Gary Machlis, science advisor to the director of the National Park Service, has been named professor of environmental sustainability at Clemson University.
Machlis’ position is a joint appointment in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and the School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences. Machlis will work across Clemson colleges and departments to cultivate research and teaching initiatives in conservation and environmental sustainability.
Appointed to the position by National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis in 2009, Machlis has advised the director on a range of science policy issues and programs. In 2011, he was appointed by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to co-lead the Department of the Interior Strategic Sciences Group, which conducts interdisciplinary science-based assessments during national environmental crises. He led the group’s operations for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and, most recently, Hurricane Sandy.
Prior to joining Clemson University, Machlis was professor of conservation at the University of Idaho. He has also been interim associate vice president for research at the University of Idaho, and a visiting professor at Nanjing Technological College in China and at Yale University.
Machlis received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle, and his Ph.D. in human ecology from Yale. He has written numerous books and scientific papers on issues of conservation, including The State of the World's Parks (1980), the first systematic study of threats to protected areas around the world. Most recently, he co-edited the book Warfare Ecology: A New Synthesis for Peace and Security (2011). His research has been published in such journals as Bioscience, Climatic Change, Conservation Biology, Society and Natural Resources, and Science.
During his tenure at the University of Idaho, Machlis taught courses in conservation, human ecology and environmental science policy. He received the university's highest recognitions for teaching, as well as an education grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to combine art, ecology and architecture in innovative ways for students.
Machlis has conducted studies in more than 130 U.S. National Parks as diverse as the Everglades, the Statue of Liberty, and Yellowstone. In 1996, his research program received a Hammer Award from Vice President Gore for its role in improving efficiency in government.
A leader in collaborative higher education, Machlis was instrumental in the development of the nation's Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Network, which includes 13 federal agencies and more than 200 universities, including Clemson. Machlis also helped establish and directed the National Parks Science Scholars Program, with over $8 million in scholarships to students throughout the Americas.
Also active in international conservation, Machlis has worked in China on the Giant Panda Project for the World Wildlife Fund, and has conducted research in the Galápagos Islands, the national parks of Kenya, and in Eastern Europe.
His current research activities include applying human ecology to conserving national parks; the environmental impacts of warfare and its resulting humanitarian crises; restoration of the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 oil spill; and advancing science capacity in Haiti after its devastating earthquake. In 2010, Machlis was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“I am deeply honored to join the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; the College of Health, Education and Human Development; and the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences,” Machlis said. “The ability to serve at Clemson while continuing work as National Park Service science advisor will allow me to partner with students and faculty in real time about the latest in parks and conservation research, and that partnership will bolster both institutions’ already strong environmental efforts.”
“We are thrilled to have Gary join the Clemson faculty, and know that his experience spanning academic, government and nonprofit sectors will serve the Clemson and larger communities exceedingly well,” said Larry Allen, dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Development, which houses the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. “His appointment will only enhance the university’s reputation for first-rate research and teaching in local, national and international conservation and environmental development.”
“Gary has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to teaching, research and outreach in conservation and environmental sustainability. His addition strengthens Clemson’s commitment and capacity to develop future leaders and innovative solutions that protect parks from the stresses of habitat fragmentation, invasive species, climate change and reduced funding,” said Patricia Layton, director of School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences.