Odum Faculty, Students Recognized During 2022 UGA Honors Week

Contact: Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

Image of the UGA Arch overlaid with text: Honors Week University of Georgia.

April 18-22, 2002, is designated as UGA Honors Week, during which the university recognizes the achievements of students, faculty, staff and alumni. This week is highlighted with a series of luncheons and banquets to honor the many recipients of these university-level awards. The Odum School of Ecology is proud to acknowledge the members of our community who were recognized this week for their scholarship, teaching, and mentoring in pursuit of academic excellence.

Rosemond named Distinguished Research Professor

Distinguished Research Professor Amy Rosemond, who was among the Odum faculty and graduate students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022. Photo: Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA.
Distinguished Research Professor Amy Rosemond. Photo: Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA.

Amy Rosemond has been named a Distinguished Research Professor, a title bestowed to recognize senior faculty members who are internationally recognized for their innovative body of work and its transformational impact on the field. The Professorship is awarded to individuals working at the very top of their discipline, who are recognized as preeminent leaders in their fields of study.

Rosemond was honored for research that has improved ecological understanding of how freshwater ecosystems function while identifying specific ways for policymakers to improve stream health. She studies aquatic food webs and their biogeochemical dynamics, particularly in response to stressors, and has expanded the understanding of excess nutrient enrichment in real-world streams with experiments in the field.  

Byers receives Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award

Prof. Jeb Byers, who was among the Odum faculty and graduate students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022. Photo: Chamberlain Smith.
Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Ecology James “Jeb” Byers. Photo: Chamberlain Smith.

James “Jeb” Byers, Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Ecology and Associate Dean for Research and Operations, has received a Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award from the UGA Office of Research. Creative Research Awards recognize established investigators whose overall scholarly body of work has had a major impact on the field of study and has established the investigator’s international reputation as a leader in the field. The Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award is given to recognize an outstanding body of nationally and internationally recognized scholarly or creative activities in the sciences. Lamar Dodd’s artwork extended into the American West and even into space when he was commissioned by NASA and the Department of the Interior to creatively record numerous scientific achievements. His scientific artwork joined imagination and scientific reality. For this reason, the Lamar Dodd Award was established in 1981 in his honor.  

Byers is a leader in the disciplines of population, community and marine ecology. He is best known for 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, focusing primarily on 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. His work has contributed to the understanding of host-parasite ecology, ecosystem engineering and impacts of climate change and other environmental influences on species and their habitat expansions.

Rugenski receives Creative Teaching Award

Amanda Rugenski, who was among the Odum faculty and graduate students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022. Photo: Beth Gavrilles.
Lecturer and Undergraduate Coordinator Amanda Rugenski. Photo: Beth Gavrilles.

Amanda Rugenski, lecturer and undergraduate coordinator, has received a Creative Teaching Award from the UGA Office of Instruction. These awards are presented annually to faculty who have demonstrated exceptional creativity in using either an innovative technology or pedagogy that extends learning beyond the traditional classroom or for their creative course design or implementation of subject matter that improves student learning outcomes in their courses. 

Rugenski has fundamentally transformed the ecology teaching curriculum. She developed an innovative adaptation of a required capstone field course, ECOL 3300, “Field Program in Ecological Problem Solving,” which has become a hallmark of the Odum School’s experiential education. This Maymester course normally takes 20 students across Georgia. During spring 2021, she turned the course into a “virtual field program,” where students worked with actual stakeholders from the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers to identify challenges and design solutions for societal and environmental issues in urban, rural and coastal ecosystems in Georgia—all while staying in Athens.

Davis and Connelly receive Outstanding Teaching Faculty Awards

Lecturer and Academic Coordinator Scott Connelly and Assistant Research Scientist Andy Davis, who were among the Odum faculty and students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022.
Lecturer and Academic Coordinator Scott Connelly and Assistant Research Scientist Andy Davis.

Scott Connelly, Lecturer and Academic Coordinator, and Assistant Research Scientist Andy Davis were honored this week at the UGA Faculty Recognition Banquet as the Odum School of Ecology’s Outstanding Teaching Faculty for 2021-22. Connelly was recognized for his exceptional instruction of introductory ecology courses, professional development course, conservation and tropical ecology courses, and for leading a Maymester study away program in Costa Rica. Davis was recognized for his outstanding teaching of physiological ecology and introductory ecology courses, and for his exceptional mentoring of undergraduate students in research.

Byers receives Lothar Tresp Honors Professor Award

Jeb Byers was selected as this year’s Lothar Tresp Outstanding Honors Professor by the Morehead Honors College at UGA. This award is dedicated to Lothar Tresp, former Morehead Honors College director, and recognizes superior teaching and dedication to Honors students by senior faculty members.

