Our dedication to Sustainability and Quality Long-term Research

The Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia is the world’s first standalone college devoted to ecology. Originally established as the Institute of Ecology in 1967, it was granted status as a college within the university and became the Odum School on July 1, 2007.

Odum School students have spearheaded sustainability efforts on campus. Ecology undergraduates initiated UGA’s Gameday Recycling program in 2008, since adopted by the UGA Athletic Association. In 2009 they led the campaign for a $3 “green” student fee—overwhelmingly approved by the student body—which led to the creation of the Office of Sustainability. They also played major roles in the long-running and ultimately successful campaign to decommission UGA’s coal-burning power plant.

The Environmental Ethics Certificate Program for graduate students was approved in 1983 and for undergraduates in 1994. A Certificate in Conservation Ecology for graduate students was approved in 1991.

Founder and namesake Eugene P. Odum, widely referred to as “the father of modern ecology,” was internationally recognized as a pioneer of ecosystem ecology. He wrote the first textbook in the field, Fundamentals of Ecology, which was published in 1953. It has been translated into 12 languages and is now in its fifth edition. In 1970 he became the first UGA faculty member to be elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. With his brother Howard, he received the Crafoord Prize–considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for ecologists–in 1987.

Our Faculty

Our faculty have been recognized by UGA for research, teaching, and public service and outreach with awards including the Creative Research Medal, the Josiah Meigs Teaching Professorship, the Richard B. Russell Teaching Award, and the Walter Barnard Hill Award.

Sonia Altizer and her students have found that the practice of planting exotic milkweed to provide habitat for declining populations of monarch butterflies can have unintended consequences, enticing some of the butterflies to forego their long-distance migration and increasing the prevalence of disease among them.

John Drake and his team created the COVID-19 Portal to provide up-to-date information and analysis about the course of the pandemic, and are working on developing an early warning system for infectious disease outbreaks.

Amy Rosemond and her colleagues discovered that nutrient pollution like that in stormwater runoff damages streams in previously unknown ways, providing important new information that can be incorporated into policies to reduce water pollution.

Our faculty have won numerous honors and awards including National Science Foundation CAREER awards, a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Fulbright Fellowships.

Five of our faculty and former faculty have served as president of the Ecological Society of America (Eugene P. Odum, 1965; Frank B. Golley, 1976-77; H. Ronald Pulliam, 1991-1992; Judy L. Meyer, 1994-1995; and Alan P. Covich, 2006-2007.) Distinguished Research Professor Amy Rosemond served as president of the Society for Freshwater Science in 2019.

Ten current and emeritus faculty members are Fellows of the Ecological Society of America (James E. “Jeb” Byers, Alan P. Covich, John M. Drake, Mark D. Hunter, Judy L. Meyer, Catherine M. Pringle, H. Ron Pulliam, James W. Porter, Pejman Rohani, Amy D. Rosemond, and Craig W. Osenberg.)

Ten current and emeritus faculty members Sonia Altizer (2020), James E. “Jeb” Byers (2021) Alan P. Covich (2000), John M. Drake (2018), Whit Gibbons (2009), Patricia Adair Gowaty (2004), James W. Porter (1983), Catherine M. Pringle (2009) and Pejman Rohani (2018), as well as the late Gary Barrett (1990), Frank Golley (1963), Lawrence Pomeroy (1960) and Richard Wiegert (1965), are Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ecology faculty and students spearheaded the UGA Environmental Literacy requirement, adopted in 1993, that mandates that all UGA undergraduates take at least one approved course related to environmental issues.

Ecology students initiated the first Graduate Student Symposium at UGA in 1995. It has grown into an annual two-day event featuring research talks by graduate students at all stages of their careers, with an undergraduate poster session and a keynote address by a notable alumnus. Other schools and departments at UGA have since adopted the idea.

Our Students

Odum School graduate students and alumni have received nearly 25% of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships awarded to UGA students and alumni since 2010.

UGA graduate students have received more than 60% of the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants awarded to UGA students since 2014.

Odum School graduate students have won eight out of 24 U.S. EPA STAR Graduate Fellowships.

Nearly 20% of our undergraduates participate in the UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, conducting original research under the direction of faculty mentors and giving oral and poster presentations at the annual CURO Symposium.

Odum School undergraduates have won twelve Udall Scholarships out of 17 awarded to UGA students since 2007, as well as Truman, Mitchell, Schwarzman, Goldwater, Hollings, and Fulbright Scholarships.

Our alumni include a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” grant, and the inaugural winner of the Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists.

Odum School researchers are at the forefront of ecological discovery in areas including global change effects on ecosystems, ecology of infectious diseases, species loss and invasions, and marine and freshwater conservation.

The Odum School offers a growing number of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Doctorate in Ecology degree was approved in 1971; the first Ph.D. was awarded the following year. It was followed by the Master of Science in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development degree (1991; it became the Master of Science in Integrative Conservation and Sustainability in 2022); the Bachelor of Science (1995); the Master of Science in Ecology (1996); the Doctorate in Integrative Conservation and Ecology (2011); and the Bachelor of Arts (2015.) In addition, the undergraduate Minor in Ecology was approved in 2008.