Amazing Students Profiles

Will Collier

Will Collier

Will Collier is a Presidential Scholar and has made the dean’s list, but what he’s really pleased with are the opportunities his internships have given him.  In 2005 he spent a month in South Africa studying sustainable development and building practices in rural and poor townships.  That same year, what began as a short internship at the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve at the southern tip of Chile developed into a lengthy independent research project involving systems analysis of beaver impacts on stream food webs. Will’s sub-Antarctic research developed during the latter internship, which has morphed into an honors thesis. In poster form, it won the Institute of Ecology’s Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation at this year’s Graduate Student Symposium, and it will be submitted for publication to a science journal later in 2006.  He has co-authored several other undergraduate projects originating from work at the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve that are slated for submission to journals.  Collier is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Golden Key, and the Delta Epsilon Iota academic honor societies. He has earned the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scholar Distinction award and was also nominated to the 2005 International Scholar Laureate Program Delegation on the Environment in Brazil


Woodstock, Georgia

High School:

Sequoyah High School.

Degree objective:

Bachelor of Science in Ecology and a Certificate in Environmental Ethics

Expected graduation:

December 2006

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In the fall, I will be graduating with Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) Scholar Distinction. My Honors thesis is titled “Modeling the effects of the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) on sub-antarctic stream food webs in the Cape Horn archipelago, Chile.” Using this research, I also won the Best Ecology Undergraduate Poster Presentation for 2006. I have been nominated to the 2005 International Scholar Laureate Program Delegation on the Environment in Brazil, and I am the recipient of the Georgia Museum of Natural History’s 2005 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Research. I am also the recipient of a UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities 2005 Summer Research Fellowship. I have participated in an internship in aquatic ecology under the direction of Dr. Amy Rosemond in the Institute of Ecology from Aug. 2004 to May 2005. I also participated in an internship with the private environmental consulting firm PEER Africa on the interdisciplinary issues of environmental degradation and poverty in South Africa in July 2005.

Current Employment:

I am working as a research assistant studying the ecology of ground-nesting songbirds in Millbrook, New York at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…the caliber of the university as a distinguished research institution is unlike any other in the state.  Furthermore, the University of Georgia is one of the only places in Georgia that offers a degree in ecology, and I knew that was the degree I desired to pursue. The fact that the Institute of Ecology is one of the nation’s premier ecology departments and a pioneer in the field makes the opportunity afforded to us native Georgians incredibly fortuitous.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…simply walking around the campus, meandering without a care in the world.  I enjoy strolling through campus watching the people, the buildings, the squirrels, and things like that…it’s like a day at the park.

When I have free time, I like…

…to do anything involving the outdoors, especially riding my bike and hiking.  I also like to play guitar whenever I have a chance.  Most importantly, whenever I have free time, I like to do things that require as little analytical thinking as possible.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…backpacked through South America with a couple of my friends.  It was a great experience to forget about the everyday routines of life. Flying by the seat of your pants in a new place where you struggle to speak the language is quite an adventure and can always add a hint of danger too.

My favorite place to study is…

…a mixture of my house and the Science Library.  I have a nice little office set up at my house, so most of the time I can be productive there, but occasionally it is nice to have a change of scenery, and I find the Science Library to be a good place to get the job done when it gets down to crunch time.

My favorite professor is…

… Amy Rosemond in the Institute of Ecology.  Dr. Rosemond has been my faculty mentor for a couple of years now, and I cannot speak enough about how valuable she has been in helping me achieve my goals and teaching me what ecology has to offer.  There is nothing quite like going to a meeting with her and realizing that I haven’t even thought of a fraction of the things she has considered and incorporated.  She is a fountain of wisdom, and I am simply trying to drink as much as I can.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…Eugene Odum.  I am honored to be a student in the Institute of Ecology walking in his footsteps.  The stories I hear of him and the people I see that he has impacted make me want to meet such a man and maybe chat about nature for a while.  I would like to tell Dr. Odum that the future of the field that he pioneered is bright, and I am trying to be a part of it.  Perhaps I could get him to explain some of the more theoretical concepts that I am still trying to grasp.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…carefully devise a plan for total world domination.  This would be initiated by my first hard rock album called Doin’ My Old Man’s Time. It would go double platinum.  Then, with the proceeds, I would form a dense collaborative web of non-governmental and non-profit organizations aimed at eradicating poverty. From there, we will have to see how it pans out.

After graduation, I plan to…

…pursue a doctoral degree in ecology or a related environmental field such as environmental engineering or conservation.  Ultimately, I plan to work as an environmental consultant in southern or eastern Africa, focusing on issues of environmental degradation, poverty, and natural resources management.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…when I first arrived at the university and toured the Institute of Ecology.  I was amazed that on my first day that I was being introduced to some really fascinating and world-renowned scientists.  I will never forget the sense of community that the department has.  From day one, I felt as if I was a part of something special…