ASO Authors

TheScope

The Athens Science Observer writing staff is composed of a dedicated group of volunteers from Athens, Georgia and abroad. Most of us are doctorate, masters, and undergraduate students at the University of Georgia and though we have backgrounds in a variety of scientific fields we all share a vision to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.

John J. Spiekerman is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia. John’s research focuses on pearl millet, a vital crop grown predominantly in Africa and the India. He is a co-founding member of the Athens Science Observer, where he currently serves as Editor in Chief, and is on the programming board for the Athens Science Café. He loves pizza, coffee, playing music, reading, and running…exactly in that order. Feel free to contact him at jspieker@uga.edu. More from John Spiekerman.
amanda Amanda Shaver is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. She enjoys dancing, crafting, and playing with her dog Mr. Peabody. High on her list of accomplishments is eating a whole block of cheddar cheese in one sitting without negative consequences. Amanda currently serves an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer and is on the Athens Science Café Programming Board. You can email her at Amanda.shaver@uga.edu or follow her on Twitter @AOShaver. More from Amanda Shaver.
Hilde Oliver is a PhD student in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, where she studies how extreme melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is impacting marine ecosystems. Hilde is a huge fan of Korean food, yoga, and campy movies. Hilde currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer and is on the Athens Science Café Programming Board. Follow her on Twitter @Hilde_Oliver or shoot her an email at hildeoliver@uga.edu. More from Hilde Oliver.
A transplant from Virginia (Hoos!), Greg Evans is a graduate student in the Plant Biology department at the University of Georgia studying herbicide and herbivory defenses in morning glories. Greg currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer. When he’s not tangled up in weeds, Greg enjoys Ultimate Frisbee, bowling, and board games. He can be reached at evans@uga.edu. More from Greg Evans.
Amanda Piehler is an undergraduate at UGA double-majoring in Biology and Science Education. When she’s not adventuring in academia, you can find her dancing, running, cooking, SCUBA diving, or hiding out in a local theatre. Connect with her on Facebook or email her at apiehler@uga.edu! More from Amanda Piehler.
amara Amara Katabarwa is a PhD candidate in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Georgia studying  His research focus is understanding Decoherence in Quantum Circuits and near term application of  first generation Quantum Computers. In his free time he likes to read or guiltlessly laze about. He can be contacted at akataba@uga.edu.
Ana Mandujano is an undergraduate student in the School of Public and International Affairs studying International Relations and pre-medicine. When she’s not studying for organic chemistry and strategic intelligence, she’s a Spanish interpreter for Mercy Clinic and ruining movies for everyone by pointing out historical inaccuracies. More from Ana Mandujano.
image3 Angela Hsiung is a PhD student in Warnell School of Forestry and Natural resources at UGA. She enjoys studying wildlife and fish ecology and conservation. Aspiring to be a master of none, when Angela is not at school, she can be found lagging behind a group of runners while gasping for breath, mis-identifying a bird, or failing spectacularly at playing “Sweet Home Alabama” on the guitar. You can contact her at solitaire.hsiung@gmail.com. More from Angela Hsiung.
EllenKrall Ellen Krall is an undergraduate at UGA studying Plant Biology. When she’s not in classes or at the lab, she enjoys long walks in the State Botanical Garden, being kind of good at several instruments (violin, ukulele, banjo), and naming her Beta fish after famous scientists. More from Ellen Krall.
10659344_10200100310786746_7394532827731756991_n A native Virginian (GO HOKIES!), Caitlin Reeves is a PhD candidate in the Microbiology department studying attachment of the human respiratory pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae to its human host. Outside of the lab she can be found planning events for UGA’s Women in Science (WiSci) organization, snuggling with her labradoodle Sherlock, or playing video games despite being a 26 year old “adult”.
media-20170719 Caitlin Mertzlufft is an Athens native, and a PhD candidate in the Integrative Conservation &Geography program at UGA. Caitlin’s research combines geospatial analysis and public health, and she is currently using satellite imagery to estimate Chagas disease transmission in central Panama. When she’s not looking at palm trees from space, she enjoys running, nerdy board games, and all things coffee. Follow her on twitter @CaitlinMertz or send her an email at cmertz2@uga.edu. More from Caitlin Mertzlufft.
Graham Grable is an undergraduate student in the College of Engineering. Between playing with Arudinos and hanging out with friends, he can be found saving Jebediah in Kerbal Space Program. Graham also serves on the programming board of the Athens Science Café. You can find him online at grahamgrable.com or email him at ggrable@uga.edu. More from Graham Grable.
image00 Hayley Schroeder is an undergraduate at UGA studying Ecology and Entomology. She is an enthusiastic foodie, advocating for food that nourishes not just the people eating it, but communities, farmers and the earth as well. She is also a friend to all insects and can be easily spotted on campus by her butterfly net. Contact her at hayleyadair37@uga.edu. More from Hayley Schroeder.
aso-pic Harrison Brock is an undergraduate biology and ecology major at UGA. You can find him running around in swamps, hunting invasive pigs, and cooking said pork with his friends. Social media doesn’t agree well with his stomach, but you can connect with him at hkb4@uga.edu or via the Environmental Change Lab. More from Harrison Brock.
