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Wendy Wagner

Richard Dale Endowed Chair in Law


University of Texas School of Law

Wendy E. Wagner holds the Richard Dale Endowed Chair at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. Prior to joining the University of Texas Law faculty, Professor Wagner was a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and School of Management, and was a visiting professor at the Columbia Law School and the Vanderbilt Law School.

Professor Wagner has taught a number of courses on environmental topics. Within the law school, she has taught an Environmental Law survey course, an advanced course on Toxics, a survey course on Regulation, and seminars on Law and Science and Citizen Participation in Environmental Law (in this latter seminar, the students wrote citizen guides designed to educate citizens about their rights under the environmental laws). Wagner has also co-taught interdisciplinary University-wide courses and seminars on: Lead and the Environment; The Great Lakes and the Environment; Environmental Priority Setting; Environmental Justice; the Automobile and the Environment; and Complex Problem Solving: A Case Study on the Environment. Wagner writes primarily in the area of environmental law and science, exploring the ways that science is used and misused in decision-making by the courts, Congress, and the agencies.

While in academia, Professor Wagner has participated as an officer or committee member in a number of professional societies, including several sections of the American Bar Association; the Society for Risk Analysis; the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists; and a task force initiated by U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich.

Professor Wagner has also participated as a speaker at various conferences convened for the practicing bar, environmental scientists, and governmental policymakers. Professor Wagner has spoken at local bar associations, given presentations for Continuing Legal Education programs, spoken at a variety of scientific meetings, and presented papers at meetings convened for government officials by the U.S. EPA and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Professor Wagner was a guest speaker on the national public radio show “Science Friday” (part of “Talk of the Nation”), which spotlighted the EPA’s recently promulgated standards for ozone and particulates. Professor Wagner was also an invited expert for a hearing on delegation convened by the Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs of the House Committee on Government Reform, U.S. Congress.

Professor Wagner recently collaborated with two other UT colleagues (Thomas McGarity and Lynn Blais) on a U.S. EPA-funded project identifying the problems associated with, and the legal authority available for regulating air toxins in the state of Texas. The Texas Council for Environmental Quality commissioned the project and plans to use the results in its regulation writing and legislative activities. Professor Wagner also published a book with colleague McGarity in 2008 entitled Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research (Harvard University Press), and they also produced a report for the Wilson Center for International Scholars on the types of legal challenges that can be filed against EPA’s environmental models and their past success in court.

Professor Wagner began her legal career in 1987. From 1987-88, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable Albert Engel, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Professor Wagner then served as an Honors Attorney at the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Environment Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. While an attorney at DOJ, Professor Wagner was the first or second chair on a number of prominent cases, including U.S. v. Vertac, a large Superfund case, and U.S. v. City of Seattle, one of the first natural resource damage cases brought by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Superfund law. Wagner then moved to the General Counsel Office of the Department of Agriculture in 1991 where she served as the Pollution Control Coordinator and established a central office, with six satellite legal offices, to manage and advise DOA agencies on compliance under the pollution control laws. Professor Wagner began her academic career in 1992 as an assistant professor at the CWRU School of Law.

Professor Wagner has published widely in the areas of law and science, and presented a number of papers in a wide variety of academic and practice-based settings.

Professor Wagner is also trained as an ecologist. After majoring in biology at Hanover College (graduating summa cum laude), she received a masters degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and began (but did not finish) a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Virginia School of Environmental Science. Throughout this period (1979 through 1984 and the fall of 1988), Wagner’s research focused primarily on the ecology of benthic diatoms in wetland systems. She conducted research and coursework on diatoms at summer research institutes at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts; the University of Michigan Research Station in Pellston Michigan; and the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Okoboji, Iowa.