Professor hopes link aids science academy

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Clemson University will benefit from its new affiliation with Augusta's Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy - and Augusta could benefit even more from its new ties to Clemson.

Gene Eidson, the founder of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, starts his job today at Clemson University, a position he says should help win the academy grants for environmental research.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Gene Eidson, the founder of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, starts his job today at Clemson University, a position he says should help win the academy grants for environmental research.

"The relationship opens wonderful new possibilities," said Gene Eidson, who founded the academy in 1996 - and who starts a new position today as a professor in charge of Clemson's Restoration Institute.

Dr. Eidson, who will remain president of the academy, says his dual role with a major research university could bring economic benefits to Augusta in the form of grants that could accelerate important regional and national environmental research.

"We as an academy simply cannot go after these large National Science Foundation grants," he said. "They often require a tenured professor, even to apply for them."

As a tenured Clemson faculty member, Dr. Eidson will have the backing of a major research university in seeking grants.

The academy has received grants as large as $250,000 - the amount of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allocation to study water quality in the Savannah River.

But the affiliation with Clemson could offer opportunities to apply for grants that span into multiple millions of dollars, Dr. Eidson said.

In addition to his affiliation with academy programs in Augusta, Dr. Eidson will be involved with faculty and research programs at South Carolina regional educational centers, including the Baruch, Sandhills, Edisto and Pee Dee institutes.

Dr. Eidson has served as an adjunct faculty member since 2002, teaching Clemson undergraduate and graduate courses in restoration ecology at academy sites and serving as a professor for master's and doctoral students at Clemson, where four academy research scientists have received graduate degrees, according to a Clemson news release.

The academy operates Phinizy Swamp Nature Park and its educational outreach campus and also conducts research into new ways that restoration ecology can benefit rivers, wetlands, old mining pits, areas affected by sewage and stormwater and other issues.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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