Dean’s Corner, August 2021

Contact: Sonia Altizer, saltizer@uga.edu

Sonia Altizer. Photo: Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA

We’re excited to welcome our amazing students back to campus this month! Our undergraduate program continues to grow, with 29 incoming BS and AB students, bringing our total number of undergraduate majors to 180. In August, 15 new PhD and MS students began studies in Ecology, bringing the graduate student population to 80 this semester. It has been wonderful to see new and familiar (masked) faces in the hallways, classrooms, and courtyard of the building. On August 26, we hosted our Welcome Back Ice Cream Social in the courtyard, with faculty, staff and students greeting each other in a masked and distanced outdoor forum.

Odum School ice cream social in the Ecology courtyard, with students, faculty, and staff.y

At the same time that we are excited to return to campus life and interact with friends and colleagues, we also need to keep our workplace healthy in light of the risks from SARS-CoV-2 variants. To encourage greater mask use around the Ecology building, we placed signs on all classroom doors and commons areas. Our front office ordered a large supply of face coverings to stock in classrooms and meeting spaces. Classrooms and meeting spaces in Ecology have HEPA air filters to remove virus-containing particles. Social gatherings or programming involving food or drink will take place outdoors, or in well ventilated areas where doors or windows can be opened. A huge thank you to students, faculty, and staff in the Odum School for setting a positive example for others in taking measures to reduce covid transmission. We know these are challenging times, and we appreciate how our community is moving forward with learning, research, and service activities.

Poster with an image of a masked bulldog and the message "Mask up! Vax up! Protect yourself and others: We in the Odum School ask EVERYONE to wear a mask while in this space."

The next time you visit us in Ecology, you might notice a few exciting changes to our spaces. Updates to the Ecology building this month include a new look for the main lobby, updated pergola in the courtyard, renovated graduate student offices, and a new graduate student lounge. The Odum Library is now the Odum Gallery and Reading Room, featuring the beautiful watercolor landscapes of Martha Odum. The Georgia Museum of Natural History provided a fascinating display in the main lobby to showcase its impressive bivalve collection spanning oysters, clams, mussels and scallops.

The Odum Gallery and Reading Room, with watercolors by Martha Odum on the walls, bronze bust of Eugene Odum, and a conference table and chairs.

The Odum School of Ecology is a remarkable place to work, and our students, faculty and staff are inspiring. Wherever you are, as alumni and friends, we hope you are safe, and we look forward to staying connected. Please reach out to us if you have comments, questions, and suggestions about research and training in the Odum School of Ecology, and ideas for future communications.

With warm wishes,

Sonia Altizer
Interim Dean