GEORGETOWN — There are more than a few stories to tell from a half-century of research at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, and Clemson University scientists will soon be sharing some of them with a Lowcountry audience.

William Conner in swamp

William Conner, Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science assistant director and professor, will kick off Baruch’s 50th Anniversary Seminar Series at the Georgetown County Public Library on Friday, May 25, with a seminar titled “Reflections from the Swamp: One Man’s Journey.”
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

As it continues to celebrate 50 years of research on South Carolina’s coastal plain, Clemson’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science (BICEFS) has announced a 50th Anniversary Seminar Series at the Georgetown County Public Library. All four seminars in the series will be held from 10-11 p.m. on their respective dates.

The series begins Friday, May 25, with BICEFS assistant director and professor William Conner’s seminar titled “Reflections from the Swamp: One Man’s Journey.” Involved in forested wetland research for 45 years, Conner is an internationally recognized forested wetland scientist known for his ecological work to save and restore wetland forests throughout the South.

Conner’s research interests include freshwater and saltwater forested wetlands, wetland management, wetland creation and restoration, effects of man and nature on natural environments, dendrochronology, wetlands for wastewater treatment, estuarine/upland connections, changing land-use impacts on natural systems and historical ecology.

On Aug. 23, Thomas Rainwater will present a seminar entitled, “A Lowcountry Treasure: the American Alligator in Coastal South Carolina.” Rainwater joined BICEFS and the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center in 2015 as a research scientist.

Rainwater has broad interests in wildlife biology, ecotoxicology and conservation. Much of his recent research has focused on the impacts of environmental pollution, habitat alteration and over-exploitation on endangered crocodilians and turtles in the United States, Central America, Asia and Africa.

On Sept. 27, Jack Whetstone will present his seminar titled “Coastal Extension Programs in Aquatic Invasive Species and Aquaculture.” Whetstone is a semi-retired Extension aquatic specialist and associate professor emeritus with Clemson University’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation.

Whetstone has served in the dual role of pond management/aquatic plant management specialist and aquaculture specialist for the diverse South Carolina aquaculture industry for his entire 39-year career.

George Askew, Vice President, Public Service and Agriculture, will wrap up the series Oct. 25 with “The Baruch Institute: an important player in the South Carolina coastal plain.” Askew’s work as a forestry researcher, faculty member and university executive has spanned more than 30 years.

Askew’s commitment to the coastal communities earned him the respect and trust of longtime Georgetown families. His advocacy for coastal ecology research and education led to his being named executive director and board member of the Wallace F. Pate Foundation for Environmental Research and Education, an organization that monitors the land use and management of Clemson’s resources at DeBordieu, an historic coastal community.

BICEFS is located on the Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000 acre tract of undeveloped land along the Waccamaw Neck. The facilities at Baruch provide Clemson with unique research opportunities in a coastal environment with high salinity estuary marshes,  brackish water and freshwater swamps.