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Clemson University
college of agriculture, forestry and life sciences clemson university

J. Drew Lanham

Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology
Master Teacher and Certified Wildlife Biologist
Forestry and Environmental Conservation Department

Office: 115 Lehotsky Hall
Phone: 864-656-7294

Vita: Download CV
Personal Website:


Educational Background

Ph.D. Forest Resources (Wildlife)
Clemson University 1997

M.S. Zooology
Clemson University 1990

B.A. Zoology
Clemson University 1988

Courses Taught

Conservation Ornithology -WFB 4760/6760
Wildlife Conservation Policy - WFB 4300/6300
Hunting and Wildlife Management - WFB 3070
Creative Inquiry (Citizen Science/Ornithology) - FNR 4700


J. Drew Lanham, PhD, CWB (Certified Wildlife Biologist) (Clemson B.A. '88; MS '90; PhD '97) is an academic, writer, artist and public intellectual, from Edgefield and Aiken, South Carolina. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor, Provost's Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, where his most recent scholarly efforts address the confluences of race, place and nature. A conservation and cultural ornithologist, he has mentored nearly fifty graduate students, published extensively in the scientific literature and taught courses in conservation biology, forest ecology, wildlife policy, ornithology and environmental literature/nature writing.

Creatively, Drew is the Poet Laureate of Edgefield County, South Carolina and the author of Sparrow Envy - Poems (Holocene 2016, Hub City 2018), Sparrow Envy - A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts (Hub City 2021) and The Home Place - Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016/Tantor Audio 2018). His memoir is a past winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award (Southern Environmental Law Center), the Southern Book Prize and a 2017 finalist for the Burroughs Medal. It was named a memoir and scholarly book of the decade (Lithub & Chronicle of Higher Education, resp).

Drew's work appears in many anthologies and is found abundantly online and in print in venues such as Orion, Emergence, Vanity Fair, Oxford American, High Country News, Bitter Southerner, Cutthroat, Terrain, Places Journal ,LitHub, Newsweek, Slate, NPR, Story Corps, Audubon, Sierra Magazine, Mud Review, The New York Times, American Bird Conservancy, Leopold Outlook , Flycatcher Journal, Patagonia "This is Love", "Threshold" , and "On Being" podcasts. His online presence on YouTube as well as social media is extensive. Drew has been featured in Garden and Gun Magazine and Clemson World. He teaches writing workshops in creative non-fiction at several venues including Bread Loaf Environmental , Northwoods, Kachemak Bay, Elk River and Orion Omega. He is a contributing editor/editorial advisor for Orion Magazine, Terrain and Cutthroat. He is co- leader of an online nature writing initiative called "Writing the Wild" . Drew's life work is reposited in the Sowell Family Archives at Texas Tech University

Dr. Lanham is a guest curator with several museums alongside his ornithological nemesis, John James Audubon, and an evolving librettist with a poem about whimbrels in the process of becoming an operetta. He is a playwright and visual artist. He is sought after for his ekphrastic expressions interpreting visual works of art in poetry and has been featured by the Morris Museum (Augusta, GA), Greenville Museum, Charleston Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, and upcoming in the Smithsonian (2023-24), and Carnegie (2023-24).

Dr. Lanham is a 2022 MacArthur Fellow. He was also named one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by "The Root", in 2022.

His forthcoming works are Joy is the Justice We Give Ourselves (poetry-Hub City Press), The Bird I Became (children's book -Enchanted Lion), and Range Maps - Birds, Blackness and Loving Nature Between the Two (eco-memoir -Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Drew is intensely southern and rural, despising the regressive politics of the entrenched and racist "old South", but deeply loves the region's ecology and is hopeful that a better South will equate to a better world.

Worshipping birds and other beasts in wildness,
he lives in the Upstate of SC, in the "Dark Corner" near the Southern Appalachian escarpement the Cherokee call the "Blue Wall".

Research Interests

"Connecting the conservation dots" is how I envision my research mission. My past work has focused on the impacts of forest management and other human activities on songbirds, herpetofauna, small mammals and butterflies. More recently I've begun to investigate how ethnicity (especially Black Americans) relate to wildlife and other conservation issues. I'm also interested in how birders and hunters might bridge philosophical gaps to effect conservation in a more holistic way.


Straka, T.J., J.D. Lanham, and T.A. Brown. 2015. Chopping up the forest: How fragmentation and parcelization represent a related but different set of forest problems. Forest Landowner 74(2):34-38.

Zachary D. Miller, Jeffrey C. Hallo, Julia L. Sharp, Robert B. Powell & J. Drew Lanham.2014.Birding by Ear: A Study of Recreational Specialization and Soundscape Preference. Human Dimensions of Wildlife: An International Journal 19 (6)

Lanham, J.D and M.A. Whitehead. 2011. Managing Early Successional Habitats for Wildlife in Novel Places Pp.209-225 in Greenberg, Cathryn; Collins, Beverly; Thompson III, Frank (Eds.). Sustaining Young Forest Communities, Springer Press. NY. 305pp.

Kilpatrick,E.S, J. D. Lanham, and T. A. Waldrop. 2010. Effects of Fuel Reduction Treatments on Avian Nest Density in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina. Open Environmental Sciences, 2010, 4, 70-75.

Kilpatrick,E.S, T.A. Waldrop, Joseph D. Lanham, Cathryn H. Greenberg, Tom H. Contreras. 2010. Short-Term Effects of Fuel Reduction Treatments on Herpetofauna from the Southeastern United States. Forest Science 56(1):122-130.

O’Keefe, J.M., Susan C. Loeb, J. Drew Lanham, and Hoke S. Hill, Jr. 2009. Macrohabitat Factors Affect Day Roost Selection by Eastern Red Bats and Eastern Pipistrelles in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management.

J. Drew Lanham. 2015. Carolina Writers at Home. Reid and McDonald, eds. Hub City Press. Spartanburg, SC.

J. Drew Lanham. 2015. Because of Black Hands.

J. Drew Lanham. 2014. Musings as to Why Negroes Don't Ornithologize.

J. Drew Lanham. 2013. No Forever for Old Farms in State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. A. Rogers., ed. Univ. of SC Press. Columbia, SC.

J. Drew Lanham. 2012. Dog Hands in South Carolina Authors and Their Dogs. B. Teeter, ed. Hub City Press. Spartanburg, SC.

J. Drew Lanham. 2011. More than Birds: A Crisis in Birder Identification. Orion Magazine.

J. Drew Lanham. 2011. More Than Birds in The Colors of Nature. L. Savoy, ed. Milkweed Editions. Minneapolis, MN.

J. Drew Lanham. 2010. Bartram on Blacktop. Pp. 403-413 in Bartram's Living Legacy. D. Dallmeyer, ed. Mercer University Press. Atlanta, Ga.

J. Drew Lanham. 2010. Hunting Deer in Broken Country. Pp. 41-45 in Outdoor Adventures in the Upcountry. M.Stone, ed. Hub City Publishing, Spartanburg, S.C.


Wild and in Color -Nature Writing Blog
Why I am a Birder -Audubon
Birding While Black- NPR Story
Nine Rules for the Black Birdwatcher -Video
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