Brannon Andersen Furman University

Dr. Brannon Andersen came to Furman in 1994 after completing his Ph.D. at Syracuse University, where he also was a senior geochemist studying leachate mitigation as part of the closure of the Freshkills Landfill on Staten Island, NY. He is trained in geology but has morphed into an environmental scientist with a focus on biogeochemistry and sustainability science. Dr. Andersen believes in the transformative impact of undergraduate research experiences and has co-authored over 110 abstracts with undergraduate students that were presented at regional and national professional meetings. He has also published over 28 journal articles/book chapters and has been awarded over $2 million in external grants.  Dr. Andersen was profiled in Science Trends in 2017.

Dr. Andersen is chair of the department (2009-2014, 2016 - present), was named the Henry and Ellen Townes Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences (1998-2000), the Association of Furman Students Faculty Member of the Year (2003-2004), a South Carolina Independent Universities and Colleges Teacher of Excellence (2008), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor (2010), and has received the Council on Undergraduate Research Geosciences Division Undergraduate Research Mentor Award (2017). Dr. Andersen is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University, associate editor of the journal Environmental Geosciences, and an Academic Council Member of the Institute of Political Ecology in Zagreb, Croatia.  For the 2014-2015 academic year, Dr. Andersen was a visiting professor and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Zadar in Zadar, Croatia. 

Name Title Description


Environmental Science

Study of human transformation of Earth as a trade-off for growth of the human enterprise. Topics include changes in population, land cover (agriculture, deforestation, urbanization), climate, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, biodiversity; limits of water, soil, energy and mineral resources; and links between population and consumption patterns.


ECOS Seminar


Sedimentary Systems

Principles of sedimentology, sedimentary processes, and depositional environments. Description, classification, and interpretation of sedimentary rocks.


Environmental Systems

Same as BIO-343 (43). Interdisciplinary examination of the physical, biological and chemical processes that control the flow of matter and energy in surface environments on planet Earth. Emphasis on the interactions between abiotic and biotic processes. Lab includes field studies and weekend trips.



Distribution of the elements and geochemical evolution of the earth and solar system. Isotope geochemistry. Chemical equilibrium in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary environments. Application of thermodynamics to geologic systems.


Research and Analysis

Analysis of data, reading of scientific literature relevant to individual research, and writing of a thesis based on the results of an independent research project. Students must also present results at a professional meeting and to the department. EES-502 must be enrolled at the same time.


Environment and Society

Interdisciplinary examination of the causes, potential solutions and ethical dilemmas associated with environmental problems on various spatial, temporal, political and social scales (individual to global).


Eating as a Sustainable Act

This course will examine the relationship between you and the food you eat, how that food is produced, and the economic, social, and environmental impacts of eating. Course will involve visiting local farms to help define sustainable agriculture, and of course, sharing a meal or two together.


Dynamic System Modeling

An introduction to systems thinking and modeling of the human-environment relationship. Stocks, flows, feedback loops, homeostasis, and cyclic processes will be considered. Problems in sustainability such as climate change, population growth, and energy consumption will be modeled.


Research and Analysis

Analysis of data, reading of scientific literature relevant to individual research, and writing of a thesis based on the results of an independent research project. Students must also present results at a professional meeting and to the department. EES-502 must be enrolled at the same time.


