News

  • Weekly update 14 Tracking down data can be frustrating. The past couple of weeks I've been trying to map existing natural gas infrastructure as a baseline for work on reducing future impacts ...
    Posted Apr 11, 2014, 7:16 AM by Austin Milt
  • Weekly update 13 The past couple of weeks has been chock full of stuff, but little in the way of progress on new stuff. I have had lots of conference calls with Cadmus ...
    Posted Apr 4, 2014, 7:29 AM by Austin Milt
  • Weekly update 12 This week I learned that I need to dial back on potentially inflammatory statements in my writing. I sent a draft manuscript to my adviser last week, and he came ...
    Posted Mar 21, 2014, 6:45 AM by Austin Milt
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About Me
I am a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Here you can find out about my Research interests, view my CV, find a time to meet, and find me hidden away in one of the buildings on UTK's The Hill.

I am broadly interested in academic research that causes immediate advances in conservation practice. My dissertation focuses on the terrestrial habitat impacts of natural gas development in the Central Appalachian region. I work with The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania state agencies, and natural gas companies to create development strategies that reduce negative impacts from gas surface infrastructure without destroying developer profits. This enables me to answer exciting questions such as "What are the trade-offs between doing better for the environment and spending more on development?" and "How much less impacting would gas surface infrastructure be if gas companies were environment-oriented from the start?" By combining novel research with practical application, I am able to advance conservation science and practice simultaneously.

Many of the most pressing needs in conservation are spatial in nature. As such, much of my research interests and expertise center around spatial modeling, optimization, and GIS. For instance, a major component of my work on the impacts of natural gas is a tool that optimally sites gas infrastructure to minimize indicators of habitat impacts. This work takes the form of a multi-tier constrained optimization, which is both difficult to formulate and to solve. When solved, this optimization will become part of a tool that gas developers will use in their planning stages to go above and beyond regulatory compliance on many of the environmental factors that conservation practitioners prioritize.

I don't just work on natural gas. Visit my Research page to find out more about what I work on.