University of Georgia
December 2016
Best of 2016
30 years after Chernobyl

The UGA-led study documents species prevalent in the zone and supports earlier findings that animal distribution is not influenced by radiation levels.

30 years after Chernobyl

UGA camera study reveals wildlife abundance in CEZ.

This news release from April was the most widely read in 2016 on UGA Today and received media attention around the world.

Thirty years ago, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, became the site of the world’s largest nuclear accident. While humans are now scarce in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, continued studies—including a just-published camera study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory—validate findings that wildlife populations are abundant at the site.

The camera study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and led by UGA’s James Beasley, is the first remote-camera scent-station survey conducted within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, or CEZ. The study’s results document species prevalent in the zone and support earlier findings that animal distribution is not influenced by radiation levels.

The restricted CEZ encompasses the bordering lands of Ukraine and Belarus impacted by radiation fallout from the accident, which occurred April 26, 1986.

Within the southern portion of Belarus is the Polessye, or Polesie State Radiation Ecological Reserve, with over 834 square miles of diverse landscape including forests and deserted developed lands. The levels of radiation vary significantly across this landscape.

The previous study, published in fall 2015, determined populations were thriving in the CEZ by counting animal tracks. Beasley and his research team used a more contemporary research method—remote camera stations—to substantiate previous findings.

“The earlier study shed light on the status of wildlife populations in the CEZ, but we still needed to back that up,” said Beasley, an assistant professor with UGA’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the senior author on the study. “For this study we deployed cameras in a systematic way across the entire Belarus section of the CEZ and captured photographic evidence—strong evidence—because these are pictures that everyone can see.”

The study was conducted over a five-week period at 94 sites using 30 cameras. A remote camera was set up on a tree or tree-like structure for seven days at each location. Each station was equipped with a fatty acid scent to attract the animals.

Sarah Webster, a graduate student at SREL and Warnell working with Beasley, set up the stations approximately 2 miles apart to prevent animals from visiting more than one station during a 24-hour period.

The team documented every species captured on the cameras and the frequency of their visits, specifically focusing on carnivores, Webster said, because of their hierarchy on the food chain.

At the top of the food chain, carnivores have an increased opportunity to receive contamination. In addition to ingesting it from prey that have foraged on the landscape, they receive it directly from the environment-through the soil, water and air.

“Carnivores are often in higher trophic levels of ecosystem food webs, so they are susceptible to bioaccumulation of contaminants,” Webster said. “Few studies in Chernobyl have investigated effects of contamination level on populations of species in high trophic levels.”

Beasley and his research team saw 14 species of mammals on the camera footage. The most frequently seen were the gray wolf, wild or Eurasian boar, red fox and raccoon dog, a canid species found in East Asia and Europe. Beasley said all of these species were sighted at stations close to or within the most highly contaminated areas.

“We didn’t find any evidence to support the idea that populations are suppressed in highly contaminated areas,” Beasley said. “What we did find was these animals were more likely to be found in areas of preferred habitat that have the things they need—food and water.”

Webster said locations were chosen to ensure habitat variance and to incorporate the diverse levels of radiation in the zone.

The study provides much needed verification, Beasley said, but further studies are needed “to determine the density of wildlife and provide quantitative survival rates.”

Additional researchers on the study were UGA’s Mike Byrne of the SREL and Warnell School and Stacey Lance and Cara Love of the SREL and Odum School of Ecology; Thomas Hinton, Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, Fukushima University, Japan; and Dmitry Shamovich, Sosnovy Bor, 211467 Vitebsk Region, Belarus.

The study was funded by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The study, “Where the wild things are: Influence of radiation on the distribution of four mammalian species within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone,” and the full list of wildlife documented are available at or

December 2016
Best of 2016
Focus on Faculty: Stanley Culpepper

Stanley Culpepper is a professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. But he doesn't teach in a classroom.

Focus on Faculty: Stanley Culpepper

Each week, we publish a Focus on Faculty profile on the UGA home page. Stanley Culpepper's received the most page views this year.

Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

I grew up on a bicentennial family farm in northeastern North Carolina, so N.C. State University was the only place for me. Being close to home, I was able to get a great education while still helping out on the family farm. In 1993, I obtained my B.S. in agronomy and followed with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in weed science in 1996 and 1999, respectively, under the direction of Dr. Alan York.

As a professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and an extension weed scientist, I not only get to conduct research that will help growers control weeds but I also get to work directly with them as they adopt procedures or technologies that improve productivity and sustainability. Weed management has traditionally been one of the most challenging tasks in producing vegetables and, with the development of herbicide resistant weeds, has become a threat to the production of all agronomic crops, including cotton and wheat.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?

A few weeks before graduating in 1999, I began my career at the University of Georgia at the Tifton campus. My attraction to UGA was really in response to three factors. First, Georgia’s agriculture is intense, dynamic and continues to be the No. 1 enterprise for the state; of course, this is appealing to anyone who loves agriculture. Second, the Cooperative Extension Service at UGA is without a doubt the most effective extension system in the world. Having an opportunity to work with an organization that has the ability to disseminate information effectively and rapidly with top-down support and leadership is an honor. Third, the commitment of the university’s administration to not only support research and teaching but to also support extension was critical. There is no question, at least in my mind, that applied agriculturalists are the key for long-term agricultural sustainability.

What are your favorite courses and why?

My classroom is a little different than most professors. Although I guest lecture at times, I don’t teach students in a classroom. Rather, I travel the state and the world sharing research results through Extension. My favorite “course” is the presentation that I give that helps someone be more productive, more economical, more efficient, more environmentally friendly, and/or more sustainable. Over my career, I have been blessed to give over 900 educational-based presentations across 24 U.S. states and multiple countries … that’s a pretty cool classroom.

What interests you about your field?

Agriculture is the oldest and most important profession in the world; not to mention one of the most challenging. As the human population grows rapidly, a farmer’s ability to feed the rising population will be directly related to innovative research and the ability of individuals to disseminate research results in formats that are easily adoptable. Having the opportunity to not only conduct research but to share the results of that research with growers in ways that help them feed the world is pretty cool. My job is fascinating, challenging and occasionally stressful, but being just a small part of the information development and delivery system for agriculture is an honor.

What are some highlights of your career at UGA?

If I had to choose, I would probably point to two highlights. First, the removal of methyl bromide (deemed an ozone depleting gas) from vegetable growers posed a serious risk to fresh market vegetable production in Georgia. The crops relying on methyl bromide, at the time, had an annual farm gate value exceeding $250 million. As a UGA team, we not only developed effective alternatives to methyl bromide but also helped our growers implement them rapidly. As a result of this work, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded us with the Montreal Protocol Award for assisting in the preservation of the ozone layer and thereby saving many lives. Georgia Sens. Chambliss and Isakson made the nomination to the EPA.

Second, working with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, we developed third-party labeling for Georgia growers. This process allows a pathway for industry, UGA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture to work together to bring Georgia vegetable growers weed management tools that would not otherwise be possible. Although the process continuously evolves, ultimately this effort has resulted in over 30 new herbicide labels available for Georgia growers to help manage weeds more effectively and efficiently.

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?

My research goal is to develop information that keeps our growers on the cutting edge of production, efficiency and sustainability. The best way to develop this type of research is to have input from those that you are “teaching.” Thus, my greatest success comes when growers or Extension agents share the challenges that are limiting their success. After understanding these challenges, research can then be developed to address the issues. However, we must not forget, the best research in the world is of no value if it is not shared with the end user in a format that is understandable and adoptable.

Describe your ideal student.

For me, dedication and respect are the two key characteristics of any student. If you are a student (or not) and you are truly dedicated to your mission while treating others with respect, then most often success is imminent. For those who are truly dedicated, the energy level and desire they exhibit to succeed and overcome failure is amazing. And when you are dedicated and respectful, that is when you begin to form special bonds and relationships with others who often have the same desires. It is these relationships that most often lead to impact, teamwork, success and family.

Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…

On campus, my most enjoyable times occur on the university’s research farms conducting applied research. Being in the field is amazing, as I learn new information most every day; plus, it is easier to hide and take a break from the daily stresses. Of course, the best place to be professionally is to actually be on a grower’s farm helping them address their weed management challenges.

Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…

Well, being from a family farm and having best friends who are either farmers or are involved with agriculture in some fashion leads to the fact that I never really get away from agriculture. However, the time I cherish the most is that which I spend with my family. Having a 6-year-old, full of energy, is always entertaining, exciting and unpredictable. Our most fun times often come when we are out catching butterflies or other critters, watching movies, visiting amusement parks and playing games that I never get to win.

Favorite book/movie (and why)?

Having a 6-year-old eliminates my ability to select books or movies. Although, I am amazed how entertaining kid movies/books have become. “Wreck it Ralph” and “The Croods” are movies that are amazingly entertaining for the entire family. Although these movies are probably not on the lists of favorites for most adults, they do help children and adults realize the value of family and friends.

Proudest moment at UGA?

Professionally, there is nothing that I am more proud of than having the opportunity to work with such a great group of people at the University of Georgia’s Tifton campus. The overall commitment to agriculture from the collective group is mind boggling and humbling. Additionally, my team of technicians and students who actually run my program while I am usually off attending various functions amaze me with their commitment, respect, and productivity … these guys allow me to have my proudest moment at UGA every day.

December 2016
Best of 2016
Amazing Student: Darby Miller

Darby Miller works at the UGA Visitors Center and enjoys showing others what their college experience could look like.

Amazing Student: Darby Miller

Each week during the school year, we feature an Amazing Student on UGA's home page. Darby's profile garnered the most page views this semester.

Darby Miller, a senior majoring in marketing, has accomplished much during her time at UGA. But it’s not the organizations she has worked for or the awards she has received that mean the most to her. She’s most grateful for “all of the unique, inspiring and remarkable people this school has given me.”


Rogers, Arkansas

High School:

Rogers High School

Degree objective:

B.A. in marketing

Expected graduation:

May 2017

University highlights, achievements and awards:

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I’ve learned so much in college, but truly finding what drives your passion is the most important. I’ve loved serving this campus through many unique ways. The Student Government Association, UGA Orientation, the Visitors Center, Wesley Foundation and Zeta Tau Alpha will continue to hold a special place in my heart.

Some of my achievements include 2016 Panhellenic Woman of the Year, 2016 Bulldog Vision Award and Presidential Leader of Excellence. However, no title or position can top the reward of friendship. The organizations listed above have provided me with an incredible community … and that is the greatest award of them all.

Current Employment:

The “Happiest Place on Campus” a.k.a. the University of Georgia Visitors Center.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first person in my family to attend UGA … but I have converted as many of my friends/family into Dawg fans as possible.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… I took a random college visit my junior year of high school and fell in love! Four years later, I work for the UGA Visitors Center and get to show others what their college experience could look like, regardless of where they go. During every tour, I share with my group that I toured 11 schools (yes, 11), and I was looking for two things — town and tradition. I speak about the authentic feeling and culture of downtown Athens that I instantly fell in love with along with the deep-rooted tradition we have on our campus. But what I reveal to them at the end is that as much as those things matter, the real reason I chose UGA was for the people. And the reason I am still here today is due to all of the unique, inspiring and remarkable people this school has given me.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… honestly just walking around with the people I love most. Whether that’s sharing coffee with a friend at Jittery Joe’s, giving visitors a tour of UGA or just hanging out on North Campus, our campus is a pretty cool place to be.

When I have free time, I like…

… to share yummy meals with my friends, frolic on North Campus, watch videos of corgis and attempt to read a book.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

… scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef! This past winter break, I traveled to Australia with 35 other students through UGA’s Discover Abroad program. We got to see sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and so much more. There are no words to describe this incredible experience and the people I got to meet along the way.

My favorite place to study is…

It’s a tie between Walker’s Coffee Shop and the sixth floor of the main library. It really depends on my mood or the type of studying I have to get done. Find the spot that works best for you … wherever that may be!

My favorite professor is…

… too hard to pick! I have had so many incredible professors here at UGA that have inspired me through their enthusiasm, passion and selflessness.

However, I believe teachers are not just found in the classroom. I am forever grateful for my Visitors Center and Orientation directors. Both Eric Johnson and Alton Standifer have shown me the capacity to believe in someone and to be remarkable. These two leaders have molded my leadership style and have made my UGA experience exceptional.

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

… all the people who mean the most to me! We would get an enormous amount of burritos and have a picnic on Herty Field. The people in my life have shaped and molded me into the person I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t be me.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… open a summer camp out west for kids! Growing up as a “camp-kid,” I’ve experienced the joys that summer camp brings. I want to create a camp that fosters community and growth while creating real friendship. The youth of the world are our future and there is SO much power in their investment. PLUS, I’d get to wear shorts and T-shirts every day … win-win situation in my opinion! And if that didn’t work out, I would love to open my own coffee shop.

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

… invest in young people with learning and intellectual disabilities. One of my greatest joys here at UGA has been assisting with the creation and implementation of Destination Dawgs. This initiative has brought an Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program to our school starting spring 2017! From freshman year, clinging onto Jim Thompson’s idea of the program to seeing Jordan, one of our first Destination Dawgs students, receive his acceptance letter, I have never been more proud to be a part of something. Serving as the student government treasurer last year allowed me to see firsthand the power of advocacy.

I am thankful to our executive board for making this a platform priority, to the UGA student body for their endless support in our dream and to The Fanning Institute for never giving up. Without these extraordinary people, Destination Dawgs would not exist. However, there are additional costs associated with IPSE Programs. I would love to invest in this initiative so that every university could have a program that offers ANYBODY the chance to attend the school of their choice and experience the educational/social benefits that college offers.

After graduation, I plan to…

… pursue a career in the marketing world. When I chose marketing as my major, I knew it would be a springboard into a variety of industries and career paths. I got my first taste of the marketing world this summer interning with ESPN in New York City and I want to continue to pursue it post-grad. Beyond the Arch I hope to find a career that merges my passion for people, my spirit for adventure and my desire to continue to grow. The future is uncertain, but I am trusting in the plans that God has in store for me. Overall, I want to maintain my joy for life and bring that wherever life takes me!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… serving as an Orientation leader in the summer of 2015. Orientation opens the gates of possibility for students as they take their first steps on campus. Twelve strangers must come together to embody the camaraderie and the spirit of this great institution. The summer of 2015 changed how I look at every interaction with another person. Orientation was a space for me to serve incoming students through my college experiences, while also growing as an individual. The trials and tribulations I had experienced in college before my summer as an OL all started to make sense. As I was helping others, I was growing as an individual too. I finally began to understand that I could use my experiences to help others through theirs. It was one of the most amazing and empowering realizations of my life. Being your real, authentic and vulnerable self with others opens the doors for them to do the same. When we are the most holistic version of ourselves, we show others that it is OK for them to embrace themselves too. I am forever in debt to this process and all the sweet moments it has given me. My Firework Fives, my professional staff and, most of all, my fellow OL team members will forever be in my heart and will be one of my favorite memories of my time at UGA.

December 2016
Best of 2016
The kudzu kid

Though initially popular, kudzu was branded a weed in the 1970s for its ability to smother trees, plants and even houses in any landscape. (Peter Frey/University of Georgia)

The kudzu kid

This former UGA student's patent is taking on the vine that ate the South. His story struck a chord as it was the most-read story on Discover UGA in 2016.

While other kids in Lake Park were collecting “Star Wars” figurines, Jacob Schindler was trying to figure out how to colonize Mars. For a middle school science fair project, he wanted to use kudzu to terraform the Red Planet and make it livable. Kudzu was an obvious choice; it was everywhere in South Georgia’s Lowndes County, where he grew up, and seemed to be virtually indestructible. If it could take over whole sections of Earth’s landscape, why not Mars?

His sixth-grade teacher, Cyndi Harrell, told Jacob that sending humans to Mars to plant kudzu wasn’t likely to happen in time for the science fair, so Jacob shelved the space travel idea but kept his focus on kudzu.

For the school’s science fair, he designed an experiment to expose kudzu plants to Martian gases — helium, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen — to learn if kudzu could survive in that planet’s atmosphere. That first living room experiment had the potential for disaster. Schindler hadn’t properly sealed the canisters of nitrous oxide, oxygen and carbon dioxide, and a stray static spark could have led to an explosion.

Luckily, the only spark was in his imagination. The project led him to more ideas, more entries into various fairs and conventions and a commitment to continuing his investigation. Now a senior at UGA, Schindler is studying landscape architecture and continuing his work with kudzu while benefitting from the world-class learning environment the university provides.

In 2014, 10 years after he began his research, Schindler received a patent for a device that can eradicate kudzu without harming neighboring plants.

The ‘miracle vine’

Kudzu first appeared in the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, brought in by Japanese exhibitors who built a garden including a variety of plants. Americans loved kudzu’s big leaves and fragrant blossoms and began using it as an ornamental in their home gardens. Nurseries sold the plant for animal forage; one in Florida sold kudzu through the mail.

In the 1930s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service began touting kudzu for its ability to stop soil erosion. Workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps planted hundreds of acres of kudzu during the Great Depression, and farmers were paid $8 for every acre they planted. Throughout the 1940s, Channing Cope, an Atlanta radio personality and farm editor for the Atlanta Constitution, extolled the virtues of kudzu and traveled through the Southeast starting kudzu clubs to honor what he called “the miracle vine.”

But the fast-growing vine soon became a nuisance, and the federal government removed it from its list of recommended ground cover plants in 1953. Two decades later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture branded it a weed. The problem with kudzu is that it smothers the trees and other plants in any landscape in which it takes hold. It can grow as high as 100 feet, and the tap root can snuggle into the ground up to 12 feet deep and weigh as much as 200 pounds. Vines that touch the ground can eventually root there, and older vines can be up to 4 inches thick.

James Miller, a USDA Forest Service research ecologist emeritus in Auburn, Ala., has estimated that power companies spend about $1.5 million annually fighting kudzu. Humming happily during drought, tinged only slightly from frost, kudzu today covers an estimated 7.5 million acres, mostly in the South.

Shifting focus

As a kid, Schindler says he was shy and had different interests from most of his peers, as well as a visual processing disorder that kept him from playing sports. His parents enrolled him at a martial arts academy where the instructor was James Corbett (BSA ’88, MEd ’91, EdS ’92), who would become his adviser for Future Farmers of America — an integral part of his education.

“FFA was my bread and butter, where I learned public speaking and made friends, starting in middle school,” Schindler says. Corbett, an agricultural education teacher at Lowndes High School, “taught me the scientific method, which I need for my projects. The FFA got me through high school.”

As he was preparing to graduate from high school, Schindler was contacted by landscape architects in Winston-Salem, N.C., for a kudzu eradication. It was an introduction to a profession he hadn’t known existed. It didn’t change his college plans — he’d applied to UGA for its excellent agricultural programs — but it shifted his focus to the College of Environment and Design (CED) and a degree in landscape architecture.

Pratt Cassity met Schindler when he enrolled in Cassity’s freshman seminar. “[He has] such a sharp mind, he astounds me,” says Cassity, director of public service and outreach for CED’s Center for Community Design and Preservation. “You rarely see students in high school [applying for] patents. I can see him researching human-sensitive and Earth-sensitive design options in the future.”

Having perhaps solved the problem of stopping kudzu from achieving world domination, Schindler recently has been wondering about its potential benefits. He’s learned that people in Japan and China grind the root for use as a starch substitute in baked goods and dry the leaves for tea. There may even be medicinal uses for kudzu; researchers are exploring a drug extracted from kudzu root that may help in the treatment of alcoholism. Maybe, just maybe, Schindler has come to believe, kudzu isn’t the foot-a-day green monster most people think it is. “

Maybe invasives aren’t as bad as everyone thinks,” he says. “Maybe we can get some use out of them if we can just control them.”

KEHTA = Bye-bye kudzu

When Schindler’s not doing projects for his landscape architecture courses (Editor’s note: he graduated in May) his attention is focused on the KEHTA, his patented Kudzu Eradicating Helium Technology Apparatus, that delivers helium into the soil where the plant grows. The KEHTA looks innocuous, like something you might use with a welding mask. It’s a few feet of hollow stainless steel pipe with a drill bit on one end, a series of holes along the length of the pipe, and a T connector and valve at the other end for attaching to a helium tank.

During an eradication mission, Schindler uses a power drill to insert the drill bit into soil adjacent to the root and opens the valve, saturating the soil with helium. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and may need to be repeated in larger areas to assure coverage. After a few weeks, the result is dead kudzu.

He’s had successful kudzu-killing projects in Decatur, Lowndes County and Madison, Fla. The best part for Schindler? The KEHTA eradicates without involving any hazardous chemicals. There’s no drift, no chance of neighboring plants dying along with the kudzu. There’s just harmless helium. In fact, one of his experiments showed that loblolly pines exposed to helium grew faster than trees that weren’t exposed.

Schindler may have created the environmentally friendly kudzu killer that people in the South have been wanting for decades, and a multinational agricultural company is talking with him about manufacturing and marketing the device. Corbett likes to tell a story about the 2013 FFA nationals, where Schindler was named an American Star in Agriscience for his kudzu project.

A friendly guy approached Schindler and his mom and asked the teenager whether he had a research paper on his project. His teacher jumped into the conversation and said no, there was no paper. He feared the stranger would take Schindler’s ideas and capitalize on them. “I told Jacob he had to get a patent on his device because we didn’t want someone profiting from what he had done,” Corbett says. “He worked too hard for that to happen.”

— Rebecca McCarthy, Georgia Magazine, March 2016

December 2016
Best of 2016
UGA up to No. 18 on Best Public Universities list

UGA also moved up one spot to rank No. 17 on the Forbes "Top 25 Public Colleges 2016" list.

UGA up to No. 18 on Best Public Universities list

Good news from U.S. News & World Report shows an "upward trajectory."

This story was the most widely read news release from 2016.

The University of Georgia moved up three spots to No. 18 in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Public Universities, released Sept. 18.

“I am pleased that the University of Georgia continues to be recognized as one of the very best public research universities in the nation,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I want to thank our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters for this achievement. UGA’s upward trajectory is a testament-above all else-to their hard work and dedication to excellence.”

Outstanding performance on key measures of student success contributed to the university’s strong position in the national rankings: UGA’s first-year retention rate increased from 94 percent to a record 95 percent during the rating period, and its six-year graduation rate remained at an all-time high of 85 percent.

Increases in student selectivity measures also led to the top 20 ranking. UGA’s acceptance rate decreased from 56 percent to 53 percent during the rating period; the percentage of students in the top 10 percent of their high school class increased from 52 percent to 53 percent, and test scores for the 25th-75th SAT/ACT percentile increased as well.

These measures reflect the continuing rise in the quality of the student body at UGA as well as a steady increase in the number of applications for admission. This fall marked the fourth consecutive year in which the incoming class of first-year students set a record for academic quality, and applications for fall admission reached an all-time high this year at nearly 23,000, surpassing last year’s record total.

“It’s no surprise that demand for a UGA education continues to surge,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our long tradition of excellence and bold new academic initiatives have created an unparalleled learning environment that fosters the highest levels of student success.”

UGA’s top ranking also benefited from an improved academic peer assessment rating, which measures how a university is regarded by administrators at peer institutions. The reputational score is determined by surveying presidents, provosts and deans of admissions, or officials in equivalent positions, at institutions in the same ranking category.

UGA has made national headlines in recent years for major faculty hiring initiatives and innovations in undergraduate education. This fall, UGA became the nation’s largest public university to ensure that all undergraduate students benefit from hands-on learning experiences-such as internships, research projects or specialized study abroad opportunities-that prepare them for success after graduation. In addition to implementing its experiential learning initiative, the university also recently implemented a small class size initiative that has brought more than 50 new faculty members to campus to create more than 300 additional course sections in high-demand subjects.

Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav has played an important role in implementing these and other academic initiatives since he assumed his position in February 2015. “The university has been committed for many years to enhancing the learning environment for students, and new initiatives in advising and experiential learning, along with more classes, are elevating undergraduate education to new heights,” said Shrivastav. “The higher education community has taken note of our pioneering spirit and our strong commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.”

The state of Georgia is one of only three in the country with two institutions—Georgia Institute of Technology and UGA—listed among the top 20 public universities. In addition, UGA was one of only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference, along with the University of Florida, to rank in the top 20 among publics.

UGA recently was ranked No. 17 on the Forbes “Top 25 Public Colleges 2016” list and consistently ranks as one of the nation’s best values in public higher education. Kiplinger’s ranked UGA at No. 12 on its 2016 list of the 100 best values among public colleges and universities, and The New York Times ranked UGA at No. 10 among public universities doing the most for low-income students in its 2015 College Access Index.

December 2016
Best of 2016
In the beginning

The statue of Abraham Baldwin on North Campus, a gift from the UGA Alumni Association, was dedicated in 2011.

In the beginning

During Founders Week in January, we published this list of facts about how UGA began, and it was the most-read home page feature of the year.

You might already know the year (1785), and that Abraham Baldwin (that statue watching over North Campus) was the first president, and that we were the first chartered university in our young nation. But did you know that Baldwin was only 14 when he entered Yale?

Some more facts about the birth of our university:

1. James Edward Oglethorpe established the colony of Georgia, having landed at the Savannah River in 1733. Several yew trees from Oglethorpe’s home in England were planted along the Academic Building on Broad Street.

2. In 1783, Gov. Lyman Hall delivered this message to the state legislature, planting the seed for a land-grant university:

“Every encouragement ought to be given to introduce religion and learned clergy to perform divine worship in honor of God and to cultivate principles of religion and virtue among our citizens. For this purpose it will be your wisdom to lay an early foundation for endowing seminaries of learning. Nor can you, I conceive, lay better than by a grant of land that may, as in other governments, hereafter by lease or otherwise, raise a sufficient revenue to support such valuable institutions.”

3. Abraham Baldwin (left) entered Yale College at the age of 14 and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1772. He went to divinity school and was licensed to preach in 1775. After a stint as a Yale University tutor and army chaplain, he became a Professor of Divinity at Yale at the age of 27. A bit of an overachiever?

4. We don’t know for sure how Baldwin ended up in Georgia. It is thought that he arrived in Connecticut, moved to Charleston, and then traveled into Augusta, the capital at the time.

5. In 1784, the legislature granted him permission to practice law.

6. He quickly added politician to his resume. On Jan. 12, 1785, he became a state legislator. He didn’t waste time. On Jan. 27, 1785, he got UGA’s first charter introduced and approved. Baldwin was named president.

7. Written in ink on two faded and yellowed sheets of vellum, 19 1/2 by 32 1/2 inches, the charter is kept in the Rare Books Room of the University of Georgia Library and is only displayed on Founders Day each year.

8. Chancellor (from 1906 to 1925) David C. Barrow said the first line from the charter was among the great sentences in the English language:

“As it is the distinguishing happiness of free governments that civil order should be the result of choice and not necessity, and that the common wishes of the people become the law of the land, their public prosperity and even existence, very much depends upon suitably forming the minds of their citizens.”

9. The charter established the Board of Visitors to “see that the intent of this institution is carried into effect” along with the Board of Trustees. The two bodies together were the “Senatus Academicus of the University of Georgia.”

10. Baldwin was soon elected to the Continental Congress and through the next decade or so, spent the bulk of his time on national affairs.

11. Baldwin never married.

12. Baldwin died in 1807 at age 53. He was serving as a U.S. senator from Georgia at the time.

13. In the 16 years between the signing of the charter and the establishment of the university in Athens, action toward establishing the university slowed, often because it was hard to get a quorum of the board. As historian Thomas Reed said, “Then the Board of Trustees went to sleep for the next eight years.”

14. During this time, North Carolina chartered a university in 1789 and opened its doors to classes in 1795. Hence, the centuries-old debate about who is America’s first state university.

15. The initial salary for second President Josiah Meigs (left), who took the helm in 1801 and was the first president to preside over a class, was $1,500 per year.

16. The board of trustees still had not decided on a location after hiring Meigs in 1801. They narrowed it down to five counties: Franklin, Hancock, Greene, Oglethorpe and Jackson (Clarke County split from Jackson County in 1801). They inspected the land, and according to historian Reed:

“They came upon a high hill around whose base flowed the Oconee River, then a clear and beautiful stream ... through a grove of cedars its waters danced over shoals for quite a distance, hence the name of Cedar Shoals. ... The hillsides were covered with lordly trees, pine, oak and hickory. Several bold, clear springs were there whose sparkling waters descended swiftly to the river. One of those springs was near the crest of the hill in easy reach of the place where college buildings would be erected, thus guaranteeing an abundance of pure drinking water for the professors and students of the coming years.”

17. The land was owned by Daniel Easley, who had built a mill on that location (near the present-day School of Social Work building). John Milledge, a member of the trustees’ location committee and soon thereafter Georgia governor, managed to buy 633 acres from Easley, and then donated it to the university.

