2024 First-Year Odyssey Awards

Five University of Georgia faculty received a First-Year Odyssey Teaching Award in 2024 in recognition of their success as innovative teachers in the First-Year Odyssey Seminar program. The FYO Teaching Award recognizes outstanding instructors who have demonstrated creativity or innovation in instruction, connection to the instructor’s research and incorporation of FYOS program goals into the seminar. This year’s recipients have been fully engaged with their students and have provided them with a strong connection to the university. They were recognized on April 19 at the FYOS Teaching Awards Ceremony.



Alison Farley

Students in Alison Farley’s First-Year Odyssey seminar, “What Can Music Do For (and to) You?” learn about the field of music psychology and how music functions in their everyday lives. An assistant professor of music education in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music within the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Farley teaches her students how the brain responds to music and how music affects humans socially, cognitively, and culturally. During the seminar, Farley asks students to reflect on and discuss the importance of music while connecting students to campus resources and helping them adjust to the academic culture of the University of Georgia.

“I loved how small the size of the class was and my professor’s constant check-ins,” one of Farley’s students wrote. “I really appreciated how much she cared for us and made us feel seen and cared for, especially in such a major time of change.”


Daniel Markewitz

Students in Daniel Markewitz’s FYO seminar, “Carbon Footprints in the Forest,” learn about carbon science through field and laboratory experiences. Markewitz, professor of soil site productivity in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, brings research and instruction together to help students understand both their carbon footprint and their impact on the UGA community. Markewitz also invites his students to meet outside of class for group dinners or to watch educational movies. In doing so, Markewitz fosters relationships with students beyond his traditional teaching and research roles so that students feel more comfortable reaching out for advice about classes or research opportunities.

“I had never considered how great of an impact we have on our planet and the harm that we are doing to it,” one of Markewitz’s students said. “I was also never aware of all the things we can do to help.”


Scott Merkle

Scott Merkle, professor of forest biology in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, has taught and led research at UGA for over 35 years. Merkle’s FYO seminar, “The UGA Campus Arboretum and Saving Our Threatened Trees,” introduces students to Merkle’s research, the issues caused by invasive pathogens and pests, and the scientific and policy questions of research conservation. Merkle’s students engage with the University’s missions, particularly regarding research, as Merkle brings students to his lab and Warnell’s greenhouse and nursery facilities at Whitehall Forest to learn about conservation and restoration research.

“I loved getting the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and include some nature in my weekly schedule,” said one of Merkle’s students. “It was also nice to learn about something I wouldn’t typically be studying from someone who is truly an expert on the subject.”


Tina Salguero

Tina Salguero, associate chemistry professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry, teaches students how to produce images with research-grade light and electron microscopes in her FYO seminar, “UGA at High Magnification.” Salguero’s students spend time viewing aspects of UGA under high magnification microscopes, and they make in-depth examinations of life at UGA. Salguero introduces her students to the beauty of microscopy while encouraging them to engage in UGA’s academic culture and mission.

“I thought it was a great FYO and exposed me to a side of UGA (the microscopy lab) I would never have seen without taking the course,” one of Salguero’s students wrote.




Jerry Shannon

Jerry Shannon, associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geography, teaches his students how geographers think about space in his FYO seminar, “Waffle House Geographies.”Centering the course around Waffle House as a space where people connect outside of their home or workplace, Shannon introduces students to community-based research on food access and the food system in Athens, discussing issues of segregation and economic inequality. Shannon connects his students with one another and creates meaningful dialogues while introducing students to the University’s mission.

“I enjoyed having a seminar class because it helped me with the transition into college, and it made me feel more comfortable with speaking up and engaging in class,” said one of Shannon’s former students.

Empowering Student & Faculty Success

From providing student academic services to empowering teachers, the Office of Instruction is responsible for a wide range of initiatives that further advance the University of Georgia into the national spotlight as one of the top performing universities in the nation.

Give Now Contact Us