During 2011, Georgia College ranked No. 1 in the state for campus safety, according to StateUniversity.com.
Dr. Melanie DeVore, Georgia Power Endowed Professorship for Environmental Science
Dr. Melanie DeVore uses her field experience and environmental research to baptize students into the world of science.
“What I do at Georgia College is take the hands of our future Dr. Melanie DeVore scientists, guide them through the learning phase and expose them to hands-on field research,” said Dr. Melanie DeVore, a scientist, plant biologist and teacher.
“And when they are ready, I pass them off to the next level — into the fraternity of science.” '
She uses her knowledge and hands-on experience to teach students how people and cultures impact the environment and how the environment affects people.
“Teaching environmental science instills in students how humans interface with the environment,” she said. “Everything every human does is impacted by the environment.”
DeVore holds the Georgia Power Endowed Professorship for Environmental Science. Funding from the endowment enables Georgia College to attract an eminent scholar and teacher to the university.
“The endowed professorship is a great privilege,” she said. “It allows me creative freedom to engage my students in research and provide them more field-based study opportunities.”
DeVore leads students into field research just up the highway to Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia Farm, where students study land use and how crops affect the soil.
“Visiting Flannery O’Connor’s home place and talking with students about the author’s use of descriptions and analogies about her land combines experimental science with literature,” DeVore said. “That’s a liberal arts education.”
Her students get their hands dirty in the badlands of North Dakota, digging through the dirt for 57-millionyear- old fossil plants.
During one trip, student Witt Taylor became interested in an odd plant belonging to the pecan family that produces winged fruits resembling flying saucers. He chose that plant for his dissertation topic and recently completed his advanced degree at Arizona State University.
DeVore also teaches study abroad programs through the European Council of the University System of Georgia, taking students to England for their lessons.
Students learn about England’s Thames River by exploring the centuries-old waterway and visiting museum exhibits chronologically displaying river artifacts from the New Stone Age to the present.
“It’s a great experience to teach Darwin’s origin of species on his back porch at Down House just outside London,” she said.
DeVore’s environmental science program in the Bahamas allows students to learn first-hand about the intersection of environment, people and cultures.
San Salvador Island provides students an opportunity to investigate ecology and environmental science using the island’s unique history and environments.
“All that we talk about with science is worthless unless you put it into a cultural context,” she said. “What is always interesting to me is the intersection of the two.”
DeVore became inquisitive about the world around her while growing up in the Great Lakes area.
“As a small child in the early 1970s, environmental issues were being brought to the forefront of our nation,” she said. “I wanted to know how we were going to deal with them.”
As an undergraduate student in Wisconsin, DeVore did geology fieldwork in the Yukon Territory of Canada and in Mexico.
“That experience really shaped how I think about education,” she said. “The best way to teach is to expose students to field research.”
While working on her doctorate at The Ohio State University, DeVore spent three terms researching in South America, primarily in the Andes.
Georgia College’s liberal arts mission piqued DeVore’s interest in 1999 when she was looking for a teaching career home.
“One of the best joys of serving on the faculty here is the close interaction and the cool things we get to do with students,” DeVore said. “The international studies and study abroad opportunities complete the package.”