UGA’s Tejas Reddy named 2022 Udall Scholar

Tejas Reddy photo

Tejas Reddy

Tejas Reddy’s focus on coastal ecosystems has earned him a 2022 Udall Scholarship. The University of Georgia undergraduate is one of 55 students across the nation being recognized for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment.

A third-year Honors student from Rome, Georgia, Reddy is majoring in ecology in the Odum School of Ecology and biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

The Udall Scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, Native health care or Tribal public policy. The scholarship provides up to $7,000 for eligible academic expenses.

With the addition of Reddy, UGA has had 15 Udall Scholars in the past 10 years.

“We are extremely proud of Tejas and his commitment to finding solutions to pressing issues related to ecosystem ecology,” said Meg Amstutz, interim associate provost and dean of the Morehead Honors College. “He has taken advantage of many of the experiential learning opportunities that the university offers, including the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, and we are thrilled to see him receive this award.”

Reddy conducts research on coastal blue carbon ecosystems—which include salt marshes, mangroves and sea grasses—with Amanda Spivak, UGA associate professor of marine science. He is currently working with her on his senior thesis on how inundation and temperature drive decomposition in intertidal salt marshes.

“Blue carbon ecosystems are essential for the economies of coastal communities by buffering storm surge, serving as a habitat for economically important fisheries and promoting ecotourism,” he explained. They are also vital for sequestering carbon.

In 2021, Reddy spent spring semester studying coastal development and conservation on Sapelo Island with Spivak. In the summer, he participated in an NSF REU with the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science in Casco Bay, Maine, studying bivalve transmissible neoplasia, known less formally as clam cancer. During the fall semester, he traveled to Central America, focusing on field biology and ornithology through the UGA Costa Rica Study Abroad program.

In 2020, Reddy conducted research on disease ecology with Pejman Rohani, UGA Athletic Association Professor in ecology and infectious diseases and a Regents’ Professor.

At UGA, Reddy reinstituted the Ecology Peer Mentoring Program and is now its co-president; is a community coordinator for the Ocean Initiative and a member of the Ecology Club; and was a publisher for the Lily Branch Audubon Society, a member of the Spanish Learning Community and a volunteer for UGA’s Cornelia Walker Bailey Program on Land and Agriculture.

He received the ASLO Multicultural Program Award to fund his fees for the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting. Reddy was also a CURO research award recipient. He presented at the 2021 and 2022 CURO Symposiums and the 2022 Odum School of Ecology Graduate Student Symposium, where he won second place for his poster. He is also co-author on the paper “Survival and Detection of Bivalve Transmissible Neoplasia from the Soft-Shell Clam Mya arenaria (MarBTN) in Seawater” published in the journal Pathogens.

UGA’s major scholarships office, housed in the Morehead Honors College, provides students across campus with assistance as they apply for national, high-level scholarships. For more information, contact Jessica Hunt, assistant dean and director of scholarships, at jhunt@uga.edu or visit https://honors.uga.edu/c_s/scholarships/ext/external.html.

Writer: Stephanie Schupska, schupska@uga.edu 
Contact: Jessica Hunt, jhunt@uga.edu

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