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Department of Geography


Jean Taylor Ellis

Title: Professor; Interim Associate Dean for Student Success and Engagement, The Graduate School
Department: Geography
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-1593
Office: Callcott, Room 229
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Department of Geography
Jean Taylor Ellis


Dr. Jean Taylor Ellis is an NCAA Division I NCAA champion and 1996 Olympic Swimming Team alternate (formally ranked in the top 10 in the world). She has spent her career advocating for water and coastal issues. She is now the Interim Dean for Student Success and Engagement for The Graduate School and a coastal scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Ellis is one of the only women on the Board of Directors for the Coastal Education and Research Foundation, the recipient of the American Association of Geographers’ prestigious R.J. Russell Award, a former NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar. She previously managed NASA’s Applied Science’s coastal-related projects and served as a liaison to NASA for White House-level advisory committees and to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Within South Carolina, she was on the Floodwater Commission, served on DHEC workgroups, and was an advisor for The Nature Conservancy. She has published extensively on topics ranging from the fundamentals of wind-blown sand, science methodology, dune recovery post-disaster, and living shorelines. Dr. Ellis designed and constructed an instrument to measure sediment transport on beaches and suggested a revision to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.


Dr. Jean Ellis and her students focus on a variety of wind-induced phenomena at a variety of spatial and temporal scales in the coastal zone. Our lab has three research thrusts: response and recovery to storms and king tides, human impacts to the beach-dune system, and wind-blown sand processes. WINDlab members have expertise in field-based data acquisition and analysis, specialized instrumentation, and GIS / remote sensing. As a team, we conduct applied and basic qualitative- and quantitative-based data and translate this academic research to decision makers.


  • GEOG 104: Introduction to Physical Geography
  • GEOG 201: Landform Geography
  • GEOG 360: Geography of Wind
  • MSCI/GEOG 590: Beach and Dune Interactions
  • GEOG 516: Coastal Zone Management

Representative and Recent Publications

*Harris, M.E. and Ellis, J.T., 2021. Comparing tropical cyclone and king tide impacts on a South Carolina coastal 
dune system. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(5) 923-932.

Ellis, J.T. and Houser, C., 2021. Process-based beach and dune systems. Treatise on Geomorphology.

*Harris, M.E., Ellis, J.T., and Barrineau, C.P., 2020. Evaluating the geomorphic response from sand fences on dunes impacted by hurricanes. Ocean and Coastal Management, 193.

Ning, Q., Li, B., and Ellis, J.T., 2020. Fence height control on sand trapping. Aeolian Research, 46: 100617.

*Tereszkiewicz, P.A., Ellis, J.T., and *Gould, H.A., 2019. Introducing a cost-effective methodology to assess island-wide geomorphic change. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 23: 563–569.

Ellis, J.T. and *Román-Rivera, M.A., 2019. Assessing natural and mechanical dune performance in a post-hurricane environment. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 7: 126.

*Román-Rivera, M.A. and Ellis, J.T., 2019. A synthetic review of remote sensing applications to detect nearshore bars. Marine Geology, 408: 144–153.

Sherman, D.J., Zhang, P., Martin, R.L., Ellis, J.T., Kok, J.F., Farrell, E.J., and Li, B., 2019. Aeolian ripple migration and associated creep transport rates. Geosciences, 9: 389.

Martin, R.L., Kok, J.F., Hugenholtz, C.H., Barchyn, T.E., Chanecki, M., Ellis, J.T., 2018. High-frequency measurements of aeolian saltation flux: Field-based methodology and applications. Aeolian Research, 30: 97–114.

* denotes students or postdocs


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