Amazing Students Profiles

Brian Watts

Brian Watts

Ecology major Brian Wesley Watts came to UGA for its research opportunities and has not been disappointed. Through the CURO program, he co-authored a soil ecology study that will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. He has traveled to South Korea—alone—to conduct research on a high-school organic farm, and the experience has heightened his interest in environmental education.


Douglasville, Ga.

High School:

Chapel Hill High School

Degree objective:

BS in ecology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

Along with being accepted at the university, I was also accepted into the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) program for two years. For those two years I worked with Dr. Mark Bradford in the soil ecology field. I am a co-author of a paper that is featured in a forthcoming issue of the science journal Global Change Biology. Along with CURO, I was also accepted into the Honors Program and am still holding on to that title. I am currently on the undergraduate academic committee board for the Odum School of Ecology. This committee discusses proposed classes, core curriculum and other issues for the upcoming academic years. Although my CURO apprenticeship has ended, I am still participating in research in the field of ecology with disease ecologist Dr. Andrew Park. Last summer I was granted the Honors International Scholarship Program award to conduct independent research on a high school-organic farm in South Korea for two months. This experience has allowed me to realize that I want to focus my ecological career in environmental education.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… The undergraduate research opportunities are almost limitless. CURO in the Honors Program has provided me with two amazing years of guided research and has instilled within me the importance of continuing research, even when I am not a CURO Apprentice.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… to enjoy my “off” time in the ecology lounge with fellow classmates while sometimes engaging in enlightening discussions and other times just joking around, and walking from North to South Campus and appreciating the natural colors and landscapes that contribute to the campus aura.

When I have free time, I like…

…. listening to some tunes, catching up on some fantasy novel reading, spending some quality time with friends, or relaxing and absorbing the natural beauty that surrounds me.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

… travel to South Korea and work on an organic farm for the summer with the help of the Honors International Scholarship Program… alone! Though I am in love with South Korean culture, traveling to such a different location alone really makes you mature more quickly than you ever could imagine! I really had to step up my Korean language skills, and fast! It was also by far the most beneficial thing I have done relating to personal character.

My favorite place to study is…

… anywhere on campus that has sufficient lighting. Lighting, as we all know, sets the mood. Dim lights will put me to sleep or cause me to strain my eyes. Usually. I will study in Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center until I feel the need for new surroundings. Then I’ll make my way to the ecology building. If I don’t move around from time to time, I actually get less work done!

My favorite professor is…

… Jim Richardson in the School of Ecology because he is just so down to Earth! This man is incredibly charismatic, gentle as a giant, and has so many hidden talents! I am pretty sure he is a master at bird calls or was at one point! Even when I am not doing my best in his class, he revels at the fact that I still show up to class and converse with him daily! If joy were to come in bundles, he would definitely be ‘buy one get one free’! He has really made learning ecology a great experience and has helped solidify my ecologically driven goals in life. He’s the number one ecologist in my book of number one ecologists.

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

… my grandmother, of course! If there is anyone who could brighten my day with historical anecdotes or comfort my soul with true words of wisdom, it was Dorothy Hollis. Just four months before she succumbed to cancer, she made the time to witness me graduate from high school. I would talk with her about the many times my family surprised her for Christmas by driving up to D.C. and just showing up at the door! She has taught me the importance of being me.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… devote my life to finding every orphaned child in Africa a home. I know there are many important things in life and many serious problems that must be addressed, but growing up alone, without parents to lean on, must be one of the toughest scenarios in today’s world.

After graduation, I plan to…

… either teach English in South Korea while working on an organic farm or pursue a master’s degree.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… my time here as a CURO Apprentice. This experience was invaluable. I have learned so many lab techniques, about so many accomplished persons in the field of ecology, and I have basically overcome my fear of giving a presentation in front of a crowd of hungry information consumers!