Ecology celebrates spring 2022 graduates

Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

Contact: Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

Undergraduate Ecology spring 2022 graduates in caps and gowns on the stage of the Forest Resources auditorium. Photo: Ben Taylor.

The Odum School of Ecology recognized 43 spring and summer 2022 graduates and their families with a convocation ceremony and reception on May 13. The ceremony took place in person in the Forest Resources auditorium and was also live-streamed for remote viewing.

Interim Dean Sonia Altizer welcomed students and their families, congratulating them for rising to the challenges of the last two years. She introduced Meigs Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Operations James “Jeb” Byers, who delivered the convocation address. In an interactive talk that invited audience participation, Byers urged graduates to remember three lessons from ecology as they move out into the world.

The first lesson was the importance of linkages—the interconnection and complexity of ecosystems and all the species, large and small, that play important roles. Next, he encouraged them to draw inspiration from nature. Finally, Byers reminded graduates of the leadership skills they’ve gained during their time at UGA, and urged them to put those skills to use.

“Ecology is topical and relevant to people’s lives. You are essential communicators of that message,” he said.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Pejman Rohani, Georgia Athletic Association Professor and Regents’ Professor, then presented the graduates, beginning with the nine receiving doctoral and master’s degrees. Their graduate advisors, assisted by Byers and Altizer, conducted an academic hooding ceremony as a special recognition of their accomplishments.

Rohani then presented the 34 undergraduates receiving degrees. The ceremony concluded with Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator Allison Walters welcoming the new graduates to the Odum School alumni community, and the graduates and their guests adjourned to a reception on the Ecology lawn.

“We are so proud of Ecology’s class of 2022—earning your degrees under the challenges of the past two years is a tremendous achievement,” said Interim Dean Altizer. “We have no doubt that you will continue to lead and discover, and look forward to hearing about the next steps in your journey.”

Spring 2022 Ecology master's and doctoral student graduates in their caps and gowns on the Ecology lawn. Photo: Ben Taylor.

Graduate Students

Caroline Grace Aikins
Master of Science in Ecology
Thesis: Effects of social cues on monarch butterfly oviposition and orientation behavior
Advisors: Sonia Altizer and Takao Sasaki

Dessa Leigh Benson
Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology
Dissertation: Conservation and restoration of maritime live oak forests: Herbivory, invasive species, and modeling management strategies
Advisor: Elizabeth King

Anna Yingbo Baynes
Master of Science in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability
Thesis: Fish habitat associations in shoal habitats and implications for climate change effects on species conservation
Advisor: Seth Wenger

Megan Nicole Hopson
Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology
Dissertation: Overcoming water scarcity for a more sustainable future: Navigating barriers and creating solutions to implement water recycling
Advisor: Laurie Fowler

Talia Rebecca Levine
Master of Science in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability
Thesis: Boundary issues: Contaminants in prey fish near a Superfund site in Brunswick, GeorgiaAdvisor: Laurie Fowler

Jessie Iris Motes
Master of Science in Ecology
Thesis: Land-use disturbance increases soil nitrogen transformation rates by altering trajectories of forest recovery
Advisor: Nina Wurzburger

Rebecca Jane Park
Master of Science in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability
Thesis: Boundary issues: Effects of soil warming on deciduous tree phenology in the Georgia Piedmont
Advisor: Jacqueline Mohan

Kelly Marie Ridenhour
Master of Science in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability
Thesis: Atlanta Firefly Project: Using community science to explore the effects of land management on the local abundance of the Big Dipper Firefly (Photinus pyralis) in city parks and residential yards
Advisor: John Paul Schmidt

Isabel Kathryn Wargowsky
Master of Science in Ecology
Thesis: Belowground water-use traits of savanna trees and grasses
Advisor: Ricardo Holdo

Undergraduate Students

August Hayden Anderson
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
magna cum laude
with Honors

Natalie Cameryn Bachner
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Certificate in Sustainability
cum laude

Christopher Inman Brandon
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Minor in Spanish
summa cum laude
with Highest Honors

Anna Weimin Burkhart
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Minor in Biology
Certificate in Geographic Information Science

Drew Scott Di Francesco
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Statistics

Alannah Caroline Dodd
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Certificate in Geographic Information Science
cum laude

Jesse Morgan Donck-Rains
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations
Minor in French
magna cum laude  

Jennifer Leigh Duncan
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Statistics

Stephen Murphey Durkee
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology
magna cum laude  

Elizabeth Ann Esser
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Genetics
summa cum laude
with Highest Honors

George Michael Fager
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology

Niki Nitin Gajjar
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Certificate in Urban and Metropolitan Studies
cum laude

Christopher Jacob Hannan
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology

Maylyn Taylor Hinson
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Minor in Spanish
Certificate in Environmental Education

Chaya Renee James
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Certificate in Sustainability
Certificate in Water Resources
magna cum laude  

Sidney Elyse Jones
Bachelor of Science in Ecology

Zachary Wade Keung
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Certificate in Water Resources

John Michael Knox
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Minor in Spanish

Kailah Deshae’ Massey
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology

Mark Estes Murray
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology

Brandy Nicole Quick
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology with an emphasis in Plant Ecology and Environment

Grayson Whittington Seelke
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Minor in Geography
Certificate in Geographic Information Science

Elizabeth Anne Shaffer
Bachelor of Science in Ecology

Farran Marie Smith
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
cum laude

Nicole Elizabeth Steel
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Bachelor of Science in Biology
summa cum laude
with Highest Honors

Savannah Joy Thompson
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Minor in Horticulture

Trevor Lee Underwood
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
Certificate in Geographic Information Science
summa cum laude  

Julia Nicole Weil
Bachelor of Science in Ecology
summa cum laude  

Madison Danielle White
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Certificate in Sustainability
Certificate in Environmental Education
magna cum laude  

Destiny Eden Willard
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology

Tabitha Grace Williams
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology

Olivia Dian Wilson
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Minor in Environmental Law
Minor in International Affairs
Certificate in Sustainability

Adam Christopher Womble
Bachelor of Science in Ecology

Jenna Nicole Zellerer
Bachelor of Arts in Ecology
Minor in Anthropology