Scientist Bios: Dr. Ryan Sharp

About Ryan:

Dr. Ryan Sharp is an Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the director of the Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Lab at the University of Tennessee. He has had the tremendous opportunity to assist parks and protected area managers all over the United States (primarily agencies such as the National Park Service and National Forest Service). Much of Dr. Sharp’s work provides managers with tangible and legally defensible data to ensure experiential and ecological resources are maintained for high quality visitor experiences while still protecting the integrity of the natural resources. Additionally, his work is focused on improving and developing innovative ways to monitor visitor use impacts and to educate the public to ensure that protected areas are maintained for future generations.

“Understanding how visitors to protected areas internalize educational messaging, such as Leave No Trace, is critical to long term sustainability of the resources. This includes the difficult task of finding innovative way to discover how people are behaving in the outdoors, and not just examining what they report as their behaviors.”

-Ryan Sharp


Maples, J.N., Bradley, M.J., & Sharp, R.L. (2023). Where did you learn that? Exploring how sources of knowledge shape Leave No Trace knowledge in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge Climbing Community. Kentucky SHAPE Journal, 60(2).

Clark, B.G., Maples, J.N., & Sharp, R.L. (2020). Awareness and application of minimum impact principles among rock climbers in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education.

Sharp, R.L., Maples, J.N. & Gerlaugh, K.* (2018). Factors influencing rock climbers knowledge of and reported behaviors related to Leave No Trace: Potential management implications. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning.