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Odum School of Ecology presents departmental awards to students, faculty, and staff

May. 11, 2012

Writer: Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

Contact: Beth Gavrilles, bethgav@uga.edu

The University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology recognized students, faculty, and staff with departmental awards for outstanding accomplishments during the 2010-2011 academic year at its recent Spring Fling celebration, held at Flinchum’s Phoenix on April 29, 2011.

“This has been an extraordinary year for the Odum School,” said Dean John Gittleman. “Our students and faculty have achieved tremendous success in research, teaching, and service, and I’m delighted at the opportunity to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.”

Ph.D. student Daniel Streicker won the award for Best Student Paper for “Host Phylogeny Constrains Cross-Species Emergence and Establishment of Rabies Virus in Bats,” which was published in the journal Science in August 2010.

Three Ph.D. students—Christina Baker, Megan Machmuller, and Andrew Mehring—received awards for Distinguished Graduate Teaching.

Katherine Edmonds, a masters of conservation ecology and sustainable development student, received the Environmental Policy Award for her thesis on strengthening anti-degradation provisions of the federal Clean Water Act with specific recommendations for implementation in Georgia.

Masters of ecology student Shafkat Khan won the Robert A. Sheldon Memorial Award. The Robert A. Sheldon Memorial Fund was established in 1971 by Joanne S. Sheldon in memory of her late husband, who was an outstanding graduate student in the Department of Zoology, to support graduate field research. Khan’s research explores the ecology of plant communities, restoration, tropical forests and global change.

Masters of ecology student Jessica Sterling received the Solitary Glove Service Award. This award, given by Terry and Gary Barrett, holder of the Eugene P. Odum Chair in Ecology, recognizes service contributions by graduate students that go beyond the University community. Sterling has long been a volunteer member of Upper Oconee Watershed Network and has served as the group’s president. She was instrumental in organizing the community response to the chemical spill into Trail Creek in August 2010, and continues to monitor the stream.

Brett Berry received the Josh Laerm Memorial Outstanding Ecology Undergraduate Award. The Laerm Award recognizes a graduating or recently graduated Ecology major based on a combination of research, classroom, and service performance. It is given in honor of the late Joshua Laerm, director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History from 1978 to 1997. 

Theresa Stratmann and Sheena Zhang received the Richardson-Golley Undergraduate Citizenship Award, which recognizes significant leadership in encouraging others to work toward sustainability and conservation of natural resources.

Stratmann was also the recipient of the Odum Global Scholars for Undergraduate Study Award, a new award that recognizes excellence in original research. Stratmann has pursued population ecology research under the direction of Associate Professor John Drake.

The late Thelma Richardson, who was Ecology’s systems administrator and information technology specialist for more than 40 years and who passed away in March, was honored with the Purple Heart award, given by the Odum School’s graduate students to the faculty or staff member who has gone beyond the requirements of his or her position to be exceptionally helpful to students. Her husband Jim Richardson, ecology instructor and undergraduate coordinator, accepted the award on her behalf.

Undergraduate Academic Advisor Misha Boyd received the Employee of the Year Award for significant contributions to the success and well-being of Odum School programs during the past year.

J. Vaun McArthur, senior research scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, was named Faculty Instructor of the Year for his contributions to the success of the undergraduate and graduate programs of the Odum School.

Professor Ron Carroll received the Dean’s Award for his long-term leadership in all three areas of the University’s mission of teaching, research, and service, which has had local, statewide, and international impacts.

In addition to receiving departmental awards, a number of students were recognized for winning competitive fellowships, grants, and awards during the past year. These included Ph.D. students Sarah Budischak-Wade, who received a National Science Foundation Doctoral dissertation Improvement Grant; Tyler Kartzinel, recipient of a NSF DDIG as well as the Explorers Club Award for field research; Andrew Mehring, who received the President’s Award from the North American Benthological Society; Julie Rushmore, who received a two-year Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship; Kristy Segal, winner of a Sigma Xi Fellowship; and Jamie Winternitz, recipient of the Educational Award from the Association of Women in Science. Masters of ecology student David Cotacachi was recognized as the recipient of a 2009-2011 Fulbright Fellowship.

Several Odum School students and faculty also received university honors. Three Ph.D. students—Athena Anderson, Megan Machmuller, and Andrew Mehring—were recognized by the UGA Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for excellence in teaching with the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Undergraduate Sheena Zhang received the inaugural Sustainable UGA Outstanding Student Award and Associate Dean Laurie Fowler the Sustainable UGA Outstanding Faculty Award from the Office of Sustainability.

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Masters student Jessica Sterling receives the 2011 Solitary Glove Service Award from Associate Professor Amy Rosemond. Established and given by Terry and Gary Barrett, holder of the Eugene P. Odum Chair in Ecology, the Solitary Glove Service Award recognizes service contributions by graduate students that go beyond the University community.