Amazing Students Profiles

Ethell Vereen

Ethell Vereen

Ethell Vereen is an emerging leader in the environmental arena. He came to UGA to pursue a master’s in environmental health and will soon complete his doctorate in ecology. He has had the unique opportunity to become fully engaged on both the Athens and Tifton campuses. Ethell was even chosen for the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Leaders Institute Class of 2010.


North Myrtle Beach, SC

High School:

North Myrtle Beach High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in ecology

Other degrees:

MS in Environmental Health from UGA and BS in Biology from South Carolina State University

Expected graduation:

Fall 2010

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I recently won First Place in the Graduate Student Oral Presentation Category of the 2010 Infectious Disease Departmental Retreat.  I also was a Graduate Student Participant at the 1st Ecological Society of America (ESA) Millennium Conference, “Water-Ecosystem Services, Drought, and Environmental Justice.” This Conference brought together ecological and social scientists and students to explore the development of scientifically and socially sound solutions to water allocation in times of drought.  I am also a member of the 2010 Class of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Leaders Institute. As an emerging leader, I have had the opportunity to meet state and local government officials, local business owners and community organizers; as well as fine tune my own personal leadership skills.

Current Employment:

I am currently employed with the USDA-Agricultural Research Services in the Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory in Tifton, GA as a Student Career Experience Program student. As a SCEP student, I am being trained as an environmental microbiologist. I have also had the pleasure of conducting the majority of my research at the UGA Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory in Tifton under the mentorship of my committee member, Dr. Sree Rajeev.  My doctoral research project investigates the frequency of detection and spatial distribution of Salmonella and Campylobacter in the Satilla River basin. This has been a challenging and rewarding experience as I daily engage in interdisciplinary work.  I collaborate with different scientists and various stakeholders as a federal employee and UGA graduate student.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first member of my family to pursue graduate studies and to attend UGA, but I am sure that I will not be the last!  I have already encouraged several of my younger friends from SC State University to pursue graduate studies at UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…when I came to Athens for a summer internship with USDA in the summer 1999, there was so much to do in Athens even during the summer and I had a great time staying on campus and meeting new people.  Following completion of my undergraduate degree from SC State University, UGA was high on my list of prospective graduate schools.  I ultimately chose to attend UGA for grad school because of several different reasons.  Chief among them, I am the first person in my family to pursue graduate studies so I wanted to be sure I chose a school that was strong academically and a program that would aide in my professional development.  At UGA, I have found all of that and so much more.  From my first official visit to UGA and meeting with my major professor Dr. Erin Lipp, I knew this was the university for me!  My faith teaches, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” After completion of my MS, I chose to stay at UGA and pursue doctoral studies in the Odum School of Ecology.  I understand the privilege it is to be apart of the first stand-alone School of Ecology; and I understand the debt I owe to my ancestors and the responsibility I have for those who will follow in my footsteps.  My graduate school experiences have reinforced my appreciation for UGA and all that it has to offer!

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…spend time at the Creamery on South Campus!  Nothing beats an afternoon there sharing ice cream and conversation with my lab mates!  Ecology First Fridays are also a great way to unwind from the week.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

… take a road trip with my frat brothers for a step show and party 4 hours away from our school just before finals!  It was a great experience and our fraternity won the step show, but would I do it again probably so (NO BACKWARD STEPS)! And I did do well on my finals!

My favorite place to study is…

…the Lion Chaser’s Christian Bookstore in Tifton. The atmosphere is great and the coffee and tea are awesome!  It is not as crowded as some of the other coffee shops I have frequented.

My favorite professor is…

…Dr. Sree Rajeev. Dr. Rajeev is a veterinary bacteriologist and assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Rajeev is always kind, thoughtful and generous. She has openly shared her knowledge and insight with me as well as challenge my thinking and reasoning. I have been fortunate to have her as a mentor and a friend. There have also been many people who have influenced me and those who have set great examples in my life.  Many of those people were teachers that I have had from kindergarten to the present time and mentors that continue to support and encourage me.

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

…my grandparents.  I am blessed in that my maternal grandmother, Mrs. Bertha Bennett is still living, but my paternal grandparents and maternal grandfather all died when I was very young and just beginning college.  I would love to talk with them about my life and the man I have become and the father and husband I endeavor one day to be.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…run for some local government office.  Regardless of the outcome, I would get to meet more people and continue to have a positive impact on my community.

After graduation, I plan to…

…begin my career as a research scientist and shortly prior to graduation I plan to be married!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…the first Saturday I decided to come to campus and work in the lab on a Game Day!  I quickly found out that if there is a game between the hedges, getting to the lab can be an adventure!  I spent a good bit of time that morning sitting in my car and listening to Larry Munson!