Amazing Students Profiles

Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson

Graduate student Aaron Wilson has been called ” the complete package.” He is a talented researcher. he is extremely smart and very personable. He’s a Presidential Graduate Fellow, and he recently volunteered to be a teaching assistant for Marsha Black’s study abroad course in Vietnam.  He recently submitted his first manuscript for publication, and he gave an invited talk in Montreal last fall at an international meeting. He was awarded a travel grant from UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Research to attend that meeting.  After graduation, he plans to work on the faculty at a liberal arts college teaching general chemistry, environmental science and interdisciplinary courses.


Canton, Ill.

High School:

Canton High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in environmental toxicology

Other degrees:

B.S., chemistry with minors in biology and English, Truman State University

Expected graduation:

May 2009

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I came to UGA as one of the Presidential Graduate Fellowship recipients in 2004. Since then, I have collaborated with EPA Athens on research looking into the toxicity of two different enantiomers (mirror images) of a chiral pesticide. I presented a poster on this research at the 2005 meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and have had a paper accepted for publication. I also collaborated with Jay Overmeyer in entomology on another paper which will also be published, and we were asked to give a talk at the Montreal meeting of SETAC in 2006. For that purpose, I was awarded a foreign travel assistance award from the Office of the Vice President for Research. This past summer and spring I also have been involved with field research on the accumulation of metals by clams and mussels of the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha Rivers. I have been pursuing this research in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, UGA’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and other students from UGA’s School of Forestry and Natural Resources and department of genetics. Recently, I continued my research in these rivers and have been spending most of my time in the field.  In May 2006, I had the unparalleled opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for the first ever Environmental Issues in the Developing World class. This study abroad program spent three weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam. Our students learned about environmental issues affecting Vietnam as a country, met with several different governmental agencies concerned with the environment, investigated urban water quality and gave a workshop to Vietnamese students on community water quality monitoring. This past year I also served as teaching assistant for Water Pollution and Aquatic Toxicology classes.

I chose to attend UGA because…

I was offered a great fellowship, and I was greatly impressed by the campus during my visit. Additionally, my advisor is one of the few people pursuing research in which I am genuinely interested, and there is the incomparable Athens music scene.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I spend most of my time on campus working in the lab, but I suppose my favorite thing about campus is the library. My father is a librarian, and I grew up a block from our local library. I still can’t get over how big the main library is here.

When I have free time, I like…

…eating out, going to watch music shows, running, cooking, reading for pleasure and writing fiction. I’ve had two short stories published since moving to Athens.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

As an undergraduate, I was involved in a local alternative community center called The Aquadome. Once a year, the town where I was (Kirksville, Missouri) had an arts and crafts fair on the town square. We decided to raise money for The Aquadome with a garage sale, but since we were just off the square, we needed a way to draw people over there. In order to do this, I decided to dress up as a human clothes rack. I made a harness out of wire and tape and hung clothing from my arms. It was surprising how much attention I got. You’d think people had never seen a human clothes rack before.

My favorite place to study is…

…in my apartment, so I can listen to music and have limited distractions.

My favorite professor is…

…Marsha Black. She has allowed me to pursue research in areas that I am interested. It is also easy to communicate with her, and she has provided me with opportunities to work toward my future career goals.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with… grandfather, Bill Wilson. He had a master’s degree in zoology, and he taught at our community college. He died long before I went to college, but I always kind of wished I could have talked to him about his ideas about science.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…try to obtain some kind of non-disfiguring super power. I figure if I had a super power, I’d pretty much be set for life. Who wouldn’t want to hire me if I could type with super speed or hypnotize our competitors to think they’re chickens or something? I could also use the super powers to fight injustice, I suppose.

After graduation, I plan to…

…work as a professor at a college or university with a liberal arts focus. I am really interested in teaching general chemistry and environmental science courses and interdisciplinary courses.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…my time as a teaching assistant in Vietnam. That has been by far the most amazing experience I’ve had at UGA. There was a moment in the Museum of History where I saw the giant bronze drums of the Dong Son culture. I had only ever read about them, and here I was seeing them in real life. I was awestruck.