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Director, Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems; Wiliam R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
(919) 843-5545


Gregory W. Characklis serves as William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also holds an appointment in the UNC Institute for the Environment. Characklis is director of the Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems (CoFiRES). His primary research interests involve developing solutions to environmental challenges through systems-based approaches that integrate consideration of both engineering and economic principles. He is currently engaged in projects funded by NSF, DOE, NIEHS and North Carolina state government to quantify the financial risks of extreme events in a number of economic sectors, including water utilities, power utilities, agriculture, inland navigation (e.g., Great Lakes) and real estate.

Characklis serves on the editorial board of Water Security and was previously on the editorial staffs of Water Resources Research and Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences. In 2012, he was elected to the Board of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) and was subsequently elected AEESP President for 2015-16. In 2014 he was selected as a fellow by the National Academy of Sciences’ Kavli Frontiers of Science, and in 2010 he was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

Prior to joining UNC, Characklis served as director of Resource Development and Management at Azurix Corp. (a subsidiary of Enron Corp.). where his responsibilities centered around assessing the technical and financial merits of water supply development projects. Before entering the private sector, he spent two years in Washington, D.C., as a fellow with the National Academy of Engineering.

Characklis holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Rice University and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


Ph.D., Environmental Science and Engineering, Rice University, 1999
M.S., Environmental Science and Engineering, Rice University, 1994
B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 1989

Selected Publications

(superscript indicates a Student (M/D), Post-doctoral Fellow (P) or Research Faculty (R) working with Dr. Characklis)

Zeff, H. B.P, Hamilton, A. L.D, Malek,, K., Herman, J. D., Cohen, J. S., Medellin-Azuara, J., Reed, P. M. and G. W. Characklis (2021). “California’s Food-Energy-Water System: An Open Source Simulation Model of Adaptive Surface and Groundwater Management in the Central Valley, Environmental Modelling and Software, 141, 105052

Cuppari, R., I.M, Higgins, C. W. and G. W. Characklis (2021). “Financial Analysis of Co-locating Agricultural Production and Solar Power Generation,” Applied Energy , 291, 116809,

Hamilton, A. L.D, Characklis, G. W. and P. M. Reed (2020). “Managing financial risk tradeoffs for hydropower generation using snowpack-based index contracts,” Water Resources Research, 2020WR027212,

Meyer, E. S.D, Foster, B. F.D, Characklis, G. W., Brown, C. M. and A. J. Yates (2020). “Integrating physical and financial approaches to manage environmental financial risk on the Great Lakes,” Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR024853,

Baum, R.D and G. W. Characklis (2020). “Mitigating drought-related financial risks for water utilities via integration of risk pooling and reinsurance,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 146(6): 05020007,

Gorelick, D. E.D, Lin, L., Zeff, H. B.P, Kim, Y., Vose, J. M., Coulston, J. W., Wear, D. N., Band, L. E., Reed, P. M. and G. W. Characklis (2019). “Accounting for adaptive water supply management when quantifying climate and landcover change vulnerability,” Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR025614,