Patrick is the Emmy Award-winning host, co-creator and writer of the popular ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. For over 20 years, Patrick has worked as a professional naturalist, biologist and educator. His range of experience has concentrated on botany, though he is also well-respected through his work in ichthyology, herpetology and mammalogy. Patrick is a professional naturalist, the Glenn and Heather Hilliard Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University, where he is also a faculty member in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum and the Clemson Experimental Forest and an honorary member of the Clemson University Class of 1939.
Patrick received his BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his PhD in Biological Sciences from Clemson University. His research has been featured in both National Wildlife and South Carolina Wildlife magazines, as well as in numerous articles in The State, the Greenville News and other local and regional newspapers. In 2005, he was awarded the distinctions of Conservation Partner of the Year by the Partnership for the Blue Ridge, as well as Outstanding Classified Employee by Clemson University. He is a contributor to the book Life at the Water’s Edge, which won the 2005 Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s Outstanding Achievement Award and has been selected to receive one of 10 South Carolina Notable State Document Awards for 2005.
In addition to hosting Expeditions, Patrick spends his time at Clemson University, fulfilling his teaching, outreach and curatorial duties. As an expert speaker, he is in demand throughout the Southeast and nation and routinely gives more than 100 public presentations annually, including the prestigious Calhoun Lecture in January of 2009, the first Clemson faculty member invited to present this address. He has also given dozens of departmental seminars at universities throughout the region. Patrick is an active member of several organizations, including the South Carolina Association of Naturalists, the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, the South Carolina Native Plant Society and the South Carolina Entomological Society. He is a member of the board of trustees for Upstate Forever, a former member of The Nature Conservancy, South Carolina, board of trustees and is on the SCDNR Heritage Trust Advisory Board Natural Areas Committee and the Craig's Pond Eco-education Committee.
Patrick’s intense interest in natural history began at a very young age. He attributes his memorization of thousands of scientific names to his grandmother, who would read him Animal Kingdom and wildflower books as a young child, including the Latin names—quite a contrast to Dr. Seuss! He spent his early childhood in the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress Swamp with his father and grandfather. Patrick and his family moved to Alleghany County, North Carolina, in 1976, where he lived a few hundred feet off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 231. Every day was spent familiarizing himself with the rhythm and diversity of his neighborhood woods, fields and streams. By the time he entered the University of North Carolina, his explorations had already documented plants formerly unknown in North Carolina.
During and after college, Patrick worked as an environmental consultant and field ecologist for UNC-Chapel Hill, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, KCI Technologies and R.J. Goldstein & Associates, curator at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences and eighth grade math and science teacher. He moved to and joined the faculty of Clemson University in 2000. His research has taken him around the world in pursuit of new species of plants, and his areas of expertise are in sedge and Begonia taxonomy, natural community ecology and conservation biology.
Patrick’s son, Nic, has been with him for all of his life’s adventures. From journeying through the Valley of Desolation on the Caribbean island of Dominica to relentlessly exploring the swamps and savannas of the coastal plain in search of beaksedges, Nic's support has been the backbone of Patrick's career. Nic even has a keen interest in videography. Check out his salamander close-ups in Season 1, Episode 8 of Expeditions. Interestingly enough, Nic may also be responsible for bringing skateboarding to Dominica. Nic is currently a graduate student at Clemson University, where he is pursuing a degree specializing in conservation biology that is focused on the ecological impacts of bison grazing in the Great Plains.