James E. “Jeb” Byers, a member of the University of Georgia faculty since 2008, has been named a UGA Athletic Association Professor in Ecology. Byers is a Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor and Lothar Tresp Honors Professor at the Odum School of Ecology, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate-level classes and serves as associate dean for research and operations.
A leader in the disciplines of population, community and marine ecology, Byers is best known for his research quantifying and predicting the success of biological invasions. He has performed some of the world’s leading ecological studies on interactions among native organisms and nonnative species, including along Georgia’s coast. Byers has built mechanistic mathematical models to analyze impacts of climate change, including expansions of invasive parasites and subtropical species into the state’s marine and freshwater resources. His approach combines experimental work and fieldwork at local, regional and continent-wide scales with computational models, providing critical theoretical insights.
“I am grateful for this amazing honor and recognition of my work by the Georgia Athletic Association,” Byers said. “I am thankful for the great environment and culture of curiosity that surrounds me and makes my job so enjoyable. There are so many aspects of it that I love—everything from investigating scientific problems at the cutting edge of knowledge, engaging students to develop to their top potential, and getting to work outside in coastal marine settings. The Athletic Association Professorship will help me to further all of these.”
In 2021, Byers was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received UGA’s Creative Research Award in 2022 and was elected a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America in 2018. In 2017, he was named a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Ecology. Byers also received the Felton Jenkins Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award from the University System of Georgia; Richard B. Russell Teaching Award; Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring Award; and Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award from UGA.
“Dr. Byers is among the most accomplished researchers at the University of Georgia, and one of the best in the nation,” said Sonia Altizer, interim dean and Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Ecology. “At the same time, Dr. Byers is an incredible mentor and teacher who has engaged dozens of graduate students and postdocs in ecological discovery and led both small and high-enrollment classes in experiential learning. He has made a positive impact on so many students in the Odum School, and has dedicated tremendous service to the school, university and discipline of ecology. The distinction of a UGA Athletic Association Professorship is well-deserved.”
Byers earned a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and followed that with a postdoctoral fellowship at Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories at the University of Washington. He was a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire, and a visiting senior fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia, before starting a faculty position at UGA.