C. Brannon Andersen

Professor and Chair
119D Plyler Hall, Townes Science Center
Phone: (864) 294-3366
e-mail: brannon.andersen@furman.edu


1994    Ph.D. Geology, Syracuse University
1988    M.S. Geology, Miami University
1984    B.S. Geology, Texas A&M

Academic Positions

2010-present      Affiliated Faculty, Shi Center for Sustainability, Furman University
2009-present      Chair, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University
2008-present      Associate Editor, Environmental Geosciences
2007-present      Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University
2006-present      Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences,
School of the  Environment, Clemson University
2002-2009         Director, Environmental Studies Concentration, Furman University
2000-2007         Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University
1999-present      Co-Director, River Basins Research Initiative
1999-2008         Councilor, Geosciences Division, Council on Undergraduate Research
1994-2000         Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University
1991-1994         Instructor, University College of Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

Academic Awards

2010                   Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Research Mentor, Furman University
2008                   South Carolina Independent Universities and Colleges Teacher of Excellence
2004                   Association of Furman Students 2003-2004 Faculty Member of the Year
1998-2000          Henry and Ellen Townes Assistant Professor of Science, Furman University
1992-1993          Syracuse University Teaching Fellow
1990                   Newton E. Chute Award, Syracuse University Geology Department

Current Collaborative Research Projects With Students

Enhancing Denitrification in a Tidal Wetland Wastewater Treatment System
Student: Melissa Corbett
Funding:  Furman Advantage Fellow
The "living machine" wastewater treatment system on Furman's campus is a tidal wetland design.  Although our research has shown that treatment is very effective in removing dissolved organic carbon and converting ammonium to nitrate, phosphate concentrations are not affected and total nitrogen concentrations are reduced by about 50%.  We have constructed two mesocosms (5 foot tall cylinders with pumping systems that mimic the fill/drain cycle of the treatment system) that will test two potential treatments that will enhance denitrification of the effluent.  One column is filled with wood chips and another is filled with marble and sulfur chips.  These two mesocosms will test the two methods to determine which is more effective at enhancing removal of nitrogen from the effluent.

Organic Matter Sequestration in Soils of Intensively Grazed Pastures
Student:  Rianna Das
Funding:  Furman Advantage Fellow
The object of this research is to evaluate the amount of soil organic matter in soils from a local sustainable farm (12 Aprils Dairy) in the upstate that uses intensive grazing methods.  Intensive grazing, where high densities of cattle graze on a small area of land for a few days before being moved to a new paddock, is a form of agroecology that mimics large herbivore grazing patterns.  This type of pasture management, combined with no-till planting methods and elimination of chemical additives, should lead to rapidly increasing soil organic matter and rehabilitation of land devastated by a history of cotton farming.  Higher soil organic matter content should also correlate to higher soil moisture and greater resilience during periods of drought.  Higher soil organic carbon should also lead to higher amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous in the soils, making them more fertile.  This is the first year of a 4 year research project that is being combined with an ongoing study of Greenbrier Farm.  The difference is that 12 Aprils Dairy has practiced intensive grazing for 25 years whereas Greenbrier started intensive grazing practice two years ago.  This summer, we are using a stratified random sampling method to determine baseline soil organic matter content for each soil type to a depth of 65 cm at 12 Aprils Dairy.  We will also continue studying cores collected last year by Claire Campbell at Greenbrier Farm.

Ecological Footprint and Supply Line Analysis of Greenbrier Farm
Student:  Dale Cowen
Funding:  Furman Advantage Fellow
Ecological footprinting is a method of estimating the amount of land required to provide the resources necessary to sustain and assimilate the wastes of a person, business, or nation (or the planet!).  A sustainable business should have a very small footprint, but since the largest component of a footprint is typically the land area needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions, this tends to be difficult.  We are testing the hypothesis that the intensive grazing methods used by Greenbrier Farm will result in significant uptake of carbon dioxide, offsetting a significant portion of the operation of the farm.  A major goal is to work towards understanding what a "sustainable" farming operation might look like.  We are partnering with Craig Simmons and associates of Best Foot Forward, London, England, to develop the footprint model.

