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Congratulations to our 2018-2019 MESSA Officers!

  • President - Zach Spencer
  • Vice President - Patrice Wolfe
  • Treasurer - Matt Simms
  • Secretary - Brittney Parker
  • Social Chair - Charlton Brownell
  • Volunteer Coordinator - Haley Schanne
  • Public Liason - Liz McQuain

MESSA Officers are here to make our graduate career a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. They are elected at the beginning of each year, and are responsible for all the exciting inner workings of MESSA along with organizing social events, coordinating volunteer activities, seeking out community involvement, working with the student government association, and anything else they can come up with. If you want to make something happen in MESSA, this is the place to start.

MESSA has a constitution to follow, which includes a brief description of each officer's duties. You can read the MESSA Constitution here. For a more detailed description of the roles of each officer, see the biographies of everyone below.

You can e-mail your questions, ideas/suggestions or comments to MESSA, or you can e-mail officers individually (see emails below). We'd love to hear from you!


President: Zach Spencer

Zach's duties as MESSA President are to attend meetings, to call and organize special meetings, to appoint ad hoc committees, and to communicate concerns of the student body to the MES Program staff. Zach is a MES student coming from the Washington, DC area. He studied at the Univeristy of Maryland, where he got his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science & Policy. Zach works on campus as a TA in the Santee Cooper GIS lab as well as an intern with Charleston Moves. Zach is attempting to connect people to green spaces via bicycle infrastructure and researching how Charleston could become more bike friendly. His favorite thing about Charleston? Surfing at Folly Beach.

Fun Fact: Zach appeared as an extra in the first Step Up movie!


Vice President: Patrice Wolfe

As Vice President, Patrice performs all duties of the president in his/her absence, chairs ad-hoc committees and aids officers when needed. Patrice comes to us from Fairfax Station, VA and is in our Concurrent MPA/MES degree program. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Patrice is a TA in the Biology Department and also lends her time to the South Carolina Aquarium where she is completing her internship. At the Aquarium she is evaulating their educational programs for K-12 students. Her favorite thing about Charleston? The people she has met and the awesome places to eat!

Fun Fact: Patrice has been diving on the Great Barrier Reef!


Treasurer: Matt Simms


Matt's duties as treasurer are to keep accurate and complete records of all monetary transactions, to collect dues and social event fees, and to chair the finance committee. Matt joins us from his hometown of Louisville, KY and is completing the Concurrent MPA/MES degree program. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Bellarmine University. Currently, Matt is working at Grow Food Carolina as an intern. His favorite thing about Charleston? The Farmers Market and being so close to the beach.

Fun Fact: His first band name was That Pimp Dang Illegal What!


Secretary: Brittney Parker 

As secretary, Brittney is responsible for keeping accurate, permanent records of the minutes and proceedings of the organization and to take charge of all correspondence, to notify all members of meetings and to help promote MESSA organized activities. Brittney is originally from Hilton Head, South Carolina, and is currently in the MES Program. She received her Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources from the University of Connecticut. The MES Office awarded Brittney funding for her research this coming year. Her research consists of finding, quantifying and identifying microplastics in estuarine fishes found in the Charleston Harbor.  Her favorite thing about Charleston? It is the perfect mix of a coastal beach town, historical city, and fun active place!

Fun Fact: Brittney rode horses professionally for a year before coming to graduate school at CofC!


Social Chair: Charlton Brownell

Charlton's duties as social chair include organizing and executing MESSA social functions. Charlton did not travel far as he is from Charleston, SC and is completing the Concurrent MPA/MES degree program. He received a Bachelor's in Biology from Clemson University. Currently, Charlton is a TA in the Physics Department and is a walking tour guide downtown. For his research, Charlton is looking to investigate the effects of pressures due to recent population growth, such as urbanization, on the sense of place, cultural identity, land-use, and benefits derived from ecosystem services of longtime residents of Johns Island, SC. His favorite thing about Charleston? It has everything except for mountains. A classy, visually-appealing urban core, a rich and dichotomous history that feels more accessible because of the preservation of historic buildings, a beautiful beach where middle class people can live, and pastoral, live oak-filled sea islands. And Kaminskys!

Fun Fact: Charlton stole a water bottle from the Empire State building in 8th grade!


Volunteer Coordinator: Haley Schanne


As volunteer coordinator, Haley is responsible for promoting awareness of MESSA on the College of Charleston campus and in the local community through participation in community service projects (such as Adopt-a-Highway, and Beach Sweep), promotion of environmental education, as well as any other related activities. Haley is from Milford, Delaware and is completing our Concurrent MPA/MES degree program. She graduated from Univerity of Rhode Island with a Bachelor's in Marine Biology. Haley works as a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate School Office. Her research will be focus on evaluation of environmental education programs for either increased scientific literacy in school children, or how environmental education can increase initiatives for environmental justice. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Going to watch Charleston Battery games. Go Battery!

Fun Fact: Haley is trained in animal handling, including birds of prey, although snakes are her favorite!


Public Liaison: Liz McQuain


Liz's role as public liaison involves promoting awareness of MESSA, on CofC’s campus and in the local community, through participation in community service projects, promotion of environmental education, and other related activities. She is a MES student coming to us from Welcome, NC. She received a Bachelor's in Marine Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Currently, Liz works for SC Sea Grant Consoritum as a Graduate Assistant for Extension. For her research, Liz is interested in look at the bioavailability of trace metals in esturaine systems in relation to stormwater outputs. Her favorite thing about Charleston? Getting to walk through so many beautiful places everyday. The beach isn't too bad either!

Fun Fact: Upon a trip to Ireland, she found out that her last name was created after her ancestors moved to America!