ESRI-SC has changed research focus over the years, but maintained its connection with and main funding through federal, state, and local government, industry, local business, and NGOs to conduct applied research and service in petroleum exploration, environmental geosciences, engineering, and computer applications. Since the beginning of my tenure as director, my efforts have been channeled toward placing ESRI-SC at the epicenter of a large state-wide program with energy and environment focus. While my collaboration with ESRI-SC (lead) started in 2009 as a Co-PI on a $10 M DoE grant aimed at increasing scientific understanding about the potential of promising geologic formations to safely and permanently store carbon dioxide in South Carolina, subsequently, we began to uniquely position ESRI-SC as a leader in the academic community of the Southeastern United States in energy resource potential onshore and offshore South Carolina in addition to carbon sequestration.
Therefore, one of my main priorities as Director of ESRI-SC has been to advance energy and environmental science at USC, an effort that has been centered on faculty, facilities, and workforce development. In 2014, together with others, we assembled a group of faculty, mostly unit administrators, both within USC and across institutions of higher education in the state to collaborate on development of a regional energy center embracing an all-encompassing approach to energy in South Carolina and the southeastern U.S. - SC-ACCES (Atlantic Coast Center for Energy Sustainability). The focus is on three main thrusts - (1) “Green” energy, (2) Hydrocarbon frontiers, and (3) Environmental energy science and engineering. This effort involved integration of faculty from research universities, four-year teaching universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), technical colleges, national labs, and K-12 outreach and education across the state of South Carolina.
At ESRI-SC, I have helped establish partnerships with the Southern States Energy Board, the Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), HDR, AECOM, Southern Company, SC Energy Office, Sea Grant Consortium, Savannah River National Lab, SC Petroleum Council, to name a few. We have also worked toward re-building ESRI-SC’s industrial affiliates program as a vital and consistent source of funding.