Landscape History and HANPP Analysis of Machine-Dollie Creek Watershed
Students: Kyle Donovan
Funding:  Furman Advantage Fellow
We are using a series of air photos and satellite images from 1951 until 2011, along with USDA agricultural records, to detail changes in the landscape history of this watershed in Pickens County, SC.  HANPP is the human appropriation of net primary productivity and is a measure of how intensely humans use the landscape.  Changes in agricultural practice over time from dominant rowcropping to dominant pasture and hay fields plus increased development should shown an increase in HANPP over time.  Another aspect of this research is to detail changes in the agricultural history of the upstate from 1860 until the present to better understand how farming resulted in the massive soil degradation, stream erosion, and diminished aquatic biodiversity observed today in the upstate.  Dr. John Quinn (Biology) and Dr. Suresh Muthukrishnan (EES) are collaborating on this research.

Courses for 2012-2013

Fall Term
EES 112 Environmental Science ECOS edition
This version of the course is designed for the first year students in the Engaged Living Program and it examines the impact of humans on planet Earth. We will be exploring this question: Is there a limit to the growth of the technosphere? We will be reading papers, gathering data, and doing projects that will help answer this question. These students then go on to take a first year seminar on sustainability in the spring.  We will also be studying the local ecology and reflecting on how humans interact with the local Piedmont landscape.

EES/BIO 343 Environmental Systems
In this course, we use biogeochemistry as a synthesizing concept to understand how humans have transformed the planetary system, especially the global carbon, nitrogen and water cycles.  Issues such as land transformation (especially agriculture) and climate change are considered.  The course includes field trips to the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge (including a canoe trip through the "swamp") and Great Smoky Mountain National Park to study biogeochemical processes and how humans have changed the landscape.

Spring Term
SUS 242 Dynamic Systems Modeling
This course uses STELLA software to better understand systems and how they operate, with a special focus on the non-intuitive behavior of complex systems because of feedbacks. Student will build models using STELLA to explore a variety of human impacts on planet Earth.

EST 301 Environment and Society
Understanding how humans transform the Earth is the important, but science does not create policy.  This course explores how society responds to environmental predicaments.  The nature of this course varies considerably with who teaches the course.  I will be team-teaching this course with Dr. Michele Speitz from the English Department. This course will explore how how humans could develop a "plan B" to address environmental and sustainability issues.  We will discuss difficult topics such as climate change.  Energy consumption is clearly related to societal advancement and human health and well-being, but energy consumption is also causing climate change.  How should we make decisions that clearly involve important trade-offs?  We will also engage in developing solutions to sustainability issues here on Furman's campus.

Other Courses Taught
EES 402 Geochemistry, EES 310 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Professional Development

2011             Mellon Sustainability Seminar in Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland
2010             Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop, Emory University
2009-2010    Lilly Seminar, Simpler Living, Radical Change: Theology, Ethics, and Sustainability,
Furman University
2008              Mellon Foundation Interdisciplinary Teaching Seminar, Galapogos and Ecuador
2007              Lilly Seminar, Religion and Science, Furman University

Selected Professional Experience

1999              Co-moderator, Our Future Landfill Committee, Greenville County
1997-2001     Faculty, Olsen Enterprises, Inc.
1995-2001     Faculty, Environmental Education Enterprises, Inc.
1993-1996     Senior Geochemist, Freshkills Landfill Leachate Mitigation Project
1993-1994     Hydrogeochemist, Stearns and Wheler Environmental Engineers and Scientists               
1989               Research Scientist, R.V. Mona Wave, June-July

Professional Memberships

American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, Council on Undergraduate Research, Geochemical Society, Geological Society of America, Sigma Xi

Professional Publications

Author or co-author of over 20 journal articles and over 120 presentations at professional meetings, more than 90 with student co-authors.


PI or Co-PI of over $2 million in externally funded grants.  PI of many Research and Professional Growth , Furman Advantage, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants through Furman University.

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