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EPS Advisory Board

Elizabeth Litton Smith

B.A. 2008 Environmental Studies and Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
US Department of Interior 2008-2019; Tennessee Valley Authority 2019-present
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I grew up in Knoxville and really enjoyed exploring the landscape. As a kid, my family and I spent a lot of time camping and hiking, which was instrumental in the development of my love and appreciation of the natural environment. When I started at UT, I wasn’t sure how to equate that love and appreciation into a career, but I desperately wanted to do so. A friend mentioned her amazing advisor in Environmental Studies, Mike McKninney, so I went by for a chat. He inspired me with his openness and enthusiasm. The best part of being in the department was the wide-range of courses I was able to take: geography to sociology – all with an emphasis on the environment. Those classes really expanded my knowledge about our global environment and how we are just a tiny piece of it. Thanks to a required internship under the program, I scored a coveted position with the federal government doing GIS work. Thanks to my decision to walk into McKinney’s office that day 16 or so years ago, I am still living my dream of being a steward of the environment. My time at UT, and the courses and professors I was fortunate to have, helped mold me into the person I am today – as both a federal employee and global citizen.

After earning a B.A., my internship with US Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement turned into a full-time gig. I worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation reclaiming abandoned coal mines and restoring hydrologic connectivity from 2008 to 2018. In 2018, I transferred to TVA where I am currently a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Specialist. I work to ensure TVA is compliant with environmental laws and regulations set forth under NEPA including the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and many others. My job is both meaningful and fulfilling. 

I’ve been on the UT Earth and Planetary Sciences Advisory Board for 3 years. I have enjoyed my time working with such esteemed colleagues on this board. Getting to interact with students and share my experience at UT is immeasurable to me. I look forward to many more years on the board!

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