DSC_0699 (2)-1 Jonathan Waring is an Athens native and an undergraduate student studying Computer Science at the University of Georgia. When he’s not watching Netflix in his room, he can be found watching Netflix in his friends’ rooms. He aspires to pursue an advanced degree in Medical Informatics and to one day work on disease tracking software at the CDC. As a reminder he is just one person: not statistically significant nor representative. You can email him at jwaring8@uga.edu or follow him on Twitter @waringclothes. More from Jonathan Waring.
image03 Kaleigh Davis is a lab manager in the biology department at the University of Central Florida. She graduated from the Odum School of Ecology in 2015 and is a lover of all things aquatic. She is headed to the University of British Columbia in the fall to pursue a PhD in marine ecology. Other life goals of hers include beating Oprah’s marathon time and learning to do a headstand. For now you can find her sipping on coffee at all hours of the day or zigzagging around town watching birds overhead. Get in touch with Kaleigh at kaleighedavis@gmail.com. More from Kaleigh Davis.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kara Wyatt is a PhD student in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia currently studying the immune response to influenza within the lung epithelium. In her spare time she enjoys playing video games, hiking with her husband, or watching Kind of the Hill on repeat. You can connect with Kara by email at kara.wyatt@uga.edu. More from Kara Wyatt.
kruckow Katherine Kruckow is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. She is looking for a PhD program to further her passion of studying microbes. When not in the lab she loves hiking, cooking, going to all the concerts she can afford, and reading a good book in her hammock. She also plans on visiting every national park at some point in time during her life. Contact her at kkruckow@uga.edu. More from Katherine Kruckow.
katiepieper Katie Pieper is a PhD student in the Department of Genetics at the UGA. She studies the molecular evolution of sex chromosomes in fruit flies. In her free time, she enjoys baking delicious desserts and winning at trivia contests. She is also the head tweeter for the Athens Science Café official Twitter account @AthSciCafe. Get in touch with Katie at @kpeeps111 or kpieper@uga.edu. More from Katie Pieper.
kerr-k Kelly Kerr is a research assistant in the Plant Biology department at UGA investigating stress physiology in sunflowers. Her research interests include forest ecophysiology, and she is passionate about maintaining resilient forest ecosystems under climate change. She enjoys nearly all forms of outdoor recreation, so you’ll probably find her around town trail running, mountain biking or at the climbing gym. Get in touch with Kelly at klkerr86@gmail.com. More from Kelly Kerr.
image04 Lauren Sgro is a PhD student in the Physics department at the University of Georgia. Her research focus is in astronomy, specifically debris disks around young stars that may tell us more about planetary formation. Despite the all-consuming nature of graduate school, she enjoys doing yoga and occasionally hiking up a mountain. You can’t reach her on Twitter, but you can email her at lauren.sgro25@uga.edu. More from Lauren Sgro.
Leah Caplan Leah Caplan is an undergraduate studying biology with a concentration in neuroscience at the University of Georgia. When she is not studying, Leah can be found cooking and baking to the solid gold oldies, or out for a run burning off the calories from the cookies she just made. Leah enthusiastically adopted the Mediterranean Diet during her time in Italy. More from Leah Caplan.
anderson Lydia Anderson is a Dual DVM-PhD graduate student at the University of Georgia. Since completing her PhD in Infectious Diseases, she has been working on her DVM at the College of Veterinary Medicine with an emphasis in public health and translational medicine. She plans to use her training to help address the questions and challenges facing One Health due to emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases. When she is not busy learning how to save all things furry and playing with test tubes, Lydia can be found either freestyle cooking for her friends and family or binge watching Netflix with her rescue pup, Luna. More from Lydia Anderson.
Hailing from the deserts of Arizona, Mackenzie Carter is an enthusiastic masters student in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She is currently studying tissue engineering to model disease states in bone, namely panosteitis in canines. Mackenzie loves hands on projects, from ceramics to solar powered robots. In her free time she explores her passions: cephalopods, tea, and swing dancing. You can connect with Mackenzie via email at mackenziecarter@uga.edu.
mz_aboutauthor Michelle Ziadie is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Genetics at UGA working on the evolution of maternal effects and undergraduate evolution education. A native of Miami, Florida with Caribbean roots, Michelle never turns down an opportunity to engage with spicy food or spicy music. When she’s not dancing the night away with friends or getting lost in the Georgia wilderness, Michelle can be found sipping a café Cubano and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with her kitten, Thomas. More from Michelle Ziadie.
Megan Prescott is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia. She dedicates her time outside the lab to serving as President of UGA’s Women in Science (WiSci) organization, volunteering with the Junior League of Athens, and continuously watching The Office on Netflix. She counts each day she leaves the lab without giving herself TB as a success. More from Megan Prescott.
Natalie Eldredge is an undergraduate student studying Public Health at the University of Georgia. In addition to studying public health, Natalie is an intern for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, a nonprofit organization that supports wind energy development in the southeast. In her free time, you can find Natalie at Taco Stand or watching documentaries with her roommates. Connect with her on Facebook or via email at natalie.eldredge@uga.edu.