18. Georgia artist George Cooke’s “View of Athens from Carr’s Hill” (above, 1845) is on display at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the UGA campus.

19. Even before the first building was erected, Meigs recruited the first class of students, some who might have reported in late 1801.

20. The university constructed its first building, which was originally called Franklin College and is now known as Old College.

21. The first class graduated on May 31, 1804.

Thus began the birthplace of public higher education.

December 2016
Best of 2016
Going for the gold

Athletes with UGA ties won 10 medals, more than most of the countries competing.

Going for the gold

Forty-nine student-athletes with ties to UGA competed in this year's Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bulldog Nation had a lot to cheer about in this year's Rio Games. This story from UGA's home page was the most viewed in 2016.


— Former Georgia track and field champion Shaunae Miller (Bahamas) blazed to a personal-best time in the 400-meter dash and captured the gold medal in thrilling fashion. Miller edged Team USA’s Allyson Felix by .07 seconds by diving across the finish line.

— Allison Schmitt and Melanie Margalis (U.S.) earned gold medals and Brittany MacLean (Canada) won bronze in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

— Gunnar Bentz made Georgia history as he earned a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Bentz became the first Georgia male swimmer ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Melanie Margalis (U.S.) took fourth in the 200-meter individual medley.

— Chase Kalisz (U.S.) won silver in the 400-meter individual medley, Allison Schmitt (U.S.) and Amanda Weir (U.S.) won silver and Chantal Van Landeghem (Canada) won bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay.


For a flashback, here’s the pre-Olympics story:

Athletes and coaches representing UGA’s red and black are competing for gold in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Other students have found once-in-a-lifetime experiential learning opportunities through the international competitions.

Twenty-nine current, former and incoming student-athletes as well as four coaches are representing the U.S. and nine other nations in the Olympic and Paralympic games, adding to the rich history of Bulldog Olympic athletes.

“We are excited that so many of our current and former student-athletes, as well as our coaches, are participating in the 2016 Games,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Bulldog Nation will be watching and cheering with pride as these outstanding individuals compete in Rio.”

Among those representing the U.S. track team is Keturah Orji, a junior financial planning major, who is already a three-time NCAA champion in the triple jump as a Bulldog.

Orji said she is excited about the challenges that she and her teammates will face.

“It’s going to be great competition, and I’m going to be pushed to my limits,” she said.

She is thrilled to be in Rio with plenty of fellow Bulldogs, including her roommate Kendell Williams, a senior advertising major who is competing in the heptathlon for Team USA.

“It’s good to have familiar faces overseas,” said Williams, a five-time NCAA pentathlon and heptathlon champion. “We’re going to support each other and cheer each other on. It’s nice to see so many Bulldogs.”

In addition to Williams and Orji, Kibwe Johnson also qualified in track and field for the U.S. They will be joined by Bulldog track-and-field student-athletes Cejhae Greene (Antigua), Karl Saluri (Estonia), Maicel Uibo (Estonia), Jenny Dahlgren (Argentina), Shaunae Miller (Bahamas), Leontia Kallenou (Cyprus), Charles Grethen (Luxembourg) and Levern Spencer (St. Lucia). Petros Kyprianou, head coach of UGA’s cross country and track and field teams, is an assistant coach for Estonia.

Gunnar Bentz, Chase Kalisz, Jay Litherland, Hali Flickinger, Melanie Margalis, Allison Schmitt, Olivia Smoliga and Amanda Weir represent the U.S. in swimming, while head coach Jack Bauerle serves as a men’s assistant coach on the U.S. staff. Finland’s Matias Koski and Canada’s Javier Acevedo, Brittany MacLean and Chantal Van Landeghem also qualified for the games in swimming. UGA head diving coach Dan Laak is an assistant coach to Brazil’s diving team, which will include Cesar Castro, who has served as a UGA volunteer assistant coach while training under Laak.

Incoming student Yijun Feng will compete on the U.S. table tennis team, while alumnus Bubba Watson will represent the U.S. in golf, and current student Brittany Rogers will suit up for Canada in gymnastics.

In the Paralympics, former student Jarryd Wallace qualified for the U.S. track team, alumna Lindsay Grogan earned a spot on the U.S. swim team, and alumna Michele Gerlosky Schiffler is competing in sitting volleyball.

In addition to participation from student-athletes and coaches, UGA faculty, staff and students are in Rio to work on other aspects of the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Becca Leopkey, an assistant professor of sport management in the College of Education, is serving on the International Olympic Committee’s Sustainability and Legacy Commission, in part because of her research on the legacy of sporting events.

Mike Mobley, an associate director of sports communications, will work with Olympic Broadcast Services at the team handball venue.

Students from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication are getting valuable experiential learning opportunities in Rio.

Nicole Chrzanowski and Jaylon Thompson, two students in Grady College’s sports media certificate program, were selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to report on the games for USOC’s various information channels, including its website.

Nine other Grady College students will join Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Professor of Sports Journalism & Society, and Mark Johnson, a senior lecturer in journalism, to cover the Paralympics. Grady Sports students Jamie Han, Emily Giamalvo, Emily Greenwood, Kendra Hansey and Kennington Smith along with photojournalism students David Barnes, Jenn Finch, Joshua Jones and Casey Sykes will travel to Rio for the Paralympics, which will be held Sept. 7-18.

The Olympic Games will end Aug. 21.

November 2016
The Arts
Poetry fills space between two worlds

Yohan Hwang

Poetry fills space between two worlds

Studying at UGA helped deepen South Korean native's teaching skills, but it also gave him a new way to look at poetry.

As a graduate student, Yohan Hwang often found himself bridging two worlds.

Not just because the South Korean native was studying in the U.S.; rather, Hwang felt pulled between his need to write grammatically correct and his desire to allow his true, non-English-speaking voice to shine through in his writing.

The gap between these two worlds hit him extra hard one day, while leaving the university writing center and digesting the amount of red corrections marked on his paper.

“I needed some place to take a rest,” said Hwang, who is set to receive his Ph.D. in language and literacy education this December. “I sat down in front of the building and wrote this poem:”

Teacher’s red nib
scours, teases, and commands

Write as natives write.
Speak as natives speak.
Think as natives think.

It pokes me. But how
I can be what I’m not?

I need to ink my
정체성 (Jung-Chae-Sung)* somewhere.

I write as I write.
I speak as I speak.
I think as I think.


Today, Hwang teaches English at several universities around Seoul, South Korea. Even though his classroom lessons are focused on the “rules” or grammar, he still feels strongly that poetry is what helped get him through some of the challenges he faced as a student in America.

He came to the University of Georgia for the opportunity to study TESOL, or Teaching English Speakers of Other Languages, with an emphasis on poetry with professor Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor in the College of Education. His thesis focused on poetic inquiry in training international TESOL educators.

Poetry is more than an art form, he says—it’s a study in language, an extension of your personality and a coping mechanism.

“Living in a different country and living in a different language is not easy,” he said, noting that Cahnmann-Taylor advised him to look at everything around him as source material for his poetry. “So if a bad thing happened, I wasn’t in a panic because I could write a poem, at least. So I became a more positive person.”

Before studying in the U.S., Hwang was already a poet, having written more than 100 pieces in South Korea.

Not only did his experience studying at UGA help deepen his teaching skills, but it also gave him a new way to look at poetry—and how the form of writing translates beyond translation.

“Just as poetry writing helped me to arrive at this point, I deeply ponder how I can be a teacher who invites students to view the study of English language as a fundamentally creative process that manifests future possibilities,” Hwang added. “In addition, by understanding English-as-foreign-language-learners’ refined experiences and unrefined feelings through poetry writing, I want to be a teacher who engenders new connections and relationships in the classroom, exploring their emotions and identities.”

—Kristen Morales, College of Education

November 2016
The Arts
Museum is ‘building bridges’

Fifth-graders came to the Georgia Museum of Art this fall to tour the Brooklyn Bridge exhibition — and get a lesson in engineering to boot.

Museum ‘building bridges’ between art and engineering

Fifth-graders view exhibition, try to build bridges out of straw and tape.

The Georgia Museum of Art is promoting the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math education this fall with outreach and field trips that merge art and engineering.

Museum educators applied for and received a grant from Georgia Council for the Arts to fund a program called “Building Bridges.” The funds will be used to pay two UGA art education graduate students as they travel to the eight participating schools. They will also be used to provide materials and lesson plans that coincide with the students’ experience at the museum.

Fifth-grade students will be led on a visual scavenger hunt through the museum assisted by community and student docents, followed by an activity relating to an exhibition. They will see the exhibition “Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883–1950.” The show merges art and engineering. It focuses on how artists represented the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol for New York City’s industrial prowess because it was an engineering triumph.

After a brief history lesson about the bridge, students will be divided into small groups and asked to design a bridge — using only straws and tape — that can span a 12-inch gap and hold the weight of 50 pennies. Civil engineering students at UGA have also been assigned a project to construct a bridge, using spaghetti instead of straws, and several of those students will be on hand to help the fifth-graders. The spaghetti bridges will be displayed on Nov. 5 at UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts Family Day, which also includes activities organized by UGA’s art, theatre and dance departments.

Following their visit to the museum, the Building Bridges program will help students discuss the use of line in images of the Brooklyn Bridge and how artists saw different shapes in the bridge’s cables.

The project is intended to get students thinking about creating an icon for their own community like the bridge is for New York City.

The visits are part of a STEAM educational program that aims to extend student learning from the museum back into the classroom. STEAM education draws on the concept of STEM education, which emphasizes creativity and innovative problem solving, but adds an “A” for Art to encourage a student’s ability to imagine solutions to complex problems.

The goal is that through the museum visit and engineering project, students will consider creative solutions to complex problems while considering both aesthetics and practicality. The project also teaches the importance of collaboration in developing new ideas and shows how art can extend into the realm of math and design.

“The problem-solving techniques and teamwork they learn will help them with more challenging assignments in the future,” said Callan Steinmann, the museum’s associate curator of education.

“Our goal is that the positive experience these students have at the museum will help them know that art museums are places for them, that they can have fun and engaging experiences here. We hope to plant the seed for them to become lifelong museumgoers and appreciators of art.”

The museum has hosted free field trips for Athens-Clarke County fifth-graders since 2005, a program that served as a model for and is now part of Experience UGA. This partnership between the University of Georgia and the Clarke County School District annually brings students from every grade level to campus for a fun day of learning outside of the classroom.

—Benjamin Thrash, Georgia Museum of Art

November 2016
The Arts
Graphics students designing display

These posters were designed, from left, by Kaitlyn Yarborough (of naturalist John Abbot), Chelsea Jenkins (of Fred Birchmore) and Maddie Shae (of Jeannette Rankin).

Graphics students designing history poster display

Students apply graphic communications lessons to special collections libraries research.

This semester, students in Kristen Smith’s “Graphics Communications” class had the unique opportunity to learn about 20th century design history and have their work showcased in an exhibition as part of UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts Festival.

The exhibit, “Designing History: Posters Exploring Twentieth Century Design Styles & the UGA Special Collections Libraries Archives,” features 24- by 36-inch mounted posters designed by each student based on research they conducted in the library’s permanent collection.

The class typically teaches students about basic principles of design, typography and graphics software. This special class has the same goals, but also draws on resources from UGA’s Special Collections Libraries.

The inspiration for the poster project came after Smith served as an inaugural Special Collections Libraries Faculty Fellow last year. The fellowship program was created by the libraries and the Center for Teaching and Learning to educate university professors about how they could incorporate the collections into their classroom lessons. The fellowship funds classroom projects created using the collections and resources at the library.

“The goal of the poster project was to provide a deep understanding of a local or national treasure, and depending on their project, where that person or thing fits into not only history, but design history,” said Smith, a senior lecturer in public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

The assignment features visuals and text about topics in special collections including, but not limited to, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress; Erté, notably known as the “Father of Art Deco;” Jackson EMC, which led the way in making electricity available in rural areas of north Georgia; and Fred Birchmore, an Athens native who rode his bike around the world.

Chelsea Jenkins, a public relations major from Covington, chose to profile Birchmore for her project. Jenkins’s poster features a picture of Birchmore with his bicycle, which he called Bucephalus. She also included a couple of paragraphs that depict his life and some sites he encountered throughout his trek.

“The biggest challenge I faced was trying to incorporate how far Birchmore traveled into the poster,” Jenkins said. “My original idea was to have a map of some of the places he explored as the background of the poster. While that idea didn’t really work out, I feel as though we get a snippet of what he did and where he went in the paragraphs I’ve included.”

Jamie Yale, a junior public relations major, said she really enjoyed the hands-on experience of working in the Special Collections library. She chose to profile Spanish artist José de Zamora. “We were given a lot of freedom when creating this poster, from selection of the artist to use of design principles, and I think this really helped me independently create one of my first graphic design posters.”

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the special focus graphics class was the knowledge that the Special Collections Libraries is there and has an array of resources.

Kaitlyn Yarborough, a senior journalism student from Albany, profiled naturalist and artist John Abbot based on a large book he illustrated that she saw at the library.

“I had never entered the Special Collections Library until this project,” Yarborough said, “and, I discovered that it houses some really interesting collections on the history of Georgia, from Native American artifacts to vintage cheerleading uniforms from the university. It has a huge array of cool things that I would never have known about otherwise.”

The student posters are on display on the third floor of Grady College during Spotlight on the Arts Nov. 2-18. This is the first year that Grady College is participating in Spotlight on the Arts.

—Sarah Freeman, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

November 2016
The Arts
Beyond the written word

Meghan Barnes is leading a project to teach UGA English education students about the importance of videos, a podcast, photos and blogs in teaching storytelling to high school students.

Beyond the written word

English education students pair with high-schoolers to explore storytelling.

Meghan Barnes wants her students to know one thing about writing: It’s much more than putting pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard).

Instead, she encourages her pre-service teachers to consider writing as a form of storytelling—which may also take the form of videos, a podcast or photos. Even a series of tweets can create a narrative.

Her point is to keep options open. Teachers can use new media to their advantage, and when the overall lesson is to tell a story, it doesn’t matter how the story is told—as long as a student can capture his or her perspective using a method they can relate to. This lesson can be tremendously helpful for Barnes’ students, who are studying to be English teachers.

“My goal is to encourage students to draw from their own students—what kind of writing are they drawn to?—and using that to teach writing,” said Barnes, a doctoral student in English education in the UGA College of Education.

This fall, Barnes took her class of senior English education students to Cedar Shoals High School for a project on writing. In December the students will present their writing experiences—but not before they spend the next month exploring the art of storytelling with a class of freshmen at Cedar Shoals.

To kick off the project, the UGA students and high schoolers met in the school’s media room to pair up and launch their blogs. The blogs are the centerpiece of the project—they are where questions will be asked and answers given, by both the college and high school students. Along the way, as they answer questions such as “Are you a writer?” or “What is community?,” students are encouraged to get creative with their answers and push boundaries of traditional narrative.

“This is the first time I really thought about it,” said Dania Flint, 14, when asked if she considered herself a writer. Her gut reaction was yes, she said as her UGA partner, Alex Mitchell, a senior English education major, looked on. But the blog forced her to reflect more. “It makes me think about how life is—a bigger perspective.”

Community is another key theme to the project, as it helps give students a perspective of the world around them. Community, the students and their college-age counterparts agreed, was whomever you surround yourself with.

“A lot of this is breaking down the idea that there’s one way to write.”

— Meghan Barnes

They pondered these ideas while staring at bags of M&Ms on the tables in front of them. The morning’s challenge was to assign a race to a color of M&M. Then, the students looked at a list of people in their lives. After doling out a candy for your teacher, your barber, your boss, your coach and others, the students looked into their bags.

The questions that followed helped frame a discussion of community—is it diverse? Who are the people we surround ourselves with?

The concept of community made writing more relevant, said Christie Scarborough, 15. She told her UGA student partner, Ren Jones, a senior English education major, that she preferred to read but the project showed her the necessary link to writing. “It’s very relevant because that’s how people let out their emotions,” she said. “If you write about a problem (in your community), it can help a lot of people.”

Armed with their blogs and their laptops, the students then split up. They will meet virtually over the next several weeks, coming together again in December when Barnes’ students present their answers to the question, “Why is writing relevant?”

“A lot of this is breaking down the idea that there’s one way to write,” Barnes added. “And also, writing is a form of expression, and there’s a lot of different ways to express yourself.”

Whether it’s via slide show, podcast, a “Smore” blog or other new storytelling tool is up to the students to decide.

— Kristen Morales, College of Education

November 2016
The Arts

‘Gifts and Prayers’

Exhibition of Russian gifts promotes cross-campus collaboration.

The cold and snowy climate of Saint Petersburg, Russia, may seem distant from Athens, Georgia, but through Dec. 31 the Georgia Museum of Art at UGA is offering visitors the opportunity to experience Russian imperial decorative arts.

The exhibition “Gifts and Prayers: The Romanovs and Their Subjects” is on view in two of the museum’s galleries, including during the holiday season. (Unlike most of the university, the museum remains open throughout December, closing only for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, as well as its usual Monday.)

So how did these objects of gold and silver, encrusted with jewels, make their way to UGA? The exhibition includes only a fraction of an extensive private collection on long-term loan to the museum that is also a promised gift from an anonymous collector. Because the collection was in private hands, it has never been displayed or studied previously. Luckily, UGA has Asen Kirin, professor of art history in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, who organized the exhibition and has been studying the nearly 2,000 objects it includes.

Kirin is an expert in Byzantine and Russian art and previously organized two other exhibitions at the museum, most recently “Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great (1762–1796),” in 2013-14. “Gifts and Prayers” draws from a wide array of objects, dating from the 17th to the early 20th century, when the Russian Revolution overthrew the Romanov dynasty. This famed family of rulers held dominion over Russia from 1613 to 1917, a 300-year span in which they shaped the aesthetics as well as the politics of their empire.

Kirin’s research on the collection will continue even after the exhibition closes, and future exhibitions will use it to present new stories and generate more research. Already, it has served as an example of cross-campus collaboration. When Kirin needed to X-ray a previously unknown painting by famed portraitist Aleksei Venetsianov, UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine was able to help out. Combined with infrared and multispectral imaging performed by Erich Uffelmann and Mallory Stephenson from Washington and Lee University, the X-ray results gave Kirin evidence that confirmed the painting’s authenticity.

Many of the objects in the exhibition were the personal property of tsars, tsarinas and nobles of the Russian court. For example, an elaborately decorated cigar box was a gift to Alexander II upon his coronation, in 1856. The box is covered with 56 hand-painted enamel miniatures—55 that represent the coats of arms of each governorate of the empire and one that shows a specific moment in the coronation ceremony when the names of all these parts of the empire were recited. Kirin says the box was designed to allow the new tsar to relive the splendid ceremony every time he opened it for a cigar.

“Minimalism” is not the word that comes to mind on viewing the objects in this exhibition. Kirin’s expertise lies partially in his ability to unpack and explain the complex layers of meaning each decoration brings to an object. The placement of an inscription, the symbolic import of an emblem like Russia’s double-headed eagle, the choice of specific saints on an icon—every choice these artisans made was designed to communicate a message. Similarly, the exhibition itself is carefully arranged to tell a story about the importance of gifts both from the emperors to their people and from the subjects to their rulers. Embedded among the glittering brooches, delicately painted icons and elaborately engraved silver boxes is a narrative about how this dynasty maintained its hold on power for centuries.

Kirin says his aim in organizing the exhibition was not to promote royalism. Instead, he often sees the human side of these objects as well as their complex meanings. He points out that they often marked the greatest accomplishments of or the proudest and happiest moments in the lives of individuals. He also sees their study as a statement about the value of humanism and the insight that the arts and humanities can provide into lives far removed from our own. Art can inspire, it can inform and it can help us all make connections.

UGA faculty collaboration creates gifts for exhibition sponsors

Kirin also organized a commission by Sunkoo Yuh, professor of art at Lamar Dodd and a ceramic artist of international renown, to create commemorative gifts for donors and sponsors of the exhibition. The result is a series of cast ceramic sculptures depicting various elements of the Romanov collection, presented in appreciation to donors and sponsors.

“I made mold from several actual objects, important images from emblems to the emperor’s portrait that Asen and I selected,” Yuh said. “Then I reconstructed the objects, which were then cast to make 30 objects out of the mold.”

“We wanted to find a special way to thank the exhibition sponsors and in some small way, perhaps, also mimic the subject of the exhibition itself,” Kirin said.

The result is a series of interpretive sculptures by Yuh, fired with a blue glaze, a nod to the imperial color indicative of the House of Romanov.

The gifts were presented to individual members of the Fraser-Parker Foundation, sponsors of the exhibition.

“It’s an unusual project and a different kind of commission for me, but as a faculty colleague who has supported my work on many occasions, I am happy to be able to collaborate with Asen and support this exhibition,” Yuh said. “It’s something out of the ordinary that I enjoyed very much.”

The museum is on the campus of the University of Georgia and offers free admission to all. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sunday 1–5 p.m.

—Hillary Brown, Georgia Museum of Art
and Alan Flurry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

November 2016
The Arts

I Am Not Maggie - Fine Art from Will Wheeler on Vimeo.

UGA alumna’s artwork goes viral

Maggie Smith Kühn writes about her time at UGA and her recent successes.

UGA alumna and Atlanta painter Maggie Smith Kühn (BFA ’09) has had her work featured on "Good Morning America," Daily Mail, Buzzfeed and more. The UGA Alumni Association asked Maggie to write about her time at UGA and her recent successes:

There is a horrifying (and untrue) statistic all art majors hear at some point, and it’s a variation on this theme: only one in five art students actually work in the art field after college. It strikes fear in the hearts of aspiring artists and creates a gloom that is specific to an art school campus. As a Lamar Dodd School of Art student myself, I felt curiously doomed to savor my time in the studio, knowing that it would probably come to an abrupt end when I graduated and the “real world” demanded repayment for those blessed stolen hours of fun.

The truth is that one in two art students go on to have professional art careers, which are great odds for any major. I’m proud to be one of the artists that left Lamar Dodd and jumped right into the art field. I hope I can encourage any gloomy art kids who feel that art school might be the wrong move, even though they are obsessed with making art. I am one of you, and I make a living by painting.

I am an event painter. What is an event painter, you ask? We’re pretty rare; I go to corporate events, parties, weddings, fashion shows, and I paint the scene as it’s happening. It’s half entertainment, half recording the event as it goes on around me. You are probably familiar with it if you’ve been to Paris, or gone to the Kentucky Derby. Live painting is a strange concept everywhere else. I picked up the habit while attending middle and high school, when I started to bring my sketchbook everywhere I went and I would constantly ask to draw portraits of people. Some people said no, but most people were curious to see what they looked like through someone else’s eyes. My first drawings were not masterworks, but eventually I got faster and made better decisions when I sat down to draw, and some of my art was pretty good.

I decided that art school was the right move for me, despite the literature and stereotypes against it. I remember feeling a tingle of excitement when I drove down Broad Street in Athens for the first time, and saw the senior painting studios. I made my mom stop the car, and walked right in and started learning names and visually drinking in the artwork. I had arrived.

My tenure at Lamar Dodd was pretty typical. I bummed around outside the old Jackson Street building between classes, wandered North Campus and asked to draw people, and displayed series of artwork in various restaurants downtown. Athens embraced my work, and I lived off the cash I made from paintings. I started to get confidence in my ability to make a career with my art. UGA taught me so much about the importance of networking with people outside the studio and how to push through the tedious moments of creating something while inside the studio; I grew up into an artist there.

Once I was out of school, I started painting on weekends and every weeknight, confident that I could get my little idea of event painting off the ground if I had the right knowledge of running a business. I worked an internet and commerce marketing job to fill in the gaps of what I didn’t know, while I waited for the right moment to work fulltime on my paintings. I tinkered with social media sites, learning what makes businesses go viral.

Recognition came on a random Thursday night when I made a post for Reddit and then went to bed, thinking no more about it. I woke up in the morning to see that my post had hit the front page and had generated over a million views on my website.

— Maggie Smith Kühn

I went full time with IAmNotMaggie Fine Art in 2014, and it was profitable within the first three months. I had a steady stream of painting commissions, portraits, and events to keep me happy and busy. My business grew to encompass Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, but I wanted more. I wanted national recognition for my work.

Recognition came on a random Thursday night when I made a post for Reddit and then went to bed, thinking no more about it. I woke up in the morning to see that my post had hit the front page and had generated over a million views on my website. There were more than 400 emails in my inbox. It was insanity. Suddenly, people knew I existed and saw that my artwork was good. It was phenomenal. Buzzfeed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a number of blogs wanted to write about me. Brides from all over the globe booked me for their events. It was my tipping point; it felt so much like driving past the senior painting studios on Broad Street. I had arrived.

So many artists are ashamed to acknowledge the fact that art is a product. To live off of your art, you will need to know something about business. There is no shame in having some business savvy, and the University of Georgia has incredible resources for a budding entrepreneur. In fact, you have already invested in your future as an artist by coming to the University of Georgia. Take a business class. Start a drawing club. Open a show of your artwork downtown. I’m proud of my tenure at UGA because it prepared me for the journey of my life as a professional artist, and I can’t wait to see what the future alumni of the Lamar Dodd School of Art do in the art field.

— Jamie Lewis, UGA Alumni Association

November 2016
The Arts
Shining a Spotlight

Spotlight on the Arts was founded in 2012 by the UGA Arts Council to celebrate the visual, literary and performing arts at the university. (All photos by Marketing & Communications Creative Services)

Shining a Spotlight

Fifth annual festival set for Nov. 2-13 features more than 100 events.

The University of Georgia’s diverse offerings in the visual, literary and performing arts will be on display this November during the fifth annual Spotlight on the Arts festival, which features more than 100 events and exhibitions over 12 days.

The fifth annual festival begins Nov. 2 with a kaleidoscope of student performances in an Opening Celebration scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center. Continuing through Nov. 13, the arts festival includes art exhibitions and demonstrations, book talks and readings, film screenings and theater, music and dance performances, many of which are free and open to the public.

“Spotlight on the Arts has become one of the university’s most beloved campus traditions, and it underscores how the arts enrich our lives and our understanding of the world,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Created in 2012 by the UGA Arts Council, Spotlight on the Arts celebrates the visual, literary and performing arts at UGA. This year’s festival includes performances of “Jane Eyre” presented by University Theatre as well concerts from a dozen student and faculty groups from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, exhibitions at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and Georgia Museum of Art and performances from the department of dance’s Young Choreographers Series.

A special daylong Student Spotlight event Nov. 3 will feature student performances from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tate Plaza. On Nov. 5, the first Spotlight on the Arts Family Day will include performances, activities, demonstrations and workshops in art, dance, theater, music and writing designed for children and families to enjoy.

Other highlights of the festival include a talk and DJ set from acclaimed music producer Jacknife Lee, a Shakespeare symposium, lectures from internationally renowned artists and scholars and guest performances from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, folk music group The Dardanelles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

“The mission of the Arts Council is to foster an awareness and appreciation of the arts and to create an environment conducive to artistic innovation,” said Vice Provost Russell Mumper, who chairs the Arts Council. “Although arts are an ever-present fabric of UGA, this festival allows us a special opportunity to shine a spotlight on it.”

Members of the UGA Arts Council include representatives from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the creative writing program, the department of dance, the department of theatre and film studies, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Georgia Museum of Art, The Georgia Review, the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the Performing Arts Center, the UGA Press, the special collections libraries and the Willson Center. Also contributing to the 2016 Spotlight on the Arts festival are the College of Environment and Design, Ideas for Creative Exploration and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

More information on the 2016 Spotlight on the Arts festival, including a schedule of events, can be found at as well as on the Arts Council Facebook page, Twitter feed or Instagram.

Many of the performances are free or discounted for students. Events presented by the Performing Arts Center, dance department, Hugh Hodgson School of Music and University Theatre will be available for purchase online at, at the PAC box office or by phone at 706-542-4400 (toll free at 888-289-8497).

October 2016
Energy-saving<br> tips for the home<br>

Be proactive to make sure your home is as energy efficient as it can be.

Energy-saving tips for the homeowner

UGA Cooperative Extension offers advice on how you can save energy in your daily life.

While UGA is making a special effort to save energy, everyone can pitch in to the effort. Here are some tips from UGA Cooperative Extension on how to save energy in your home.

October 2016
Saving energy in campus laboratories

John DeRosa displays a fumehood sticker that is used as a reminder for the Shut the Sash initiative.

Saving energy in campus laboratories

UGA to launch Green Lab program to save energy, conserve resources, save money and make labs safer.

The University of Georgia will launch a Green Lab program next year to lessen the impact that campus laboratories have on the environment with the side benefits of conserving energy, saving money and improving safety.

