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Football and Science outreach in the STEMzone

Alan Flurry

For the second consecutive year, students from a variety of STEM disciplines will fill the lawn of the Miller Learning Center five hours leading up to kickoff for the Auburn game, from 2–7 p.m. on Nov. 10, to share their research in the STEMzone:

This year’s booths will once again feature the breadth of research interests represented at UGA, with the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources offering introductions to a host of reptiles, ECOGIG guiding eager operators on how to drive underwater remotely operated vehicles, and the MathZone challenging visitors with mind-bending puzzles. 

But for those eager to exchange ideas of the more complicated variety, conservationist John Muir’s reminder, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe,” will be alive and well on the MLC lawn. Attendees will learn that humans are hitched to climate change and a host of other environmental and scientific challenges being tackled by the UGA STEM community.  

Odum School of Ecology students will lead a “Migration Station” booth in conjunction with Project Monarch Health (, where Cece Working, an Odum PhD student, will educate visitors on monarch butterfly health. 

"Monarchs migrate annually from Canada to Mexico, but climate change is impacting their migratory route,” Working says. “Temperature is an important cue that helps monarchs determine their timing of migration, so higher temperatures alter their ability to start breeding season at their historical timing.”

EcoReach—an organization devoted to teaching youth throughout northeastern Georgia about ecology and the environment—will focus on human relationships with the wildlife in our backyards. Kaylee Arnold, a PhD student in the UGA IDEAS program and president of EcoReach, will communicate a message of stewardship. 

“We want every kid that we speak with, and their families, to take notice of what type of wildlife is around them, recognize when humans are altering their habitats and learn how we can work to preserve these natural spaces,” Arnold says.

Rachel A. Perry, a PhD student in the Department of Marine Sciences, will focus on the widespread impacts of marine debris. “A significant portion of the world and the United States economy relies on healthy oceans. Those working in fisheries, restaurants that serve seafood, any sort of coastal recreation and tourism or real estate will be negatively affected by trashy seas once their consumers’ health becomes a concern,” Perry says. 

Reminding fans attending a football game at UGA that they are on the campus of a major research university might seem obvious, but it is important to take advantage of the opportunity to share the learning environment with our visitors - and especially our supporters. Campus is amazingly fun, great matchups with opponents like Auburn are exciting, and important work is going on here everyday - Saturdays, too. These three things coexist and make UGA what it is. Great work by these graduate students and the faculty members who empower them. They learn so much about communicating science by actually doing so. Also, as coach says: Go Dawgs.

Image: STEMzone butterflies at last year's event. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

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