Campus News

Langston, Lemons named University Professors

Both faculty members were recognized for their significant impact on UGA

In recognition of their influential vision and leadership, University of Georgia faculty members Keith Langston and Paula Lemons have been named the 2023-2024 University Professors.

Langston is a professor and head of the department of linguistics and professor of Germanic and Slavic studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Lemons is a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology and serves as the associate dean of social and behavioral sciences in the Franklin College.

“Throughout their years of dedicated service at UGA, Drs. Langston and Lemons have set themselves apart for their visionary leadership and innovative contributions,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “They embody the spirit of excellence in teaching, research and service that distinguishes the University of Georgia.”

Keith Langston

Keith Langston has been named a 2023-2024 University Professor. (Photo by Andrew Tucker/UGA)

For the past 28 years, Langston has shown exemplary commitment to UGA’s mission through his teaching and mentorship, curricular development and academic leadership. During his tenure as Russian language program coordinator in the department of Germanic and Slavic studies, Langston helped to create the A.B. Russian degree program and made numerous other curriculum improvements.

“Dr. Langston’s thoughtful, enthusiastic piloting of our Russian language course offerings was instrumental in UGA’s successful bid to host one of the nation’s eight Russian Flagship Programs,” said Charles Byrd, senior lecturer in the Franklin College department of Germanic and Slavic studies. “Our Russian Flagship Program is currently the nation’s largest and by many measures the most successful.”

Langston was deeply involved in the development of the linguistics program and led its transition to a department in 2017. As department head since then, he has facilitated the renovation of the department’s Linguistics Laboratory, served as undergraduate coordinator, developed an undergraduate research fund and promoted transparency and collaboration throughout the department.

Langston’s impact is also felt in the classroom. He was an early adopter of instructional technology and has a track record of creating interactive online exercises and supplementary materials to bolster student engagement and promote active learning.

Throughout his career, he has also been active in research. His first book, “Čakavian Prosody” (2006), is a standard reference in studies of Slavic accentuation and Croatian. In fall 2022, Langston and his colleagues were awarded a three-year $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for their study of endangered languages on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia and the Kvarner Bay region in the Northern Adriatic Sea. 

Paula Lemons

Paula Lemons has been named a 2023-2024 University Professor. (Submitted photo)

Lemons is a champion of innovation and collaboration at UGA. Most notably, she founded and served for seven years as executive director of the Scientists Engaged in Education Research Center. The center brings together nearly 50 faculty who conduct multidisciplinary STEM education research and use its outcomes in their teaching.

In 2018, Lemons and the SEER Center members received a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to transform undergraduate STEM education at UGA. The resulting DeLTA Project has helped dozens of faculty and administrators improve their use of evidence-based teaching practices and pilot new teaching evaluation methods. As part of this project, Lemons led her colleagues in collaborating with UGA administration and faculty governance to pass two university policies on teaching evaluations.

She has also been a groundbreaking leader in graduate education, including the establishment of the Biology Education Research Interdisciplinary Group of the Integrated Life Sciences Graduate program. This program facilitates faculty and graduate student partnerships across departments to connect education researchers and traditional bench- or field-based researchers. These collaborations attract top students and have positioned UGA as one of the only U.S. universities with this type of program.

“I cannot think of anyone else in our biology education disciplinary community who has taken their expertise and used it to make such a profound impact on their own institution’s teaching mission,” said Elisabeth Schussler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Lemons’ innovation carries into her classrooms, and she was among the first UGA faculty to use peer learning assistants in 2013. She has since mentored more than 80 PLAs in her own classes while helping her colleagues implement PLAs in their courses. Her efforts established a foundation for what is now a standardized program in the Division of Academic Enhancement and a cornerstone in the campus-wide Active Learning Initiative.

University Professors receive a permanent salary increase of $10,000 and yearly academic support of $5,000 as long as they hold the professorship. To learn more and to see a list of previously appointed University Professors, visit