UGA is the first school in the SEC with a Green Lab program. With about 2,000 research laboratories on UGA’s main campus, the program is expected to save the university $187,000 annually. This effort is part of UGA’s commitment to sustainability outlined in the 2020 Strategic Plan.

“The Green Lab program offers small initiatives that people can participate in that will make a really big, big difference in how much water, energy or chemicals these spaces are using,” said Star Scott, the Green Lab program coordinator. “The point of this program is to be more sustainable in your research without compromising the ease or integrity of the research itself.”

The project has already placed reminder stickers on autoclaves, large machines used for sterilization that use about 200 gallons of water every cycle. These machines use solenoid valves, which occasionally fail or break resulting in a waste of water. These stickers remind users to listen for a gurgling noise at the drain when the unit is not cycling, indicating a valve that has failed. In the first week of the stickers’ implementation, two autoclaves were discovered to have valves that had failed.

Scott, a UGA graduate, advocated for the university to develop and implement its own Green Lab initiative.

In 2003, while conducting research in an ecology conservation lab, she was struck by an unfortunate part of her research. “I was throwing away hundreds of polypropylene Falcon tubes every week,” she said. “It was breaking my heart.”

Because research dictated the tubes must be sterile, they couldn’t be reused. The Green Lab program will eventually offer lab recycling for many lab materials.

In March 2015, the university created a Green Lab task force comprised of professionals from all over UGA’s campus — including Scott, members from the Office of Research, Facilities Management Division and numerous schools with research facilities. The Green Lab task force made a recommendation in May 2015 for a program to be developed at UGA to reduce energy, water and waste while enhancing safety and environmental compliance.

Based on similar programs at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of California, Davis, UGA’s plan will launch in January 2017. According to Scott, it will begin with six or seven initiatives.

“Once we get those up and running, we will just keep adding,” Scott said. “We’ll be open to feedback from our researchers and from our students about other things they see in the lab.”

According to Scott, there has already been a soft launch on a number of these initiatives. For example, the university has put stickers on fume hoods reminding researchers to close the sash. Not only does shutting the sash prevent HVAC conditioned air from being unnecessarily removed from the building in many cases, it also enhances safety for lab users.

Additionally, the bedding collected from many of the university’s animal facilities is no longer taken to the landfill. Instead it is sent to UGA’s Bioconversion Center, where it is composted and then reused on campus in landscaping.

When John DeRosa, a UGA student and former intern in the Office of Sustainability, received a $5,000 sustainability grant, he purchased numerous bench-top timers to turn water baths on and off and thus save energy in pilot laboratories.

When the Green Lab program launches, it will include voluntary initiatives such as using temperature tuning ultra-low freezers to conserve energy, reducing hazardous chemical use to enhance environmental safety, and eventually offering recycling for specific lab items.

“I love this town, I love this school,” Scott said. “There are small things we can do to care of our campus and take care of our town that will make a huge difference.”

To learn more about the Green Lab program, visit

— Jim Lichtenwalter, Marketing & Communications

October 2016
Alumna working to direct the country's energy policy

The Block Island Wind Farm is one of the projects alumna Jenah Zweig has toured.

Alumna working to direct the country's energy policy

Jenah Zweig is a supervisor of policy and technical assistance for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Through its 40 Under 40 program, the UGA Alumni Association annually recognizes 40 outstanding young alumni who have achieved great success in their professional and philanthropic pursuits. The 2016 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon was held Sept. 8 at Flourish Atlanta and yet again, featured four dozen impressive Bulldogs who are changing the world early in their careers.

One of this year’s honorees, Jenah Zweig (JD ’11), is now a supervisor of policy and technical assistance for the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. The Alumni Association caught up with this accomplished alumna to learn more about her UGA experience and what she’s doing now to effect change in America’s energy sector.

Describe your UGA experience.

I spent as much time as possible outside of the classroom, rigorously pursuing UGA Law’s less traditional offerings. (After all, in my 1L year I realized I had no interest in practicing traditional law, so I needed the exposure to figure out how I was going to pay my bills after graduation). Specifically, Maria Eugenia Gimenez’s Global Externship Program first exposed me to IP, international, and environmental law; co-chairing the Red Clay Environmental Law Conference furthered my interest in environmental, sustainability, and energy issues; serving as editor in chief of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law sharpened my writing and editing skills; and Alex Scherr’s Civil Externship Program heightened my passion for the public sector. These experiences paved the way for a career that I love in the energy sector, and I am grateful to the mentors and programs at UGA Law that helped me find my way.

What is your favorite UGA memory?

Before going to law school, I assumed I would go into education policy post-graduation. After all, I served as the first alumni preschool teacher at my alma mater and camp counselor for years, and was confident that “I would make a difference.” Unfortunately, the more I learned, the more I realized I’d get burnt out or desensitized before ever making a dent in the issues, which is why I have an immense respect for the difficult and impactful work led by exceptional people like my former classmate, Emma Hetherington’s Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic. I was at a crossroads. This is when I met Anne Marie Pippin (BSED ’03, MBA ’11, JD ’11), a classmate a year ahead of me in the law program, at the Blue Key Honor Society Initiation Ceremony my 1L year. Anne Marie suggested that I use my leadership experience and desire to find a new specialization to co-chair the Red Clay Environmental Law Conference the following year. Long story short, this began a domino effect of me following in her footsteps. I also served as the editor in chief of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, moved to D.C. to work at the U.S. Department of Energy, and am also fortunate to have her as one of my best friends.

Tell us about your role at the DOE?

At the U.S. Department of Energy, I serve as the Supervisor of Policy & Technical Assistance in the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). My team empowers state and local partners to make informed clean energy decisions. Ultimately, this work supports our vision of a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable and secure energy.

How you are helping change the world? (Don’t be modest!)

I identify strongly with the Hebrew phrase “tikkun olam,” which means “repairing the world.” As the first woman in my family to graduate from a four-year university and the first person in my immediate family to attend graduate school, I interpret this phrase as a commitment to serving and improving communities that have afforded me so many opportunities. I have worked on the local, state, regional, national, and international level to provide others with the opportunity to access more resources that can provide them, their families, and communities with a brighter future. The clean energy policies I work on save citizens substantial amounts of income that they can reinvest in other needs, such as buying a home and affording a college education. I strive to continue advancing energy policy, broadening the opportunities, income and resources available to as many citizens as possible.

In your opinion, what is the most important energy-related issue right now?

The traditional U.S. power generation mix is changing. Oil, solar, and natural gas prices are at historic lows. Coal plants and utility employees are retiring in record numbers. Our energy infrastructure and buildings continue to age, making our communities and our citizens even more vulnerable to the increases in natural disasters. Energy storage (e.g., batteries) continues to advance. More cities, states, and countries are making substantial clean energy commitments. In a nutshell, as the nation’s first off-shore wind farm that is scheduled to launch later this year demonstrations, both literally and figuratively, we’re in uncharted waters. The choices we make today will chart a course for ten, twenty, even fifty-plus years from now, so we need to make these decisions wisely in the best interest of both businesses and citizens.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in working in Washington or in the energy sector?

Find work you love. Don’t come to Washington or take an energy sector job because other people tell you it’s a good idea; pursue it because after evaluating the alternatives, you can’t imagine being anywhere or doing anything else. Then, once you’ve found work you love, pursue your passions rigorously.

To learn more about the other 39 outstanding 40 Under 40 honorees, visit

October 2016
Energy wise

The new steam boiler has resulted into an estimated 3 percent reduction in energy use as well as a significant reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. (Photos by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Energy wise

UGA has implemented a variety of initiatives to help the university reduce annual energy consumption by 20 percent over nine-year period.

In keeping with its commitment to sustainability, UGA has reduced annual energy consumption by more than 20 percent since 2007, saving $5 million per year as a result. The reduction is the result of several measures, including infrastructure repairs and investments, replacement of the old coal-fired boiler, and individual efforts to conserve.

“We’ve broken the 20 percent mark thanks to the efforts, large and small, of everybody on campus: faculty, staff and students,” said David Spradley, director of energy services in the Facilities Management Division.

Individual energy-saving habits, like turning off the light in a residence hall room or shutting down a computer overnight, have a multiplier effect when practiced by the tens of thousands of people on campus, according to Spradley.

The Conserve Georgia initiative, introduced in 2008, committed state agencies to reduce energy usage 15 percent by 2020 over 2007 energy-use levels. UGA met that goal in 2014, six years early, and campus progress is continuing.

By the end of fiscal year 2016, the university achieved a 20.24 percent reduction in energy consumption, as measured by British Thermal Unit (Btu) per square foot. Btu is the standard unit of measurement for energy consumption. The costs saved are reinvested in more energy conservation efforts.

“We have already surpassed the initial goal of 20 percent and are now closing in on the UGA Strategic Plan’s goal of 25 percent by 2020,” said Spradley. “We feel like we’re going to meet that mark, and then we’ll stretch ourselves to go further in the decades after that.”

In addition to energy savings resulting from the campus community, the Facilities Management Division continues to make key energy conservation investments. Replacing the 50-year-old coal-fired boiler with a new electrode boiler in 2015 resulted in an estimated 3 percent reduction in energy use as well as a significant reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Three district energy plants are being constructed and expanded to efficiently cool campus buildings, including District Energy Plant (DEP) #1 located across from Bolton Dining Commons, DEP #2 adjacent to UGA’s Central Steam Plant and the planned DEP #3 on Riverbend Road for late 2017. To date, more than 4,000 LED lighting fixtures have been installed across campus, and many more are planned over the next five years. More than 1.5 miles of leaking steam lines and over 100 steam pits have been repaired and insulated.

The Office of University Architects also is constructing buildings that are increasingly energy-efficient. Since 2007, the university has added more than 2 million square feet in building space—including the Health Sciences Campus—an amount comparable to adding five Ramsey Student Centers to the university. New facilities include the recently opened Science Learning Center, Correll Hall, the special collections libraries, Pharmacy South and the Veterinary Medical Center, all of which are now contributing to the university’s overall reduction in the rate of energy consumption.

— Aaron Hale, Marketing & Communications

September 2016
Educating Leaders
Educating tomorrow's leaders key to UGA's mission

The University of Georgia offers numerous opportunities for students to learn leadership skills, such as the student judiciary.

Educating tomorrow's leaders key to UGA's mission

The university offers dozens of leadership programs and opportunities — from the Student Judiciary to Greek leaders — to help give students an edge.

More than 21 million students are attending a university in the United States this fall, and the University of Georgia is home to more than 30,000 of these students. UGA’s core mission is to provide the best education possible for them in this vast academic world and recognizes that a well-rounded education goes far beyond the textbooks, lectures and labs. It's about leadership.

These students are the leaders of tomorrow’s generation. Along with providing a top-notch academic education with a world-class faculty, UGA provides a wide range of programs to give them an edge in their professional pursuits and help them develop their leadership skills.

“Academic excellence is at the core of our mission,” President Jere W. Morehead said. “Developing leadership skills in our students is a key component of their academic studies and prepares them for success in their chosen professions. I am proud that we offer so many programs—from college ambassadors to leadership academies—to develop these skills. One only needs to look at the leadership positions so many of our alumni have attained to see we have helped make a difference in their professional lives.”

Every college and academic unit on the UGA campus offers leadership opportunities for students. The following is a sampling of those programs:

Student Affairs

From the Center for Leadership and Service to the Tate Leadership Scholars to the UGA Student Government Association, the Division of Student Affairs has dozens of programs aimed at developing leadership skills. For more about these programs, please see this Discover UGA story.

Student Alumni Council

The Student Alumni Council is the official student ambassador group for the University of Georgia Alumni Association. Selected from a variety of backgrounds, hometowns and majors, the members of SAC serve as the student advocates of private giving to UGA as well as liaisons between current students and alumni. While serving on SAC, these students build essential leadership skills through their advocacy efforts including, speaking to other student organizations, planning and executing a variety of programs, and interacting with various professionals including members of the Alumni Association staff and board of directors. From raising scholarship dollars through the Senior Signature campaign to speaking at UGA Alumni Association events like 40 Under 40 and Bulldog 100, SAC gives these students the opportunity to elevate their personal networks and deepen their connection with the University of Georgia.

Advice from the Big Dawgs is an example of a program coordinated by SAC throughout the academic year. The program, which is open to all students on campus, features an alumni panel with an SAC member as the emcee. These events are designed for students to receive advice and learn from alumni who work in a variety of interests, while also honing networking skills. Examples of past alumni panelists include Scott Mondore (MS ‘01, PHD ‘02), 2016 Bulldog 100 #1 Business SMD, LLC managing partner and Founder and Katie Jacobs (ABJ ’05), owner of Cheeky Peach Boutique.

uLEAD Certificate Program

The uLEAD Certificate Program (formerly the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Leadership and Service) sharpens leadership and service skills in personal, team, organizational and community settings. This certificate helps students to both understand and improve their leadership and service potential.

The program is a collaborative partnership among multiple colleges, campus units and faculty with an interest in promoting leadership and service. Primary partners include the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with support from the College of Education, Student Affairs and numerous departments throughout campus.

Recent alumna Julia Hemingway, who received her A.B.J., said the program “provided me with unforgettable opportunities throughout college to give back to the Athens community. I learned invaluable lessons on leadership and how to properly communicate with others. It was great to take this class my final semester because I was able to apply everything from the certificate into a unique program with a fellow classmate that ultimately allowed us to collect and donate over 400 items of gently used athletic gear to two nonprofit organizations. The certificate ultimately prepared me for the real world and taught me the importance of leadership and communication in and out of the office.”

CVM Bulldog Leadership Experience

The College of Veterinary Medicine has hosted the Bulldog Leadership Experience for each of the last six years. This experiential leadership opportunity provides veterinary students, staff and faculty the opportunity to work together and gain additional knowledge and understanding of the underpinnings of successful leadership. Past themes for the workshop have included self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and communication. In 2016, the UGA CVM and Merial jointly sponsored this two-day event. Faculty from the Veterinary Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on providing leadership training within the veterinary profession, provided the opportunity for members of the UGA CVM community to experience firsthand the impact of personal stories of leadership, and the challenges inherent to storytelling as leaders.

Leaders use storytelling commonly in efforts to inspire organizations, to set visions, to teach important lessons, to define culture and values, and to explain their backgrounds and beliefs. The 2016 Bulldog Leadership Experience afforded members of the CVM community the opportunity to work in teams of six to eight people to develop and tell their stories regarding topics relevant to veterinary medicine.

Participants in the Bulldog Leadership Experience described it as inspirational, thought provoking, enlightening and motivating. The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, through extracurricular programs such as the BLE and other components of the curriculum, continues to demonstrate its commitment to the development of the future leaders of the veterinary profession.

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences ambassadors

The mission of the CAES ambassadors is to recruit potential students, represent the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in a professional manner and develop relationships that foster growth and leadership. For more about the CAES Ambassadors program, see this Discover UGA story.

Vinson Institute Fellows Program

Through the semester-long Vinson Institute Fellows Program, selected undergraduates interact with faculty at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a unit of UGA’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, and other leaders in public service to gain knowledge and experience in state and local government leadership.

Vinson Institute Fellows meet elected and appointed officials and engage in individual research projects that help them prepare for leadership positions in public service. All students selected as Vinson Fellows are matched with a faculty-mentor in one of the institute’s training, technical assistance, applied research or communications programs to explore the inner workings of state and local government, engage in hands-on learning by attending training sessions and conferences, and assist in Institute of Government research.

Developing leadership skills is a particularly strong emphasis for spring semester Vinson Fellows, who are selected exclusively from UGA’s Roosevelt Scholars program. Roosevelt Scholars spend the fall semester working on highly individualized research projects and are provided with numerous opportunities to interact with leaders in public service, providing them with valuable leadership lessons and making them ideal candidates for the Vinson Fellows program.

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Advancement

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, strengthens communities, organizations and individuals through leadership development, education and training.

Working with more than 100 community-based organizations as well as with different departments here at UGA, Fanning faculty and staff provided leadership training and skills development to more than 7,100 individuals in fiscal year 2014.

During that same time period, Fanning provided leadership training to more than 2,000 youth through its summer residential camps, college readiness programs, Athens Peer Court and community-based youth leadership programming.

Foster and homeless youth as well as underrepresented Latino and African-American youth participated in Fanning’s youth leadership programs. Through its work in leadership development on campus and throughout Georgia and beyond in 2014, Fanning provided graduate assistantships and experiential learning opportunities for 18 UGA students.

Terry College of Business

The Institute for Leadership Advancement in the Terry College of Business was established in 2001 to develop a new class of business and community leaders. For the founders, “new” meant more than the creation of a replacement pool for today’s leadership. It meant leaders who embraced a leadership perspective grounded in values that serve their communities and organizations.

To accomplish this goal, ILA develops capabilities, layered on top of the student’s academic major, that promote:

ILA houses two certificate programs:

Leonard Leadership Scholars Program

With an emphasis on values-based, impact-focused leadership, Leonard Leadership Scholars, open to Terry College students, acquire the tools necessary to contribute to their organizations and communities while serving as a model for others to follow.

Leadership Fellows

Leadership Fellows, which is offered to students of all majors, focuses on leadership development courses and activities that enhance their understanding and application of leadership principles and reinforce their commitment to civic issues, service and volunteerism.

These programs aim to create a new class of leaders who are well trained and embrace ILA’s values. Completion of either program earns a Certificate in Personal and Organizational Leadership.

The Terry College also sponsors the Corsair Society. The purpose of the Corsair Society is to provide a support network for UGA’s top undergraduate students who are interested in exploring career opportunities in finance, facilitate productive discussion between university graduates involved in related fields, and support the academic mission of the university by fostering a collaborative environment that will promote advancement of the society’s members and the university as a whole.

Corsair is a values-based organization centered on the principles of lifelong learning, commitment to leadership, dedication to achievement, uncompromising ethics, and diversity in both thought and background. To stand for induction, one must commit to conduct his or her affairs in accordance with the society’s values.

University Housing

* Community/hall councils

Taking part in residence hall government is an excellent way to develop leadership skills and become involved in the community. Elected governing groups in every hall plan and administer ongoing activities that vary according to residents’ interests.

The primary governing group in each hall is known as a community council or hall council and is composed of elected officers and representatives comprised from residents within that hall or community. These groups plan programs for the respective hall or community at regularly scheduled meetings. Although governmental organization may vary slightly from community to community, each group’s purpose is the same: to implement programs and activities that respond to the needs and requests of residents on issues that affect their living environments.

* Residence Hall Association

RHA is a coordinating body among the communities and consists of an executive board of residents and at least one elected representative from each hall or community council. As an advocate for residents throughout campus, RHA works with housing staff and residents to help develop policies, procedures, programs and facilities. Among its many activities throughout the year, the RHA co-sponsors programs such as Scream on the Green, Rez Fest, Rock n’ Bowl, Red Cross blood drives and leadership workshops.

In a cooperative effort with the community and hall councils, RHA strives to foster camaraderie among residents and communities across campus. RHA also provides opportunities to travel around the country to attend leadership conferences. To learn more about RHA, visit their website at

* National Residence Hall Honorary

NRHH is the recognition branch of the Residence Hall Association. NRHH membership at the University of Georgia is restricted to the top 1 percent of all hall residents and is considered a mark of distinction and leadership.

* EcoReps

EcoReps exist at universities nationwide to serve as leaders that promote, advocate and encourage sustainable and environmentally-friendly living on campus. EcoReps serve on the hall councils for each community and are responsible for serving as environmental stewards by encouraging hall councils to make environmentally responsible choices during meetings, programming and everyday residence hall life.

September 2016
Educating Leaders
Entrepreneurship is the B-school buzzword

Bob Pinckney (BBA ’82) brings real-world startup experience to the classroom.

Entrepreneurship is the
B-school buzzword

Course teaches students how to lead in the business world.

If there’s a buzzword in business education right now, it’s entrepreneurship—in part because building a business from the ground up has never been easier. For one thing, there’s an app for everything—from initial funding and payroll to legal services and shipping, and everything in-between.

As advantageous as all that sounds, the best digital tools in the world are no guarantee that a product is destined for success.

That’s where Bob Pinckney (BBA ’82), director of UGA’s year-old Entrepreneurship Program, comes in. He has a degree in economics from Terry, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and he has founded or co-founded several consulting, software, and telecommunications firms. He recently concluded his tenure as CEO of Athens-based Evoshield, which ranked No. 1 in the 2011 Bulldog 100 rankings of the fastest-growing, UGA-owned and operated businesses.

Pinckney has a keen understanding of what makes modern startups flail or soar.

And, spoiler alert, it’s probably not what you think.

Pinckney’s résumé doesn’t follow the boom-and-bust mythomania that underpins today’s cult of entrepreneurial geniuses. He doesn’t claim to be a self-made man betting against outdated establishment thinking. Instead, he defines his success as a product of hardscrabble perseverance and team effort. His advice to students is not only insightful but experiential, and he doesn’t sugarcoat how difficult it is to create a successful startup regardless of how good the initial idea is.

“What I tell my students,” says Pinckney, “is that in the beginning, when you’re starting a business with friends or investors, everybody’s interests are usually aligned because there’s no money on the table. You’re not splitting anything up; it’s all hypothetical. Ironically, it’s when you hit on something really successful that you oftentimes run into trouble, because suddenly people’s interests are no longer aligned. As something goes from zero value to being worth a lot of money, that’s what often happens.”

Boiled down, Pinckney’s pedagogical thesis is simple:

“Entrepreneurship is a difficult thing to teach. But it can be learned.”

If that sounds contradictory, it’s not. Teaching people to take risks, he says, requires a different approach to instruction—both inside and outside the classroom.

“A lot of entrepreneurs have great ideas—and they fall in love with those ideas, and they want to profit from them. But what I tell my students in class is, ‘Okay, so you’ve got an idea. But have you asked customers what they want? And are they willing to pay what you’re asking for the product in order to turn a profit?’ I may think I have a great idea that will lead to a great product. But the market may tell me something entirely different. So you’re better off finding that out sooner than later.”

“We use case studies of entrepreneurs at different points in their journey so that students develop a framework for how you look at issues and different ways to solve them.”

— Bob Pinckney

UGA’s entrepreneurship program is open to students from all academic disciplines, so Pinckney’s classes are stocked with art majors, history majors, pre-journalism hopefuls, undergraduate scientists—and, of course, business majors. Disparate as they may be, Pinckney feels a connection with each and every one of them.

“Mashing all those different points of view together is extremely beneficial in enhancing the students’ classroom experience,” says Pinckney. “One of the things we’re trying to do is to promote interdisciplinary options. At a university you get silos, right? Everybody’s kind of focused on their own thing. To some extent, we can bridge those silos with this program and get into interdisciplinary territory. Entrepreneurship isn’t a business school-only item. If you look at the Bulldog 100, the winners this year came out of the psychology department. So recognizing that entrepreneurship can come from anywhere on campus is key.”

Instead of relying solely on coursework that consists of writing business plans and memorizing the do’s and don’ts of launching a startup, Pinckney worked with university administrators to construct a marketplace-ready curriculum that fosters entrepreneurial thinking, encourages problem solving, and highlights how to manage growth. He forgoes the traditional lecture model of undergraduate teaching for discussion-based classes built around case studies from his former alma mater.

In fact, it’s possible to draw a line directly from Pinckney’s Harvard days to his classroom at UGA. Not only does he teach Harvard Business School cases, he actively consults with one of his HBS professors over cases for his syllabus.

“We use case studies of entrepreneurs at different points in their journey,” says Pinckney, “so that students develop a framework for how you look at issues and different ways to solve them. Because once you graduate from college, the world is no longer multiple choice questions and answers. There are no right or wrong answers, there are just decisions based on the information you have available at the time — and then you have to be able to come back and evaluate was that the right decision . . . and is it still the right decision?”

Case studies, he says, open students’ minds and activate their imaginations through narrative. For many new companies, forging a profitable path means navigating uncharted waters, and that requires a willingness to consider uncommon thinking.

“We do cases like Dropbox, Airbnb and Apple,” says Pinckney. “Airbnb was a couple of guys in San Francisco who saw that the hotels were all booked up during a conference, so they put a couple air mattresses on the floor and made a business. It’s not rocket science. Part of the mission is to open students’ eyes to what’s possible. We look at how these companies were started and why, which takes some of the mystery out of it.”

— Matthew Wallace Weeks, Terry College of Business

September 2016
Educating Leaders
Alumnus reflects on the leadership opportunities at UGA

Alumnus Mark Rush: "UGA prepared me for my career by giving me both the leadership and relationship skills to navigate the working world."

Alumnus reflects on UGA's leadership opportunities

A recent graduate recalls how taking initiative on campus prepared him for life.

Post-graduation success requires more than textbook smarts. A combination of strong leadership skills and a solid foundation for building and maintaining relationships will help students to thrive in the real world.

Recent alumnus and former Student Alumni Council President Mark Rush shares his thoughts about how the University of Georgia helped prepare him for professional life.

Mark Rush graduated in 2015 with degrees in economics and political science and a certificate in personal and organizational leadership from the Institute of Leadership Advancement.

Current job: I work as an advisory consultant at Ernst & Young in Washington, D.C. In this role, I consult for a variety of businesses and organizations to improve their performance and processes through data analysis and research. The job allows me to work in a variety of sectors, doing a diversity of tasks. It also requires the ability to work with a team and establish relationships with colleagues and clients.

How did UGA prepare you for this role?

UGA prepared me for my career by giving me both the leadership and relationship skills to navigate the working world. My experience with the Student Alumni Council was pivotal for my leadership and professional skills. I was passionate about SAC, serving as events chair and president in my time at UGA. I learned to effectively work with members of the organization to accomplish our goals while growing my own leadership style. It taught me to work with campus administrators and students alike, while spreading the word about student giving at UGA. I truly appreciated being a part of something bigger than me, through which I could give back to our university. I was proud of all that SAC accomplished during my three years in the organization and continue to be impacted by my SAC experience.

My time in school also taught me how valuable relationships are, especially in a large place like UGA or Ernst & Young. Leadership skills alone can only go so far and it requires strong relationships with those around you to actually accomplish an organization’ goals. UGA’s campus is large, but interconnected—much like today’s world. My experience on SAC and in other organizations required me to build relationships across campus and find my place within a large school. Understanding how to navigate a large environment like UGA is an important skill that I gained from my college experience. Additionally, I credit professors like Vikki Clawson in the Institute of Leadership Advancement for teaching me how to use empathy and emotional intelligence in leadership and relationship-building, which are some of my most valued skills. In her course, we learned the adage that “people are more important than things”—something that has proven true in my life outside of college.

What advice would you give current UGA students hoping to improve their leadership skills while on campus?

At UGA there are countless opportunities for students, and my personal motto is to follow opportunities where they lead. Current students have so much to gain by getting involved and learning new leadership skills through working with many types of people. There is no “one size fits all” UGA experience, so each student has the opportunity to pave his or her own way by seizing unique opportunities as they come. Whether this means working with the Alumni Association or writing for a political publication, I gained something from every opportunity that arose. Don’t feel confined by your area of study—try something out because it looks interesting. Even if you are not in an official leadership role or organization, there are always lessons to be learned in working towards goals and building meaningful relationships. I guarantee you will never regret taking an opportunity and will likely gain new skills, relationships, and experiences because you chose to say yes.

—Nellie Pavluscenco ’17

September 2016
Educating Leaders
UGA’s goodwill ambassadors

The Arch Society at the Arch: “We like to call ourselves 36 students representing 36,000 students.”

UGA’s goodwill ambassadors

The Arch Society teaches humble service to UGA. The members are the leaders in representing the university's mission.

Known around campus for their iconic blazers, the Arch Society serves as the University of Georgia’s official hosts and goodwill ambassadors.

These students give tours, greet alumni, help with large events, work athletic events and aid with conference registration. They hand out programs at groundbreakings and direct people to their seats at pre-work breakfasts.

Available by request, the Arch Society aids a variety of offices, including the president, provost, vice president of student affairs, alumni association and athletics and anyone who asks. “We can give tours to guests of the university, anyone from a kindergarten student to a Chinese diplomat. Both of which happened last year,” said Eddie Higginbotham IV, the organization’s adviser and the senior coordinator for leadership and transition in the Center for Leadership and Service, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs.

“We like to call ourselves 36 students representing 36,000 students,” said Taylor Canerday, a fourth-year mass media arts major from Tampa, Florida, and second-year member of the Arch Society. “We’re essentially UGA’s ambassadors, wherever they need us.”

Membership is only open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have completed at least one year of classes of UGA. Applicants are put through a rigorous three-round interview process. After a mandatory candidate interest session, students are then interviewed twice, first by a board of current Arch Society members and alumni, and then by selection panel composed of representatives from each of the offices the society serves and the vice president for student affairs.