Summer Undergraduate Research

*Denotes undergraduate co-author

Recent Journal articles

  • *Moloney, T., Lewis, G.P., and Andersen, C.B., 2015, Atmospheric deposition in a rapidly urbanizing area: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, v. 226, p. 266-281.
  • Andersen, C.B., Quinn, J., and *Donovan, K., 2015, Human appropriation of net primary production in an agriculturally-dominated watershed, southeastern USA: Land, v. 4, p. 513-540.
  • Andersen, C.B., Lewis, G.P., *Pugh, J., and *Hart, M., 2014, The impact of wastewater treatment plant effluent on the biogeochemistry of the Enoree River, South Carolina, during drought conditions: Water, Soil, and Air Pollution, v. 225, DOI 10.1007/s11270-014-1955-4​, 21 pp.
  • Dripps, W.R., Lewis, G.P., *Baxter, R., and Andersen, C.B., 2013, Hydrogeochemical characterization of headwater seepages inhabited by the endangered Bunched Arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata) in the Upper Piedmont of South Carolina: Southeastern Naturalist, v. 12, p. 619-637.
  • Halfacre, A., Horhota, M., Kransteuber, K., DeKnight, B., Andersen, C.B., Byrne, J., Trombulak, S., and Jenks-Jay, N., 2013, Shaping sustainability at Furman and Middlebury: Emergent and adaptive curricular models, in, Johnston, L. (ed.), Higher Education for Sustainability: Cases, Challenges, and Opportunities from Across the Curriculum, p. 185-200.
  • *Williams, A. J., Andersen, C.B., and Lewis, G.P., 2009, Evaluating the effects of sample processing treatments on alkalinity measurements: Journal of Hydrology, v. 377, p. 455-464.
  • Andersen, C.B., and Dripps, W.R., 2009, Global competition for planetary resources, in, Worthen, W. B., Henderson, A. S., Rasmussen, P.R., and Benson, T.L., eds., Competition in Theory and Practice: A Multidisciplinary Analysis: Sense Publishing, Rotterdam, p. 33-43.
  • Lewis, G.P., *Mitchell, J., Andersen, C.B., Haney, D., and Liao, M.K., and Sargent, K.A., 2007, Urban influences on stream chemistry and biology in the Big Brushy Creek watershed, South Carolina: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, v. 182, p. 303-323.
  • Muthukrishnan, S., Lewis, G.P., and Andersen, C.B., 2007, Chapter 24. Relationships between land cover, vegetation density, and nitrate concentrations in streams of the Enoree River basin, piedmont region of South Carolina, USA, in, D. Sarkar, R. Datta, and R. Hannigan (eds.), Concepts and Applications in Environmental Geochemistry, Elsevier Press, New York, p. 517-542.

Selected Recent abstracts presented at professional meetings:

  • Andersen, C.B., Cohen, M., Quinn, J., Quinn, C., 2016, Degrowth as a central theme for sustainability science education: 5th International Degrowth Conference, Budapest, Hungary.
  • Andersen, C.B., and Zganec, K., 2016, Impact of the Zagreb wastewater treatment plant on the water quality of the Sava River, Croatia:  Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers.
  • *Palumbo, L., Andersen, C.B., Lewis, G.P., and Brkljaca, M., 2016, Soil organic carbon and nitrogen in vineyards of the Ravni Kotari region, Zadar, Croatia: Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers.​
  • *Martin, R.L., Andersen, C.B., and Quinn, J.E., 2016, Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) analysis of the rural to urban transition at the watershed scale in the southeastern United States:  Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers.​ 
  • *Mutty, T., Andersen, C.B., and Lewis, G.P., 2016, Changes in soil organic carbon and nitrogen in response to rotational grazing in the piedmont of the southeastern United States: Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers.​
  • *Schlaudt, E.A., Ullman, W., Fischer, S., Dripps, W., and Andersen, C.B., 2014, Investigating the sources and processing of nitrate in freshwater ponds of the Murderkill watershed:  Geological Society of America Programs with Abstracts, v. 46.
  • *Donovan, K., and Andersen, C.B., 2014, Human appropriation of net primary productivity in a agriculturally-dominated watershed:  Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers.​
  • *Corbett, M. and Andersen, C.B., 2014, Assessing the effectiveness of heterotrophic and autotrophic denitrification pathways as a tertiary treatment of wastewater effluent: Geological Society of America Programs with Abstracts, v. 46.​

Dr. Andersen is a biogeochemist that studies how human activities have transformed the landscape and altered the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen. He is also interested in how sustainability indicators can be used to understand progress towards sustainability at the institutional through national levels.  He conducts this research in collaboration with other members of the EES department and the Biology Department as part of the River Basins Research Initiative, and with colleagues at the University of Zadar and Institute of Political Ecology in Croatia. His current research projects, all of which involve student collaborators, include 

  • effect of intensive grazing practices on soil health in the Upstate of South Carolina using organic C and N concentrations as an indicator 
  • how soil management methods (e.g., industrial vs organic, tilled vs no-till) affect soil organic C and N in vineyards in Croatia
  • the response of nitrogen and carbon cycling in streams and ponds to urbanization
  • understanding how seagrass meadows store carbon in the Adriatic Sea
  • modeling the intensity of land use by humans over the last half century using the human appropriation of net primary productivity method. 
  • developing sustinability indicators at the national level for countries in southeastern Europe and determing barriers to implementing sustainability policy 
​For more information about some of his research program, please see the River Basins Research Initiative website.  

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