Clifton is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and studies indigenous climate resilience at UMD. He is a UMD Global Stewards Fellow studying the food-energy-water nexus as part of an NSF-NRT grant. In particular, Clifton is concerned with how a tribe's recognition status impacts governance, climate adaptation, and food security.
Clifton has a BA in History and Political Science from the University of the Ozarks, an MPAff from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas-Austin, and a JD from Baylor University. He resides in Pennsylvania with his wife and daughters. In his free time, Clifton is a contributing writer on energy and natural resource economics for Native Business Magazine, an avid trail runner, and aspiring gardener.