“We are looking for students with strong leadership skills, a love for the university and the ability to serve humbly,” Higginbotham said. “Humble service is a huge thing in the Arch Society. I think that’s a hard balance to have that humility, the sincerity in your service, but also be a part of this prestigious organization.”

“While these incredible opportunities provided me with early experience in interacting with high profile individuals and representing the university, the single most salient skill I carry from my time on Arch is humble service.”

— Stan Jackson, Student Affairs

The society currently has 36 members—22 seniors and 14 juniors. Members go through weekly training sessions and meetings and learn about the society’s history, expectations, standards, UGA knowledge, tour training and hospitality skills. After training is complete, new members are inducted into the Arch Society in late April.

“One of the really cool perks I enjoy is that we get to be on the field for football games,” said Canerday. “We help out the athletic association by holding the giant banner the football team runs through. It’s sort of surreal standing on the field as the crowd goes crazy.”

The Arch Society was founded in 1992 by Tom Cochran, a former assistant vice president for finance and administration within the vice president for student affairs office and based upon Auburn University’s Plainsmen and War Eagle Girls.

Stan Jackson, director of Student Affairs communications and marketing initiatives, was an Arch Society member is 2005-2006.

He said joined for “genuine love for the University of Georgia.” He helped when UGA hosted George H. W. Bush for the Coverdell Building opening and remembers spending an entire football Saturday hosting Ambassador Andrew Young.

“I learned a lot in those few hours conversing with Ambassador Young. While these incredible opportunities provided me with early experience in interacting with high profile individuals and representing the university, the single most salient skill I carry from my time on Arch is humble service.”

As for his Arch Society blazer—it hangs behind his office door to this day—another tradition of the Arch Society, and a constant reminder of what he learned.

“I still keep up with my fellow Arch alumni,” he said. “I’m impressed with their careers and the excellent ways that they continue to serve as goodwill ambassadors for UGA.”

—Jim Lichtenwalter, Marketing & Communications

August 2016
4 must-read<br> books about UGA

The Chapel Bell is one of the most iconic structures on campus and its history is well documented in the many books that have been written about UGA.

4 must-read books about UGA

Do you bleed red and black? Here are a few books that will make you a true Bulldog scholar.

Many books have been written about the University of Georgia. Some focus on the history of the school, some on the history of structures on campus, others about our fabled athletic program. Here are four that you can't go wrong with if you want to dig a little deeper into our history and culture.

Through the Arch: An Illustrated Guide to the University of Georgia Campus

By Larry B. Dendy

University of Georgia Press · Paperback · 224 pages · ISBN 0820342483

Through the Arch captures UGA’s colorful past, dynamic present, and promising future in a novel way: by surveying its buildings, structures, and spaces. These physical features are the university’s most visible—and some of its most valuable—resources. Yet they are largely overlooked, or treated only passingly, in histories and standard publications about UGA. Through text and photographs, this book places buildings and spaces in the context of UGA’s development over more than 225 years. After opening with a brief historical overview of the university, the book profiles over 140 buildings, landmarks, and spaces, their history, appearance, and past and current usage, as well as their namesake, beginning with the oldest structures on North Campus and progressing to the newest facilities on South and East Campus and the emerging Northwest Quadrant.

Many profiles are supplemented with sidebars relating traditions, lore, facts, or alumni recollections associated with buildings and spaces. More than just landmarks or static elements of infrastructure, buildings and spaces embody the university’s values, cultural heritage, and educational purpose. These facilities—many more than a century old—are where students learn, explore, and grow and where faculty teach, research, and create. They harbor the university’s history and traditions, protect its treasures, and hold memories for alumni. The repository for books, documents, artifacts, and tools that contain and convey much of the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of human existence, these structures are the legacy of generations. And they are tangible symbols of UGA’s commitment to improve our world through education. Guide includes 113 color photos throughout 19 black-and-white historical photos Over 140 profiles of buildings, landmarks, and spaces Supplemental sidebars with traditions, lore, facts, and alumni anecdotes.

History & Reminiscences of the University of Georgia

By Vince Dooley and Steve Penley (artist)

Vince Dooley and Steve Penley come together in their third collaboration, this time telling the story of the University of Georgia, the place they both love most. Vince Dooley is uniquely positioned to tell the history of the University of Georgia. As head football coach and athletics director, Dooley served the university under five presidents, and he turns often to personal observations and anecdotes to inform readers. A masterful storyteller and a lifelong learner with a master’s degree in history, Dooley weaves a compelling narrative of more than two centuries of history at the university. Renowned American artist Steve Penley may be best known for his paintings of historical icons, but his love for the University of Georgia pours out of every visual interpretation. With strong brush strokes and bold colors, Penley presents the university and its history as only he can.

The University of Georgia: A Bicentennial History, 1785-1985

By Thomas Dyer

University of Georgia Press · Hardback · 460 pages · ISBN 0820323985

Thomas G. Dyer’s definitive history of the University of Georgia celebrates the bicentennial of the school’s founding with a richly varied account of people and events. More than an institutional history, The University of Georgia is a contribution to the understanding of the course and development of higher education in the South.

The Georgia legislature in January 1785 approved a charter establishing “a public seat of learning in this state.” For the next sixteen years the university’s trustees struggled to convert its endowment—forty thousand acres of land in the backwoods—into enough money to support a school. By 1801 the university had a president, a campus on the edge of Indian country, and a few students.

Over the next two centuries the small liberal arts college that educated the sons of lawyers and planters grew into a major research university whose influence extends far beyond the boundaries of the state. The course of that growth has not always been smooth. This volume includes careful analyses of turning points in the university’s history: the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of land-grant colleges, the coming of intercollegiate athletics, the admission of women to undergraduate programs, the enrollment of thousands of World War II veterans, and desegregation. All are considered in the context of what was occurring elsewhere in the South and in the nation.

Pictorial History of the University of Georgia

By F.N. Boney

University of Georgia Press · Hardback · 302 pages · ISBN 0820321982

First published during the school’s bicentennial, A Pictorial History of the University of Georgia has now been revised and expanded to include a new, updated section and 43 new photographs that portray the university’s most recent growth and development. More than 300 illustrations and photographs accompany the story of pivotal events and the details of student life from the first classes held on the Georgia frontier in 1801 through the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the admission of women in 1918, and the construction of a new east campus. This new edition features an in-depth chronicle of the University of Georgia’s rapid growth during the past decade and describes the effects of the expansion of the student body and faculty, the burgeoning athletic program and its new emphasis on women’s sports, and the administrations of Charles Knapp and Michael Adams. From landmark changes to little-known events and curious facts, A Pictorial History of the University of Georgia presents a complete portrait of the school that blends educational innovation and cultural diversity with long-standing traditions.

August 2016
7 professional athletes who cut their teeth at UGA

Herschel Walker

7 professional athletes who cut their teeth at UGA

UGA has a rich history of famous athletes.

Iwill work with UGAAA to determine the top whatever.

​Then we’ll provide a short biography of each.

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August 2016
5 Amazing Students share their favorite things to do on the UGA campus

Walking around and hanging out on North Campus is one of the most favorite things for many students to do. No surprise there.

5 Amazing Students share their favorite things to do on the UGA campus

Ringing the bell, North Campus, and yes, even attending lectures.

The University of Georgia publishes every week a profile of an Amazing Student. One of the questions asks about their favorite things to do on campus. Here are 5 responses.

Corrie Jackson
Corrie Jackson

Corrie Jackson: My favorite thing to do on campus is to lay out in the grassy areas between the buildings on campus. In the middle of campus there are some amazing areas to relax, study and truly get away from the hustle and bustle of a campus with 35,000 students. Laying out in the middle of Myers quadrangle, you feel like you and the fellow loungers are the only ones here.

Abigail Harrison
Abigail Harrison

Abigail Harrison: I have so many favorites so I will just narrow it down to my top five!

1. Enjoying a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone with friends on the historic North Campus.

2. Reading in the Founders Memorial Garden when the flowers are in bloom. This area of campus is so therapeutic.

3. Ringing the Chapel Bell. It just puts me in a great mood!

4. Hanging out in Dawson Hall with my fellow College of Family and Consumer Sciences ambassadors. We call it the “Dawoffice.”

5. Cheering on the Dawgs in Sanford Stadium. Nothing beats a Saturday in Athens.

Derek Hammock
Derek Hammock

Derek Hammock: Walk around North Campus, catch up with friends and colleagues, and stop by the Institute for Leadership Advancement office. These three things allow me to think, laugh, learn and contribute to a cause greater than myself.

Sarah Ouderkirk
Sarah Ouderkirk

Sarah Ouderkirk: Ring the Chapel bell, play tennis at the IMcourts, go on runs through campus, attend football games and Gymdog meets, give
campus tours to potential students, and spend time with professor mentors.

Jacob Kennedy

Jacob Kennedy: Going to lectures and events put on by clubs and departments. A lot of effort and resources go into putting on fun events like the Homecoming carnival, which is always a blast—free funnel cake? Yes, please.

In the past week I went to a lecture on poetry during the Irish Troubles, attended an embroidery workshop, listened to a talk on how design thinking can improve the museum experience, and went to Escape the Space, where I was locked in a room with mostly strangers and had to solve puzzles to escape the detention-themed room.

I intern at UGArden, which is a student-run farm not far from campus. It’s a blast to work outside, rotating through different tasks throughout your shift. Even weeding isn’t so bad when you have a great work group. We just finished inoculating logs with shiitake mushrooms and transplanting onions which involved quite a bit of manual labor, but it’s so rewarding to eat food you’ve grown! Plus, who doesn’t love driving tractors?!

I also enjoy going to music shows downtown. Athens is one of the few small towns in America that has a vibrant music and art scene. It’s crazy how talent dense we are. There are hundreds of local acts that you can see nightly for $5, but we also get big acts too. A night at the 40 Watt music club is always well spent.

Snapchat. There’s always something snap-worthy happening on campus.

August 2016
1 football game for the history books

The University of Georgia's first football team. After crushing Mercer 50-0 in its first game in January 1892, a large contingent from UGA and Athens took a train to Piedmont Park for the second game against Auburn. Georgia lost, but it was the birth of the Bulldog Nation.

1 UGA football game for the history books

The second football game in UGA history was against Auburn in Atlanta. It was the birth of the Bulldog Nation.

From 1885 to 1950, Thomas Walter Reed was an eyewitness to much of the University of Georgia’s history, as well as one of the best-loved members of the campus community. Retiring as Registrar in 1945, he began to draft a monumental history of the university. As Reed presented his typescript draft (more than 4,000 pages) to the University in 1948 he noted, "It is not such as I would call anything like a finished piece of work, but it may do some good to file it away."

The following is Reed’s account of UGA’s first football team and an epic encounter with Auburn University in the team’s second game:

While it is true that something vaguely resembling football was indulged in by the students in the University of Georgia for several years prior to the playing of the first intercollegiate game between Mercer and Georgia in 1892, it could hardly be called the beginning of the sport on the University campus.

Several years before I entered the University in 1885 there was more or less talk among the students and alumni about organizing a team, but nothing definite resulted. During my college days we had a football and at times kicked it around on the playing field. It was a round, inflated rubber ball about eight inches in diameter and the main contest was that of seeing how far it could be kicked. We developed a few good punters, but such things as elaborately schemed tricky plays, forward passes, offside penalties and the like were not even in the realm of dreams. Nevertheless we got some fun out of the sport, but it did not interest the boys as much as baseball.

But there was even then in college a boy who was giving thought to the subject of football and indulging in speculation at least as to its being started in the University. He graduated in the Class of 1886 and shortly thereafter became an assistant in the Chemistry department. He continued to think about college football and studied the rules of the game so thoroughly as to be able to coach the team when on was organized. That boy was Charles Holmes Herty, of Milledgeville, Georgia, who in after years became a famous scientist, nationally and internationally recognized, and of whom more will be written in another part of this story of the University of Georgia.

In the fall of 1891 the first football team of the University was organized. All of the players were Georgia boys. There was no scouting all over the country in search of good football material, no athletic scholarships to attract the boys with athletic ability, no professional coaches, no official to massage bruised muscles or adjust dislocated joints. There were no giants on the team, but the players were physically fit, well-proportioned, full of Georgia spirit and amply supplied with that indispensable article, intestinal fortitude. When they finally went into action, they had mastered the technique of the game, that is all the technique there was at the time, under the training of Charlie Herty and gave a good account of themselves.

Mercer was our first opponent on the gridiron. It was a crushing defeat for mercer and the Georgia contingent occupied for a while the seventh heaven. The game was played in Athens January 30, 1892, and the score was Georgia 50, Mercer 0.

The second game was another story. It was against Auburn. We went out to win it, but just couldn’t deliver the goods. We came out on the small end of the score of 10 to 0 at Piedmont Park, February 20, 1892.

We didn’t have cheer leaders in those days, not even boy cheer leaders. The man who might have suggested a girl cheer leader would have at once faced a trial for lunacy and might have landed in the state asylum in Milledgeville instead of Piedmont Park in Atlanta.

But the boys knew how to yell. They had good lungs and knew how to use them. And while they did not have a multiplicity of yells as they now have, they did have one yell, and it is doubtful whether any of its successors represents an improvement. Except with some trimmings you do not hear the old yell now, but back in those days it was a corker. Here is the first Georgia yell as it was used in the game again Auburn in February 1892:

Hoo – rah – rah!
Hoo – rah – rah!
Hoo – rah – rah!

A few years prior to this time the Athletic Association had officially selected the colors of the University — red and black. There was a time when orange was blended with the red and black, but the Association, in the late eighties, had eliminated the orange.

It was decided that all the students who could possibly do so should go over to the game and there were many loyal Athenian citizens who wished to go. So a train was chartered from the Southern Railway and the trip to Atlanta via Lula was arranged.

As I remember there were five passenger coaches and they were packed to the doors with students and citizens. The coaches were elaborately decorated in red and black, and the locomotive was adorned from the pilot to the tender.

The writer of this story was at the time editor of the Athens Banner, but as full of football enthusiasm as any of the college boys. As a matter of fact he was nothing but a boy himself, having just passed his twenty-first birthday. Of course he was in that crowd and using his lungs to full capacity.

When the train reached Lula, it had to wait quite a while to let the regular trains on the main line pass. During the interval of time I taught the engineer how to blow the Georgia yell on the locomotive whistle. It was not a difficult thing to do.

Toot – Toot – Toot!
Toot – Toot – Toot!
Toot – Toot – Toot!
T – O – O – T!

Lula is sixty-six miles from Atlanta, and that engineer blew that Georgia yell at least five times for each mile. As the train passed through each town the inhabitants were amazed. This was especially true at Gainesville where quite a number of people were at the depot.

It was suggested that the engineer should blow the whistle continuously from the city limits of Atlanta right up to the old carshed. But there was one thing in the way of that kind of celebration in the municipal ordinance that forbade the blowing of a locomotive whistle within the city of Atlanta.

Now the Hon. William A. Hemphill was mayor of Atlanta and he was my good friend. So I wired him and asked that permission be given to blow our locomotive whistle inside the limits of Atlanta. I received his favorable answer at Norcross and the engineer with great pride kept that whistle going right up to the stop at the carshed. The people of Atlanta must have thought the world was coming to an end.

The weather that day was not at all friendly to the Georgia team. The Auburn team had the advantage in weight and Georgia was praying for a dry field. The Georgia prayers were not heard. At least they were not answered in the way the Georgia boys wished them to be heard. A drizzling rain had converted the playing field into a maze of soft earth with numerous small holes filled with water and to make the situation all the more uncomfortable the thermometer had taken a plunge downward and everybody was shivering.

Judged by the chance they had had to give a satisfactory performance in thus launching a new game in the capital city of the state, the two teams played a good game. It was full of excitement from start to finish.

The captain of the Georgia team was Frank J. Herty, a cousin of Charlie Herty. The boys called him “Si.” He weighed just about one hundred and thirty pounds, but it was all muscle and nerve. He was as active as a cat and afraid of nothing. In addition he was speedy and was relied on as one of the team’s best ground gainers.

In giving the names of the players on the team, the list appearing in the Pandora is used. The names of substitutes will not appear and hence some valiant players may be overlooked. Even memory will not enable this writer to avoid this.

That first Georgia football team that went on the field in the game against Auburn was as follows:

Frank J. Herty – Captain
Julian R. Lane – Manager

Center – E.W. Frey
Guards – George Shackleford, E. Park Howell, Jr.
Tackles – R. B. Nalley, A.O. Halsey
Ends – L.D. Fricke, J.R. Lane
Half Backs – F.J. Herty, J.O. Kimball
Quarter Back – W.N. Gramling
Full Back – H.C. Brown

All four classes in the University were represented on the team, there being one freshman, four sophomores, two juniors and four seniors.

That game was played more than fifty years ago [Editor’s note: This was written in 1940s.] There were thrilling details, but across that half century only one play remains within the call of memory.

Auburn’s center was a great big fellow named McKissick. He looked like he weighed two hundred and fifty pounds, but I guess two hundred and ten would have been nearer to the correct statement of his weight. He had the ball and was plunging through the Georgia team at will. He was past the middle stripe and well into Georgia territory. One by one the Georgia defenders went down. Finally there was only one man between him and the goal line. That man was little “Si” Herty. It was a David and Goliath affair, but the Georgia David had no slingshot and no smooth pebble from the brook. But “Si” faced the on-coming giant and at the proper time dived for his legs and reached them.

McKissick went down headforemost and his head was immersed in a mud puddle from which the water went up like a spray from a fountain. Auburn didn’t get that touchdown to add to the score already made.

It was a sad, bedraggled crowd that wended its way back to the train. The whistle was silent all the way home. But the spirit was still there. There would be other games in which defeat might be wiped out and victory celebrated.

August 2016
21 facts about the founding of the first state university

Abraham Baldwin's statue stands proudly looking over historic North Campus.

21 facts about the founding of the first state-chartered university

The year 1785 looms large as the year of our founding. But it didn't happen overnight.

IIt was 231 years ago that the members of the Georgia General Assembly established the University of Georgia as the first public land-grant university.

You might already know the year (1785), and that Abraham Baldwin (that statue watching over North Campus) was the first president, and that we were the first chartered university in our young nation. But did you know that Baldwin was only 14 when he entered Yale?

Some more facts about the birth of our university:

1. James Edward Oglethorpe established the colony of Georgia, having landed at the Savannah River in 1733. Several yew trees from Oglethorpe’s home in England were planted along the Academic Building on Broad Street.

2. In 1783, Gov. Lyman Hall delivered this message to the state legislature, planting the seed for a land-grant university:

“Every encouragement ought to be given to introduce religion and learned clergy to perform divine worship in honor of God and to cultivate principles of religion and virtue among our citizens. For this purpose it will be your wisdom to lay an early foundation for endowing seminaries of learning. Nor can you, I conceive, lay better than by a grant of land that may, as in other governments, hereafter by lease or otherwise, raise a sufficient revenue to support such valuable institutions.”

3. Abraham Baldwin (left) entered Yale College at the age of 14 and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1772. He went to divinity school and was licensed to preach in 1775. After a stint as a Yale University tutor and army chaplain, he became a Professor of Divinity at Yale at the age of 27. A bit of an overachiever?

4. We don’t know for sure how Baldwin ended up in Georgia. It is thought that he arrived in Connecticut, moved to Charleston, and then traveled into Augusta, the capital at the time.

5. In 1784, the legislature granted him permission to practice law.

6. He quickly added politician to his resume. On Jan. 12, 1785, he became a state legislator. He didn’t waste time. On Jan. 27, 1785, he got UGA’s first charter introduced and approved. Baldwin was named president.

7. Written in ink on two faded and yellowed sheets of vellum, 19 1/2 by 32 1/2 inches, the charter is kept in the Rare Books Room of the University of Georgia Library and is only displayed on Founders Day each year.

8. Chancellor (from 1906 to 1925) David C. Barrow said the first line from the charter was among the great sentences in the English language:

“As it is the distinguishing happiness of free governments that civil order should be the result of choice and not necessity, and that the common wishes of the people become the law of the land, their public prosperity and even existence, very much depends upon suitably forming the minds of their citizens.”

9. The charter established the Board of Visitors to “see that the intent of this institution is carried into effect” along with the Board of Trustees. The two bodies together were the “Senatus Academicus of the University of Georgia.”

10. Baldwin was soon elected to the Continental Congress and through the next decade or so, spent the bulk of his time on national affairs.

11. Baldwin never married.

12. Baldwin died in 1807 at age 53. He was serving as a U.S. senator from Georgia at the time.

13. In the 16 years between the signing of the charter and the establishment of the university in Athens, action toward establishing the university slowed, often because it was hard to get a quorum of the board. As historian Thomas Reed said, “Then the Board of Trustees went to sleep for the next eight years.”

14. During this time, North Carolina chartered a university in 1789 and opened its doors to classes in 1795. Hence, the centuries-old debate about who is America’s first state university.

15. The initial salary for second President Josiah Meigs (left), who took the helm in 1801 and was the first president to preside over a class, was $1,500 per year.

16. The board of trustees still had not decided on a location after hiring Meigs in 1801. They narrowed it down to five counties: Franklin, Hancock, Greene, Oglethorpe and Jackson (Clarke County split from Jackson County in 1801). They inspected the land, and according to historian Reed:

“They came upon a high hill around whose base flowed the Oconee River, then a clear and beautiful stream ... through a grove of cedars its waters danced over shoals for quite a distance, hence the name of Cedar Shoals. ... The hillsides were covered with lordly trees, pine, oak and hickory. Several bold, clear springs were there whose sparkling waters descended swiftly to the river. One of those springs was near the crest of the hill in easy reach of the place where college buildings would be erected, thus guaranteeing an abundance of pure drinking water for the professors and students of the coming years.”

17. The land was owned by Daniel Easley, who had built a mill on that location (near the present-day School of Social Work building). John Milledge, a member of the trustees’ location committee and soon thereafter Georgia governor, managed to buy 633 acres from Easley, and then donated it to the university.

18. Georgia artist George Cooke’s “View of Athens from Carr’s Hill” (above, 1845) is on display at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the UGA campus.

19. Even before the first building was erected, Meigs recruited the first class of students, some who might have reported in late 1801.

20. The university constructed its first building, which was originally called Franklin College and is now known as Old College.

21. The first class graduated on May 31, 1804.

Thus began the birthplace of public higher education.

July 2016
Global Connections
Tackling TB in Guatemala

María Eugenia Castellanos: “If we understand the main risk factors that lead a patient to have a particular strain of TB, we can create interventions that will allow health policymakers in Guatemala to direct targeted TB control measures at high-risk populations."

Tackling TB in Guatemala

Graduate student María Eugenia Castellanos receives Schlumberger Fellowship.

University of Georgia doctoral student María Eugenia Castellanos has been awarded a 2016-2017 Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship to fund her research on tuberculosis transmission in Guatemala.

Castellanos, a doctoral student studying epidemiology in the UGA College of Public Health, will work to identify the risk factors associated with TB and spread of with TB—especially in HIV patients.

Castellanos is a doctoral student studying epidemiology in the UGA College of Public Health. The one-year, renewable Schlumberger Foundation grant provides women scientists from developing and emerging countries up to $50,000 to pursue advanced degrees in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field.

“The leading causes of death in Guatemala are preventable and treatable infectious diseases,” Castellanos said. “Tuberculosis, in particular, is an illness that affects the most vulnerable people and one that we have not been able to reduce the prevalence of in the last 10 years.”

For her project, Castellanos will analyze isolates of the bacteria that cause mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients at Clínica Familiar “Luis Angel García,” an HIV specialty clinic within Guatemala City’s General Hospital.

HIV-positive people are at particular risk for TB infection. Her research will identify the strains of TB more prevalent in this particularly vulnerable population and also look at the clinical and epidemiological risk factors that might increase a patient’s chance of having a recent transmission of this disease.

“If we understand the main risk factors that lead a patient to have a particular strain of TB, we can create interventions that will allow health policymakers in Guatemala to direct targeted TB control measures at high-risk populations,” she said. “Over the last 20 years, there have only been a handful of papers published about tuberculosis in Guatemala. Not many people are able to do any type of research, often because of lack of funding and lack of resources, so I think this is going to be very important work.”

Castellanos received her bachelor’s degree in chemical biology from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in 2005 and, with the support of a Joint Japan-Inter-American Development Bank Scholarship, traveled to England to study tuberculosis at University of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She completed a master’s degree in medical microbiology there in 2008.

Returning to her hometown of Guatemala City, Castellanos accepted a position at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala teaching and working as a research assistant in the Malaria and Vector Biology Unit of the university’s Center for Health Studies.

In 2014, she came to the U.S. supported by a Fulbright fellowship and a desire to pursue a doctoral degree under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher Whalen, Ernest Corn Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the UGA College of Public Health.

“Dr. Whalen is one of the leading TB researchers in the world with over 25 years working on TB in low-income, international settings; and he is the main reason I chose UGA for my graduate studies,” Castellanos said. “I feel proud to be doing something, in collaboration both with Dr. Whalen and a great group of talented Guatemalan researchers, that we, the people of Guatemala, can do to help our country. The only way that we will be able to advance is if we start shaping our fate.”

Recognizing the link between science, technology and socioeconomic development, as well as the role of education in realizing individual potential, the Schlumberger Foundation established its flagship program, Faculty for the Future, in 2004. Since then, 560 women from 78 emerging countries have received Faculty for the Future fellowships to pursue advanced graduate studies at top universities abroad.

Castellanos is the second doctoral student from the college’s department of epidemiology and biostatistics to receive the international award. Dr. Jane Mutanga-Mutembo, whose fellowship was renewed for a second year, is developing mobile technology in Uganda to help people living with HIV maintain adherence to the lifelong medication regimens needed to keep the virus suppressed.

“Guatemala is definitely a country where machismo is still very prevalent,” Castellanos said. “And combined with lack of financial resources, women in my country don’t tend to be able to advance at the graduate level and earn a master’s or Ph.D. degree. I feel as more women are able achieve this level of success, we can do more for the women who come after.”

After the completion of her degree, Castellanos plans to return to Universidad del Valle de Guatemala to build her own research program in tuberculosis and ultimately, she hopes, participate in the establishment of a leading research center for infectious diseases in the Central American region.

“There is still a lot to do in the study of the epidemiology of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases in Guatemala and Central America,” Castellanos said. “My dream is that my Ph.D. program will permit me to better participate in their control and management, as it can be a doorway to the improvement in the lives of many Guatemalan people. That’s big, but, yeah, that is my dream.”

— Rebecca Ayer, College of Public Health

July 2016
Global Connections
Building businesses and bridges

Tareq Hawasli: “I’m looking at the university’s proximity to Atlanta — the fastest growing city in America — and at our resources and alumni, and I say, ‘Why not us?’"

Building businesses and bridges

UGA alumnus Tareq Hawasli wants to lead the world to Athens.

The road to Damascus wasn’t a figure of speech for Tareq Hawasli (BBA ’02); it was a summer job. The Sandy Springs native is the descendant of Damascene traders, and he earned his first taste of international business on the streets and surrounding neighborhoods of the ancient city at an age when most children were being introduced to reading, writing, and arithmetic.

“My mother’s side of the family owned a large factory in Damascus that designed sacred items,” says Hawasli, referring to the elegant crosses, Mother Mary’s, and other items that people carried on pilgrimages to holy cities like Jerusalem. “My uncle also had several shops that catered to tourists, and from the age of six I’d take his old stock, put up a cardboard stand, and start selling.”

Syria was part of many childhood trips to the Persian Gulf and Europe, and Hawasli’s early exposure to travel and commerce led to the pursuit of an international business degree at Terry and ultimately to a career that has spanned three continents. The three firms Hawasli has founded in as many years brim with enough activity to require two cell phones: Phidar Advisory, the Dubai-based real estate advisory group in 2013; SHM, a landscape and hardscape services business in Atlanta in 2014; and Darin Partners, an independent investment advisory and asset management firm based in London in 2015.

Hawasli’s private equity and business development expertise includes real estate, energy, IT, healthcare, and entertainment, making him a bridge for commerce between east and west. An inaugural member of UGA’s 40 Under 40 honorees, Hawasli wants to lead the world to Athens. He recently served on UGA’s Advisory Council for the Vice President for Instruction, and he believes that UGA is in position to become one of the top 10-15 universities in the country.

“I’m looking at the university’s proximity to Atlanta — the fastest growing city in America — and at our resources and alumni, and I say, ‘Why not us?’” says Hawasli, who sees himself as a candid sounding board with a global perspective. “A lot of the people I’m connected with in Boston, L.A., and around the world give back generously to their universities, but they didn’t have the experiences that I had at Georgia. I’m hungry to tell the world about our university.”

Hawasli credits the friendly and supportive academic environment at UGA for encouraging him to become a more open person.

