A few weeks ago, UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources recognized two alumni, Tommy Sasser (BSFR '70) and Josh Harrell (MFR '03), for the significant contributions they have made to the forestry field while also supporting their alma mater.
Sasser, who has more than four decades of experience in residential and recreational development, received the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus award.
Warnell Dean Mike Clutter praised the alumnus, saying,"Tommy has been a strong supporter of Warnell and UGA for many years, having served on the UGA Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Warnell External Advisory Board. His support and sage advice has helped our school in many ways."
I know Tommy through his role on our board of directors between 2005 and 2010 and agree with everything Dean Clutter said. He currently works for Recreational Community Consultants and Global Golf Advisors. He has been instrumental in the planning, development and construction of more than 75 golf courses around the world, and has been the master planner for community development such as Amelia Island Plantation, Reynolds Plantation, Kiawah Island and Sea Pines Plantation.
Harrell, a regional investment forester and portfolio and research analyst with Forest Investment Associates in Atlanta, earned the 2013 Distinguished Young Alumnus award.
He manages more than 170,000 acres of timerland for clients across Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. He is the student chair of the Society of American Foresters at Virginia Tech, chairman of the Chattahoochee Chapter of the Society of American Foresters and the chairman of the Georgia Division of the Society of American Foresters. In addition, he has authored several articles for publications such as Biomass Magazine, The Southeastern Forester and Forest Landowner Magazine.
Congratulations to these very deserving graduates. Thank you for showing the world what it means to be successful UGA alumni!
Information for this blog entry was sourced from Golf Course Industry online.
Each month, I would like to feature a member of UGA's outstanding faculty. While I am proud to share the achievements of our alumni and students, those accomplishments would not be possible without the guidance and support of the faculty members they interacted with during their time on campus.
Today, I'd like to begin with Kyle Johnsen, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering.
Despite Johnsen being a Triple Gator from the University of Florida, Johnson elected to join the faculty here at the University of Georgia. He cites a few reasons for that decision:
"The boundary-less Faculty of Engineering (now the College of Engineering) fit perfectly with my cross-disciplinary research, which is a hybrid of computer engineering, computer science and education research. I also had the honor of being one of the first faculty members hired as part of the Faculty of Engineering, which began offering a computer systems engineering degree at the same time I was hired. Finally, the opportunity to be on the ground floor of a new college at a top-tier research institution does not come along very often. It was perfect, though I certainly have had to set aside the Florida versus Georgia rivalry!"
We'll let Johnson's allegiance to the orange and blue pass because of his great work here in Athens. The courses Johnsen teaches include “Virtual Reality,” “Intro to Computer Systems Engineering,” “Sensor Networks” and “Capstone Senior Design.” He notes that his senior-level virtual reality course is his favorite because students learn to design, build and demonstrate innovative simulators and virtual experiences. He's seen a variety of projects come through his classroom, including an underwater oil pipeline repair simulator to an augmented reality zombie fighting game. He enjoys helping students create products that they can talk about and even take with them on job interviews.
In his free time, Johnsen has set up his research lab to be an interactive attraction for external groups, especially those that work with school-aged children. According to Johnsen, "It's incredibly fulfilling to see the wonderment in the eyes of children experiencing virtual reality for the first time."
Thank you for your commitment to inspiring UGA students, Kyle, and thank you for being a part of the faculty that brought the College of Engineering to fruition. Keep up the great work!
To learn more about Kyle Johnson and his work at UGA, please click here.
Dwayne Bass (AB ’98) is saving the planet one sculpture at a time. Bass (AB ’98) founded TWOvital, a company that creates awareness of environmental issues and promotes sustainability through its art. The photographer and sculptor transforms trash from construction sites, such as scraps of wood and metal, into sustainable works of arts.
In 2008, Bass created the first-ever sculpture to receive credits under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program. Using one of TWOvital’s sculptures is worth a LEED credit for developers and builders seeking LEED certification in their projects.
For Bass, creating beautiful works of art from reclaimed materials was not a new endeavor. “I have been making things from leftover or broken items since I was a kid. I made a car out of a broken tape deck when I was about six. I was always fascinated with taking something that is broken and making it into something it was not intended to be,” he said.
From his interest with sustainable art, Bass also created RUBBLOX, a line of furniture crafted from recycled car tires. For information about Bass's work, visit twovital.com.
Thank you, Dwayne, for your commitment to improving the environment and representing UGA so well.
Thanksgiving may have passed, but the holidays aren't over yet. So, forget about stressing over baking that perfect dessert for the in-laws—Amanda Wilbanks (AB ’01) has you covered.
Wilbanks is the founder of Buttermilk Pie Co. in Gainesville, Ga. Wilbanks’s pies are baked from scratch, with real butter and rolled by hand. The alumna says she and her team work hard to preserve the quality and taste of each pie by using farm-fresh ingredients and produce from local growers.
Buttermilk Pie Co. started in October 2012, but Wilbanks says she unconsciously began preparing for the business long before. She even sports scars from her early days of cooking as a young child. But, her love for baking pies didn’t fully bloom until adulthood - after her mother-in-law taught her how to make French pastry dough. With that lesson, she could not keep away from the kitchen.
Today, Wilbanks and her team bake pies for gifts, weddings and other special events. Each pie is customized to fit each customer’s needs and shipping is available to the entire country.
I hear the pies live up to the hype, too. Buttermilk Pie Co. was a Garden and Gun “Made in the South” semi-finalist!
Congratulations, Amanda. I can't wait to try one of your creations - I know you'll have mouths watering all over the Bulldog Nation!
On behalf of the UGA Alumni Association, I want to wish all of our UGA alumni and friends an especially happy Thanksgiving. For those of you who have given back to the university with your time, talent or monetary gifts, please allow me to express my sincere gratitude. Your support truly makes a different in the lives of UGA students, faculty, staff and alumni each and every day.
If you haven't yet given back to your alma mater, I encourage you to do so during this season of giving - it won't go unnoticed! Simply click here.
Have a safe and happy holiday,