Amazing Students Profiles

Christina Faust

Christina Faust

Christina Faust is serious about saving the environment…and she might do it. A UGA Honors student from Athens, she received the 2008 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a prestigious national honor recognizing outstanding juniors who are preparing for public service careers and the 2008 Morris K. Udall Scholarship, recognizing students dedicated to environmental and/or tribal policy. As a Truman Scholar, she was among 65 recipients chosen from across the U.S. from a pool of 595 candidates. She is the fifth UGA Truman Scholar in the past six years and the 15th UGA recipient since 1982. The scholarships, worth up to $30,000 for graduate study, recognize students with demonstrated leadership potential and stellar academic records who are committed to making a difference through public service. As a UGA Foundation Fellow, Faust has traveled to five continents and was first introduced to sustainable development while on a trip to Ecuador led by Ron Carroll, a professor of ecology and co-director of the River Basin Center at UGA. Independent study abroad trips to New Zealand and Greece further developed her interest in wildlife conservation and infectious diseases. Through the Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology, the nation’s first and only stand-alone ecology school, Faust is conducting thesis research on environmental factors affecting the transmission of avian influenza virus during its aquatic cycle. After she earns her UGA degrees in May 2009, Faust plans to spend a year abroad and then obtain a Ph.D. With her specialization in ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, Faust would like to conduct research for environmental non-profits or non-governmental organizations, integrating ecological concepts with sustainable development and conservation strategies.


Athens, Ga.

High School:

Cedar Shoals High School

Degree objective:

B.S./M.S. in Ecology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2009

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I have spent much of my time working with UGA Habitat for Humanity, it’s a great organization in our community and worldwide. I have served as a skilled supervisor for Saturday builds, donorbase coordinator, and co-president for the organization. I am active in the Go Green Alliance, the Ecology Club, and the Georgia Chapter for the Society of Conservation Biology.  Currently, we are working on a student-supported sustainability proposal for the university and helping develop game day recycling. I also was on the steering committee for the Athens Focus the Nation global climate change solutions symposium. I try to be involved in the community too, volunteering with Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia and at Sandy Creek Nature Center. I have been fortunate to be a recipient of the Foundation Fellowship which has introduced me to amazing people and afforded me incredible travel opportunities. I have traveled, volunteered, and studied in Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Greece, Turkey, Borneo, and China. Hopefully within the next year I will travel to Antarctica and Africa, completing my goal of studying conservation principles and playing soccer in all seven continents before I graduate.Through my research, I have presented at the International Wildlife Disease Association Conference and twice at the Annual CURO Symposium. I have received awards for my posters and “Outstanding Masters Presentation” at the School of Ecology Graduate Student Symposium. Finally, I have been nominated for Blue Key Honor Society and am a 2008 Truman and Udall Scholar.

Current Employment:

I conduct research under the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, a part of the Department of Population Health at the College of Veterinary Medicine. I work under Dr. David Stallknecht, Dr. Justin Brown, and Dr. Elizabeth Howerth and am investigating environmental factors that influence the transmission of avian influenza in wild bird populations.

Family Ties to UGA:

My mother graduated from UGA with a B.S.A. My father earned his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and was given a professorship at UGA upon graduation.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…I had an internship with an amazing professor, Dr. Judy Meyer, in the Institute of Ecology during high school and fell in love with stream ecology and fields related to the environment. UGA has one of the best ecology programs in the nation, and I’ve been extremely lucky to be a part of the transformation of the department to the first stand-alone school of ecology in the world.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…ride my bike around, whether it’s speeding down College Station to make an early class or just a leisurely ride to the intramural fields.

When I have free time, I like…

…to ruck, maul, pillage, and burn. I play for the women’s rugby football club (hence the aforementioned rugby lingo). It’s an amazing way to relieve stress and my teammates are the best. Also, if I get a spare weekend, I love to go backpacking and watch the sunset from a mountain top.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…eaten a live grub in Ecuador last spring break. I was in a shade-grown coffee plantation with some other students learning about sustainable agriculture. The farmer cut down a dying banana tree to show us the parasite inside. The grub had eaten the core of the tree and was at least 7 inches long. I asked if it was edible, and he said yes. Then after a swift chop of a machete to make it a manageable size, I grabbed the grub to eat it. In the pouring rain, I took a bite of it (and it bit me back), and then I passed it on to two others in the group. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste too much like bananas.

My favorite place to study is…

…the ecology building. On the weekends, the courtyard is a great place to read papers, especially when the weather is nice. You can easily find quiet spaces when you really need to concentrate, but if you need a study break, the ecology community is so close that it is never hard to find a friendly face and share a laugh.

My favorite professor is…

…Ron Carroll at the Odum School of Ecology. I have taken two of his courses and always learn something new. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to his teaching, and is always bringing in outside information to stimulate discussion. He also treats his students as individuals and has never refused a request for a meeting outside of class. The many new concepts he has introduced to me have challenged me to think outside the realm of traditional ecology.

I’m also very appreciative of those who have played instrumental roles in my research, from everyone at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS), especially Drs. Stallknect, Brown, and Howerth, and Dr. Sonia Altizer at the Odum School of Ecology.

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

…Dr. Seuss. I absolutely love his books. My favorite is The Lorax, but I almost have his complete collection. His writing style is so unique, and it’s reassuring that an eccentric person can be so successful. I’d love to take a walk with him and hear his thoughts on current world issues, perhaps sharing a cup of tea too.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…negotiate international climate change treaties to curb greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. I feel as though the Kyoto Protocol and other climate change treaties are some of the most complicated and difficult negotiations on a global scale. The countries that will be the most affected by climate change also have the least political power and resources to adapt to the upcoming changes. If I had the opportunity, I would involve all countries to work towards reducing emissions, helping one another to make the world more sustainable for our generation and future ones.

After graduation, I plan to…

… spend a year abroad studying, researching, or volunteering, and then continue on to earn a Ph.D. in ecology of infectious diseases. After completion of my graduate degree, I want to work in the non-profit sector using scientific research to help develop public policies. I am especially interested in integrating wildlife conservation and sustainable community development strategies, so that humans and every other living thing can coexist in harmony.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…“turtle-wrestling” with one of my best friends on Myers quad during a rainstorm. “Turtle-wrestling” involves wrestling, but you aren’t allowed to use arms. It resulted in lots of muddy clothing and a hearty cough for the next few weeks, but it was worth it.