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Confluence poster event highlights graduate research 

Thirty students showcased their research on Friday, Oct. 20, at the first annual graduate research poster contest. 

Their work spanned a range of policy and aquatic topics, from hydrodynamic models for analyzing land-to-ocean litter transport, to policy solutions addressing cattle’s unrestricted access to streams, to research on non-native catfish species. Posters also ranged widely in their stage of research, with some students highlighting work nearly at its inception and others presenting completed projects. 

The event garnered interest across campus. Over a hundred people, including faculty and students from diverse disciplines, attended the event.

“We were encouraged by the diverse water resource research projects showcased at the event. Our goal is to foster interdisciplinary dialogue among students and faculty, and the enthusiastic response encourages us to make this an annual fall tradition,” said Sechindra Vallury, RBC director of policy and assistant professor at the Odum School of Ecology, who organized the event.

Faculty across the university came together to help adjudicate the contest. An interdisciplinary panel of judges assessed the posters, including Don Nelson, Seth Wenger, Deepak Mishra, Nandita Gaur, Whitney Lisenbee, Charles van Rees, Jesse Abrams and Susan Wilde

The panel awarded Kaili Gregory, a Ph.D. student at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, first prize for her poster, “Effects of drought, invasive species, and habitat loss on future extinction risk of two species of imperiled freshwater turtle.”

Affiliate Charles van Rees reads a poster. Photo by Carissa Bogan.
An attendee views the winning poster. Photo by Carissa Bogan.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently proposed listing the two species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, in part, based on the results of my research,” explained Gregory. “This work not only helped the federal government to make a decision regarding protections for an imperiled species, but it also is an example of transparent, evidence-based decision making in conservation.”

The event also proved a meaningful time to connect with others in the RBC community.

“As a new graduate student, my impostor syndrome has reared its ugly head in the past couple of months. Receiving first, and participating in the symposium even more so, helped bolster my sense of belonging, confidence, and community here at UGA,” she shared. “Everyone at the symposium was incredibly kind and welcoming, so much so that I forgot there was a competition for most of the session!”

Beyond Gregory’s win, three students received second prize: Bailey Williams, Department of Crop and Soil Science, CAES; Haley Selsor, College of Engineering; and Molly Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. 

Four students earned third prize: Christopher Brandon, Odum School of Ecology; Swaty Kajaria, Agricultural and Applied Economics, CAE; Chintan Maniyar, Department of Geography; Stevens Charles, School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering. 

The event was made possible through the generosity of the symposium sponsors, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Odum School of Ecology, and the Graduate School. Thanks to their support, $3,000 was awarded in student prizes.