“The university was always generous with me. I wasn’t always the most academic of students, but I made the effort in classes and the professors always helped you like you were at a small university,” says Hawasli, who treasures his Athens connections. “I met so many good people from all different walks of life at UGA, and there was always a good vibe. I opened up and it helped me come into my own. That’s very important to me, and I want to do my part to let everyone know what I know about the University of Georgia.”

(From the Winter 2015 issue of Terry magazine)

July 2016
Global Connections
West African model for teachers

Carolyn Burroughs visits the beach with local children. She visited Tema, Ghana, in December as part of the College of Education Study Abroad Program.

West African model for teachers

Annual Ghana program opens students’ eyes to new ways of learning.

In a matter of a dozen days, Carolyn Burroughs’ world was turned upside-down.

Voices of children sharing songs, their vibrant costumes whirling as they took part in traditional dances taught Burroughs about the power classroom lessons have when they emulate students’ home life. This, in addition to the food, craftsmanship and warmth of the residents of Ghana, helped turn a trip into an unforgettable learning experience.

Burroughs, who is pursuing her master’s in early childhood education from the UGA College of Education, took part in last December’s “Ghana Study Abroad in Education” program. Organized by Cynthia B. Dillard, head of the college’s department of educational theory and practice, the annual trip caps a semester of learning about research, learning how to do research in another country, studying up on Ghana and reading works by notable residents and scholars, including W.E.B. DuBois.

This is how Burroughs came to arrive in Ghana with a plan for her research—and yet that plan evolved as she learned new ideas on education while in the West African country. Successful craftspeople and nontraditional education in Ghana forced Burroughs and the other students on the trip to rethink what is meant to be educated.

“I come from both an English and a sociology background ... my original research was in a law school and how students of color felt in a predominantly white space,” said Burroughs, noting the effect portraits of white men, and faculty who were white men, had on the students. “And in the elementary school where I was doing a practicum, it was very international, but there was definitely a cultural bias in that the framework of the class was very European. So my question was, what happens when you have students who don’t fit that framework?”

A former colony, Burroughs wanted to investigate how Ghanaian students navigated white spaces. “Are there areas where students are made to conform that are not like at home, and what is that effect on them?” she asked.

It turns out, she said, those spaces don’t exist. Instead, students learn from teachers whose styles emulate and enhance the teaching that goes on in their own homes. As a result, lessons are reinforced between school and home, and there is more of a collaborative feel between teachers and parents.

This, Burroughs said, was eye-opening.

Watching a group of students perform a dance for the visitors and the community, Burroughs said she realized the power of this collaboration. Singing about the importance of washing your hands was entertaining—but also a lesson that can be brought home to the parents. “This is what you have when what you do at school is reinforced at home; what we’re doing is what we’ve always done,” she said. “These are messages you’d think you’d learn at home, but not always. So if you learn it at school, you can take it home and everyone learns.”

Now, Burroughs can build off her experience in Ghana by considering the spaces she creates for her own students—and how her own classroom lessons can be reinforced at home by adapting to the kids, rather than expecting the children to adapt to a specific classroom environment.

“I don’t know what I thought going into this, but I was completely surprised by some of the things I saw,” she said. “When you see it in action—it was a wonderful experience.”

—Kristen Morales, College of Education

July 2016
Global Connections
In the plume

The University of Georgia's Patricia Yager, left, and Debbie Steinberg of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences hold up a sample of water collected at the mouth of the Amazon River. (Jason Landrum)

In the plume

After an unexpected discovery, researchers are exploring a new reef system at the mouth of the Amazon River.

Anew reef system has been found at the mouth of the Amazon River, the largest river by discharge of water in the world. As large rivers empty into the world's oceans in areas known as plumes, they typically create gaps in the reef distribution along the tropical shelves—something that makes finding a reef in the Amazon plume an unexpected discovery.

An international team—including scientists from the University of Georgia and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro—documented their findings in an April 22 study published in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists on a recent expedition to investigate the Amazon River plume included a Brazilian research team looking for evidence of a reef system along the continental shelf. The Amazon plume—an area where freshwater from the river mixes with the salty Atlantic Ocean—affects a broad area of the tropical North Atlantic Ocean in terms of salinity, pH, light penetration and sedimentation, conditions that usually correlate to a major gap in Western Atlantic reefs.

Carlos Rezende from the State University of North Fluminense, Fabiano Thompson from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Rodrigo Moura, a reef ecologist from UFRJ who has written extensively about richness of reef corals south of the Amazon River mouth, led the reef discovery team.

“Our expedition into the Brazil Exclusive Economic Zone was primarily focused on sampling the mouth of the Amazon,” said Patricia Yager, an associate professor of marine sciences in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the River-Ocean Continuum of the Amazon project.

“But Dr. Moura had an article from the 1970s that mentioned catching reef fish along the continental shelf and said he wanted to try to locate these reefs.”

The difficulty of finding the old map coordinates with modern GPS notwithstanding, the team used multibeam acoustic sampling of the ocean bottom to find the reef and then dredged up samples to confirm the discovery.

“We brought up the most amazing and colorful animals I had ever seen on an expedition,” Yager said.

The Brazilian researchers then organized a full team and took a Brazilian Navy research vessel back to the site in 2014, when they were able to collect and fully describe the findings for the study.

“From ocean acidification and ocean warming to plans for offshore oil exploration right on top of these new discoveries, the whole system is at risk from human impacts.”

— Patricia Yager

The Amazon River plume and its effects on the global carbon budget converged with the discovery of the reef system to provide scientists a wider view of the reef community, its variation and changes. Microorganisms thriving in the dark waters beneath the river plume may provide the trophic connection between the river and the reef.

“The paper is not just about the reef itself, but about how the reef community changes as you travel north along the shelf break, in response to how much light it gets seasonally by the movement of the plume,” said Yager, who spent two months in Brazil as a Science Without Borders visiting professor.

“In the far south, it gets more light exposure, so many of the animals are more typical reef corals and things that photosynthesize for food. But as you move north, many of those become less abundant, and the reef transitions to sponges and other reef builders that are likely growing on the food that the river plume delivers. So the two systems are intricately linked.”

But the reefs may already be threatened.

“From ocean acidification and ocean warming to plans for offshore oil exploration right on top of these new discoveries, the whole system is at risk from human impacts,” she said.

The research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, as well as support from Brazilian agencies and foundations including CNPq, the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development; CAPES, a foundation for the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel; FAPERJ, the research support foundation of the State of Rio de Janeiro; FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation; Brasoil; MCTI, the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; and the Brazilian Navy.

The study, “An extensive reef system at the Amazon River mouth,” is available online.

— Alan Flurry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

July 2016
Global Connections
More than peanuts

Abraham Fulmer (center) visits a U.S. peanut field with Haitian agronomist Jean Phillipe Dorzin (left) and Will Sheard of Meds & Food for Kids (right), in 2015. (Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab)

More than peanuts

CAES plant pathology doctoral student Abraham Fulmer is working to maximize the productivity of Haitian farmers.

When he started college, Abraham Fulmer didn’t know he’d study peanuts, work in international development or become fascinated with Haiti.

But that’s where life led him.

Fulmer, a Ph.D. student in the department of plant pathology at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, works with the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab project in Haiti, where researchers are working to find the varieties and growing conditions that lead to the best yield and discourage disease in peanuts.

“Peanut is a fascinating crop,” Fulmer said. “There’s a mystique about it being linked to the New World. The first written description of peanut was recorded on the island of Hispaniola by Bartonlomé Las Casas—probably in what is now Haiti—in the 1500s. That link is fascinating to me. Haiti itself is fascinating.”

The Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab supports the education of dozens of graduate students like Fulmer at UGA, across the U.S. and in partner countries.

At the same time, professors from the U.S. and partner countries mentor the students and advise them on their research.

As a Ph.D. student, Fulmer conducts his own research in Haiti and the U.S., but through the lab, he supervises Haitian students in their work, too.

“The most rewarding thing about the work that I’ve been a part of in Haiti is the personal fulfillment of being able to work with students,” he said.

Over the past few years, the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab has partnered with Meds and Food for Kids, an NGO that makes peanut-based food supplements and supports farmers as a way to get locally sourced peanuts. This gives Haitian agronomy students an opportunity to do practical research in the field. Over the past two years, 16 undergraduates have worked with the program; half of the students are men and half are women.

In Haiti, an undergraduate degree in agronomy calls for five years of study and a thesis project, requirements that are similar to a master’s degree in other places.

“The students compete to earn a spot in the internship program; it’s a good opportunity for them,” Fulmer said. “Each one designs and implements a trial. We are helping them all along the way, but they are responsible from the planning of the trial to the planting of the seeds to the harvest, from gathering the data, to analyzing that data to presenting the data.”

While building students’ skills, the arrangement also provides data to the lab, which is working to enhance Haiti’s peanut sector by addressing production-related problems and improving conditions along the value chain.

Research supported by collaboration includes a peanut-breeding program and research into agronomic practices best suited for growing conditions in Haiti.

“We’ve done seed- and row-spacing trials, variety trials and fungicide trials,” Fulmer said. “Ultimately, we are trying to find the best answers to questions that deal with quality and quantity of the crop.

“Our research is creating data that just didn’t exist before. Now we have actual evidence to direct decision-making.”

“I really became aware in that class of the importance of global agriculture and the challenges that our generation is going to face in terms of how to feed the world.”

— Abraham Fulmer

Creating a list of best practices for growing a healthy peanut crop would empower the country’s smallholder farmers, who produce about 24,000 metric tons of peanuts a year.

“Farmers in Haiti get between 300 and 800 pounds per acre. The average is probably around 500 pounds,” said James Rhoads, an assistant director who worked with smallholder peanut farmers in Haiti.

“But, now we’re seeing yields in research plots and in scaled seed production in the 2,000-pound range and higher. Abraham’s efforts are helping to close that yield gap.”

Getting a bigger crop out of the ground means more than just finding the right variety and hoping for rain. Farmers need to know when to invest time and inputs in fighting pests and disease.

“A lot of my research here in the U.S. has to do with leaf-spot pathogens,” Fulmer said. “What are the factors that drive when the disease starts and how bad the disease gets? I watch diseases very closely to pinpoint the conditions that have the most impact, so we can understand how to combat them.

“I’ve been able to carry that research over to Haiti, and that’s rewarding.”

When he started school, Fulmer was more interested in the aesthetic part of agriculture; he thought he might become a landscape architect.

But a class with UGA agronomy professor Dewey Lee caught his attention and set him on a career path.

“I really became aware in that class of the importance of global agriculture and the challenges that our generation is going to face in terms of how to feed the world,” he said. “That message really grabbed ahold of me and I came to a moral realization that we have a responsibility to better the lives of our fellow men wherever they live.”

Still not quite sure what he wanted to do after finishing a bachelor’s degree, Fulmer traveled to Cambodia. In visiting with local farmers, he learned that peanuts are part of the cuisine there and around the world. When he came home, UGA professor Bob Kemerait suggested that Fulmer might work with the lab.

Two years later, Fulmer spends about one-third of the year in Haiti, mentoring and helping Haitian agronomy students with their research trials.

The trade-off is that Fulmer is taking an extra year or so to work on his Ph.D., which he hopes to finish in the next year.

He’s not sure where he’ll work after that.

“I want to stay involved with international agriculture, Fulmer said. “I would love to have the opportunity to remain involved in Haiti,” he said. “But when I thought I knew exactly where I was going and what I wanted to do, that’s not how it worked out.

“It’s going well, so I’ll have to see what comes next.”

—Allison Floyd, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

July 2016
Global Connections
A long and winding<br> road to the BBC

Helen Charles cut her teeth at the Grady College—and the Athens music scene—to land a policy job at the BBC.

A winding road to the BBC

Grady alumna Helen Charles works as senior policy adviser with British Broadcasting Corporation.

Acombined love of music and integrated studies brought Helen Charles (ABJ ’01) to UGA and helped pave the way to becoming a senior policy adviser with the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“My interdisciplinary education gave me the confidence to follow a nonlinear career path—from broadcast to regulation to policy,” she says in an interview at the BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London.

“One of the policy team’s roles is advocacy for the BBC,” she explains. “We also develop policy and offer robust, evidence-based advice. I lead on media infrastructure discussions—everything from digital television to IP networks to mobile.”

When Charles began planning for college in the mid-1990s, the young British national was attracted to the University of Georgia for a variety of reasons—not least, she was a huge fan of Athens’ contemporary pop music, and she knew American universities encouraged interdisciplinary studies.

After earning a degree in broadcast journalism with an emphasis in political science, Charles plunged into the local music scene, first as a volunteer at and then as a staffer at Team Clermont, the indie music publicity and promotion company.

For the next five years, she worked with bands, recording companies and the music press, creating publicity campaigns for online, college, national and international outlets. She focused on noncommercial radio, mainly college and public stations.

With rapid changes in technology making an impact on the music industry, Charles became interested in the policies around these changes and decided to pursue graduate studies in politics and communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science, part of the University of London.

Imbued with media theory and a host of policy ideas, Charles spent the next three years working in Britain’s House of Commons as a caseworker, where she got a firsthand look at policy in action, and later as a Parliamentary researcher and office manager for the Labour Party’s then-deputy leader, Harriet Harman. “My perspective grew incredibly broad in scope,” she says of the experience.

She then shifted back into the communications sphere, joining Ofcom, the U.K.’s independent regulatory agency, as an adviser on radio spectrum programs and the public sector. Her two and a half years of experience at Ofcom led directly to her current position.

“We try to make sure the future of public service broadcasting and audience habits are being considered in key debates, on issues such as net neutrality,” she says. “Viewing habits are changing, and increasingly people want to enjoy whatever they want, wherever they are. New viewing habits mean new distribution technologies and new policy challenges.”

—By John W. English (Originally published in the June 2016 issue of Georgia Magazine)

July 2016
Global Connections
Teaching music in Kenya<br> from 8,000 miles away

Damon Postle holds band rehearsal with students at the Mo Girls’ High School in Eldoret, Kenya, during the UGA group's trip to Kenya in March.

Teaching music in Kenya from 8,000 miles away

Distance-learning program uses technology to teach piano in Africa.

Faculty and students at the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music have created a one-of-a-kind distance-learning program, teaching band, orchestra and piano classes to students at the Moi Girls’ High School in Eldoret, Kenya.

With the help of programs like Skype and instruments that connect to the internet, graduate students at the School of Music teach weekly lessons to students 8,000 miles away.

The seeds of the project were planted in 2011, when Jean Kidula, a School of Music professor of ethnomusicology and a Kenya native, began a beginner band program that sent used instruments to Moi Girls’ High School, a public boarding school in Eldoret.

The music students and teacher in Kenya, grateful for the donation, began to save money to make a trip to Athens to meet their UGA benefactors. So, a year after the relationship was struck, the Moi Girls’ High School and Hugh Hodgson School of Music met face-to-face.

During their visit, the teacher who had traveled with the girls approached Pete Jutras, associate professor of piano at the School of Music, about a problem they had back home: the students wanted to learn piano, but had no piano teacher.

This spurred Jutras to think about how online teaching was growing and how his piano students needed teaching experience. He proposed a system in which Jutras’ piano students in Athens could teach students in Kenya.

A year later, Jutras was on a flight to Nairobi with a laptop, a webcam and a disassembled digital keyboard. His visit to the school in Eldoret proved to be as enlightening and inspiring as it was beneficial.

“We think we have trouble justifying music in the schools here, but it’s a lot worse there,” said Jutras. “I was told they’re one of the few schools left in Kenya that has any music program at all.”

Music falls by the wayside at the school for practical reasons. The students take music as an elective, but other available electives include business, computers and foreign language—skills that increase employability. According to UNICEF, over 45 percent of Kenya’s population lives beneath the poverty line, so it’s understandable the students would feel pressure to eschew the arts for greater earning potential.

But since UGA got involved, hundreds of students now try to become a part of the program. Jutras’ piano students stay busy, giving Skype lessons twice a week every week since fall 2015.

As the students in Eldoret were getting their first lessons, Jutras’ program caught Skip Taylor’s attention. Taylor is involved with numerous music outreach programs: from a long-standing program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Clarke County to the creation of a youth orchestra at Almaty International School in Kazakhstan last year.

Taylor’s students play a major part in his outreach, getting the pre-service teaching experience that Taylor feels is lacking in most music education programs.

“Students basically do a 10-week practicum and maybe teach two lessons and then they go student teach,” said Taylor. “If we did this with the medical field, we’d be in a lot of trouble. The lack of regular pre-service teaching may be why 47 percent of young teachers quit before five years in the field.”

With the professors’ interests aligned, it was decided that Jutras would return to Eldoret with several piano graduate students—Yoonsook Song, Benjamin Turk and Crystal Wu—to enhance the piano program, and Taylor and three of his music education graduate students—Danny Bermel, Damon Postle and Ben Torres—would go as well, to build on the existing band program and establish an orchestra one.

The group had reasonable expectations for the trip: a slow start, gradual acceptance of these new classes, incremental progress. The reactions of the Kenyan students quickly shattered every expectation.

“I have never seen a group of children so eager to learn,” said Bermel. “On the first day, we rehearsed for over two hours without a single incident. On breaks, the students did not rest—they practiced.”

“The girls have so much excitement to learn to play music,” said Turk. “They would rather skip their dinner and continue the lesson.”

“After the first day of teaching, our UGA graduate students were so excited at the progress the students made over the period of one day, they can not wait to get in class tomorrow.”

— Skip Taylor

The group took a slew of instruments to leave with the students, including one digital piano donated by the North Dekalb Music Teachers Association, two digital pianos donated by Yamaha, violins, strings and string accessories from Ronald Sachs Violins of Lilburn, and numerous instruments from community donors.

The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada donated a box of sheet music to the project so that the Kenyan students and UGA student teachers will be working from the same materials, Chick Piano of Athens gave the project rosin, strings, valve oil and reeds and Stripling’s General Store in Bogart, even donated shirts for the students as well as packing materials to ensure safe transport of the instruments.

So, for Taylor and Jutras, this opportunity with Moi Girls’ High School is not just an opportunity to give to the people of an impoverished country, not just a chance to support the arts in a place where demand is high and resources are low, not just a resource to make their students better teachers, but a unique, unprecedented combination of the three.

“This is providing my students opportunities to instruct students they otherwise would never meet or interact with,” said Taylor. “And after the first day of teaching, our UGA graduate students were so excited at the progress the students made over the period of one day, they can not wait to get in class tomorrow.”

“It would be great to expand our online teaching and have UGA be a place where you can really get experience teaching online and doing some cutting edge stuff,” said Jutras. “We’re looking at what the future of music teaching may be and we’re preparing our students for that.”

As technology advances across the globe, this experience will position UGA as a front-runner in this new form of music education.

“I’ve searched everywhere: JSTOR, ProQuest, Google, Skype in the Classroom,” said Damon Postle. “And I haven’t been able to find anything like what we’re doing anywhere else in the world.”

The hope is that attention from industry leaders like Yamaha and networks of music professionals will lead to finding more supporters to sustain and expand this ambitious program, but everyone involved is committed to seeing it through, whatever the cost.

“My doctoral students have been volunteering their time to teach the Skype lessons, they paid their own way to go to Kenya, and I left the school a computer which I wrote the check for myself,” said Jutras. “And we’re happy to do it.”

And while the idea of the program is energizing enough, nothing inspires quite like students driven to learn.

“One of the best moments in all of this was on my first day on campus at the Moi Girls’ School in Eldoret,” said Crystal Wu. “As we toured the facility, my students would spot me and run up to hug me as if we’re old friends. It was the first time we’ve met in person since I started teaching them.”

—Clarke Schwabe, School of Music

June 2016
Liberation<br> in the classroom

Tina Harris, a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, teaches International Perspectives on Interracial Communication to UGA students in Costa Rica. In the class, the students talk about bias, privilege, race and class as they relate to the U.S. but more importantly, Harris said, how they relate to Costa Rica. (Photo by Rick O'Quinn)

Liberation in the classroom

For communication studies professor Tina M. Harris, the classroom provides both a refuge and forum.

Many students enter UGA with limited notions about the world as it exists beyond their own experience. Serious discussions about bias, privilege, race and class require great skill and grace in any setting. For communication studies professor Tina M. Harris, the classroom provides both a refuge and forum to help students gain an understanding about who they are and how they engage with the world around them.

“We talk about power, how power is constructed and how there are certain groups that benefit more so than others, not to make any students feel guilty but to be proud because that’s who you are, so don’t minimize that,” Harris said. “We need to recognize and discuss the fact that there are groups who have been historically marginalized, and they do not have access to opportunities and resources that the majority group does. And this is not just an issue in the U.S., but around the world.”

For Harris, the tension of those unsettling and sometimes uncomfortable early discussions is balanced by the openness and liberation of learning on the part of her students she also gets to experience.

“I’m blessed to be a part of that awakening in so many of them,” she said. “Often they thank me, but in so many ways, I am at least as fortunate as they are.”

That ability to empathize with her students and share in their experience as they begin to develop their consciousness about the world plays a significant role in interracial and interpersonal communications. Harris brings the same level of engagement to the coursework in the study-abroad program she teaches in Costa Rica.

International Perspectives on Interracial Communication takes UGA students to Costa Rica to talk about these issues as they relate to the U.S. but more importantly, Harris said, how they relate to Costa Rica.

“In many ways, they have the same racial hierarchy that exists in the U.S. that prioritizes lighter skin and stereotypes people of Afro-Caribbean or Nicaraguan descent,” she said.

A service-learning project, course readings, ongoing class discussions and informal interactions among the students help them to think about their privilege as Americans coming to Costa Rica.

“The program has evolved in a way that has made for the perfect experience,” Harris said. “We start off at the UGA campus in San Luis, letting the students take a moment and breathe, enjoy life and appreciate nature.”

Students are slowly introduced into the culture for six days before leaving for the city of San Jose.

“By the time we engage with the service project working with schools in Puerto Viejo, students have become more mindful of the racial differences in the country as well as the economic privileges they enjoy as Americans,” Harris said. “It’s a healthy experience learning about ethnocentrism, how to make sure it doesn’t get in your way as you genuinely engage in helping people. It’s often a life-changing few weeks.”

A daughter of the South, Harris spent four years living in Spain while her father served in the military.

“I’m so glad that we did,” Harris said. “My mom jokes to this day that Spanish was my first language.”

That ability comes in handy in Costa Rica, though Harris admits that she, too, is still learning when it comes to her second language.

“I can speak extensively about the educational system there, but I still might forget the word for fork,” she said.

A Double Dawg in communication studies, Harris earned her doctorate at the University of Kentucky and taught at Bowling Green State University before returning to join UGA as faculty in 1998.

June 2016
Real world

In Jennifer Osbon's Digital Marketing Analytics course, students get a real world lesson in helping nonprofits succeed.

Real world

UGA marketing students team up to help nonprofits make the most of their Google grants.

The University of Georgia's Jennifer Osbon isn't the average book, lecture and exam kind of teacher.

A full-time lecturer in the Terry College of Business’ department of marketing, Osbon wants her students to come away with a valuable, marketable skill set after taking her Digital Marketing Analytics course.

The best way to ensure they really master the concepts she’s taught them is by using their marketing knowledge in the real world.

Inspired by a project in which she and other volunteers helped build 48 websites for 48 nonprofits in 48 hours last summer for Atlanta’s 48 in 48 event, Osbon partnered with five Google-grant-qualifying nonprofits in the Atlanta area for her MARK 4650 course.

“As a learning tool, it’s natural for students to create plans. We do lots of planning in school,” she said. “Now they get to do a plan, they get to actually invest the money, they get to see how it performs and make tweaks and changes and recommendations for the future. So they’re not only helping the nonprofit, but they’re also getting the real-world experience of actually investing-not playing around with it or getting close to it or seeing how it works-they actually do it and look for actual results.”

The nonprofits received the grants from Google as a way of growing their online presence. It works like this: Every time someone searches Google, paid advertisements show up at the top of the search results. Each click-thru to the advertised site has a cost for the organization or company. Google grants gives nonprofits $10,000 a month to invest in Google AdWords, meaning that instead of paying Google, they can focus on increasing their volunteer base and expanding their brand’s reach online.

In Osbon’s course, students become certified in Google Analytics Individual Qualification and Google AdWords Fundamentals and another advanced AdWords test with topics ranging from search advertising, mobile advertising or shopping advertising. The Google Analytics certification shows potential clients that a student is knowledgeable in how to use Google’s tracking system for online usage. AdWords, on the other hand, is a marketing system used on Google that lets advertisers pay to show up in relevant Google searches, and certification allows recognition of an individual as an online advertiser.

Coming out of the course with these professional certifications makes the students very competitive in the industry, she said.

This semester, students in the class are working with Warrick Dunn Charities, which helps single parents and their children; International Community School, which helps educate refugee and immigrant children; Race for the Orphans, which sponsors annual races to raise money for families looking to adopt children; Pebble Tossers Inc., which helps people find volunteer projects for youth; and the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, which focuses on empowering young girls and women through advocacy and education.

The goal for the class projects is to increase the donation bases of the nonprofits and to increase their volunteers by attracting more attention to the causes, Osbon said.

Each of the five nonprofits has five groups of four students working on their marketing efforts.

Because the grant money isn’t hard cash, there’s a bit of a “safety net” for the students, Osbon said. If the advertising campaigns are successful, that’s great, but if they aren’t, there isn’t the fear of wasting someone else’s money.

“At the same time, because you know it is a large sum of money that could help, it makes you feel more inclined to work harder and actually do the work,” said Kelsey Clark, a junior marketing and finance major taking the class.

Clark is working for Warrick Dunn Charities this semester, a cause that is close to her heart as she was raised by a single mom.

But the project is useful on a practical level as well.

“As a junior, it’s been really helpful in interviews for internships because I can tell them that I’m actually handling $10,000 a month and working with an actual company and charity that is making a difference instead of just saying we had to write a paper explaining what we would do,” Clark said. “I can say we actually did this. These were our results, and this is how it helped the charity.”

The nonprofits aren’t left high and dry at the end of the semester, though. As the students learn how to manage the grant money and marketing efforts, they pass on that knowledge to the workers at the nonprofits. Osbon is also considering adding an intern who will manage the five charities over the summer until next fall’s class can take over where this semester’s students left off.

Osbon wants to continue to grow the program, something that is definitely doable given the demand for her classes. Every semester, she gets emails from students begging to be let into her courses. In addition to her two sections of Social Media Marketing Strategy and one section of Digital Marketing Analytics, Osbon is also teaching an extra “overload” class on the subject every semester until at least spring 2017.

But “the demand is just thrilling,” she said.

Osbon is accepting new clients into the program until the end of July, and she’ll help to get them Google-grant qualified. Interested charities should email her directly at

— Leigh Beeson, UGA News Service

June 2016
Firsthand lessons

Abigail Borron, an assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, helps students better understand how to communicate with the general public. Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski

Firsthand lessons

Assistant professor teaches students art of agricultural communication.

On a typical Friday morning in the middle of the semester, Abigail Borron's students aren't in class. They're working in food pantries across North Georgia helping to give a face to food insecurity.

By interviewing food bank clients, helping to tell their stories and documenting the work of Northeast Georgia’s largest anti-hunger nonprofit, the students are learning more than how to use a camera or connect with strangers. They’re expanding their worldview, developing empathy and building a greater understanding of how the food system works in the U.S.

“They’re volunteering, but I’m also teaching them observation techniques and this idea of ethnography in communication,” said Borron, who teaches agricultural communication in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The goal is that they realize that it’s not just about telling the story;it’s about recognizing how to engage—in this case, with food pantry clients—for the purposes of constructing a story that the food pantry clients would say, ‘Yes, that captures my experiences.’ ”

Borron built the course, Culture-Centered Communication and Engagement, in the agricultural leadership, education and communication department, as a way to help her students deconstruct biases and assumptions around hunger and food insecurity to help them become better communicators, better advocates and better journalists after graduation.

By the end of the semester, students produce a series of personal narratives that will be used for fundraising by network food pantries served by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

Agricultural communication has long been a major for students who want to advocate for agriculture, but Borron has adopted an expanded view of what that advocacy means. The story of agriculture is a great entry point for talking about everything from food access to nutrition to environmental sustainability, she said.

Students in agricultural communication still learn about the science and economics of large-scale agriculture so that they can explain these issues to the nonfarming public, but there’s an increased emphasis on how these issues impact life off the farm, in topics like nutrition, food security and public health.

“Students oftentimes come into agriculture from an agricultural background,” Borron said. “When they do, they often see themselves as being an advocate for all of agriculture. And that’s one of the things that I want to help them to understand: Not every aspect of agriculture is perfect. I want them to be an advocate for something, but they need to figure out what that’s going to be.”

