Grant Samms

Question. If a small town with a 100-year history of oil drilling is suddenly surrounded by wind turbine construction, will they welcome wind energy or resent it? What role, if any, do economics, sociology and history play in people’s reaction to environmental change. Every day, I work on these types of problems that sit at the intersection of environmental and social issues.

Most people flick on their lights or place an online order without thinking much of them. But behind these simple actions stand an entire mountain range of workers, infrastructure, laws, regulations, environmental impacts, and public opinion. Plus, all of these things are changing at an unprecedented rate. Climate change. Social justice. Renewable subsidization. Public health questions. Land policy. Taxation issues.

It’s a lot to keep straight. But it’s also important to grapple with these questions. Between the combined pressures of climate change and resource use, our environmental, social, and economic future will look very different than it does now. I’m working to ensure that difference is a positive one.

my work banner

Though my work as a research analyst in the energy transition and urban innovations space, I research the technological and innovative changes that are occurring in our communities. I examine how these changes are expected to develop into the future and how these technologies can be used to build a more resilient and engaged public. Through market research, report publication, and writing, I am helping municipal and industry partners build cleaner, smarter cities.

Previously, I lead research and outreach efforts for the Rural Energy Project at Washington College’s Center for the Environment and Society. I directed a team of student researchers in a variety of initiatives to achieve energy resilience, sustainability, and democratization in rural spaces. We helped towns understand how much energy they were consuming in order to lower cost and emissions. We also researched barriers to the adoption of renewable energy technologies in rural spaces to better understand how clean energy projects can be developed equitably. Further, we worked with our GIS lab to quantify the vulnerability of communities to energy disruption and guide the building of more resilient communities.

I have had columns published in Forbes, SmartCitiesWorld, the Baltimore Sun, and the Annapolis Capital-Gazette. The writing in my blog has also been featured and shared by groups like the World Wildlife Fund and climate scientists like Michael E. Mann.

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In 2014, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Kansas State University. During that time, I worked on several conservation biology projects that examined how human management of rangelands influences plant and animal life as well as commercial ranching operations. It allowed me a first hand look at the intimate connections we share with the natural world. I was able to see both how dependent we are on the environment and how we affect it in turn.

In 2016, I earned my Master of Science in Environmental Sociology from Oklahoma State University. While serving as the lead researcher for the OSU Social Research Observatory’s efforts in Woodward, Oklahoma, I observed firsthand how our social surroundings and emotional connections to the environment influence how we impact it. My research focused on how history and social identity influenced how the people of Woodward felt about the booming wind energy industry in their area.

Personal banner

When I’m not grappling with the tough issues posed by climate change, I enjoy tackling athletic challenges: competitive grappling, triathlon, and cycling. If not on the mats or bike, I’m usually in the weight room, swimming, or out for a run.

I also enjoy the ecosphere that I help to preserve. Hiking and camping are all favorite pastimes of mine. If I have any time left, you’ll see me crack the cover on a science or history book.