purpose or goals. This is a very important component of your application. At this stage, the admissions board will have seen your resume, your transcripts, and your letters of recommendation. The personal statement is your chance to speak directly to the admissions board. Discuss your motivations for choosing this graduate program, your aspirations during and after graduate school, what makes you a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. The personal statement is also a great place to address any potential weak points of your application, and how you’ve worked to overcome them.
  • Submitting your application. It’s a good practice to reach out to the admissions office to ensure all your application materials have been received once you hit that submit button. Following up with recommendation writers is also a great proactive step in ensuring all your application materials are received by the deadline.

Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to take courses directly related to your chosen field, network with advanced professionals, and build background and experience in your career path. Be sure to check with your program for application deadlines for the coming semesters. For more information on admission to UCSC, visit our website at http://gradschool.cofc.edu/admission-information/index.php 

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University of Charleston, S.C. student Sam Norton wants to expand the ways we farm.

Sam, a first year student in the Master of Science in Environmental Studies Program, has wasted no time getting his feet wet working on his thesis. Before the start of his first full-time semester, he was awarded a $25,000 grant for his research through the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research & Entrepreneurship (ACRE) Program. The ACRE program is a new initiative that seeks to increase market opportunities for South Carolina agribusinesses and farmers, with Sam being one of the first recipients.

With funding from ACRE, Sam plans to study how terrestrial saltwater farming could be brought to the Lowcountry through Salicornia bigelovii., otherwise known as ‘sea beans’ or ‘sea pickle’. The Salicornia plant is already the subject of immense study, with companies like Boeing and GE researching the seeds as a potential source of biofuels.

Salicornia bigelovii are quite rare in the salt marshes of the Lowcountry, but Sam saw them as a great candidate for terrestrial saltwater farming after first learning about the biofuel application during a class project during his time earning his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the College of Charleston, a class that just happened to be taught by the Environmental Studies Graduate Program Director, Dr. Annette Watson.

“In doing research for the class,” Sam explains. “I looked up Salicornia and realized they were successfully making biofuel with this plant that I used to eat as a kid at camp.”

This initial partnership between Sam and Dr. Watson helped foster Sam’s terrestrial saltwater farming idea, and introduced Sam to the graduate-level program. After spending the Spring 2018 semester as a non-degree seeking student, Sam applied for and was accepted into the program starting in the Summer of 2018.

Salicornia bigelovii. Photo Credit: calphotos.berkely.edu

Through his standing as a graduate student, Sam has been able to make connections with organizations like Lowcountry Local First, Charleston Fab Lab, Clemson Extension, East Cooper Land Trust and Local Works, and Charleston Aquatics to provide assistance or support for his project.

“Being a graduate student in the Environmental Studies program has opened up a lot of doors for me.” Sam says. “It gives you the credibility that’s backed up by a program with high esteem and standing.”

With the ACRE grant, Sam has already begun to build a saltwater greenhouse to grow the Salicornia plants, as well as develop a method for cultivation that can be applied throughout the Lowcountry and beyond in terms of agriculture as well as marsh restoration.

The ACRE grant has the potential be doubled throughout Sam’s thesis project, with the earliest opportunity for additional funding occurring at the end of September 2018. He hopes that his thesis work will contribute to the field of terrestrial saltwater farming around the globe.

To learn more about the ACRE program, visit https://agriculture.sc.gov/divisions/external-affairs-economic-development/acre/ . For more information on the Master of Science Environmental Studies at UCSC, visit http://mes.cofc.edu/

under: Academics, Award, Charleston, Environmental Studies, News

Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, ‘97

Posted by: Haley Schanne | August 27, 2018 | No Comment |

Alumna Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch is adding to our history books, one story at a time.

Dr. Jones-Branch, a Charleston native, graduated from the College of Charleston with her B.A. in History in 1994, as well as her M.A. in History in 1997, and obtained her Ph.D in American History from The Ohio State University in 2003. She has been a professor of history at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro ever since. She also serves as the adviser for the African American Studies Minor, as

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Professor of History Arkansas State University portraits taken by Dr. Gabriel B. Tait.

well as the Major and Minor adviser for the Department of History at ASU.

Most recently, Dr. Jones-Branch was awarded the 2017-18 University Educator of the Year Award by the Arkansas Council for the Social Studies and specializes in teaching about the histories of African-American women, civil rights, and rural history. Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014) was her first book and was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Award from the Association of Black Women Historians in 2014. It was also a finalist for the George C. Rogers Jr. Award from the South Carolina Historical Association.

Her most recent publication, Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times, is her first co-edited piece with colleague Dr. Gary Edwards, also of ASU.

