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Congratulations to Dr. Jeff Wakefield, Natural Resources Technical Director - Economics, out of our Philadelphia office, on being named the Lawrence S. Semo Scientific Achievement award winner for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Since becoming a part of SWCA in 2022, Jeff has played a pivotal role as the leader of economic studies, providing invaluable support to projects spanning the nation. His contributions have attracted widespread recognition, with clients and peers expressing their gratitude through numerous letters and comments. Jeff’s commitment to excellence is evident in his professionalism, technical solutions, and proactive approach to learning. He thrives on fostering collaborative efforts and is dedicated to exceptional client service and commitment to quality by consistently aiming for the highest standards.  



Jeff holds advanced degrees in economics, marine biology, and biochemistry, leveraging his unique background to bring technical precision to diverse projects. Specializing in assessing anthropogenic impacts on aquatic and terrestrial resources, he is a nationally recognized leader in evaluating natural resource injuries from oil spills and contaminated sites. Jeff’s expertise extends to various regulatory domains, where he has led projects on fishery impacts, carbon sequestration, environmental justice, socioeconomic analyses for energy projects, and land valuation. His skill set provides SWCA with distinctive capabilities in natural resource economics and environmental assessment which he explored in “The Economics of Disaster” in The Wire, Vol. 22.

Jeff enjoys working on unique and interesting challenges. While studying for his master’s degree, Jeff participated in two years of research in genetics, learning about 300 base pairs of unidentified DNAS, and took an environmental economics course where he was asked to solve complex global problems.

One of Jeff’s favorite projects at SWCA is his current project. He is working to develop an expert opinion on the economic impacts of water withdrawals on Native American tribes. “It is fun to work on problems where people are deeply interested and invested in the results,” said Jeff.  



One of Jeff’s outstanding attributes is his ability to rapidly understand, assess, and execute complex tasks of any shape and size. His role as a driver and producer of technically sound proposals and client deliverables, often on short deadlines, displays his dedication and expertise. Jeff excels in defining creative, technically sound solutions and effectively communicating them through clear and concise reports. He generously provides time for reviewing and offering feedback on coworker documents, embodying integrity, and professionalism to all who have worked with him.  

Jeff offers this advice to those embarking on a technical career path: “Find good questions, work to answer them, and don’t be afraid to be wrong. If you don’t screw up a few times per day, you’re not trying hard enough.”  



Jeff’s impact extends beyond the workplace, as he shares his knowledge through scientific papers on topics related to Natural Resource Damage Assessments, and regularly presents at conferences and law seminars. His favorite contribution is summarized in the Journal of Marine Policy “Social Cost Benefit Analysis for Deep Sea Minerals Mining,” which assesses the social costs and benefits of mining deep-sea minerals in the Pacific Island Region, focusing on seafloor sulphides in Papua New Guinea, manganese nodules in the Cook Islands, and cobalt-rich crusts in the Republic of Marshall Islands.


The quarterly Lawrence S. Semo Scientific Achievement Award rewards individuals for demonstrating passion, creativity, and scientific excellence in a manner that advances SWCA’s purpose, mission, vision, and values. The award is in honor of Larry Semo, who began working as a biologist for SWCA in Austin in 1993 and transferred to Denver in 1999. A respected and widely published ornithologist and all-around naturalist, Larry had an insatiable desire to learn and a great love for the outdoors until his untimely passing in 2011.