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Bio Grad Student Wins 2018 Averitt Award for Research Excellence

Jose A. Sanchez-Ruiz, graduate student in the Department of Biology, is the 2018 winner of the Averitt Award for Research Excellence.  The Averitt Award is the highest honor bestowed upon graduate students within the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies.


Sanchez-Ruiz is a native of Puerto Rico.  After switching from art to biology (“I decided to try science”), he graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras in 2016.  That same year he joined the graduate program in Biology at Georgia Southern University, where he works under the direction of professor Checo Colon-Gaud, Ph.D.


Sanchez-Ruiz was recognized for his research in the field of aquatic ecology.  Specifically, he studies the role that aquatic macroinvertebrates (animals such as aquatic insects, crayfish, and snails) play in breaking down and decomposing leaf litter that falls into streams and rivers.


This may seem trivial, but decomposing vegetation provides much of the energy and nutrients to support healthy food chains in streams and rivers.  If you like catching healthy fish in our local rivers, leaf decomposition is important to you.


Sanchez-Ruiz is conducting experiments in the Ogeechee River that place leaves in open mesh bags (leaf packs) to study the rate at which aquatic macroinvertebrates colonize and decompose leaf litter.  More importantly, he studies how this rate changes as a function of extreme events such as floods and drought.  These extreme events are expected to increase in response to a warming climate.


“In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Agency predicts a higher frequency of droughts and floods,” says Sanchez-Ruiz.  “Long-term ecological studies are necessary to understand the implication of this.  I am trying to meet this need with my research.”


Sanchez-Ruiz already has five peer-reviewed publications from this and other research, and he has presented his research in seven presentations at professional meetings.


Given all this work, you might expect Sanchez-Ruiz to relax over winter break.  Instead, he received a highly competitive International Research Experience Fellowship from the National Science Foundation to conduct research in Chile.


In Chile, Sanchez-Ruiz worked with Chilean and U.S. colleagues to study the effects of non-native trout on local stream ecosystems.  Working in sub-Antarctic Chile, he helped develop a sampling protocol for aquatic macroinvertebrates in order to measure the impacts of introduced fish on these ecosystems.  A theme of this research is to better understand the importance of healthy streams to the indigenous people of southern Chile.


For his productive research, both locally and internationally, Jose A. Sanchez-Ruiz is a exemplary member of the Department of Biology’s graduate program and a deserving recipient of the Averitt Award for Research Excellence.


Kristi St. Clair Receives Highest Honors

Every year, Georgia Southern University hosts the Honors Day Convocation, which recognizes the achievements of students’ work throughout the year, new members of honors societies, and graduating seniors. Kristi St. Clair (chemistry ‘18) was one of the many graduating seniors this year, but in one particular way she stood out. President Dr. Jaimie Hebert awarded St. Clair the highest honor at the convocation, the University System of Georgia Academic Recognition Award.

This award recognizes the student that exemplifies the most outstanding academic achievement as well as their dedication to the campus community. “I was very happy when I walked on the stage to receive my award. I was so proud that my hard work has been recognized.”

Her time with the University Honors Program has given her countless opportunities. However, her favorite memory with the program was when she gave back to the local community. During her freshman year, she was in Dr. Francis Desiderio’s Honors section of the First Year Experience course (FYE), Meaning of Place. In the University Honors Program, students are required to complete experiential learning and in their first year, they complete the requirement with their FYE class.

Click here to read more!

Georgia Southern professor elected president of the GES

Edward Mondor, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Georgia Southern University, was elected president of the Georgia Entomological Society (GES) in early April. Entomology is a branch of zoology which covers the study of insects and their relationship with humans, the environment and other organisms.


Mondor has been involved in leadership positions with GES for several years. Last year he served as president-elect, and in prior years he served on the site selection committee, the local arrangement committee and the student affairs committee. As president-elect, he was responsible for organizing the annual 2018 GES meeting held jointly with the state of South Carolina in Helen, Georgia. Mondor replaces outgoing president Dan Suiter.


“I am excited to begin serving my term as president, and to promote membership in the organization,” said Mondor. “The GES is open to any faculty, student or staff from any background with an interest in entomology.”


The society provides a focal point for entomologists through the dissemination of results of original research, ideas and accomplishments in technology transfer, and information on entomology and entomologists. The GES annual meeting is held at various sites throughout Georgia, providing entomologists, industry professionals and scientists in related fields a forum to convene and share advancements in the field of entomology and related disciplines. The GES also honors recipients of awards and scholarships and publishes the Journal of Entomological Science.

More information can be found here.

Patricia Humphrey receives MAA Southeastern Section Service Award

Patricia Humphrey, Georgia Southern University Professor Emerita of Statistics, received the 2018 Mathematical Association of America Southeastern Section (MAASE) Distinguished Service Award, which was announced at the 97th Annual MAASE Meeting at Clemson University on March 23, 2018.  Humphrey has a remarkable record of service to the mathematical sciences community.  Within the MAASE, she has served as Chair, Past-Chair, Chair-Elect, Program Chair, and Section NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) Coordinator.  In addition, she organized and hosted the 86th Annual MAASE Meeting in 2007 at Georgia Southern University, served as MAA Liaison, and advised the MAA Student Chapter.  In addition, she organized the Eagle Undergraduate Mathematics Conference at Georgia Southern in 2010, 2012 and 2014, which also included the MAA State Luncheon.  Humphrey made numerous contributions to the profession at the national level as well.  She served as Chair and Newsletter Editor of the MAA Statistics Education Special Interest Group, was a member of the MAA – American Statistical Association Joint Committee on Statistics Education and the MAA Dolciani Committee.  Over her career, Humphrey gave approximately 30 presentations at national and regional meetings and organized numerous special sessions.  Her extensive service contributions were also recognized with the College of Science and Technology Award for Excellence in Service in 2011 and the University Award for Excellence in Service in 2012.


COSM Aggregate, December 8, 2017