Stephen A. Borgianini, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
One University Boulevard
Bluffton, SC 29909
Hilton Head Gateway Campus
Stephen A. Borgianini, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Natural Science at USCB. As a marine ecologist and an evolutionary biologist, he is particularly interested in the evolution of the transition of life forms from salt water to fresh water, and then from fresh water to a terrestrial environment, a process that continues today.
Borgianini earned a B.S. degree in marine science at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and an M.S. degree in Biology at Rutgers University. He received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of South Carolina.
Prior to his academic career Dr. Borgianini served for 11 years as a scientist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; ending his regualtory career as Assistant Director of the NJDEP’s Division of Hazardous Waste Management. He left to start an interdisciplinary environmental consulting firm that specialized in the assessment and identification of environmental and ecological risk.
Dr. Borgianini was appointed an adjunct professor at USCB in 2002 and served in that capacity until 2007, when he was offered a faculty post as an instructor. In 2009, he was appointed an Assistant Professor.
In his research, Dr. Borgianini is investigating the ecological consequences of sea level rise and the expansion of the ranges of distribution of organisms with larvae that migrate upriver or upstream in relation to the corresponding rise in sea level. As the larvae venture further inland or upstream to colonize new habitats, they can come into conflict or competition with native organisms. That’s a very real concern because science does not have a full understanding of the potential consequences of this interaction.
Dr. Borgianini also is examining the effects of enhanced freshwater runoff from developed coastal areas on the structure of the plant and animal communities in the Lowcountry’s unique and vulnerable high-salinity estuaries. Organisms living in high-salinity estuaries are quite susceptible to large, rapid inputs of fresh water. In order to develop a better understanding of potential human impacts on this system, one must first establish an ecological baseline that accounts for natural fluctuations in estuarine and coastal ocean ecosystems.
For his research, Dr. Borgianini is collaborating with virtually every member of the department, each of whom approaches the research project with a distinct and specialized skill set.
Dr. Borgianini teaches Ecology and Evolution, Conservation Biology, the Biology of Marine Organisms, Marine Ecology and the Ecology of the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.