Georgia Impact

McDowell to lead UGA Environmental Policy Program

McDowell to lead Vinson Institute's Environmental Policy Program

Athens, Ga. – Rob McDowell has been named director of the Environmental Policy Program in the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government. McDowell, who became director July 1, will oversee the program’s research related to water and air quality, waste management, energy use, conservation, and growth management in Georgia.

The Environmental Policy Program provides impartial research assistance and expertise to those responsible for the state’s natural resources and environmental policies.

McDowell arrives at the institute from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources where he served as assistant chief of the Watershed Protection Branch since 2007. He was watershed manager for the Ochlockonee, Suwannee, Satilla, and St. Marys river basins, and he was actively involved in the implementation of the Georgia Comprehensive State-wide Water Management Plan.

He held various positions at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division starting in 1993. From 2005 to 2007, he was water planning coordinator. In that capacity, he coordinated the Flint River Basin Regional Water Development and Conservation Plan. The first of its kind in Georgia, the plan focused on agricultural water use and its impact on streamflows in southwest Georgia.

“Rob McDowell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the institute’s Environmental Policy Program,” said Steve Wrigley, director of the Vinson Institute. “His leadership at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency makes him deeply familiar with Georgia’s diverse ecosystems and the laws and programs addressing environmental issues in the state.”

He has taught geology courses at Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta, and he developed continuing education courses in geology for the Evening at Emory Continuing Education Program.

McDowell earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Kentucky, an M.S. degree in geology from West Virginia University, and a B.S. degree in geosciences from Penn State. He is a registered professional geologist and a member of the Geology and Public Policy Committee of the Geological Society of America.

McDowell is succeeding Jim Kundell, who has retired, as director of the Environmental Policy Program.

For more information on the Environmental Policy Program, see