Robert R. Alexander
Professor of Environmental Studies
Dr. Alexander received his Ph.D. in natural resource economics from the University of Tennessee and his M.A. and B.S. degrees from the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida, respectively. Prior to joining the Sweet Briar faculty in 2003, Alexander was a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied and International Economics at Massey University in New Zealand where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in natural resource economics, environmental economics, mathematical economics, natural resource management and research methods.
Alexander is one the world's leading experts on the economics of wildlife conservation. His research interests include the economics of wildlife and wilderness conservation, bioeconomic and ecological modeling and natural resource policy. Alexander's research is geared toward examining the human behavior that leads to species decline and the economic incentives that motivate that behavior. He has conducted research in Africa, Australia, China and New Zealand, published in such journals as Ecological Economics, Ecological Modelling, Natural Resource Modelling, Conservation Biology and Biological Conservation. His personal web site, Wild Earth Net, contains more information on wildlife economics, including articles, research papers and Alexander's own wildlife photography.
Alexander enjoys hiking, photography and developing his culinary skills. When feeling less actively inclined, he relaxes by reading science fiction. He is a citizen of both the United States and New Zealand and lives with his wife, Sheila, on a well-hidden 5-acre property in Madison Heights with their two cats, Tucson (Siamese) and K'Ali (Abyssinian).
Rebecca K. Ambers
Associate Professor of Environmental Science
Dr. Ambers joined the faculty at Sweet Briar in 2001 after receiving her Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Oregon in 2000 and teaching for a year at Winona State University in Minnesota. Her other degrees include a B.A. in anthropology and geological sciences from Indiana University in 1993 and an M.S. degree in geology from the University of Oklahoma in 1996. In support of her graduate research, she received fellowships from both the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As the sole earth science professor on campus, Ambers teaches a range of geology, geography and environmental science/studies courses. She is co-advisor of the student environmental club and co-founder of the Sweet Briar Community Garden. Ambers and her husband, Cliff, own Chateau Z Vineyard in Amherst County.
Thomas L. O'Halloran
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science
Dr. O’Halloran joined the faculty at Sweet Briar in the fall of 2011, after conducting three years of postdoctoral research at Oregon State University. He received his Ph.D. in environmental sciences in 2008 from the University of Virginia, where he also earned his B.A. and M.S. degrees. As an environmental scientist specializing in atmospheric science, O’Halloran is interested in many of the physical and chemical processes comprising surface-atmosphere interactions, and particularly those involving forests. This includes water vapor, carbon dioxide and energy exchange, as well as the formation of biogenic aerosols from plant hydrocarbon emissions and their interactions with clouds. These research interests fall under the disciplines of environmental science, atmospheric science and more specifically, micrometeorology, boundary layer meteorology, aerosol science and cloud physics. O’Halloran’s doctoral work in Virginia examined the role of the Blue Ridge Haze in the production of aerosols above forests and their interaction with cloud properties and climate. His postdoctoral work focused on understanding the impacts of forest disturbances, such as fire, insect outbreaks and hurricanes, to the Earth’s energy balance and carbon cycle. This research helps us understand how the Earth exchanges mass and energy across the biosphere-atmosphere interface in the processes of regulating climate.