Featured Speakers


George Vellidis George Vellidis, a professor with the University of Georgia, will speak on water issues.

Each decade brings innovation, but in the last two decades — powered by wireless communications technology and GPS satellites — Dr. George Vellidis has helped usher in a revolution in agricultural technology that is changing the way the nation farms.

With a background in agricultural engineering, Vellidis applies principles of engineering and the sciences to measure, model and manage the interaction between agricultural production systems and the environment. Under this umbrella, he has developed two areas of emphasis — water resources and precision agriculture — and these areas often blend.

In 2012, his home campus honored Vellidis by presenting him with the UGA Tifton Campus Award of Excellence for Research.

He has also been on the cutting edge of measuring the impact of agriculture on Georgia’s natural environment and water quality. Vellidis leads a multidisciplinary team of scientists who help craft regulations and buffer requirements that work for both farmers and the natural environment.

His work has been essential in building national and international partnerships that have raised the profile of UGA as a leader in agritechnology and sustainable production.

Ania Majewska Ania Majewska is a graduate student and PhD candidate from the University of Georgia. Ania is investigating the effects of the human-altered habitats on butterfly population abundance and health. Her research focuses on the effects of butterfly gardens on population dynamics of four common butterfly species.

Ania’s fascination with nature began in childhood and motivated her to pursue a career in ecology. After completing a bachelor’s in Biology at Boston University, she contributed as an assistant and crew leader to various field studies. Extensive research experience prepared Ania for Master’s research, which she completed in 2010 at the University of Montana. Over the years, Ania formed strong interests in pollinator conservation and disease ecology, which she developed into a PhD project. After her PhD, she plans to teach and conduct research at a university level. Ultimately, Ania will work diligently to ensure that her participation and contribution to pollinator research, and in particular research on monarch butterflies, will have significant scientific and social impacts.

When not working, Ania greatly enjoys spending time with her two-year old daughter and volunteering for outreach programs, so that she can share her passion for monarch butterflies and their conservation.

View information about Ania’s project at the University of Georgia’s Butterfly Research Gardens.

Bill Hilton Bill Hilton, an award winning educator from South Carolina, will present on humming birds. The symposium falls two weeks after his 2016 expedition to Belize, so he will have “new” news to report about his hummingbird work in the Neotropics.

Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. has a long list of credentials, which may be seen at the website for the Hilton Pond Center. Bill is an educator-naturalist who brings the wonder of natural history to eager new audiences. His work is a logical step from an earlier career as a high school and college biology instructor who helped launch the South Carolina Governor's School or Science and Mathematics. He has been named South Carolina Science Teacher of the Year twice and honored as the state's Outstanding Biology Teacher. He has studied extensively; Bill has an M.S. in Ecology & Behavioral Biology from the University of Minnesota. He has trained students, teachers, and "citizen scientists" across the U.S. and abroad in Australia, Canada, and Costa Rica. Hilton now works as a science education consultant across the U.S. and also serves as executive director for Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in York, South Carolina.

He describes himself this way:

People sometimes ask me "Who are you?" or "What do you do?" I am fortunate that--for me--these are one and the same. I simply reply I am an "educator-naturalist," and I ALWAYS put "educator" first. After all, there's no use learning exciting new things about nature unless I share that knowledge with others.

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