Borron’s research always has focused on the intersection of marginalized audiences and effective community engagement. Drawing from areas of research in sociology, anthropology and communication, Borron extends to her students the benefit of learning about applied practices from all of those disciplines.

In addition to learning technical storytelling skills through exercises in news writing, photography, Web design and video production, she also works to expand students’ understanding of how the public interacts with the food system.

“From science communication to agricultural communication to environmental communication, there are lots of opportunities to tell those stories through an agricultural lens that we don’t really capitalize on, and that’s why I do this type of work,” she said.

June 2016
Cultural differences enhance learning

Lilia Gomez-Lanier, an assistant professor of furnishings and interiors in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, credits her interest in both cultural anthropology and architecture, as well as her unique upbringing, with shaping her teaching style. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

Cultural differences

Bicultural background informs, influences faculty member’s work.

Growing up in two countries and with an American mother and Venezuelan father, Lilia Gomez-Lanier recalls from childhood the difference between the two cultures, specifically how cultural values and beliefs affected the aesthetics of buildings and their interior spaces and how people used them. 

These cultural differences set the tone for Gomez-Lanier’s interest in the relationship between built environments and an individual’s meaning of space, aesthetics and use of space.

“I found it fascinating that homes and buildings in the U.S. and Venezuela were so different from one another,” said Gomez-Lanier, an assistant professor of furnishings and interiors in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “For instance, our home and those of our friends in the U.S. had painted walls with wood trim, carpet, hardwood floors and air conditioning, while in Venezuela our family home had terrazzo floors, the house was very open to the backyard and exterior walls were a combination of poured concrete and open concrete blocks with insect screens for natural ventilation.”

The differences didn’t end there, she said.

“In our house in the U.S. the family room with its TV was the primary room in the house, while in Venezuela the outdoor patio served as the primary room for our family and friends who would come to play dominoes nightly,” Gomez-Lanier said.

Before her career at UGA in 2013, Gomez-Lanier taught interior design at the Art Institute of Atlanta and worked as both an architect and interior designer for several firms in Atlanta.

Gomez-Lanier credits her interest in both cultural anthropology and architecture, as well as her unique upbringing, with shaping her teaching style.

In the classroom, she said she strives to give her students a voice, believing that learning is based on the combination of life experiences and classroom knowledge. She also expresses an appreciation for service and experiential learning while encouraging collaboration.

“Everybody has life experiences,” she said. “I might have the knowledge and professional experience, but you as the student have life knowledge that can add to class discussions, which enriches the learning process for all. Learning is a collaborative effort whether in the classroom or in an office.”

Gomez-Lanier teaches eight classes ranging from history of design, kitchen and bath studio to hand drafting and presentation in the college’s textiles, merchandising and interiors department.

She also serves as faculty adviser to the Student Interior Design Association and co-faculty adviser to UGA’s American Society Interior Design student chapter, and is a member of UGA’s Faculty Sustainability Community.

“I enjoy teaching because it is constantly evolving and dependent upon industry trends and educational pedagogies,” she said. “There is so much to learn in life that I try to learn at least one thing a day. Whatever knowledge I have I want to share with others.”

Gomez-Lanier’s research interests include online learning, the use and spatial quality of built environments, cultural expressions in the built environment and experiential learning.

She’s currently working on a research paper focused on the use of empathy in the classroom setting, which will be presented at a conference later this year.

The research grew out of a collaboration with the FACS Institute on Human Development and Disabilities, whose leaders asked Gomez-Lanier’s senior design studio students to propose renovation ideas for the homes of three disabled Georgia farmers.

“Not only did the students gain experience in interviewing a real client, but they also witnessed firsthand the difficulties a physically disabled older adult has with completing everyday activities in their own home, one that was not designed for a disabled person,” Gomez-Lanier said. “The students were able to step into the shoes of an actual person and empathize with them, gaining a greater understanding of how design integrates user program needs and enhances quality of life.”

June 2016
Personal instruction

Josh Putnam in the School of Public and International Affairs teaches a class in campaign politics with just nine students.

Personal instruction

Small class size initiative bringing 56 new faculty members to campus.

In a world where information is just an Internet search away, assistant professor Rodney Averett-one of the new faculty members hired as part of UGA's small class size initiative-sees his role as a guide who helps students develop their problem-solving skills.

“Smaller class sizes allow students to have more hands-on interaction with the professor, and it gives the professor more leverage to create a problem-based learning environment,” said Averett, who joined the College of Engineering this spring and infuses his instruction with case studies from his biomedical research.

A total of 56 faculty members will be hired to reduce class sizes. By fall 2016, 319 new course sections in 81 majors will be added, and the majority of the new course sections will have fewer than 20 students.

The small class size initiative is part of a broader effort to give UGA students more interaction with faculty members and learning experiences that are tailored to their aspirations. Students at UGA already complete First-Year Odyssey Seminar courses, which are limited to no more than 18 students, and in fall 2016 UGA will become the largest public university in the nation to ensure that each of its students participates in an internship, study abroad, service-learning, research or other form of hands-on learning through the new experiential learning requirement. Also in fall 2016, UGA will launch a campus-wide entrepreneurship certificate program created for students who are interested in launching and growing businesses and nonprofit organizations.

“The University of Georgia is unrivaled among large public universities in the learning opportunities it provides to students,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “Here, students have the kinds of personalized and hands-on experiences that are most commonly associated with elite private universities.”

Whitten said that the new course sections added through the small class size initiative satisfy graduation requirements in 50 departments across campus. The course sections were chosen based on enrollment trends, with an eye toward high-demand courses and challenging courses where students would benefit from more personalized attention. New course sections range from “Basics of Chemistry,” a core requirement in the physical sciences, to “Computational Engineering Methods,” which counts toward the graduation requirements of six majors.

“Increasing the number of small class sections in critical instruction areas will improve student learning and success as well as help keep students on track for graduation,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction.

The full impact of the small class size initiative won’t be felt until fall 2016, but the nine students in a campaign politics class taught by Josh Putnam in the School of Public and International Affairs have already given it a unanimous vote of approval.

“In smaller classes you get to know the professor better and more quickly,” said Caroline Kaltz, a junior Honors student pursuing a degree in mass media arts from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “You also get to know your classmates better, which creates a more comfortable atmosphere for speaking up in discussions.”

May 2016
Helping Communities
Serving communities

Filmmaker Jim McKay, top right, and musician/artist Michael Stipe, lower left, talk with a group of students at Clarke Central High School as part of a Willson Center for Humanities and Arts community program during a Spotlight on the Arts festival.

Serving communities

UGA has hundreds of programs and initiatives that affect the lives of Georgians and beyond, making the world a better place to live.

The University of Georgia has a massive impact on communities throughout Georgia. The economic impact alone is $4.4 billion a year. But that impact goes beyond the dollars and reaches deep into every corner of the state, touching people’s lives in innumerable ways.

From Public Service and Outreach units to UGA Extension to the Athletic Association, the programs and services are many and varied. Following are some examples — just the tip of the iceberg:

— In the last year alone, the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development trained more than 12,000 Georgians in leadership development in nearly every county in the state.

— The Archway Partnership is a unit of Public Service and Outreach created to enhance the land-grant mission of teaching, research and service while addressing critical community and economic development issues across Georgia. Since 2005, over 900 students, nearly 200 faculty members and hundreds of community leaders have participated in projects directly benefiting Archway Partnership communities.

UGA Extension has 288 agents across the state who have have 1,487,484 face-to-face contacts each year and has 47,508 programs to teach, lead and help Georgians live better lives.

— The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study works in partnership with federal wildlife agencies and 19 member states, including Georgia, to provide disease surveillance in wildlife populations and to maintain a healthy interface between wildlife, people, livestock and the environment they share. The cooperative was founded in 1957 and is a division of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Population Health.

Just My Imagination is the Georgia Museum of Art’s free statewide outreach program. In fiscal year 2015, the museum organized 10 programs, reaching 275 children in venues across the state.

— The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts partners with the Clarke County School District to arrange for WCHA guests in the Global Georgia Initiative and other programs to visit public schools.

— The Division of Academic Enhancement houses 3 pre-college TRIO programs, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. These programs (Educational Talent Search and two Upward Bound programs) provide services such as workshops, counseling, tutoring, and mentoring to middle and high school students in surrounding counties with the goal of participants attaining a high school diploma and enrolling in a postsecondary institution.

Recreational Sports’ Fitness & Wellness partners with UGA Extension on Walk Georgia fitness class offerings.

— Student-athletes participate in “Learn, Play, Excel” in which they visit schools to teach the importance of education.

— Public relations campaign classes in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication assist local programs including the Athens-Clarke County Food for Kids program, which saw a 41 percent increase in summer 2015 thanks to a Grady College campaign.

— The Institute for Disaster Management in the College of Public Health coordinates emergency response exercises in 232 hospital and health care institutions statewide and was awarded $756,000 in new federal funding to design and direct new Ebola emergency response initiatives for the Georgia health care system.

— The College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help to people with moderate incomes, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English-speaking taxpayers.

For more about outreach programs in UGA’s colleges and schools:

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Odum School of Ecology

College of Education

College of Engineering

College of Environment and Design

Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

College of Pharmacy

College of Public Health

School of Social Work

May 2016
Helping Communities
Sweet Progress

Sweet Progress is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Nicaraguan communities to profit from beekeeping.

Sweet Progress

UGA Honeybee Lab director helps expand honeybees’ reach.

Honeybees do more than produce honey and pollinate crops — they can help sustain a local community if their power is harnessed correctly.

Jennifer Berry, laboratory and apiary manager of the University of Georgia Honeybee Lab, recently returned to her honeybees after a 16-day journey through Nicaragua. She spent most of her time in Tipitapa, a town just north of the capital city of Managua.

Berry took her apiary and bee colonization expertise south to work with Sweet Progress, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Nicaraguan communities to profit from beekeeping.

Sweet Progress introduced large-scale bee colonization to Tipitapa as part of a multiphase sustainability project. The last phase teaches beekeeping skills to farmers — everything from colonization to disease prevention and honey quality control. That’s where Berry comes in.

Berry is an expert in honeybee queen raising, a vital component to a sustainable colonization that will continue to produce. She worked with about 50 students over the 16 days, half of whom were new to beekeeping.

She introduced them to the beekeeping basics, including hive construction, queen raising and the importance of bee pollination to sustain a small community.

The next phase worked with small groups, mostly comprised of women, to develop co-ops that will run the integrated bee business.

The co-op then works with local carpenters to construct the hive frames and artisans to develop bee byproduct packaging.

Vincent Cosgrove, founder and executive director of Sweet Progress, spends most of his time in Nicaragua fostering education-based leadership within the beekeeping co-ops.

The communities are poverty-stricken and there is little economic infrastructure to bring people out of that poverty, Cosgrove said. So programs like these that teach a sustainable skill are crucial.

Berry’s involvement was part of the pilot education program that Cosgrove hopes is the first of many.

“What really blew me away was how resourceful the Nicaraguan people were.”

— Jennifer Berry

Education initiatives are not new to UGA’s Honey Bee Program housed in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ entomology department — and are just as important to Berry as the actual bee raising.

Bees do much more than meets the eye, and it’s part of her job to educate the public on their productive properties, said Berry, who has a master’s degree in entomology from UGA and has been the program manager since 2000.

The Nicaraguan beekeeping veterans and newcomers alike worked with Berry and her team to bolster the town’s bee colonization, and also focused on learning commerce flow that will foster their bee byproduct business.

Sweet Progress teaches basic business skills to residents — how to deal with banks and package their bee-made honey, lotion and hand salve.

Access to marketable packaging is an obstacle in the town, so Berry’s education team helped come up with an alternative.

They decided to use the shells of jícaro fruit, a native Central American bloom, for canisters, and initiated a product marketing class to follow.

“What really blew me away was how resourceful the Nicaraguan people were,” she said.

An important part of Sweet Progress is empowering the residents to create a sustainable community that can get a fair price for their trade, by teaching not only a skill, but related classes as well. The idea is to help bring people out of poverty by expanding their skill set and integrating other community trades.

Berry says bees are a great way to spread that emancipation. And not just any bee — Nicaragua is home to the Africanized honeybee, which is a temperamental breed, she said.

“Beekeeping is 100 times harder there,” she said. “It’s a more aggressive bee, with a lower threshold for human interaction.”

In addition to the country’s harsher environment, the agricultural infrastructure has been devastated due to years of over-farming, she said.

“We go locally, regionally, nationally, internationally — we go all over the world and teach beginning bee schools all the way up to experienced beekeepers to disseminate information from our research.”

— Jennifer Berry

Although Berry’s involvement with Sweet Progress is new, extension and education are common threads in the Honeybee Lab’s work.

Last year, the lab introduced a beekeeping certificate program to Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, and turned 11 inmates into certified Georgia beekeepers who now have a viable skill set when they get out.

“Teaching beekeeping all over the world — from prisons to Nicaragua — we are interested in not only how bees make our food, but how they help [communities] in so many other ways,” Berry said.

As bee populations have been threatened worldwide recently, much research effort has been spent on understanding and reversing that decline. The Honeybee Lab spearheads the field in this area, most recently leading the Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project.

They also promote pollinator health education year-round and lead the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute — the 25th annual of which will be held this May. The educational beekeeping event focuses on training and current research, and acknowledges excellence in the field.

“I have the best job in the world, because we really put so much emphasis on education,” Berry said. “We go locally, regionally, nationally, internationally — we go all over the world and teach beginning bee schools all the way up to experienced beekeepers to disseminate information from our research.”

Berry is going back to Tipitapa next year to help residents expand on their skill sets and further their sustainability efforts.

—Erica Hensley, UGA News Service

May 2016
Helping Communities
Strengths and needs

Assistant professor Rebecca Matthew, second from right, watches activities at a First Friday gathering in East Athens.

Strengths and needs

University students, faculty work with East Athens community.

Residents of East Athens have been utilizing a study produced by graduate students from the University of Georgia School of Social Work, as well as other outreach efforts from university faculty and students, to improve the quality of life in the area.

“The students wanted to produce a document that would prove helpful in informing the scope of future change efforts within the community, as well as a data source to complement grant writing initiatives to support those efforts,” said assistant professor Rebecca Matthew. Under her guidance, they produced a community needs assessment during fall 2014 that has since been used for community revitalization efforts.

The students’ goal was to identify the community’s assets and strengths as well as areas of concern. The students worked in collaboration with the East Athens Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of people who live within U.S. Census tracts 301 and 302. They collected data on the area’s history and demographics such as population size, employment numbers, household makeup and education levels. Students then held forums with local service providers, leaders, residents, members of law enforcement and local government.

“Our aim was to learn more about the strengths and current needs of this Athens community, and to offer back a formal document sharing our findings,” said Julia Jones, a social work master’s degree student. “We were also hopefully laying some seeds for a better relationship with the university and the organizations who are positioned to be action-oriented in East Athens.”

The students identified seven main topics of concern. The three most often cited were a desire to enhance youth development opportunities, high unemployment and a need for greater community involvement in addressing problems.

Since the 93-page study’s completion, the local government has utilized it to determine priorities for community development block grant funding, and members of the EADC refer to it for data when seeking funding and other resources.

“The community assessment has been very useful to the East Athens Development Corporation,” said Winston Heard, CEO and executive director of the EADC. “It helped us to frame our five-year strategic plan, and the forums conducted during the data gathering process brought together both community residents and stakeholders and helped to identify gaps in perception about youth and how the community prioritizes needs.”

Matthew and others at the School of Social Work also continue to support outreach efforts with the district. Some of her students assisted with a well-attended event called “First Friday”held at the East Athens Community Center last June. The festive gathering brought youth, families, community members and local service providers together to enhance awareness of and access to local public services. Members of the UGA Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights, in collaboration with East Athens youth and students from UGA’s student chapter of the National Art Education Association, also helped create an outdoor mural of civil rights figures. The mural, located at the Triangle Plaza shopping center, was dedicated in February 2016. The “First Friday” event—which continues to be held the first Friday of summer months—as well as the mural were the brainchild of Broderick Flanigan, an East Athens artist.

Matthew also is finalizing a project with the Unified Government of Clarke County to support another assessment, this time focused on youth in the area. The project, she said, “builds on some of the earlier assessment’s top priorities: youth development and community involvement, as well as building relationships within the local communities.”

A copy of the East Athens Community Assessment is posted at For more information about collaborations between the School of Social Work and the East Athens community, contact Rebecca Matthew at

— Laurie Anderson, School of Social Work

May 2016
Helping Communities
Youth court expands

Students in the Clarke County peer court program look over papers in a case. The successful program has been expanded to Forsyth County.

Youth court expands

Fanning Institute peer court model shows good results, expands to Forsyth County.

In 2015, Forsyth County became the latest to implement a peer court developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership Development.

Fanning faculty member Emily Boness first designed a customized youth-driven model three years ago for Athens-Clarke County to address teenage delinquency.

Peer courts are juvenile court programs for first-time misdemeanor offenses. Trained teenagers from the community hear the cases and serve as advocates, judge, jurors and bailiff.

The programs provide leadership opportunities for youth, while freeing judges’ time to focus on more serious cases. The results in Clarke County have been positive. Cases are heard sooner and the recidivism rate is only 17.5 percent, compared to 53 percent for Georgia’s juvenile court system.

Rebecca Rusk, a Forsyth County Juvenile Court administrator, received a grant from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to support the Forsyth program, which Boness helped launch.

“I think it hits home more when kids my age give the sentence and tell a respondent that what they did was wrong,” said Madison Lavell, senior at Forsyth High School and peer court volunteer. “You have friends promoting what you did wrong and then at peer court there are kids saying, ‘No, you’ve got to shape up and get a handle on it.’”

APC is a collaborative effort of the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Street Law at UGA’s School of Law, the Athens-Clarke County Juvenile Court, and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and is funded by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, through the Federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program.

May 2016
Helping Communities
Flashes and bangs

Physics graduate student Lenny Shenje uses a small flame to explode a gas-filled balloon for students in the Thomas Lay after-school program. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Flashes and bangs

Come and see the show: Service-learning course designed to reach and teach budding young scientists.

Show, don’t tell” is a familiar admonition that cuts across many fields.

Showing how something works can be a poignant tool for sharing scientific concepts. The classroom changes when students put on the safety glasses and cue the smoke.

Associate professor of physics Susanne Ullrich has embarked on a new method designed to teach and to reach young scientists with her service-learning course, Communicating Science Topics to Diverse Audiences: Service Learning through Science Shows.

“In the first part of the course, we talk about different topics in physics and astronomy based on recent scientific literature, journal articles and publications,” said Ullrich, who is implementing the course as part of her Service-Learning Fellowship. “The students select topics of interest to them and we discuss the science at an expert level, in class. Then they identify the underlying scientific concepts that they can explain to kids at the middle school level. And to do that, they make a show out of it.”

Sounds simple enough, and for Ullrich perhaps it is. The Physics 4900/6900 service-learning course evolved from a National Science Foundation grant-supported international collaboration in chemistry with colleagues Nick Barker and Vas Stavros at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. “The grant included broader impact activities, and my collaborators had already established a science show and outreach program at the University of Warwick. When they came to visit Georgia, we decided to go into the schools here and do science shows to explain our research.”

Beginning in 2010, Ullrich and colleagues visited schools in the Athens area including Clarke County and Burney-Harris-Lyons middle schools, Oconee County Middle School, Madison County Middle School and North Oconee High School. Over four years, the team reached out to around 1,000 kids with their shows each year. The shows were focused on various aspects of research the scientists were doing in the lab at that time. “So lasers, vacuum, and some chemistry, looking at molecules,” Ullrich said.

By the time that particular NSF International Collaboration in Chemistry program ended, the team started to integrate graduate students into their science show performances. When an announcement went out about the UGA Service-Learning Fellows program, Ullrich applied and her course was one of 19 projects by UGA faculty members selected.

The course is designed to combine and develop different skills of the students.

“When we started the shows, as part of the grant, Nick Barker, who is an outreach professional, was the lead presenter who explained the science and concepts, while my research collaborator and I were doing the demonstrations,” Ullrich said.

For the course, the students are paired in groups of two or three, and while one is explaining the science, the others serve as their assistants in fulfilling the demos. “So for each topic there is one main presenter with one or two assistants. They switch roles and at some point everyone serves as a main presenter.”

At the beginning of the course, Ullrich provides the students with broad topics — astronomy, condensed matter physics, nanotechnology and material sciences, atomic and molecular physics, geophysics, earth and environmental sciences, and medical physics. The students then select specific topics that interest them and discuss some of the latest scientific discoveries. “It’s like a journal club. Looking through scientific literature and having discussions on the research.”

The students then develop ideas on how to talk about the science and explain the concepts to general audiences. The process involves a novel combination of teaching and learning for the students.

“Seeing the kids’ reactions when we set off an explosion is the best part! I like that most of our group is female so hopefully we can inspire young girls to become scientists in the future.”

— Samantha Dean

“We’re working on two things at once: How to read and understand the scientific literature, how to talk about it on an expert level, just among scientists,” Ullrich said. “And then we’re looking at it in a different way, figuring out how you explain some of these topics to non-experts. And that’s where the show comes in.”

“It’s kind of like the science shows you see on TV. We discuss the Earth’s atmosphere, pour liquid nitrogen into a bucket and add boiling water into it and you observe the formation of a huge cloud. We discuss alternative fuels, ignite hydrogen-filled balloons and set ethanol vapor on fire to demonstrate the energy release.”

The UGA students have responded to the challenge with enthusiasm that reflects the excitement of the middle school audiences.

“The class has definitely been an interesting experience and has shown me a new perspective of educating the public about science,” said Tara Cotten, a graduate student in physics and astronomy from Toledo, Ohio. “I am glad that we are also getting the chance to reach audiences that may have never had another opportunity to see how awesome science can be.”

“This is my first time both learning about and teaching physics,” said Samantha Dean, a second-year master’s student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources from Fayetteville, Georgia. “Seeing the kids’ reactions when we set off an explosion is the best part! I like that most of our group is female so hopefully we can inspire young girls to become scientists in the future.”

“It has been a great experience to work with students from different backgrounds to create a show for kids so they can see science in a more animated way,” said Annika Bergmann, a first-year graduate student in physics and astronomy from Rostock, Germany.

Other UGA students participating in the science show performances include Alexander Cook, Mirabella Garrett, Lenny Shenje and Jose Sanchez-Rodriguez.

By the beginning of May, the students will have donned their lab coats for 50-minute “Big Science 6” shows at Athens Academy, Extra Special People, the 10th Anniversary Service-Learning Showcase, Thomas Lay after-school program, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School and the Pinewoods Library. Ullrich says one challenge of scheduling the shows is timing: The shows require time to develop, which makes them performance-ready by later in the semester when local schools are engaged with testing. As a consequence, Ullrich has begun including after-school programs as audiences.

One of the goals of this service-learning project is to have enough students trained for a sustainable, student-organized and student-run science roadshow program at UGA.

“So if we need a science show for a public event, either here on campus or if a school or community program contacts us, we are ready,” Ullrich said.

“I hope that our ‘Big Science 6’ show leaves our student audiences across Athens with a diverse picture of both science and scientists and inspires them to keep asking ‘why?’ and ‘how?’” Cotten said.

Ullrich, Cotten and other UGA students are showing them how to do just that.

— Alan Flurry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

May 2016
Helping Communities
Navigating the maze

Students participating in the Hawkinsville Teen Maze learn about the responsibilities of parenthood among many other challenges they face each day. (Shannah Cahoe Montgomery/UGA)

Navigating the maze

Real life simulations help teens understand consequences of actions.

The University of Georgia is helping communities reach teenagers in an innovative way.

The university’s Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, coordinated the Hawkinsville Teen Maze in April, a series of scenarios that showed students the consequences of risky decisions.

“It showed real-life experiences,” said Hawkinsville High School sophomore Madison Head. “Stuff like this could really happen. Some people get emotional because it is so real.”

The day began with the aftermath of a simulated deadly wreck on the lawn in front of Hawkinsville High School followed by a makeshift emergency room inside, where nurses frantically worked to save a dying teenager. Out in the courtyard was a jail reminding Head and her classmates of the consequences of drinking and driving.

Head was one of 600 teenagers and nearly 200 community volunteers that participated. It was the third time Hawkinsville High School has held a teen maze following events in 2012 and 2014. Each participant filled out a survey before and after, asking how likely they were to make some of the risky decisions portrayed.

“I have pages and pages of stories,” said Vonnie Berryhill, one of the event chairs and coordinator of Hawkinsville/Pulaski County Family Connection. “Some of them even recall the names of the volunteers. They talk about rehab and ER. There’s a coroner who talks about pulling girls (out of wrecks). You know it affected them because they remember the names (of presenters).”

The Teen Maze is the result of over a decade of UGA Public Service and Outreach initiatives. In 2003, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government conducted a study that found rural communities across the country needed help with unique community and economic development challenges. That led to a grant program through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs called Communities of Opportunity.

The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development worked on the Communities of Opportunity program, which launched in 2007. Grants were aimed toward addressing challenges identified in the community. While that program has expired, the Teen Maze continues to be coordinated through Archway Partnership.

The Teen Maze has been modeled elsewhere in the state, including in Washington County through Archway. Officials from Grady and Houston counties attended the 2016 edition with an eye toward bringing it to new areas.

The focal point of the Hawkinsville program has been combating teen pregnancy.

“I really think throughout rural Georgia this is a real challenge,” said Pulaski County Archway Professional Michelle Elliott. “Maybe in the past, methods we’ve used to reach teenagers have not been responded to as well as we have liked. It’s great sign that communities are looking at ways to reach teenagers.”

Each student left with a list of resources for dealing with issues like drug abuse, bullying, suicide and eating disorders. The goal is to make it to graduation. The maze ends with a mock ceremony where participants wear a real cap and gown.

“It is set up as a game, not a lecture or something boring,” Elliott said. “It’s a chance to see what could happen if they make a wrong choice. It is about making good personal choices about your body.”

The Teen Maze has drawn the attention of other Georgia counties, Elliott said. In addition to Washington, Grady and Houston, representatives from Treutlen, Montgomery, Wheeler and Putnam counties have expressed interest in the program.

— Christopher James, Public Service and Outreach

May 2016
Helping Communities
Fighting coastal threats

From left, Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow Erin Lipp and her students Martinique Edwards, Hayleigh McCall and Keri Lydon collect water samples near Brunswick. (Photo by Elle Smith)

Fighting coastal threats

UGA environmental health professor researches the impacts of discarded drugs and toiletries on coastal waters.

For most people, washing clothes, dishes, and even their hands are a daily practice in good hygiene. To Erin Lipp, these common behaviors can be a threat to coastal ecosystems and to the people who live near them.

As a 2015-16 Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow, Lipp and her students study how products containing triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient found often in soaps, cosmetics and some plastics, affect the salt marsh along the Georgia coast.

They are looking at whether estuarine bacteria, especially Vibrio, which are a growing cause of disease in humans, may be resistant to this ingredient, a problem similar to antibiotic resistance. As triclosan enters the estuary from discharged wastewater, it could allow increased growth of resistant bacteria, which could mean an increased risk of exposure to these pathogens for people who are in the water or who eat shellfish that live there.

“We’re concerned that they could be developing resistance to the (antibacterial), which could potentially increase the risk of (people) being exposed to pathogens in marine waters,” said Lipp, a professor of environmental health science in the College of Public Health.

The work Lipp is doing in conjunction with Marine Extension is valuable to Brunswick-Glynn County, said Mark Ryals, superintendent of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Operations Division for the consolidated city-county government.

It is important that the county educate residents about the consequences of flushing products containing chemicals down their toilets.

“We want to get that word out as much as possible,” Ryals said.

On a cold fall morning last year, Lipp and her students, including Keri Lydon, a 2015-16 Public Service and Outreach graduate assistant, leave on skiffs from a boat landing in Brunswick to collect samples of water from the tidal creeks that connect to the Frederica River, near a wastewater treatment plant.

On the boat, they check the temperature, salinity and pH for each tube of water collected, which is then capped, documented and stored for later processing. They also collect sediment from the creek bottom. Samples of water and sediment are collected above and below the wastewater treatment plant, and near the point where water is discharged into the river.

Back at the lab in Brunswick, Lipp and the students do the initial processing of the water and sediment. At one table, water drips through a filter, where the bacteria will collect, a process that will take hours to complete, Lydon said. Once collected, the researchers sequence the DNA for the entire community of bacteria to identify changes in the types and levels of bacteria that are present. This helps them understand how the changes are related to their proximity to the wastewater treatment plant and compare those findings to the data on the levels of triclosan in water from the same area.

