The Future of the Industry: Updates from Graduate Preservation Programs

This week we are excited to bring you updates from the future preservationists of Georgia! Graduate students in Historic Preservation and related fields have accomplished a lot this academic year and have contributed to interesting projects across the state and the country! Many are also participating in internships in the preservation field this summer. These students and recent graduates bring so much to the table with their experiences and perspectives. We look forward to seeing what they do in preservation in Georgia and the wider world in the years to come. Read more below about updates provided by four programs across Georgia.

Preservation academic programs in Georgia

Graduate-level preservation degree programs are offered at Georgia State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, and the University of Georgia. SCAD offers an undergraduate BFA in Preservation Design as well. Preservation-focused courses are offered at Kennesaw State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Savannah Technical College, and the University of West Georgia.


Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture melds the study of historic structures and sites with preservation technology and sustainability. Within Georgia Tech, the historic preservation initiatives led by Associate Professor Danielle Willkens were awarded seed grants related to documentation and sustainable tourism projects for the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, SC and Petra, Jordan. Federal grants are underway for the following projects:

  • “Archival Layers and Public Interpretation for Heritage BIM: Two Atlanta Case Studies” (NCPPT)
  • "Digitally Decoding Vernacular Construction: Sellman Tenant House” in Maryland (NCPPT and Smithsonian Institute)
  • Emergency stabilization of the English Avenue Elementary School in Atlanta (Atlanta Preservation Center, National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant)

This fall, six students from programs across the College of Design participated in the poster session for the Georgia Statewide Historic Preservation Conference.

The interdisciplinary spring seminar, Race, Space, and Architecture in the United States, references the projects and methodologies of architects and architectural historians as well as ten other fields including ethnographers, sociologists, and technicians. The course covers topics across the U.S., yet the focus is decidedly on the American South, with a close lens on Atlanta. The course is affiliated with Georgia Tech’s Serve Learn Sustain initiative examines intersectionalities between race, ability, gender, and sexual orientation to further explore complexities in policy and practice within the built environment. Working collaboratively to honor erased histories, the course contributes to Atlanta’s documentary record for preservation advocacy and public outreach. This year, students have been working in team to document and visually interpret three sites in Atlanta (Power Plant at the Fulton Bag & Cotton Mill, English Avenue Elementary School, and Westview Cemetery) as well as a condition assessment and HABS set for the First Congregational Church in Marion, AL. 

Two PhD students focusing on HBIM and the use of aerial documentation for deficiency detection in historic structures, Junshan Liu and Botao Li, have been actively presenting and publishing their work, with an upcoming workshop in The Netherlands and conference papers at CIPA Florence. 


Sandra Hall, Madelyn Livingston, Michelle Bard, Hannah Brecker, Alicia Guzman, Ieshia Hall, Brendan Harris, Darlene Hawksley, Joachim Hillier, William Hodge, Paige Jennings, David Moore, Katherine Rambler, and Rachel Staley were awarded 3rd place in the HABS Peterson Prize contest which recognizes the best student architectural documentation drawings of historic buildings. Their set of drawings for the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Greensboro, GA are now a permanent part of the HABS collection stored in the Library of Congress. They accepted their award at the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) conference held in Detroit.  

Amy Durrell, Rural Schools in Putnam County: 1938-1949, and Michelle Bard, Documenting the Burns Cottage, presented academic posters at the 2022 GA Statewide Historic Preservation Conference.  

Michelle Bard presented her poster featuring architectural drawings of the historic Burns Cottage at the 2023 National Council for Public History conference. Her Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) submission, HABS GA 2449, is now part of the permanent collection housed at the Library of Congress 

Lauren Reeves is working with the Historic Macon Foundation to develop recommendations for interpreting Oak Ridge Cemetery. Oak Ridge was designated as a burial ground in 1851 for the enslaved. 

Natasha Washington and Ricky Yates are surveying a historic Gullah cemetery on Daufuskie Island, SC. The project is supported with funding from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund 

Eric Menninger is working with Thomasville Landmarks to create a historic structure report of a historic shotgun house in Thomasville, GA 

*HPD note: Natasha Washington has also been interning with the Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network (GAAHPN) at the HPD! Additionally, the HPD welcomed Michelle Bard to the staff as an Environmental Review Historian in 2022. Paige Jennings has served as our fantastic CLG Coordinator since 2020.


The following is a list of the graduating students from the MFA, MA, and BFA Preservation Design programs. Congratulations Graduates!

  • Jennifer Howell, MFA in Preservation Design, Thesis: Trauma-Informed Design in Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings: Builds Community and Stability
  • Olivia Arfuso, MA in Preservation Design, Capstone: Tainted by Trauma. Investigating the Impacts of America’s Turbulent History with Mental Health and Determining How the “Difficult Heritage” Ideology Can Be Implemented to Preserve Asylum Architecture.
  • Savannah Kruzner, MA in Preservation Design, Capstone: Living Heritage at The Southern Pine Company. Explores how a community’s living heritage can be incorporated in the design of an adaptive reuse project. 
  • Melanie Schuster, MA in Preservation Design, Capstone: Protecting our Historic Resources:  An Exploration of Demolition by Neglect in State Parks. 
  • James Dillman, BFA in Preservation Design, Capstone: Malls and Rehabilitation 

Association for Preservation Technology International, Student Scholar, Emily Schripsema, Presentation: Looking to Our Recent Past to Inform Our Near Future: Applying Preservation Strategies to Late 20th Century Shopping Malls.

The following students will be participating in summer internships:

  • Savannah Mae Tuten - Historic Savannah Foundation
  • Nathan Barnett - Chautauqua Foundation 
  • Jackie Boling - Tybee Island Historic Preservation and Tybee Island Main Street
  • Zheng He - ForDoz Pharma Corporation 
  • Daniela Salume - Carolyn Coppola Preservation 


Students enrolled in the University of Georgia’s Master of Historic Preservation program will be entering internships this summer around the state and country, on sites ranging from Mount Rainier to Natchez and from the Channel Islands in California to Cumberland Island off the Georgia Coast. Current students are doing original research on a wide range of preservation topics, including vernacular skate board parks; parking garages; and little-studied architects in Macon and Pittsburgh.

Two examples of ongoing work by MHP students:

Megan McPherson presented a poster based on her thesis at the National Council on Public History annual meeting. Her thesis explored the history and current cultural landscape of Georgia’s first African American state park. 

Elizabeth Jones has led community engagement efforts surrounding the preservation of Zion Hill cemetery in Monroe, Ga. This formerly abandoned yet nationally significant cemetery is the burial site for the victims of the Moore’s Ford lynching. Under Jones’ guidance, ground penetrating radar has mapped the cemetery boundaries and likely burial locations of those interred. She has led community-wide cleanup efforts and the installation of new burial markers. Her work was recently featured in the award-winning documentary Unspoken