NickBatora Nick Batora is a Ph.D graduate student in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. He also is a plant biologist, enjoys hiking, and once received a gold ribbon in a hip-hop dance competition in Detroit, Michigan. He is also lead organizer for the Athens Science Café. For more information you can contact him at batorani@gmail.com. More from Nick Batora.
paige Paige Copenhaver is an undergraduate studying Physics and Astronomy at the University of Georgia. When she is not building satellites, she can be found playing ukulele or reading Lord of the Rings. Paige also serves on the programming board of Athens Science Café. You can email her at pac25136@uga.edu or follow her on twitter: @p_copenhaver. More from Paige Copenhaver.
Rosemary Wills is an undergraduate at UGA majoring in Plant Biology. She spends her days learning about science, writing, and investigating bits of nature she finds on her way to class. In her spare time, she enjoys Python programming and spending time with family. You can e-mail her at rwills25@uga.edu. More from Rosemary Wills.
Ruby Harrison Ruby Harrison is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. Ruby studies endocrinology and reproduction of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti – the same species that spreads Zika virus. In her free time she enjoys backpacking, camping, swing dancing, and cooking dumplings. Contact her at reh21923@uga.edu.. More from Ruby Harrison.
savannah Savanah Jackle is an undergraduate student studying Biological Engineering with an emphasis in biomedical engineering at the University of Georgia. In addition to her studies, Savanah loves working with elementary school children to teach them about STEM concepts. With her education and training, she would like to go into either medical machine design or the prosthetics industry, and also continue her work in encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering. If she’s not hanging out in Driftmier Engineering Center, you can find Savanah hiking outside or trying hopelessly to keep up with her crazy beagle, Olive. And no, that’s not a typo. She really spells her name with one “n.” You can e-mail her at savanah.jackle25@uga.edu or connect with her on Twitter. More from Savanah Jackle.
Sonny Sunishka “Suni” Thakur is an undergraduate at the University of Georgia majoring in Genetics, currently just trying to make the most of her freshman year. She loves to read, dance, work with student organizations like First Book and World Ambassadors, and gets very excited about science. More from Sunishka Thakur.
Stephanie Halmo Stephanie M. Halmo is a former middle school science teacher turned graduate student, actively pursuing her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Georgia. In her spare time she likes to dance, volunteer at local schools and tie-dye anything she can get her hands on. She is currently ASO’s News Editor. You can connect with Stephanie on Twitter and Instagram @shalmo or by email: shalmo27@uga. More from Stephanie M. Halmo.
Tina Ethridge is an undergraduate studying Applied Biotechnology with a minor in Genetics at the University of Georgia. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cycling, and going on adventures with her retired racing Greyhound. Her favorite place to enjoy nature is at the top of Yonah Mountain in Helen, GA. More from Tina Ethridge.
JenDeMoss Tyus Williams is an Undergraduate student at the University of Georgia studying in Wildlife Sciences at Warnell, the school of Forestry and Natural Resources. He has a passion in wildlife conservation with goals to focus on the preservation of big cats for his career. Outside of his everyday life of science Tyus thoroughly enjoys watching anime and reading comics of classic Marvel series heroes, his favorite being Spider-Man. When he is not training in the ways of the nerd he finds enjoyment playing his guitar or enjoying the outdoors as he loves to hike and engage in adventurous rock climbing indoor and outdoor. If you would like to hear more from him or get in touch you can contact him at tdw20511@uga.edu.
uma_nagendra Uma Nagendra is a PhD Candidate at the University of Georgia studying how tornadoes change the way trees interact with the soil. When she’s not crawling over fallen trees in North Georgia, Uma enjoys aerial circus arts, playing the mandolin, and convincing other people to dance. She serves on the Athens Science Café Programming Board, and can be reached at uma.nagendra@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @atinytornado. More from Uma Nagendra.

Past Leadership:

3MT competition Rishi R. Masalia is a PhD candidate in the Dept. of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia studying the genetics of drought resistance in sunflower. He is a former University of Arizona Wildcat, Coca-Cola addict, smooth dance machine, science fiction savant, and all around nerd. Rishi is a founding member of the Athens Science Café, and the Athens Science Observer. He also serves as a Graduate Student Ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists. He can be reached at masalia@uga.edu, or followed on Twitter @RishiMasalia. More from Rishi Masalia.
jeffery b cannon Jeffery B. Cannon is a PhD graduate from the University of Georgia. He is currently a research associate at the Colorado Forest Research Institute. Jeff is a co-founder, and served as the first editor in chief for the Athens Science Observer. He loves science, the outdoors, and enjoys running and brewing beer. You can connect with Jeff on Twitter @JefferyBCannon or by email: jbc165@gmail.com.
Tara Bracken is a PhD graduate from the University of Georgia Department of Infectious Diseases. She is currently a communications associate at Sabin Vaccine Institute. Tara was an associate editor for the Athens Science Observer. If you’re a nerd and like fun, be sure to check out her blog, Of Microbes and Men or you can connect with her on Twitter at @microbesandmen!