Nearby, another of Lipp’s students uses a vacuum pump to filter bacteria onto membranes attached to agar, a jelly-like substance that holds the membranes in place and allows the bacteria to grow overnight. The next day, the team counts the bacterial colonies on the membrane to determine the number of Vibrio, and compare those numbers to the concentration of triclosan in the corresponding sediment and water sample. They also look for fecal matter, which would indicate the influence of wastewater on the sample and could mean a higher presence of triclosan.

Dr. Jia-Sheng Wang, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Public Health and head of the department of environmental health science, said, “We have been very pleased with the opportunities that Dr. Lipp’s PSO Fellowship has provided to Environmental Health Science. The ability to offer a field-based course at the coast was unique and offered an experience that many (Master of Public Health) students would not otherwise have. Increasing interactions between our department and Marine Extension is important for building more collaborations on coastal health issues in the future and this fellowship was an important foundation for that work.”

— Kelly Simmons, Public Service and Outreach

May 2016
Helping Communities
Serving the underserved

Henry Young meets with staff at Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville. (Shannah Montgomery/UGA)

Serving the underserved

UGA pharmacy professor helps rural communities address public health issues.

HHenry Young wants to make the UGA College of Pharmacy a fixture in communities across Georgia.

The Kroger Associate Professor in Community Pharmacy got involved with the Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, soon after he arrived at UGA in 2013.

Already, the College of Engineering was sending students and faculty into the eight rural communities working with Archway. They were doing “wonderful work,” Young said, and he saw an opportunity to do the same with public health through pharmacy.

As a 2015-16 Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow, he began focusing on ways to use his expertise to provide real-world solutions to critical issues facing many Georgians.

“I’m really interested in helping people,” Young said. “I can stay in my box and dictate. However, the approach I like to take is go out and really identify needs that folks have.”

The Pulaski County Archway community had needs that neatly matched Young’s research interests in underserved, rural populations. Like many small hospitals, Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville was struggling with patient readmissions and the accompanying financial penalties from the federal government.

In collaboration with Taylor Regional Hospital, Young proposed studying what causes patients diagnosed with COPD, pneumonia and congestive heart failure to return to the hospital. The findings could have lasting impacts for rural hospitals across Georgia.

“I thought this was an opportunity to find something of great value to rural hospitals,” said Pulaski Archway Professional Michelle Elliott. “If we can find some solutions, it could be really rewarding not only for us but the hospitals throughout the state.”

Young knew about existing research in urban areas and at major academic medical centers, but this was a chance to develop an action plan customized to rural Georgia. Along with graduate assistant Shada Kanchanasuwan, Young developed a longitudinal study that looks at factors like medication, nutrition and follow-up appointments with doctors. Patients are interviewed in the hospital and then by telephone three times in the first month after their discharge.

“The only other way you’d get this is to hire consultants to come in and do it. It wouldn’t get done.”

— Skip McDannald Jr.

“The care that we give the patients here doesn’t end when they go home,” said Melissa Johnson, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. “We want to make sure they have all the necessary equipment or education and that we follow up with them. I think this will be valuable information.”

Young sees Pulaski County as a model for community-based research that involves residents. His pursuit of public service projects like this is one of the reasons a hiring committee plucked him from the University of Wisconsin in 2013. The committee said he wasn’t just a successful classroom professor but he had a strong ability to develop projects like the one in Hawkinsville.

“Working with UGA Public Service and Outreach allows Dr. Young to gain insights into the daily lives and health care needs of people in the state,” said Brad Phillips, the Millikan-Reeve professor and head of clinical and administrative pharmacy in UGA’s College of Pharmacy. “In turn, he shares this information with students and engages them in discussion about root causes of and possible solutions to overcome issues faced by Georgians.”

It’s the reason Archway exists. Without UGA’s help, Taylor Healthcare Group Interim CEO Skip McDannald Jr. said it would be nearly impossible for small communities to get this kind of insight.

“I think we were fortunate to be an Archway Partnership county,” McDannald said. “We’re a small county; we’re definitely not a rich county. The only other way you’d get this is to hire consultants to come in and do it. It wouldn’t get done.”

— Christopher James, Public Service and Outreach

May 2016
Helping Communities
Making healthy<br> food choices

Georgia 4-H Agent Marie Trice teaches nutrition lessons to HOPE action leaders so they can in turn teach food-insecure children and their parents.

Healthy food choices

Unique UGA partnership trains high school students to educate food-insecure Georgians.

As University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s youth leadership program, Georgia 4-H reaches children in every county across the state. One of the four founding principles of 4-H is health, and club members promise to pledge their health for better living each time they recite the 4-H pledge. So a new program that teaches leadership skills and health food choices is a perfect fit for Georgia 4-H.

Enter the 4-H HOPE Action Leader program — Helping Other People Eat and Eat Healthy. The program is the result of a unique partnership between Georgia 4-H, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Georgia Food Bank Association and the Arby’s Foundation.

“By combining Children’s Healthcare’s Strong4Life ambassador program for high school students with Georgia 4-H’s leadership development programs and resources from the Georgia Food Bank Association, we can now offer a tract for action leaders and combat childhood hunger and obesity in our state,” said Mandy Marable, a UGA Extension specialist in the Georgia 4-H state office.

Why does Georgia need a program like this? One in four Georgia children is food insecure, which means they are unsure of where or when they will get their next meal. As a result of persistently high unemployment, 82 percent of Georgia families rely on food pantries for assistance, Marable said. And four in 10 Georgia children are ranked as overweight or obese.

To reach this population of Georgians, the HOPE partnership first started a student recipe contest, Pantry Pride. Georgia 4-H’ers create a recipe using foods typically received from a food pantry. The student-cooks learn about poverty, hunger and underprivileged Georgians, as well as the cost of food and what it takes to feed a family. As an aside, a recipe bank of inexpensive, nutritious meals is created for distribution at food pantries.

Next, high school-aged 4-H’ers, called action leaders, were trained to teach, mentor and lead community service projects focused on raising awareness of the correlation of hunger to obesity. The program was piloted two years ago in DeKalb and Rockdale Counties where healthy snack food demonstrations, a Kids Day of Play carnival, healthy food drives at high schools and elementary schools, and lessons at farmers markets were presented and healthy snack videos were created by the student leaders.

“Who would think that there are obese people who are classified as hungry,” said Marie Trice, 4-H agent in DeKalb County. “We have to teach people how to identify people with this problem so that we can close the gap and make people aware of the essentials — be active, drink more water, get less screen time, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink less sugary drinks and eat less fats.”

Trice’s HOPE 4-H’ers delivered healthy snack lessons using impactful visuals to show how much sugar or fat children, and adults, consume. “For example, in a typical program we might line up 10 drinks from a high-powered energy drink to juice to water,” she said. “Then the students, and adults, have to put them in order based on their sugar content. Most people get it wrong.”

“The program was a great way to educate youth about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and that being healthy was more than just exercising.”

— Brian Lucear

In another lesson, students must select the healthiest snack between a glass of juice and a cup of jelly beans. “The point is that the juice contains as much sugar as the jelly beans. But you would never give your child a cup of jelly beans as a snack,” Trice said. “As a home economics major, I know a serving of juice has always been 4 ounces, but no one drinks just 4 ounces of juice any more.”

Another visual is a soft drink placed atop 30 pounds of sugar to represent how much sugar a person consumes in a year by drinking one soft drink per day. To show how much fat is in a typical fast food hamburger, the 4-H’ers spread Crisco on a burger and then offer it to the students.

“The kids are teaching the lessons and the program was designed to have the kids going into the community and making a difference,” said Trice, whose daughter was among the first action leaders to be trained. “When the students know better choices, they can make better choices.”

Trice saw the student-leaders make better choices as they were trained to teach the healthy choices’ lessons. “I watched them change their habits. My own daughter started drinking more water and less sodas. Now I can’t pay her to drink a soda,” she said.

Artis Trice (no relation) became a HOPE action leader after watching commercials about impoverished American families. “I was truly puzzled by the fact that one of the most indulgent countries in the world could have so many people wondering where their next meal would come from,” said Trice, a student at Arabia Mountain High School. “I thought I would become a health machine, teaching people about healthy living while encouraging families and individuals to seek community programs in which they could get nourishment.”

Brian Lucear, now a mass media major in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, was also one of the pilot action leaders. “Since teaching the children, I find myself being more cautious of choices in my diet, especially with carbonated drinks,” he said. The program was a great way to educate youth about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and that being healthy was more than just exercising.”

Lucear’s correct. The HOPE program incorporates nutritional advice from Extension specialists in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, uses UGA Extension’s Walk Georgia physical fitness program to teach children and their parents to add more exercise to their daily lives and lessons from National 4-H Council’s Health Rocks! Program to teach well-rounded healthy life skills.

In DeKalb County, Trice has built a network of support at parks and recreation centers and after-school programs. Marable says this is one reason DeKalb County was selected as a pilot county.

“DeKalb County has a high obesity rate and and a high food insecurity rate,” Trice said. “By combining our strengths, 4-H, the food bank and Children’s Healthcare are able to reach a lot of young people across the state through the HOPE program. This is one of the most positive partnerships I’ve ever been a part of. We are truly reaching people where obesity and hunger intersect.”

The pilot group organized five community-based youth-led projects that reached 453 adults and 502 youths. Now two years after the program was launched, HOPE action leaders teach healthy living lessons in 15 counties across Georgia.

— Sharon Dowdy, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

May 2016
Helping Communities
Connect to Protect

The focus of the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies is to protect native plants in danger of extinction and educate the public about why it is important to use those plants in landscaping.

Connect to Protect

UGA promotes pollinator program in Athens and across the state.

If conservationists at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia have their way, the newly dedicated Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies will one day be obsolete.

“We will teach growers how to grow native plants for restoration, for gardening with native plants and we’ll have such a supply in the green industry that we won’t do that production anymore,” says Jennifer Ceska, the garden’s conservation coordinator. “We’re working to get these plants back on the land.”

Central to that vision is an effort called Connect to Protect. The program aims to install native plants in small, public spaces across the state to support pollinators and other wildlife. It’s a way to educate people about the importance of native plants by creating habitats in places like schools, businesses and public parks.

And the program is already getting traction.

Last fall, Macon-Bibb County partnered with the garden to install nearly 2,000 native plants in several public parks. Stephen Reichert, the chairman of the garden’s advisory board and a Macon native, hopes that project will serve as a model for partnerships with other communities across Georgia.

“We’ve gotten good publicity here in Macon and I have continued to talk to the director of park services about expanding and building on the start we have made,” Reichert said.

At a recent advisory board meeting, State Botanical Garden of Georgia Director Wilf Nicholls said other Georgia cities considering the Connect to Protect program include Madison, Watkinsville and Gainesville.

Mimsie Lanier, the long-time advisory board member for whom the Center for Native Plant Species is named, said she is coordinating with other advisory board members in Gainesville about putting together plants in that city.

Partnering with other communities is a major expansion from the program’s initial goal of building pollinator gardens in local schools. Connect to Protect began as a way for garden educators to venture into schools near Athens and run a variety of activities centered around native plants and pollinators. That evolved into a full curriculum, called the Connect to Protect module, that teachers can use on their own.

Graduate student Lauren Muller, who is coordinating the program this spring, is dreaming bigger than schools. She spent much of her undergraduate career at UGA volunteering with the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies.

A former barista, Muller already has gotten buy-in from Hendershot’s Coffee and Jittery Joe’s. A class with the Odum School of Ecology recently installed a plot of native plants for Connect to Protect at Athens Regional Medical Center’s Healing Garden off Sylvan Road.

“We just want as many gardens as possible,” Muller said. “It doesn’t matter the size. We are trying to create continuity in pollinator habitat. Sticking to just schools isn’t going to help that goal. We need to diversify and get these gardens in people’s yards, in coffee shops, local businesses, that sort of thing. I think word is getting out and people are getting really excited about it.”

It’s the perfect synergy of education and conservation, Muller said. The biggest obstacle is that most people don’t know how to care for native plants. The garden can provide experts to examine potential sites and provide tips, she said.

“They think that it is mysterious and challenging, but it’s not,” Muller said. “It’s a matter of proper siting and knowing what kind of species you’re working with. Education is a huge aspect of it.”

— Christopher James, Public Service and Outreach

April 2016
A beautiful common ground

A backpacker stops for a quick break and a map check near Aspen, Colorado. (Bynum Boley/University of Georgia)

A beautiful common ground

Ecotourism, natural resource conservation proposed as allies to protect natural landscapes.

If environmentalists want to protect fragile ecosytems from landing in the hands of developers—in the U.S. and around the globe—they should team up with ecotourists, according to a University of Georgia study published in the Journal of Ecotourism.

Environmentalists often fear that tourists will trample all over sensitive natural resource areas, but tourism may bring the needed and only economic incentives to help drive conservation, said study co-author Bynum Boley, an assistant professor in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Ecotourism and natural resource conservation already have a mutually beneficial relationship that is ideal for creating a sustainable partnership.

“Ecotourism destinations benefit in the form of enhanced tourism competitiveness from the protection of quality natural resources,” he said. “Meanwhile, the conservation of these natural resources is increasingly valued since these pristine natural resources are the foundation of the ecotourism industry and the driver of all economic benefits associated with ecotourism.”

Tourism is a $7.6 trillion global industry, provides 277 million jobs and is a primary income source for 20 of the world’s 48 least-developed countries, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. It also subsidizes environmental protection and helps protect, conserve and value cultural resources that might otherwise be undervalued by the host community, Boley said.

In the new paper, Boley and co-author Gary Green, an associate professor also in the Warnell School, said that despite past tension between the tourism industry and environmentalists, the two should team up as allies to fight off increasing conversion of land away from its natural state.

Ecotourists not only provide a boost to the economy in such places, they can also motivate landowners into keeping the environment in its natural state instead of converting it into something unsustainable. They could also influence the public perception of conservation, Boley explained, which does not often favor environmental protection.

“The public has become increasing less prone to respond to environmental messages,” he said. “Economic messages are needed in order to attract the public’s interest.”

Too often, Boley and Green said, unique natural resource areas are converted into urban, suburban and agricultural developments without considering their ecotourism potential. In addition to the lost ecotourism revenue, there are a host of negative environmental consequences such as biodiversity loss, water and food shortages and the land being unable to mitigate the effects of climate change. These areas are not valued for their unique attributes or the valuable natural resources they provide, Green said, “so we lose them.”

Tourists have historically been seen as having a negative impact on the environment. Critics complain that they violate fragile and threatened natural environments while contributing to greenhouse gases from the increased number of flights to these exotic and often remote locales.

While these criticisms are justified, Boley and Green said responsible programs promote education of ecological conservation and environmental sustainability, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of these exotic areas.

“Although ecotourism has its downfalls, environmentalists may have no other choice but to work with the tourism industry to protect key ecosystems,” Green said.

“The success of this relationship between ecotourism and natural resource conservation hinges on the ability to strike a balance between tourism development and resource protection, and the ability for those in control to take a long-term view of success where cumulative profits, resident quality of life and ecosystem health are valued over short-term economic gains.”

— Bynum Boley

Boley and Green argue that ecotourists should be considered an ally to the environment and outline what they call a symbiotic relationship where an increase in conservation leads to ecotourism competitiveness.

“The health of an ecotourism destination and the health of its ecosystem go hand-in-hand because they coalesce to place a higher economic value on natural landscapes than would be represented through converting that land to other uses,” Boley said.

Boley and Green have proposed a new model where researchers consider how much money tourists bring to a region via ecotourism when calculating the value of that ecosystem, precisely because of this symbiotic relationship. They also suggest that managers of these destinations should begin tailoring their marketing toward responsible ecotourists to draw these travelers — and their money — there.

It’s also important to increase public awareness of the effects ecotourism has on protecting fragile ecosystems, Boley said.

“A key point is that there is the potential for this type of symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. “The success of this relationship between ecotourism and natural resource conservation hinges on the ability to strike a balance between tourism development and resource protection, and the ability for those in control to take a long-term view of success where cumulative profits, resident quality of life and ecosystem health are valued over short-term economic gains.”

The study, “Ecotourism and natural resource conservation: The ‘potential’ for a sustainable symbiotic relationship,” is available online.

— Sandi Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

April 2016

Healthy growth

UGA students rehab Athens-area hospital’s healing garden.

Urban ecology students at the University of Georgia had the opportunity to cultivate garden therapy this spring as part of a service-learning course. Led by doctoral student James Wood, they spent a recent Saturday morning preparing soil and installing plants in a new Bird and Pollinator Garden, located in the Healing Garden at the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support at Athens Regional Medical Center.

Additional help came from members of the UGA Ecology Club and volunteers from the Odum School of Ecology.

The Healing Garden was officially dedicated in May 2002 to serve the hospitals’ patients, employees and the community. A collaborative effort from the beginning, the garden encompasses approximately three acres of open and partly wooded space on the campus of Athens Regional Medical Center and is still growing after more than a decade in use.

Wood lives near the Healing Garden and noticed that it lacked native wildflowers for pollinators. He approached ARMC last fall with a proposal that he hoped would bring joy to garden users and offer a vital habitat for resident birds and monarch butterflies, which are in decline. The Bird and Pollinator Garden he designed aims to do just that.

“The people who are often in the Healing Garden are experiencing a stressful point in their life,” Wood said. “It just seemed to fit well that we could bring together some wildlife habitat, some educational opportunities for students and make the area a little more beautiful for those who use it.”

The expansion introduces approximately 30 native species of flora designed to help sustain wildlife to the Healing Garden. At the same time, the mix of perennial plants offers erosion control, visual softening of close-by sidewalk and bridge structures and varied color and shape that will give balance to more manicured areas of the garden.

“The Bird and Pollinator Garden project has already engaged a group of students, and it stands to bring awareness and health benefits to countless people and wildlife in the area,” said Joel Siebentritt, manager of Cancer Support Services at ARMC. “The bottom line is Athens Regional’s Healing Garden doesn’t just impact our patients and their families. (It) brings benefit to our 3,000 hospital employees and the neighborhood as well.”

Wood is following a long legacy of UGA students who have contributed to the Healing Garden. Students under the lead of now Professor Emeritus Marguerite Koepke, an expert in therapeutic landscapes, helped lay the groundwork for the garden: They surveyed the lot, inventoried existing vegetation and developed creative proposals to maximize the use of the space to meet its therapeutic goals.

“It’s exciting to see the difference that these students made. Where there was once bare clay and turf grass, there are now wildflowers blooming. It looks great.”

— James Wood

“I think students take home a lot more when they get their fingernails dirty, when they’re holding onto plants,” Wood said. “It helps them realize they really can have an impact on the environment if they want to.”

UGA involvement has been complemented by assistance from partners within ARMC including facilities management, Athens Regional Auxiliary and Athens Regional Foundation. Financial support has come from UGA’s River Basin Center, UGA’s Office of STEM Education, Oconee River Audubon Society, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Lowes and Home Depot.

The result is tremendous activity in the garden over the past five years, all focused on accomplishing the landscape design recommendations made years ago and updated to reflect current knowledge and site conditions.

Recent improvements include the installation of the Meditation Garden, a labyrinth of paved walkways and bridges giving access to garden features and viewpoints; a children’s play scape; and additional plantings to accent the various garden elements.

“It’s exciting to see the difference that these students made,” Wood said. “Where there was once bare clay and turf grass, there are now wildflowers blooming. It looks great.”

— R.E. Denty, Odum School of Ecology

April 2016
Researching alternatives

A one-megawatt solar tracking demonstration project, located on a 10-acre site at UGA, will demonstrate optimal orientation and tracking technology suited for Georgia’s climate and energy demand. (Robert Newcomb/UGA)

Researching alternatives

Georgia Power, UGA advancing solar energy through solar tracking demonstration project.

Fields of solar panels popped out of the ground recently at the University of Georgia. On South Milledge Avenue, acreage that once housed the Red Barn and its surrounding property is now home to a solar tracking demonstration.

The collaboration between Georgia Power and the University of Georgia is designed to both demonstrate and spark advances in solar energy in the state.

In December, Georgia Power leaders joined University of Georgia officials, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and community and business leaders to dedicate the one megawatt project. The demonstration site is located on a 10-acre plot owned by UGA and is the result of a utility/university collaboration.

“Working in coordination with the Georgia Public Service Commission, and through strong relationships with organizations such as UGA, we have positioned Georgia as a national solar leader,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “Now more than ever, it’s essential that we continue to invest in the research and development of new technologies to make solar, and all generation sources, as reliable, efficient and cost-effective for our customers as possible.”

Research will be conducted under a two-year collaboration with UGA researchers, spearheaded by the College of Engineering, to study solar forecasting and the effects of solar panel soiling versus performance. Data analysis and performance reporting will occur through a Georgia Power partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute.

The project will demonstrate optimal orientation and tracking technology suited for Georgia’s climate and energy demand with project partners studying the performance and reliability of various fixed and tracking configurations of five separate sub-arrays.

Georgia Power owns and will operate the facility under a 20-year lease agreement with UGA. Energy produced by the facility will flow to the state’s electric grid to serve customers. UGA will receive the renewable energy credits, or RECs.

“The complex problems facing our world today, such as the need to expand our sources of energy, require not only interdisciplinary efforts but also multi-institutional efforts that involve higher education, private industry, and government,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Solar Tracking Demonstration Project is a perfect example of this type of broad collaboration, and the University of Georgia is pleased to be part of this exciting endeavor.”

Georgia Power’s solar programs, including the Advanced Solar Initiative, are adding thousands of solar panels to Georgia’s energy landscape. Through the ASI and other programs, including new solar projects at four Georgia military bases currently under construction, Georgia Power is developing one of the largest voluntary solar portfolios in the nation. All of the company’s solar resources are being procured at costs designed to prevent upward pressure on customer rates.

In 2015, the company introduced a separate, unregulated solar sales and installation service administered by Georgia Power Energy Services.

April 2016

Cruisin’ across campus

UGA ramps up bike share program.

The bike seat is being stubborn, so Sahana Srivatsan pops her hand harder on the saddle until it budges. The Bulldog Bike she is borrowing is technically a little too big for her, but with an easily adjustable seat, it can fit almost anyone.

She planned it that way.

Srivatsan, a fourth-year international affairs major and arts minor, was a major force behind the revamped Bulldog Bikes program. As an intern with the Office of Sustainability, she transitioned the program from clunky but solidly made red bikes housed at hard-to-reach places across campus to black Trek hybrids complete with gears and handlebar brakes that students, faculty and staff can check out at the Main Library and Science Library.

She didn’t need a bike when she restarted the program. In fact, before hopping on a Bulldog Bike for a video interview, she whizzed up to the bike rack bordering UGA’s main library on a blue and white Trek road bicycle she’s borrowed semi-permanently from her roommate. Her mountain bike is a little too heavy for regular commuting to and from campus.

What she did need was company.

“I wanted my friends to ride bikes with me,” she said. “It’s really encouraging to see people riding more and enjoying the program the way it should be enjoyed.”

Bulldog Bikes, run through the UGA Office of Sustainability in collaboration with UGA Libraries, currently has 10 bikes in its fleet of two-wheeled vehicles and about 10 more ready to deploy at a third on-campus location.

“The main thing about Bulldog Bikes is that it makes it accessible to ride a bike on campus,” said Corey Klawunder, a fourth-year environmental engineering major and the Office of Sustainability’s Complete Streets intern. “It shows people that they have transportation options. They don’t have to choose a car in order to get to wherever they are going. And not only does that contribute to your traditional sustainability, it also gets people outside and exercising.”

Bulldog Bikes allows UGA students and employees to check out and return bikes at no cost to the individual, as long as the bikes are returned to one of the two locations before closing time and without any major damages.

When there are damages — either major or minor — Jon Skaggs steps in to take a look. As the resident student bike mechanic and a fourth-year ecology major, he does most of the program’s minor repairs in the field.

Today, he’s unwrapping his red tool bag to correct a minor brake issue, always a concern when the hills of Athens are involved.

“It’s exciting to see students riding the bikes that I’ve been working on,” Skaggs said. “I’ve ridden bikes all my life, and it’s cool to see people discovering them for the first time. It’s cool to be part of a program that gives back and gives students access to that joy and that fun and that utility that I find in bikes.”

Bigger repairs are hauled back to a make-shift UGA bike workshop, tucked in a corner of the massive warehouse known as Chicopee. The complex contains the various departments of the Facilities Management Division along with several other UGA offices.

In the building that time almost forgot—parts of Chicopee were constructed in 1862 and updated randomly throughout the years—Jason Perry cleans a freewheel before installing it on its new rear-wheel home.

Perry has been a program coordinator in the Office of Sustainability since 2014 and has managed the BikeAthens Bike Recycling Program since 2008. It was in this capacity — and as a research engineer in the UGA College of Engineering — that he met Srivatsan in 2013. They were at a bike conference, and she needed an adviser for the grant she was about to apply for.

“The whole of my sophomore year, we just worked on getting these new bikes with $5,000 in grant money and also creating an easier checkout system,” she said. “And that didn’t actually come until the next year when the program piloted. We came up with this idea that we would use library barcodes — it’s like checking out a book, but checking out a bike.

“Here we are, three years later. This is finally in full bloom.”

With students like Srivatsan creating the sparks to get Bulldog Bikes off the ground, Perry keeps the program going by directing the program’s day-to-day operations.

“There’s always been a lot of student projects around the idea of bike sharing — from engineering to art students — and the university listened to them.”

— Jason Perry

“My role is to manage the program,” Perry said. “It’s actually really easy at this point. Jon does all of the field maintenance and also brings bikes into this shop and does some of the deeper maintenance. Over semester breaks, I’ll bring the bikes in and do some really serious maintenance like changing cables out and truing wheels and things like that.

“So every single bike, at least twice a year, gets some really serious work done on it to make sure it’s going to continue to roll for a few years. They get a lot of use and sometimes they need some extensive work to keep them in shape.”

Bulldog Bikes is a bike-share program that was initially student-driven, he explained.

“There’s always been a lot of student projects around the idea of bike sharing — from engineering to art students — and the university listened to them,” he said.

The program was started with a campus sustainability grant in 2011. Sheena Zhang was a senior at UGA when she proposed the project. The red utility bikes originally purchased for the program were too heavy for pedaling uphill, and now staff members who work in the Facilities Management Division use them to get around the flat, 175-yard warehouse more quickly.

In the upcoming years, Perry is optimistic the Bulldog Bikes program will continue to grow.

“Bulldog Bikes currently is a university-based program and is fairly small, but we would ideally like to expand into Athens-Clarke County through a town-and-gown partnership to develop a bike sharing system similar to those in other cities,” Perry said, “a robust network that expands far beyond what we’re doing right now.”

— Stephanie Schupska, Division of Marketing & Communications

Let’s go ride a bike!

To participate in the Bulldog Bikes Bike Share Program, follow these steps:

• Register and sign the waiver at

• Visit the circulation desk at the main library or science library.

• Check out a numbered key from the library circulation desk (and helmet if you don’t have your own).

• Unlock the bike with the matching number, and enjoy the ride.

For more information, email or call the Office of Sustainability at 706-542-1301.

April 2016
Protecting<br> the pollinators

Georgia’s pollinator protection plan includes guidelines — not rules — to follow to protect pollinating insects. (Sharon Dowdy/University of Georgia)

Protecting the pollinators

University of Georgia creates guidelines to protect pollinating insects.

Many food items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, would never make it to grocery store or farmers market shelves without the help of beneficial insects like honeybees and butterflies.

The number of these pollinating insects in the U.S. is declining. To shift that trend, University of Georgia agricultural experts developed a statewide plan to teach gardeners and landscapers how to care for their plants and protect these vulnerable insects that are vital to food production.

“The issue is that we have broad-scale problems with our pollinators — both in numbers and in diversity,” said Kris Braman, department head for entomology in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a member of the team that created the Protecting Georgia’s Pollinators plan.

Pollination involves transferring pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of the same, or a different, flower. This simple act of nature is essential to the production of many seed crops.

Insect pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S., according to a fact sheet released by the White House in June 2014. A 2014 economic impact study by UGA lists the annual value of pollination in Georgia at more than $360 million.

“Bees outperform most other pollinators, but bees are just 17.57 percent of the total pollinator population,” Braman said. “Ants, wasps, butterflies and other insects, like native bees, play an essential role, too. They are very important to modern agriculture, and the service they provide to the ecosystem is free.”

Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have lost about 30 percent of their colonies each winter. Honeybees are also dying as a result of pests, like varroa mites and hive beetles, from habitat and forage degradation and from broad applications of certain insecticides that kill other essential pollinating insects.

Recently, a large bee kill in Oregon had a ripple effect across the nation, Braman said.

