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About the Odum School

Our mission is to shape the future of ecological inquiry and application to better understand our rapidly changing planet. To succeed we will conduct disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on the interrelations of organisms and their environments, recognizing the dominant influence of humans. We will educate the next generation of ecologists and citizens and engage in outreach and service for the broader public.

The Odum School’s roots date to the 1940s when namesake Eugene P. Odum came to the University of Georgia as a faculty member in zoology. In 1953 Odum published the first textbook in the field, Fundamentals of Ecology, helping to establish ecology as its own scientific discipline. In the 1950s Odum also initiated two major research programs, the Georgia Marine Biological Laboratory (later the UGA Marine Institute) on Sapelo Island and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory near Aiken, South Carolina. The Institute of Ecology, formally established in 1967, grew out of these programs. In 2007, the Institute became the Odum School, the first standalone college of ecology in the world. Read more about our History.

The school adheres to Odum’s holistic approach to ecological studies, with areas of particular strength in aquatic ecology, conservation ecology, disease ecology, ecosystem ecology, evolutionary ecology, and sustainability science. Researchers in the Odum School work on timely and complex issues including global climate change, species extinction, biodiversity and invasive species, among others.

The Odum School emphasizes an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to research, integrating expertise and resources from other schools and colleges at UGA as well as other institutions. A number of our faculty have joint appointments with other units on campus, including the College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Infectious Diseases, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, the School of Law and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Our researchers are part of several centers and affinity groups, including the Georgia Initiative for Climate and Society, the UGA Water Faculty and the Faculty of Infectious Diseases. Read more about Research at the Odum School.

The Odum School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including the bachelor of science in ecology, bachelor of arts in ecology, doctorate in ecology (including the new Infectious Disease Ecology Across Scales interdisciplinary program in disease ecology), doctorate in integrative conservation and ecology, master of science in ecology, and master of science in conservation ecology and sustainable development. In addition, undergraduates may minor in ecology and graduate students may receive a certificate in conservation ecology.

The ecology program at UGA is known for its rigorous coursework, interdisciplinary approach, service-learning courses and meaningful opportunities for field experience, independent research and studies abroad. Odum School graduates have gone on to successful careers in academia, government agencies, non-profit organizations, business, and many other fields.

Learn more about our Undergraduate Programs.

Learn more about our Graduate Programs.

Public Service and Outreach
The Odum School serves the people of Georgia and beyond through several channels. The UGA River Basin Center, housed in the Odum School but drawing from units across campus, connects freshwater science and policy to promote sustainable management of aquatic resources and ecosystems. River Basin Center faculty, staff and students work on aquatic management issues around the globe, but with particular emphasis on the southeastern U.S.  Learn more about the River Basin Center.

Much of the RBC’s work is conducted through the Environmental Practicum, a multidisciplinary graduate-level service-learning course that gives students the opportunity to put knowledge gained in the classroom to work solving real-world environmental problems. Learn more about the Environmental Practicum.

In addition, EcoReach is an initiative of the Odum School’s graduate students to provide environmental education to local schoolchildren. Learn more about EcoReach.

International Reach
Odum School research spans the globe, with faculty and students working in locations as far afield as Africa, Australia and South America. In addition we offer tropical ecology courses at the UGA San Luis Research Station in Costa Rica. With the help of generous donors, the Odum School has established travel scholarships in an effort to ensure that cost is not a barrier to any student interested in studying abroad. Learn more about our program in Costa Rica.

Eugene P. Odum

Our namesake is Eugene P. Odum, widely credited for making the term "ecosystem" a household word. Dr. Odum was instrumental in bringing ecology to UGA, and his vision of holistic ecology is still practiced today. He wrote the first textbook in the field, Fundamentals of Ecology, which was published in 1953. It has been translated into 12 languages and is now in its fifth edition. In 1970 he became the first UGA faculty member to be elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. With his brother Howard, he received the Crafoord Prize--considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for ecologists--in 1987.