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2022 Wilbur Duncan Award

Derek Denney and Shu-mei Chang

Congratulations to Derek Denney, a PhD candidate in the Anderson Lab on receiving the department’s 2022 Wilbur Duncan Award!  The award recognizes an outstanding graduate student who excels in at least 2 of the 3 categories of research, teaching, and service.  


Derek has published 1 first-author paper, and 2 co-author papers, as well as one commentary article. Derek also received high marks from students on his teaching evolutions for BIO1108L, PBIO3650, PBIO2500E, and PBIO4650/6650.  He was part of a two-person graduate student team that not only took over teaching the Plant taxonomy course (PBIO4650/6650) when an instructor became unavailable, but also adapted the course to online learning during the pandemic lockdown. Derek has mentored 14 undergraduate students in research, is a fellow in the UGA Future Faculty program, and has been nominated for UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award. In service to the Department, Derek served as the Undergraduate Liaison for Plant Biology and helped found (and fundraise for) the Plant Biology undergraduate student association (PBUSA). He also served as the president of the Plant Biology Graduate Student Association (PBGSA) and helped the graduate students foster community during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. And last but not least, he served on the search committee for the herbarium curator position in Plant Biology.  


Honorable mention goes to Max Barnhart (Burke lab). Max currently has 2 first-author papers. He received high teaching marks from students in BIO1108L and Honors BIO2108 and was integral in keeping BIO2108 running when the instructor was unable to be present. He is currently the PBIO undergraduate liaison and was a 2022 AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellow with NPR. Max served as a co-editor in chief of the Athens Science Observer (ASO) and helped secure funding for multiple science communication zines published by ASO. He also serves as a graduate student ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists.  


The Wilbur Duncan award was named after Dr. Duncan who served in the Plant Biology department for 40 years and was the curator of the herbarium. Dr Duncan increased the herbarium collection by 120,000 samples and contributed to herbaria across the country with his own field work. He described three new plant species and wrote multiple books on the plants of the Eastern and Southeastern United States. Duncan collaborated on multiple books with his wife, who was also a botanist.  


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