This lectureship and student fellows program was generously endowed by Anne Clarke Wolff (‘87) and Benjamin E. Wolff III (‘86) to honor the distinguished career of Oak Professor of Biological Sciences emeritus F. Russell Cole, a champion and long-time director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College who was instrumental in positioning Colby as a national leader in sustainability and the study of the environment.


The F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lectureship in Environmental Studies
The F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lectureship in Environmental Studies brings environmental leaders who have made important contributions to the study of the environment to Colby College. This lectureship was generously endowed by Anne Clarke Wolff (‘87) and Benjamin E. Wolff III (‘86) to honor the retirement of Oak Professor of Biological Sciences emeritus F. Russell Cole, a champion and long-time director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College.  Cole, one of Colby’s leading teacher-scholars, was instrumental in positioning Colby as a national leader in sustainability and environmental education.

Photo by Fred Field

The Environmental Studies Program at Colby annually appoints one or more Cole Distinguished Lecturers to recognize individuals who have made substantial advances in and contributions to environmental science, environmental policy, environmental humanities, or environmental sustainability broadly defined.  Cole Distinguished Lecturers may include environmental scientists, professionals, writers, activists, and other environmental practitioners working to understand and address pressing environmental problems.  Lecturers will be drawn from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and other fields as appropriate.

During their campus visit(s), Cole Distinguished Lecturers will present one or more public keynote addresses to the College and local community, attend classes, and participate in meals and diverse events designed to engage students, faculty and staff, and members of the broader Colby community in discussions about their work in and contributions to understanding and addressing their specialty topics. Cole Distinguished Lecturers are selected by a committee of Environmental Studies Program faculty, staff, and Cole Student Fellows.


2021-2022 Distinguished Lecturer in Environmental Studies

J. Drew Lanham, PhD, is a native of Edgefield, South Carolina and a product of family farm, abundant wildness and bittersweet legacy of land interdependence by chain and choice. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor, Provost’s Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University.

Dr. Lanham is a cultural and conservation ornithologist whose work addresses the confluence of race, place and nature. He is the Poet Laureate of his home county and the author of Sparrow Envy – Poems (Holocene 2016, Hub City 2018), Sparrow Envy – A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts (Hub City 2021), and The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016/ Tantor Audio 2018). The memoir is a winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award (Southern Environmental Law Center), the Southern Book Prize and a 2017 finalist for the Burroughs Medal. It was recognized as a memoir and scholarly book of the decade (2010-20) by Literary Hub & The Chronicle of Higher Education, respectively, and has been a common read for universities, colleges and other organizations. Drew’s creative work and opinion appears in Orion Magazine, Vanity Fair, Oxford American, High Country News, Bitter Southerner, Emergence, Cutthroat, Flycatcher, Terrain, Places Journal, Literary Hub, Newsweek, Slate, on NPR, Story Corps, Threshold Podcast, Audubon, Sierra Magazine, The New York Times, This is Love with Krista Tippet and On Being Podcasts, among others. He is a contributor to myriad anthologies including The Colors of Nature, Bartram’s Living Legacy, Carolina Writer’s at Home, Gather at the River – Twenty-Five Authors on Fishing, and several others. His remarks inform art of endangered species and little-known spaces, to illuminate the importance of ethnic prism in seeing nature. Drew has taught writing at several workshops including Imagination in the Ruins (Wofford College), Breadloaf (Environmental), Orion (online), Moravian College, Northwood Writer’s Conference (2021) and Chico (pandemic rescheduled to 2021)

Dr. Lanham is known widely as a conservation and environmental advocate and has served on national boards including the National Audubon Society, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Birdnote and the American Birding Association. He was past board chair of the Audubon South Carolina Advisory Board and State Affiliate Representative for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, where he conceived, designed and implemented “Palmetto Pro Birders”, one of the first state-driven, non-governmental conservation-run citizen science/ bird conservation efforts in the United States. For his service over the past thirty years, Drew has been awarded the Dan W. Lufkin Conservation Award (National Audubon Society), the Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award (North American Association for Environmental Education), and the E.O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Science in Biodiversity Conservation (Center for Biological Diversity). He’s a past winner of Regional Emmys for his public radio birding broadcasts and most recently named as the Roland P. Alston Awardee for outstanding outreach communication at Clemson University. The South Carolina Land Conservancy Upstate Forever, recognized him as its Tommy Wyche Land Conservation Champion, citing his “…decades of teaching, research, and writing that have made the field of conservation more accessible and inclusive.” Drew is currently a Contributing Editor for Orion Magazine, a wide-ranging public speaker, a lifelong bird watcher/adorer and a hunter/conservationist, who writes on the eco-pyscho-social edges where the richness of wildness and identity converge. His forthcoming book (2022-23) from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, “Range Maps – Birds, Blackness and Loving Nature Between the Two”, is the work that he hopes will breathe being into his desire to make birds “who’s” as much as “what’s”, and his writing to become the definitive “feel guide” for blending culture and conservation. Drew resides in Seneca, SC, a soaring broad-winged hawk’s downhill glide from the foot of the Southern Appalachian escarpment the Cherokee once called the “Blue Wall”.


F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Program in Environmental Studies at Colby College
Students are invited to apply for funding to support environmental research from the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows program in Environment Studies.  Student award winners will receive a research grant and be named Cole Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year.

Eligibility: Current Colby students proposing or engaged in meaningful environmental research are eligible to apply for funding from the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Program.  Students may elect to pursue a project with a Colby faculty member, with faculty or staff at a partner organization, agency, or firm, or with faculty at another college or university.  If a student proposes research at an institution not affiliated with Colby, he or she must identify a Colby research sponsor who will mentor and evaluate the student’s experience.  Seniors who will graduate in May are not eligible.

Guidelines: F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellowship grants will be awarded competitively. Award amounts will vary depending on the quality and feasibility of the research proposal, availability of funds, student financial need, and any other factors deemed important by the grant committee.  Students are eligible to request summer salary support. Students are encouraged to consult with Environmental Studies Program Director Denise Brusewitz or Environmental Studies Coordinator Lindsey Cotter-Hayes as well as their faculty mentor to discuss project ideas and grant guidelines before submitting their proposals. Successful candidates will be named F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows (“Cole Fellows”) for the academic year in which their awards are granted.  Please contact Lindsey Cotter-Hayes ([email protected]) for complete proposal guidelines.

Submission: Application materials must include a completed Cole Student Research Fellows Grant application. Please submit applications electronically to Lindsey Cotter-Hayes ([email protected] Students are responsible for making sure all recommendation and supporting letters are submitted by the deadline. Cole Fellows will be selected by the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Committee.

Deadline: Applications for a summer research fellowship are due the first Friday in April.  For the Jan Plan term they will be due the first Friday in November.

Past F. Russell Cole Lecturers and Student Research Fellows