Amazing Students

Chrissie Brady

Chrissie Brady is earning two seemingly unrelated degrees — in wildlife and fisheries and mechanical engineering — but has her sights set on integrating robotics into environmental education and wildlife management as well as educating others about the environment.

Hometown:

Marietta, Ga.

High School:

Pope High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in forest resources, B.S. in mechanical engineering

Expected graduation:

Spring 2019

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

This past year from fall 2014 to spring 2015 I was accepted into the Public Service and Outreach Student Scholars Program at UGA. Through this program, I had opportunities to learn about and experience all of the university’s outreach programs and work closely with one of them — the Marine Extension — in the spring. During this internship, I developed a new children’s education activity to be used on one of the nature trails on the island. This activity is made up of 10 smaller activities and uses different materials and habitats to get the children interested in the coast and excited about learning.

I am also an active member of the University of Georgia chapter of the national forestry honor society Xi Sigma Pi, and I have had the honor of being elected its forester (president) for the 2015-2016 school year. The incoming officers and I have a lot of fun activities and fundraisers planned for the next year that everyone at UGA is invited to attend. Be on the lookout for homemade breakfasts on Waffle Tuesdays!

Current Employment:

I am currently working for UGA’s Marine Extension on Skidaway Island. I am one of the six interns teaching various summer camps and helping out with the aquarium and education programs.

Family Ties to UGA:

My mother, Beth Brady, attended the University of Georgia and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in art history in 1981.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… of its reputation as an excellent public liberal arts university. I wanted to stay in the state of Georgia because of the HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarship, and UGA seemed like the best choice because of the wide variety of undergraduate programs it offered. When I first came to UGA, I was an intended biology major, but upon learning about the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the wildlife and fisheries major program it offered, I quickly found my passion for wildlife and switched majors. If I had known about Warnell when making my decision of which university to attend, my choice would have been much simpler. It turns out I got incredibly lucky and fate brought me to the perfect school for me!

My favorite things to do on campus are…

My favorite thing to do on campus is actually attending classes and speaker presentations. I know, nerdy right? Even so, problem solving and addressing real-world problems becomes much easier with a solid academic foundation, and attending speaker presentations over wide varieties of topics helps me make connections that other people may not easily see. Plus, I just love knowing things! Did you know that fish and trees can actually switch genders over the course of their lives?

Between classes, I love walking around and seeing the university’s scenery. There are plenty of planted and native trees and plants around UGA that are quite beautiful, and I like to appreciate the work that has gone into making UGA beautiful, environmentally friendly and sustainable.

When I have free time, I like…

On the rare occasions that I have free time, I love to spend it learning. Some weekends, I will take trips to the State Botanical Garden to bird or brush up on my tree identification, and some weekends I will take day trips to Zoo Atlanta or Georgia’s coast to see more wildlife and have fun while learning more about the world we live in. I also like to read nerdy articles on the Internet about outer space, physics and math, and I really enjoy reading and learning about cool new inventions like Harvard’s Monolithic Bee (or Mobee) that can be used to pollinate crops in the absence of wild bees. When I have free time, I try to hone the skills I will need in my future career and learn as much as I can about the world we live in.

The craziest thing I've done is…

When I was in high school, I used to dye my hair tons of different colors. My hair has been blonde, yellow, blue, green, black, pink and purple. I just cut my long hair into a short pixie in April and am letting it grow out its natural color for the first time in five years!

My favorite place to study is…

… the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The gardens are beautiful and serene, and I love lying on a bench or on the grass while studying in the sun. When it’s rainy outside, I like to study in Warnell’s student lounge. The lounge has a friendly, supportive atmosphere and the on-campus location ensures that I actually study instead of checking the fridge or perusing the endless library that is the Internet.

My favorite professor is…

I have so many favorite professors! Every professor I have had at Warnell or through Odum has been extremely kind and intelligent, and it is very hard for me to choose a favorite. The professor who has had the most impact on me, however, has been my adviser and ornithology professor Robert Cooper who also taught the study abroad program in Botswana, Africa, that I went to in December 2013. Dr. Cooper has guided me through Warnell and has continually fostered and encouraged my love of learning and problem solving. He also supports my endeavor to get degrees in two seemingly unrelated fields — wildlife and fisheries and mechanical engineering — and believes that I can bring these two fields together by integrating robotics into wildlife management.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… my family. My family is the biggest influence on my life, and I am extremely lucky and fortunate to have my mom, dad and brother kindly supporting me in everything I do. I am always very busy with school, volunteering, work and club activities, so I don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I would like. When I do get to see them, I cherish every second.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… do the same thing I am doing now. The fear of failure is a great motivator, and I choose to let it strengthen my resolve and push me to my limits to do everything I want to do and live my life to the fullest. Even with any possibility of failure, I plan on getting my two degrees in both wildlife and fisheries and mechanical engineering and continuing my education so that I can successfully integrate robotics into environmental education and wildlife management. Projects like Harvard’s Mobee and MIT’s soft robotic fish inspire me. One day, I will hopefully finish my own similar project — robotic animals that can relay valuable scientific information, help cut back on environmental contamination, and contribute toward solving world issues like global climate change and overuse and abuse of natural resources.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… take classes forever at different universities across the country and around the world. I would absolutely love to know as much as I possibly could in this life, and I would enjoy meeting intelligent people and professors around the world; it would be interesting to see how teaching styles and priorities changed from university to university. Additionally, having such a broad educational background would help me solve community and larger-scale environmental and socioeconomic issues that otherwise would remain static — for example, finding simple, cost-effective ways to mitigate the negative environmental effects of the majority of ocean aquaculture operations, a problem that has begun to enter the spotlight of environmental activists but has yet to find a cheap, effective solution that can be implemented worldwide.

After graduation, I plan to…

Since I tacked a completely different degree onto my undergraduate program at UGA, I will not be graduating any time soon. Once I do graduate, however, I plan on continuing my education and getting graduate degrees in my areas of interest. I will spend my life educating others about the environment, learning more about our world and universe, and solving environmental issues using technology, robotics and the natural resources we are fortunate enough to have on this planet.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… my study abroad trip to Botswana, Africa, in 2013. Our group traveled to Africa in December, which means it was summer there. Summer in Africa can mean temperatures regularly above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but I never really noticed the heat because the trip itself was so incredible. We spent our time in Botswana in a part of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve called the Mashatu Reserve, and we stayed in tents in an open camp managed by EcoTraining. Since it was an open camp, we regularly had encounters with birds and monkeys, and at night we could hear wild elephants walking through the camp and feel their trunks running up and down the sides of our tents. During the day, we learned about the reserves, the widlife and the natural resources issues in southern Africa, and we got to go on long hikes twice a day through the wilderness of Mashatu. I will always remember sitting on the top of a rocky outcrop and watching a line of nearly 300 elephants walking through the reserve in the distance. I will always remember climbing all the way up a tall cliff to watch the sunset while sitting under an ancient baobab. I will always remember that trip and everything I learned, and I will spend my life fighting for a future where others will be able to have such incredible experiences.

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