Graduate Education

Graduate Education

Grad students

Graduate students conducting studies under Dr. Eugene Odum were among the earliest researchers at the SREL. Since 1985, our graduate students have won more than 200 awards at international, national, and regional events. Many of these students have gone on to outstanding careers in the sciences.

Although many SREL graduate students matriculate at our parent institution, the University of Georgia, SREL accepts visiting graduate students from other institutions of higher learning. In fact, a considerable number of SREL graduate students come from other schools. These students have the opportunity to conduct research on the Savannah River Site under the supervision of their home institution.

Prospective Graduate Students

Individuals interested in applying to the graduate program should click here for current opportunities and follow the application procedures as outlined by the respective faculty member.

Students who pursue graduate research at SREL must be enrolled in a department or school at the University of Georgia. The student’s place of enrollment will be determined by the privileges of the faculty advisor. Please note that admission requirements vary by department and school.

Prospective students should contact SREL faculty in their area of interest before submitting an official application to a department or school at UGA.

At present, students can apply to the following UGA colleges or departments for graduate study at SREL:

Please click on the department or school of interest to view application procedures.

Please see directory of current graduate students.

Meet UGA’s SREL Graduate Student

Kiersten Nelson

UGA Column

Hometown: Zionville, Indiana

Degree objective:
Ph.D. in Ecology 

Expected graduation: May 2026

Other degrees:
B.S in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology

Why did you choose SREL?

I chose SREL because I was interested in working with my advisor, Dr. Stacey Lance. When I first visited SREL, all the research possibilities captured my interest, both at the lab and across SRS. I enjoy that the ecology lab is its own research campus. I can conduct mesocosm experiments and study the natural environment across SRS.

What research projects are you working on?

I am working on a project to advance understanding of the endangered Carolina gopher frog and to improve current conservation strategies. SRS is home to one of the last remaining populations of the gopher frog in South Carolina. We know very little about gopher frog biology and the habitat required to support a gopher frog population. I am working to better understand this species-habitat relationship on the SRS and across its native range. I am also collaborating with other students in my lab and other head-starting  (raising a species in captivity until it’s large enough to survive) facilities to improve the current head-starting techniques and to further our understanding of the health of the captive reared gopher frogs.

What’s your favorite thing about SREL?

The collaborative environment is something I enjoy. I like how students share their knowledge and help each other. I appreciate being surrounded by students from a broad range of scientific backgrounds and learning from them.

What’s your favorite memory at SREL so far?

My favorite memories involve finding herps on site. I love being involved in egg mass surveys for the gopher frog. It was also exciting to help David Scott collect and count marbled salamanders at the drift fence around Rainbow Bay as a part of the longest running amphibian monitoring project in the world (Guinness World Record). It was so amazing to find hundreds of salamanders in a single bucket! Also, the baby alligators from the Parrot Lab are very cute.

What is an interesting fact about you?

In undergrad, I had a unique experience of being a field tech for a summer in Costa Rica. I spent the entire summer traveling around Costa Rica searching for frogs and swabbing them to test for the Chytrid fungus

What are your plans after graduation?

Career-wise, I want to work on improving current conservation techniques and efforts with an non-government or a government agency. Personally, I also want to travel and spend more time with my friends and family.

What advice would you give to an aspiring graduate student?

Make sure you want to pursue an advanced degree in research. There must be a scientific question (or questions) that motivates and drives you. Even if the question changes throughout your graduate career, you need to have a solid idea of your interests and how to design experiments to investigate your questions. Also, while interviewing for graduate positions, ask a lot of questions! Make sure you are aware and knowledgeable of the university and the lab. The lab and advisor are the most important aspect of graduate school. Ask current students about the advisor, their expectations, and the culture. Having a positive relationship with your advisor is so important. It can make or break your grad school experience.