Clint Springer, Ph.D.

Director of Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies and Associate Professor

Areas Taught: Biology, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Environmental Science

Expertise: Biological Effects of Global Climate Change, Biofuels, Artificial vs. Real Christmas Trees, Plant Physiological Ecology

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Preparing for Global Climate Change

As early as 30 years from now, rising carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption could reach levels that will significantly alter our climate conditions and impact crop production here and across the world. “Putting more CO2 into the atmosphere is like adding an extra blanket to your bed,” says global climate change expert Clint Springer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology. “You don’t want to make it too warm.”

Rather than look for ways to stop or stall global warming and other CO2-related climate changes, Springer’s research focuses on a Plan B. “We need to shift from prevention to adaptation,” he says. “It’s no longer a question of if, but when and how are we going to respond.”

With the support of a $450,000, U.S. Department of Energy research grant, Springer is studying switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – an important biofuel alternative to corn and soybean plants – and how it will respond to the climate of the future. In the Kansas prairies, he subjects the sturdy, spiky grass to dryer soil, a result of less frequent rainfall, and looks for how this crop will respond to those conditions in future environments.

He also studies the impact of increased CO2 on soybeans (Glycine max), an essential food source and ingredient in many products, such as cosmetics.

In addition, Springer has proven to be the go-to person to discuss that annual holiday dilemma: Artificial or real, which is the greener option for the family Christmas tree? He has been quoted widely on the subject, including in the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and on He also appeared on the CBS Early Show and local television.

Adept at explaining complicated science to non-scientists, Springer frequently speaks on ecology to Philadelphia-area groups, including elementary school students, through Saint Joseph’s K-12 outreach program, GeoKids LINKS.