Skip to Content

Dwight A. Holder Award

The Dwight A. Holder Award was awarded to Paul Leonard, for outstanding work and sustained achievement that foster understanding, wise use, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.

The Award is named in honor of Mr. Holder's illustrious career as an entrepreneur and public servant. As Chairman of the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission he led South Carolina's parks into a new era of service to the people of South Carolina and the nation. The Award recognizes outstanding work by doctoral candidates in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; a member of the Department faculty for original research, scholarly writing, and innovative and inspired teaching; the faculty adviser and graduate student as a team, for initiatives that foster understanding of and provide new insights into the promotion, management, wise use and enjoyment of South Carolina's natural and cultural heritage in perpetuity; and distinguished academic leadership by a member of the Department faculty. (Mr. Holder passed away in Spring 2006).

About Paul Leonard, Ph.D. 

Dr. Paul Leonard

Paul Leonard is the Science Coordinator for the Arctic Program of the US Fish & Wildlife Service based out of Fairbanks, Alaska. Leonard earned his master and doctoral degrees at Clemson University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) before moving to Alaska in 2018. Most of his current work now involves identifying and mitigating the potential impacts of Oil & Gas exploration on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Working with multiple levels of government, NGOs and Alaska native communities, the goal of his research is to provide resource managers and partners with the information, science and translational tools necessary to be better stewards of functional ecosystems. His research investigates ecological pattern and process with applied, bottom-up questions that deal with everything from Caribou movement ecology to the recreational experiences in soundscapes and viewsheds of wilderness. 

Before moving to Alaska, Paul was developing a conservation plan for a 15-state conservation cooperative centered around the Central and Southern Appalachians. This planning process incorporated thousands of private parcels, conservation easements, state and national parks, and other public lands and placed them into a framework for understanding their contribution to the regional network. This work was conducted during his postdoctoral fellowship where he was first inspired by the power of federal agencies to bring people together to plan for future landscapes. 

His larger research interests are focused on recognizing and quantifying the spatial patterns in the distribution of natural resources and elucidating the drivers of those patterns. Using land use change, climate change, and other anthropological impacts in conjunction with landscape-level, systematic conservation planning, he strives to synthesize large, complex spatial data to develop decision support tools and conservation strategies for diverse communities.

Read the news release announcing Dr. Leonard's win.