Taylor receives James L. Carmon Scholarship Honorable Mention

Master's student Ben Taylor, who was among the Odum faculty and graduate students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022.
M.S. student Ben Taylor.

Benjamin Taylor, an M.S. candidate in the Odum School of Ecology, has received a James L. Carmon Scholarship Honorable Mention. This scholarship is presented to UGA graduate students who have used computers in innovative ways. Named for the late James L. Carmon, a UGA faculty member for 36 years who helped make the university a leader in computing research and development, the award was established by the Control Data Corp.

Taylor investigates how ants acquire, retain and retrieve information as a group. Because animal groups often face the same tasks repeatedly, their decisions in foraging and other behaviors could benefit collective learning based on experience. His research explores whether members of a colony of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus can pass information among individuals and progressively improve group performance in foraging over time. Taylor attaches miniature tags to multiple individuals and films them using high-resolution cameras, then deploys the high-resolution video data and advances in computer vision and other technologies to fine-scale track animal movements. He plans to use new analytical approaches to quantify and discriminate between various movement tracks of individual members and groups of ants under different experimental manipulations. The results of his research could advance understanding of collective problem-solving in animal and human societies, potentially with AI applications.

Carol Yang receives UGA Excellence in Teaching Award

Doctoral student Carol Yang.

Carol Yang is one of five graduate students to receive the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2022. This highly competitive award recognizes UGA graduate students who have demonstrated superior teaching skills and contributed to teaching beyond their own classroom responsibilities. The Excellence in Teaching Award is the top teaching award for graduate students at UGA. It is administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning and sponsored by the Graduate School.

Yang is a fifth-year graduate student in the Odum School of Ecology. Her research focuses on the ecological role of freshwater crabs in tropical streams. Prior to attending UGA, she worked in K-12 environmental education at a bilingual school and other nonprofits in Costa Rica. At UGA, she has continued to integrate, build and expand on her interests in research, science and education. Yang has taught in both co-instructor and teaching assistant roles, including courses such as “Ecological Problem-Solving,” where she engaged students with community stakeholders. With other graduate students, she led a seminar and modules that focused on inclusion and intersectional identities in the sciences. Yang also has taken on leadership roles with EcoReach and SciREN, graduate student-led organizations that provide science education programming for K-12 schools, motivated by the impacts of thoughtful teaching and learning at UGA rippling far beyond the classroom.

Cummins, Quan, and Yang receive UGA Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards

Doctoral students Carolyn Cummins (Ecology) and Alyssa Quan (ICON and Ecology), who were among the Odum faculty and graduate students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022.
Doctoral students Carolyn Cummins (Ecology) and Alyssa Quan (ICON and Ecology).

Doctoral students Carolyn Cummins (Ecology), Alyssa Quan (ICON and Ecology) and Carol Yang (Ecology) were honored with Outstanding Teaching Awards in 2022. This award recognizes teaching assistants who demonstrate superior instructional skills while serving in the classroom or laboratory. The Center for Teaching and Learning administers the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award, which is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction.

Undergraduate Honors Students Recognized for Outstanding Scholarship

Undergraduate Elizabeth Esser, who was among the Odum faculty and students recognized during UGA Honors Week 2022.
Foundation Fellow and Udall Scholar Elizabeth Esser, BS ’22.

At the annual Presidential Honors Week luncheon, Elizabeth Esser (B.S. Ecology and Genetics) was recognized for receiving the UGA Presidential Award of Excellence. Esser is a Foundation Fellow and Udall Scholar and has completed research with several faculty members at UGA, including Dr. Jeb Byers. The Presidential Award of Excellence is given to undergraduate students in their final year of study who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, strong extracurricular involvement, and/or service to and involvement in their respective school or college. Students selected for this award exemplify the best of UGA’s undergraduate student body. Deans select a given number of Presidential Award of Excellence recipients each spring based the average number of graduating students from their school or college over the past five years.

At the Morehead Honors College banquet, Christopher Brandon (B.S. Ecology and Biology) and Esser were recognized for achieving highest honors upon graduation. Brandon is completing an Honors thesis with Dr. Sonia Altizer.

Other Honors students graduating this spring are August Anderson (B.S. Ecology), magna cum laude with Honors; Jesse Donck-Rains (A.B. Ecology and Public Relations), magna cum laude; Farran Smith (B.S. Ecology), magna, cum laude; Nicole Steel (B.S. Ecology and Biology), summa cum laude with Highest Honors; and Julia Weil (B.S. Ecology), summa cum laude.