“This was a very long process,” Dr. Jones-Branch says. “And I learned a lot about what it takes to co-edit a volume and work with diverse scholars. I’m especially grateful to my colleague Dr. Gary Edwards for taking on the struggles of this project with me!”

Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times documents the experiences of Arkansas women from the state’s earliest frontier history through the late 1900s through fifteen biographical essays and was published in 2018 through the University of Georgia Press.

As an educator and researcher with ASU, Dr. Jones-Branch has been granted numerous awards for her work, including the 2004 Dean’s Research Award, a 2007 Faculty Research Award, and the 2009 Diversity Excellence Award. In 2014, Dr. Jones-Branch won the Arkansas State University Faculty Research award. She is also the first ever recipient of the James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Endowed Professor of History, an endowment that will be awarded annually to an outstanding faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Communication.

Dr. Jones-Branch is currently completing her next book project titled “Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps”: Rural Black Women’s Activism in Arkansas, 1913-1965, a project that reflects her curiosity and fascination with the diverse experiences of rural black women extending beyond their work as agricultural laborers in the Jim Crow South.

“Many of them were well-known community leaders,” Dr. Jones-Branch explains. “Some were landowners in their own right. And at least one ran for the Arkansas State Senate as a Republican. These stories have not typically made it into Arkansas history books in a significant way, but they are important to helping us further flesh out and understand the complicated and nuanced stories about black women’s lives in the rural South.”

Through all her academic achievements and successes, Dr. Jones-Branch has carried some valuable lessons with her from her time in Charleston, including the rewards of hard work, and the importance of never giving up when hard times come.

“Learn your craft and learn it well,” She says. “But understand that smart people are always interested in growing, learning, and improving.”

We are incredibly proud and humbled to have Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch as one of our esteemed alumni here at the University of Charleston, SC!

To learn more about Dr. Jones-Branch’s research and publications, visit https://www.astate.edu or email her directly at crjones@astate.edu.

under: Alumni, Award, Charleston, Diversity, Graduate Programs, History, Networking

Graduate Student Highlight: Nicholas Mercer, MPA ’19

Posted by: Haley Schanne | August 6, 2018 | No Comment |

For the University of Charleston, SC student Nicholas Mercer, this summer was all about innovation and inclusion.

Nicholas, a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program, has been working with the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), a social justice non-profit that strives to achieve equality and acceptance for the LGBTQ community right here in the Lowcountry. This partnership was made possible through Nicholas’ Graduate Assistantship with the Community Assistance Program (CAP). Housed within the Public Administration program, CAP students partner with various non-profit organizations in the region to help with necessary projects.

With AFFA, Nicholas has been working on the launch of the LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment, a survey which is first of its kind ever to be undertaken in the tri-county area. The survey is a replication of similar studies conducted in Spartanburg, SC, and Birmingham, AL. Nicholas was present at the launch event for the AFFA survey on August 2, 2018 at the Joseph P. Riley Center for Livable Communities and was recently interviewed by the Charleston City Paper in reference to the project.

The survey, called “The Tri-County LGBTQ Community Survey”, has become a passion project for Nicholas.

“This project is something that effects my community right here,” Nicholas explains. “And it’s research that’s never been done before in this area. Being involved in this effort right where I live is incredible.”

The survey aims to gather information on the various facets of an LGBTQ person’s life in the Lowcountry, such as religion, family life, and professional ventures. AFFA hopes to create a wholistic view of the experiences of LGBTQ community members, which is particularly exciting for Nicholas once the results come in. When asked about the how the data that is collected will be used, Nicholas had this to say.

“With this first-time assessment, the sky’s the limit! The results will help AFFA assist with the needs of the underserved LGBTQ community right here in the tri-county area.”

Working with AFFA through the CAP program has been invaluable for Nicholas. His focus within the MPA program is non-profit management, and his Graduate Assistantship position allows him to gain real world experience every single day.

“The CAP program has brought to life what I’ve been learning in class,” Nicholas says. “And the opportunity to work with AFFA has been such a richly rewarding experience.”

Nicholas will continue working with AFFA through the Fall 2018 semester and hopes to continue to work on the behalf of the LGBTQ community within the nonprofit sector after his graduation in the Spring 2019.

To learn more about The Tri-County LGBT Community Survey, visit AFFA’s website at https://www.affa-sc.org/. To participate in the survey, visit https://the-lgbtq-survey.com/. For more on the Community Assistance Program with the Master of Public Administration Program, visit http://puba.cofc.edu/community-assistance-program/index.php.

under: Academics, Charleston, Diversity, News, Public Administration

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