CLEMSON — A nationally respected researcher who has accepted a job with Clemson University said that too often “sustainability” is a buzzword and that her approach involves science, metrics and data to make sure that it’s more than just marketing.

“I want our research to have an impact on real people and business,” Amy Landis said.

Provost Robert Jones, far left, meets with Amy Landis, and department chairs David Freedman and James Martin.

Robert Jones, far left, meets with (from left to right) Amy Landis, David Freedman and James Martin.

Landis was introduced Monday as the new Thomas F. Hash ‘69 SmartState Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development. In her new role, she will coordinate the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Sustainable Development.

Researchers with the center are developing new sensors and other technology that collect massive amounts of data that can be deployed to measure everything from water quality in rivers to traffic flow on highways.

They hope the data will give policymakers the critical information they need to manage development sustainably as a growing population and climate change make the task more difficult.

Congratulations on Landis’ new job came from across Clemson, including Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“Amy Landis adds to an excellent pool of endowed chairs we have at Clemson,” he said. “Her work on sustainability has received national and international recognition. She’ll be a wonderful role model for our students.”

Researchers expect to develop sensors, hardware and cyberinfrastructure. Those tools would collect data that could then be used to route transportation, detect structural anomalies, operate electrical grids and enhance emergency response in natural disasters.

“Clemson is on the cusp of a new vision and really exciting change,” Landis said. “I’m thrilled to be part of sustainability at Clemson and am honored to work with such talented students, faculty and alumni.”

Landis, who will begin at Clemson on July 1, comes from Arizona State University, where she is an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

She has secured more than $7 million in research dollars, $12 million when collaborations are included.

Her hiring was made possible through a contribution by Thomas F. Hash and the SmartState program. As part of the program, the General Assembly provides dollar-for-dollar state funding through the South Carolina Education Lottery to match non-state investment.

“We are thrilled that Amy Landis is becoming part of the Clemson family,” said Larry Dooley, Clemson’s vice president for research.

“Endowed chairs are essential to the success of Clemson and the state as a whole. The research that endowed chairs do in key areas, such as sustainability, create high-tech jobs that raise per capita income at all levels.”

Amy Landis

Amy Landis

Hash graduated from Clemson with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1969 and served as president of Bechtel Systems & Infrastructure before retiring.

“I am very impressed,” Hash said of Landis. “I think we’ve really hit a home run here. She’s got a willingness to think very broadly, which is what I had hoped for. I’m really anxious for her to get on board and begin to execute.”

Landis said she is passionate about increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering and math. She enjoys organizing and participating in community events that help create excitement for sustainability science.

“I want to see the students in our classrooms and the faculty in our university leadership match the diversity of our nation,” she said. “In order to achieve that goal, we have to excite students at a young age and better support students and faculty throughout their careers.”

Landis will be a member of the faculty in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering chaired by James R. Martin.

“In addition to her superb academic credentials, Amy will help accelerate the community of excellence we are building in civil engineering, the college and university,” Martin said. “Amy is the consummate team player and uniter, and therefore a natural leader.

“This is vital, because our future success toward doing the really big things is a function of how well we work together as a community. I see Amy as a tipping point in building this new culture of inclusion.”

Researchers from at least 14 different institutes, centers and colleges are involved in the Center of Economic Excellence in Sustainable Development. Landis will coordinate their efforts.

“Amy Landis is a research superstar in the field of sustainability, and we’re excited she’s joining Clemson,” said David Freedman, chair of the environmental engineering and Earth sciences department.