“A landscape company improperly treated trees at a shopping center, and 50,000 bees died as a result. The pesticide that was used has a very low (toxic affect on humans and animals), so it’s widely used. New pesticides are being sought that have systemic effects but do not hurt bees,” said Braman, who also directs the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture on the UGA campus in Griffin.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging states to create specific plans to improve pollinator health. In addition to Braman, the Georgia state plan committee includes other experts from UGA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The committee’s primary goal is to provide a method for beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators and landowners to better cooperate and communicate to protect pollinators.

“The plan is not an anti-pesticide plan and it’s not a regulation. This is a voluntary stewardship plan. It’s a list of best practices to conserve and better manage pollinator habitats and minimize pesticide exposure.”

— Kris Braman

“We hoped to put a plan in place to garner wide-scale support from our stakeholders and communities,” she said. “Protecting our state pollinators is everybody’s responsibility.”

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said the issue of honeybee health, in particular, is complex and includes factors like new viral diseases, mites, nutrition and exposure to nonlethal doses of insecticides.

“Communication between farmers and beekeepers is essential if we are going to promote a healthy pollinator population,” Black said. “Both agricultural and nonagricultural interests will greatly benefit from this common sense plan and greater awareness of pollinator protection issues. However, no plan created by government or academia will ever surpass the vital role of individual responsibility.”

Georgia’s plan includes guidelines — not rules — to follow to protect pollinating insects.

“The plan is not an anti-pesticide plan and it’s not a regulation,” Braman said. “This is a voluntary stewardship plan. It’s a list of best practices to conserve and better manage pollinator habitats and minimize pesticide exposure.”

The guidelines also include ways that beekeepers can keep their bees healthy and be better neighbors. These tips include making varroa mite control a top priority, placing beehives away from human traffic, planting adequate floral resources, replacing failing queens and providing bees with an adequate water supply.

On the flip side, the plan also includes guidelines for home gardeners and commercial landscapers. These tips include leaving portions of property undisturbed for soil-nesting bees, mowing grass to remove flowering weeds before applying pesticides and planting pollinator-attracting plants like crape myrtle, sages, clovers and sunflowers.

“There are yellow and black-striped ‘Bee Aware’ flags available to denote where bees are. Consumers can also look for the new pollinator protection advisory, a symbol of a bee inside a diamond, on pesticides that can harm honeybees and other insect pollinators,” Braman said.

Educating the public on the importance of pollinating pests is essential to protecting them, she said.

“Not everyone has that warm, fuzzy feeling about insects, especially bees,” she said. “As educators, we communicate the benefits so people can learn to appreciate why they are important. One plant at a time, one landscape at a time, we can make a difference.”

The official plan is available online. For more information on honeybee research at UGA, go to the UGA Honeybee Program.

— Sharon Dowdy, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

April 2016
The kudzu kid

Though initially popular, kudzu was branded a weed in the 1970s for its ability to smother trees, plants and even houses in any landscape. (Peter Frey/University of Georgia)

The kudzu kid

UGA student’s patent takes on the vine that ate the South.

While other kids in Lake Park were collecting “Star Wars” figurines, Jacob Schindler was trying to figure out how to colonize Mars. For a middle school science fair project, he wanted to use kudzu to terraform the Red Planet and make it livable. Kudzu was an obvious choice; it was everywhere in South Georgia’s Lowndes County, where he grew up, and seemed to be virtually indestructible. If it could take over whole sections of Earth’s landscape, why not Mars?

His sixth-grade teacher, Cyndi Harrell, told Jacob that sending humans to Mars to plant kudzu wasn’t likely to happen in time for the science fair, so Jacob shelved the space travel idea but kept his focus on kudzu. For the school’s science fair, he designed an experiment to expose kudzu plants to Martian gases — helium, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen — to learn if kudzu could survive in that planet’s atmosphere.

That first living room experiment had the potential for disaster. Schindler hadn’t properly sealed the canisters of nitrous oxide, oxygen and carbon dioxide, and a stray static spark could have led to an explosion. Luckily, the only spark was in his imagination. The project led him to more ideas, more entries into various fairs and conventions and a commitment to continuing his investigation.

Now a senior at UGA, Schindler is studying landscape architecture and continuing his work with kudzu while benefitting from the world-class learning environment the university provides. In 2014, 10 years after he began his research, Schindler received a patent for a device that can eradicate kudzu without harming neighboring plants.

The ‘miracle vine’

Kudzu first appeared in the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, brought in by Japanese exhibitors who built a garden including a variety of plants. Americans loved kudzu’s big leaves and fragrant blossoms and began using it as an ornamental in their home gardens. Nurseries sold the plant for animal forage; one in Florida sold kudzu through the mail. In the 1930s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service began touting kudzu for its ability to stop soil erosion. Workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps planted hundreds of acres of kudzu during the Great Depression, and farmers were paid $8 for every acre they planted. Throughout the 1940s, Channing Cope, an Atlanta radio personality and farm editor for the Atlanta Constitution, extolled the virtues of kudzu and traveled through the Southeast starting kudzu clubs to honor what he called “the miracle vine.”

But the fast-growing vine soon became a nuisance, and the federal government removed it from its list of recommended ground cover plants in 1953. Two decades later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture branded it a weed. The problem with kudzu is that it smothers the trees and other plants in any landscape in which it takes hold. It can grow as high as 100 feet, and the tap root can snuggle into the ground up to 12 feet deep and weigh as much as 200 pounds. Vines that touch the ground can eventually root there, and older vines can be up to 4 inches thick. James Miller, a USDA Forest Service research ecologist emeritus in Auburn, Ala., has estimated that power companies spend about $1.5 million annually fighting kudzu.

Humming happily during drought, tinged only slightly from frost, kudzu today covers an estimated 7.5 million acres, mostly in the South.

Shifting focus

As a kid, Schindler says he was shy and had different interests from most of his peers, as well as a visual processing disorder that kept him from playing sports. His parents enrolled him at a martial arts academy where the instructor was James Corbett (BSA ’88, MEd ’91, EdS ’92), who would become his adviser for Future Farmers of America — an integral part of his education.

“FFA was my bread and butter, where I learned public speaking and made friends, starting in middle school,” Schindler says. Corbett, an agricultural education teacher at Lowndes High School, “taught me the scientific method, which I need for my projects. The FFA got me through high school.”

As he was preparing to graduate from high school, Schindler was contacted by landscape architects in Winston-Salem, N.C., for a kudzu eradication. It was an introduction to a profession he hadn’t known existed. It didn’t change his college plans — he’d applied to UGA for its excellent agricultural programs — but it shifted his focus to the College of Environment and Design (CED) and a degree in landscape architecture.

Pratt Cassity met Schindler when he enrolled in Cassity’s freshman seminar.

“[He has] such a sharp mind, he astounds me,” says Cassity, director of public service and outreach for CED’s Center for Community Design and Preservation. “You rarely see students in high school [applying for] patents. I can see him researching human-sensitive and Earth-sensitive design options in the future.”

Having perhaps solved the problem of stopping kudzu from achieving world domination, Schindler recently has been wondering about its potential benefits. He’s learned that people in Japan and China grind the root for use as a starch substitute in baked goods and dry the leaves for tea. There may even be medicinal uses for kudzu; researchers are exploring a drug extracted from kudzu root that may help in the treatment of alcoholism. Maybe, just maybe, Schindler has come to believe, kudzu isn’t the foot-a-day green monster most people think it is.

“Maybe invasives aren’t as bad as everyone thinks,” he says. “Maybe we can get some use out of them if we can just control them.”

KEHTA = Bye-bye kudzu

When Schindler’s not doing projects for his landscape architecture courses — he graduates in May — his attention is focused on the KEHTA, his patented Kudzu Eradicating Helium Technology Apparatus, that delivers helium into the soil where the plant grows.

The KEHTA looks innocuous, like something you might use with a welding mask. It’s a few feet of hollow stainless steel pipe with a drill bit on one end, a series of holes along the length of the pipe, and a T connector and valve at the other end for attaching to a helium tank. During an eradication mission, Schindler uses a power drill to insert the drill bit into soil adjacent to the root and opens the valve, saturating the soil with helium. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and may need to be repeated in larger areas to assure coverage. After a few weeks, the result is dead kudzu. He’s had successful kudzu-killing projects in Decatur, Lowndes County and Madison, Fla.

The best part for Schindler? The KEHTA eradicates without involving any hazardous chemicals. There’s no drift, no chance of neighboring plants dying along with the kudzu. There’s just harmless helium. In fact, one of his experiments showed that loblolly pines exposed to helium grew faster than trees that weren’t exposed.

Schindler may have created the environmentally friendly kudzu killer that people in the South have been wanting for decades, and a multinational agricultural company is talking with him about manufacturing and marketing the device.

Corbett likes to tell a story about the 2013 FFA nationals, where Schindler was named an American Star in Agriscience for his kudzu project. A friendly guy approached Schindler and his mom and asked the teenager whether he had a research paper on his project. His teacher jumped into the conversation and said no, there was no paper. He feared the stranger would take Schindler’s ideas and capitalize on them.

“I told Jacob he had to get a patent on his device because we didn’t want someone profiting from what he had done,” Corbett says. “He worked too hard for that to happen.”

— Rebecca McCarthy, Georgia Magazine, March 2016

April 2016

Underground impact

Watershed UGA launches campaign to ‘daylight’ campus streams.

Most of the streams that run through the University of Georgia campus flow through culverts underground, making them out of sight and out of mind. A recent survey of students and community members found that more than 20 percent of those asked weren’t aware that there are any streams on campus.

A new project led by Watershed UGA aims to change that.

Watershed UGA, the interdisciplinary initiative to create a culture of sustainability focused on campus waterways, has launched a Georgia Funder campaign for a pilot project to visually “daylight” a campus stream using graphics to represent its underground course, site-specific art installations and educational signage.

Lilly Branch, the focus of the pilot project, is 2.5 miles long and feeds into the North Oconee River. It rises just south of Five Points and for much of its length flows beneath UGA in a pipe before emerging at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Like many urban waterways, Lilly Branch has a long history of impairment.

“Without connection to these streams, it is hard for students to develop a sense of stewardship of this valuable resource,” said Laurie Fowler, public service associate in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology and one of the project’s leaders. “However, if our streams are more present and visible, we can garner more support for their continued protection and restoration.”

The visual daylighting project will focus on a high-traffic area near Joe Frank Harris Commons where Lilly Branch flows directly under the sidewalk and physically daylights across the street.

The initial phase of the project will involve installing a rain garden to filter pollutants and store runoff from the rear Ramsey Center parking lot, student artwork inspired by the watershed, and a visual representation showing where the stream flows underground using paint or chalk on the sidewalk, all with accompanying educational signage.

Later phases call for more permanent representations of the stream’s course such as paving materials embedded in the sidewalk or a “stream” of native grasses running through areas of lawn.

“The pilot project will help us test education and design concepts to use in other high-traffic locations,” said Elizabeth Gardner, the Watershed UGA project coordinator. “These include the area along D.W. Brooks Drive in front of the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, and possibly in areas along Tanyard Creek near the Tate Student Center.”

The Watershed UGA team hopes to implement the first phase of the project during UGA’s Earth Week, April 18 to 22.

For more details about the project and to make a donation, please see the Georgia Funder page.

Watershed UGA is spearheaded by the Odum School of Ecology and the UGA Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach; Center for Teaching and Learning; Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning; Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; College of Education; College of Engineering; College of Environment and Design; Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; School of Law; College of Public Health; Graduate School; Facilities Management Division; Office of Service-Learning; Office of the University Architects for Facilities Planning; University Housing and Athens-Clarke County. More information is available at

— Beth Gavrilles, Odum School of Ecology

Watershed elevation map.
Watershed elevation map. (View larger version.)

March 2016
The world of CURO

Anquilla Deleveaux, a CURO student and senior genetics major, works on culturing plates with strains of salmonella in a microbiology lab in the biological sciences building. (Andrew Davis Tucker/University of Georgia)

The world of CURO

Research assistantship helps fourth-year student explore her passion.

The University of Georgia dedicates itself to research and discovery, not only through supporting professorial research projects, but also by providing numerous programs for undergraduate students through the Center of Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

CURO, as the center is known, gives students the opportunity to engage in faculty-mentored research regardless of discipline, major or GPA. The center provides numerous projects for students to choose from and has a step-by-step guide for finding and participating in research.

In 2014-15, 488 students completed 704 CURO courses with 302 faculty members from 83 academic departments. In 2015-16, one of those students will be Kala Payne, a fourth-year psychology major. She also applied for the CURO Research Assistantship, which is an opportunity for students to gain funding for their programs.

Payne entered college with credits from high school and wanted to fill her time with experiential learning. During her sophomore year, she heard about various studies and signed up to help in the psychology lab.

“Researching gave me a hands-on idea about what I like about the field of psychology,” she said.

Throughout her time there, she has been able to compare academic and applied research, giving her insight on what type of work she would like to do after graduation.

Payne is currently working on a new independent research project about maternal gatekeeping, a concept that a mother inhibits paternal involvement with childrearing based on her societal outlook of motherhood. She is hoping to find two paradoxical outcomes, the first that women who are high in maternal gatekeeping will experience extreme work-family conflict. She theorizes that in a mother with this type of outlook, her family will always infringe upon her professional life, and her children will never call their father though he may be available.

For her second hypothesis, she and her team believe that women who experience high maternal gatekeeping may have low family-work conflict because the mother will be acutely aware about not wanting work or family to conflict with one another. These mothers will be diligent about the separation of these areas.

With the help of Lillian Eby, a professor of psychology and director of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, and Melisa Mitchell, graduate adviser, Payne will begin her research shortly.

Studying the trajectory of women’s careers has always been of interest to Payne. She chose to conduct this independent study because work and family research has been a part of her life for a long time, becoming one of her passions. She said the intersection of work and family is something everyone experiences because one domain always infringes on the other.

This is not a widely studied field, Payne said, and by going deeper into her research, she believes there may be a way to aid in the eradication of this conflict.

Payne said that her research opportunities have impacted her life tremendously. For students looking to get involved, she said to “start early! The more research experience you have the more responsibilities the professors will give you.”

Many researchers are looking for younger students and are keen to hire first and second year undergraduates, she noted.

Visit to learn more about the studies and projects professors around campus are conducting.

— Samantha Keitt, UGA Division of Marketing and Communications

March 2016
UGA puts its signature on research

Mathematical models created by professor Pejman Rohani and his colleagues have led to insights into the transmission dynamics of influenza and new vaccination strategies against whooping cough.

UGA puts its signature on key research themes

Yearlong process illuminates three broad areas where UGA has established a record of excellence.

Input from University of Georgia faculty, deans and other administrators, as well as the use of multiple data analytics tools, has illuminated three broad Signature Research Themes at the university:

• Inquiring and Innovating to Improve Human Health

• Safeguarding and Sustaining our World

• Changing Lives through the Land-Grant Mission

“Our Signature Research Themes enable us to more clearly and concisely explain the impact of our research and scholarship,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Defining the areas where we excel also enables us to prioritize our investments so that we can build on our strengths.”

David Lee, vice president for research, noted that the Signature Research Themes are intentionally broad to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the challenges UGA faculty members address through their scholarship.

“These themes are responsive to the grand challenges faced by society, acknowledge that solutions require diverse skill sets and perspectives and reflect UGA’s mission-driven focus as a proud land-grant university,” Lee said.

Inquiring and Innovating to Improve Human Health includes research in vaccine development, parasitic diseases, drug discovery, obesity and nutrition, health communication and several other fields across UGA’s schools and colleges.

Infectious disease research has long been an area of emphasis at UGA, which has more than 100 faculty members in its interdisciplinary Faculty of Infectious Diseases. GRA Eminent Scholar Ted Ross alone has received $33 million in cumulative grant support and is working with one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies to create a universal vaccine that protects against all strains of seasonal and pandemic influenza. He recently made headlines by partnering with Georgia-based GeoVax Labs Inc. to develop and test a vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection. Ross directs UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology, which will move to a newly renovated facility on South Campus this spring.

A new facility for the Center for Molecular Medicine, which will include a focus on therapeutics, is rising next to the university’s world-renowned Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, and partnerships with Emory University and federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are boosting the reputation of the Atlanta-Athens corridor as a national hub for biomedical research.

Safeguarding and Sustaining our World includes research being conducted in fields as varied as cybersecurity, plant breeding and genetics, digital humanities and export controls.

UGA’s Plant Center, for example, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has more than 50 faculty members. Plant center researchers have sequenced the genomes of commercially important crops ranging from peanuts to canola, and new crop and ornamental plant varieties developed by faculty members at the university generate approximately $4 million in annual royalties to the UGA Research Foundation.

UGA is also home to the nation’s first standalone school of ecology, the Odum School of Ecology, and world-renowned researchers in marine and atmospheric sciences.

On North Campus, the Center for International Trade and Security uses its research findings to inform trainings given to government officials, academics and industry representatives from 60 countries. CITS has garnered more than $3.8 million in external research funding over the past two years alone and has made China a major area of focus, with workshops, research and corporate outreach.

Changing Lives Through the Land-Grant Mission reflects UGA’s focus on creating a more prosperous future and improving quality of life. UGA became a land-grant institution in 1872 under the federal Morrill Act, which formalized the university’s commitment to using its resources to benefit the state’s citizens. Today, a statewide network of UGA Cooperative Extension agents and programs brings lifelong learning to the citizens of Georgia through research-based education related to agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families.

The life-changing impact of UGA research is also evident in fields ranging from teacher preparation to legal studies and community revitalization. The Center for Family Research, for example, uses its findings on social, behavioral and biological factors that enable families and children to thrive to inform its outreach programs. The Center for Family Research has garnered more than $75 million in funding for its work, and the Strong African American Families program is being implemented in communities throughout the nation and in Georgia.

The economic impact of research conducted by UGA faculty members exceeds $470 million annually in Georgia, and it also extends well beyond the state’s borders. UGA is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top universities for moving faculty inventions into the marketplace, with more than 575 products developed at UGA—ranging from vaccines to crop varieties—currently on the market. In addition, more than 135 startup companies are based on UGA research, including biotech companies Abeome Corporation and ArunA Biomedical, agricultural technology company Electrostatic Spraying Systems and educational software company Cogent Education.

More about UGA’s Signature Research Themes is available at

— Sam Fahmy, Office of Senior VP for Academic Affairs and Provost

March 2016
Power from the sky

Samantha Trulove measures wood boards at a potential solar panel site at Wormsloe Plantation.

Power from the sky

UGA students design solar power system for Wormsloe historic site.

Savannah, Ga. — A historic estate along the Georgia coast that traces its roots back more than three centuries may soon provide a look at solar energy’s potential to meet the world’s growing demand for power.

A team of students from the University of Georgia College of Engineering is working to help the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe meet a portion of its energy needs through solar energy. In addition, the team’s work will serve as the foundation for a long-term solar research, education and outreach program on the island near Savannah.

The work is a senior capstone design project for students John DeRosa, Samantha Trulove, Brooke Spreen and Garrett Steck and is funded by a grant the Wormsloe Foundation awarded to UGA engineering professor David Gattie.

“Working at a historic site adds a different kind of element to the project,” said DeRosa, an environmental engineering major from Lilburn. “It forces us to be mindful of permitting issues that would not exist in other places. Additionally, the site forces us to be especially considerate of the cultural and ecological impacts our design will have.”

Located on the Isle of Hope, Wormsloe Plantation dates back to the 1730s, and the property has served as a military stronghold, plantation, country residence, state park and tourist attraction. In 2013, the Wormsloe Foundation donated 15.45 acres of the land to UGA. The university operates the property as a historical and ecological preserve. Wormsloe also serves as a site for interdisciplinary research by faculty and graduate students in archaeology, ecology, environmental planning and design, historic preservation, landscape architecture, geography, history and engineering.

With plans to construct additional facilities to support research, education and tourism, Wormsloe must account for an increase in power demand. The facility wants to meet some of this increase through renewable energy, specifically solar, and incorporate the alternative energy system as a research and education feature for the site.

The UGA engineering students are working with Wormsloe to design a demonstration solar power installation that will allow visitors to see a working renewable energy system. In addition, the team’s design will connect to Wormsloe’s existing infrastructure, allowing for future expansion of the technology while satisfying a portion of Wormsloe’s energy demand through solar energy.

“One of the great things about our senior capstone design course is the students must interact with their client,” said Jason Christian, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and one of the team’s faculty mentors. “The students experience the give-and-take that occurs on projects from start to finish.”

Stephan Durham, an associate professor and coordinator of UGA’s civil engineering program, also serves as a faculty mentor on the project.

According to Christian, the work will help the team consider the big picture as well as the actual “nuts and bolts” of the project.

“They’ll have to calculate the average number of sunny days at the site, look for installation locations without tree canopy, estimate the power load from the facility, determine the proper size of the solar arrays and design the power distribution system—all the way down to determining the proper size of the wiring,” he said.

Spreen, a senior environmental engineering major from Johns Creek, said she and the other students are focusing on two locations for the solar demonstration project: a family library on the privately held portion of Wormsloe and the new living quarters on the UGA property.

“So far, we’ve identified where we would like to install the panels for each location and begun to determine how large of a system will be needed,” Spreen said. “The dorms, for example, require more electricity than the library—because of things like kitchen appliances and a larger HVAC system—so they will need more panels and possibly more robust system components.”

“We have to learn how to be adaptable and how to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainties and complications.”

— Brooke Spreen

Spreen said one of the greatest values of working on a real world project such as the solar power system at Wormsloe is the opportunity to work through unforeseen challenges.

“We have run into some concerns regarding the stability of the library roof, where we hope to install the panels,” she said. “Because it was built in the early 20th century, original construction documents are no longer available. We’re currently exploring the option of adding a strut system that would span the roof and distribute the weight of the panels to the walls, which are more structurally sound than the roof itself.

“We have to learn how to be adaptable and how to keep moving forward in the face of uncertainties and complications. The stability of the roof is one example. Trying to estimate the power load of the new dorms, for which there is no existing electricity consumption data, is another.”

DeRosa, a senior environmental engineering major from Lilburn, said the project has given him more confidence in the skills and knowledge he’s acquired through his studies in the College of Engineering while allowing him and the other students to make a lasting contribution to one of Georgia’s most unique places.

“We realize the importance of keeping our design in line with the mission of Wormsloe by acknowledging that our system should have an educational component,” he said. “A site like Wormsloe is interesting because it is so permanent yet so delicate at the same time.”

— Mike Wooten, College of Engineering

March 2016

Collaborating on a cure

University of Georgia, GeoVax partner on Zika vaccine.

The University of Georgia has entered into a collaborative research agreement with GeoVax Labs Inc. to develop and test a vaccine to prevent the emerging and virulent Zika virus infection.

The collaboration will combine the vaccine development expertise of UGA researchers led by Ted Ross, director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology, with GeoVax’s novel vaccine platform technology. Ross, a professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Infectious Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine, joined UGA last fall.

The World Health Organization on Monday declared Zika virus an international health emergency, noting that Zika is spreading explosively and could affect as many as 4 million people in the Americas by the end of the year. The mosquito-transmitted virus is linked with birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, and more recently, with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system. The virus is anticipated to spread to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Canada and Chile.

There is no proven vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is closely related to yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses, also transmitted to people by mosquitoes.

“This important partnership with GeoVax is consistent with one of our highest priorities, namely to work effectively with industry to address important challenges facing the state, the nation and the world,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research.

“We believe that the expertise of our researchers combined with GeoVax’s vaccine platform can accelerate the development and testing of a vaccine for this fast-spreading viral disease,” Ross said.

His research group focuses on designing, developing and testing vaccines — including what are called VLP-based vaccines — for emerging viral diseases including dengue, chikungunya and Ebola, as well as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and HIV/AIDS.

VLPs — virus-like particles — mimic a live virus but do not contain genetic material; they cannot replicate or cause infection, yet they elicit a strong immune response in the cells of the person being vaccinated.

Ross explained that vaccines made with VLPs give the immune system a head start in fighting infection.

“When a person vaccinated with a VLP virus is infected by the real virus, the immune system is ready to fight back,” he said.

Vaccines using VLPs on the market today are used to prevent hepatitis and Papilloma virus infections, and others are in development.

GeoVax’s novel vaccine platform technology takes a different approach with VLPs. Instead of introducing VLPs in the vaccine, it uses recombinant DNA or recombinant viruses to produce VLPs in the person being vaccinated so that they more closely resemble the virus generated in a person’s body during a natural infection. The company’s MVA-VLP platform is focused on vaccines against HIV and hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola, Marburg and Lassa. The HIV vaccine has been proven safe in human clinical trials involving over 500 individuals. It also is being evaluated for use in cancer vaccines.

“We believe our MVA-VLP vaccine platform is uniquely suited to apply to the Zika virus,” said Robert McNally, GeoVax president and CEO.

Ross’ lab will test Zika VLP vaccines developed in his lab and VLP vaccines developed with GeoVax’s vaccine platform in pre-clinical animal models.

In addition to Ross, UGA researchers working on the Zika vaccine include Ralph Tripp, Georgia Research Alliance Chair in Vaccine and Therapeutic Development; Biao He, Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator and Fred C. Davison Distinguished University Chair in Veterinary Medicine; and Mark Tompkins, associate professor of infectious diseases.

— Terry Hastings, Office of Vice President for Research

March 2016
Life at 30

In this photo from 2010, David Landau, left, Distinguished Research Professor of Physics, and Ying Xu, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, led a research team that used computer modeling to better understand how proteins become active parts of cells. (Robert Newcomb/University of Georgia)

Life at 30

Center for Simulational Physics is worldwide research leader.

Crude computer simulation techniques date back to the 1940s at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the University of Georgia Center for Simulational Physics was the very first such center in the world devoted entirely to developing and using advanced computer simulation algorithms.

Since it was founded in 1986, the center has played an important role in the use and development of computer simulation techniques. Solving problems often impractical for experimentation, or intractable from a theoretical perspective, physicists turn to computational simulation to understand fundamental physical phenomena.

“In 1983 we started the Program in Simulational Physics, and in 1986 we were approved as a university center,” said David P. Landau, Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and founding director of the CSP. “The next year we started this workshop series, and it really became a meeting place for simulationists from around the world, because there was no other meeting place.”

The CSP workshop, held the week of Feb. 22-26 this year, has continued every year since, bringing dozens of visiting scholars and hundreds of students to study at UGA over that time, making the University of Georgia a world leader in computer simulation studies of condensed matter physics.

The beginning of computer simulations at UGA

When Landau arrived at UGA, the Information Age was still a twinkle in Gordon Moore’s eye. Fresh out of Yale University, Landau came to Athens in 1969 as an experimental physicist, planning for a career in high field magneto-optics. A snafu with the arrival of his equipment left the young scientist bereft of a research focus until he came across the idea of computer simulations.

“UGA had actually built one of the best computing facilities in the Southeast at that time,” Landau recalls, though with only two public access keypunches for computer cards on campus, these facilities were difficult for people to use.

Though “keypunches” seems like a word from much longer ago that just last century, Landau’s work ethic as a young researcher prevailed.

“Arriving early in the morning and coming back late in the evening, I was able to put in huge amounts of computer time,” he said, “and, much to my surprise, I found that these techniques of computer simulations were extremely powerful, given the state to which computer technology had evolved.”

And though there had been significant advances by that time, Landau says the computer facilities he used then were in the range of 10 million times slower than what we have today.

Using models to understand nature

Landau was awarded one of the first National Science Foundation grants for Monte Carlo studies in condensed matter physics and, by the mid to late 1970s, was receiving invitations to share his findings at conferences.

Scientists use computer simulations for complex calculations that require long series of random numbers. But generating reliably random number sequences can be problematic, so many scientists turn to a statistical modeling technique called the Monte Carlo Simulation. Named for the gambling casinos on the French Riviera, Monte Carlo Simulations can represent complex interactions in a host of disciplines—from atomic physics to meteorology to economics. If their models are accurate, scientists can predict responses that mimic those in the real world.

What began with the design of the first atomic bombs now allows for whole categories of simulation that, as Landau puts it, creates the third point on a triangle that links theory with experiment.

“Sometimes you have a system that is so complicated, you can’t do the theory,” Landau said. “So in a sense, simulation is the only way of getting results to compare with an experiment.”

Since it was established in 1986, the CSP has attracted hundreds of graduate students to UGA from around the world, as well as a distinguished list of adjunct, visiting and tenure track faculty members.

“We continue to have students and faculty from around the globe coming to study at UGA on fellowships from their nations and universities,” Landau said. “They are involved in the learning process at every level, exchanging ideas and carrying out research that has enriched our environment and provided research peoplepower for the university.”

Landau and the CSP are invited to join collaborative agreements with institutions and granting agencies from around the world, and both have supported the establishment of similar centers at universities across the globe. With support from their home institutions and governments, students and young professors from China, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Chile and many others have come to study and gain research experience at UGA.

PetaApps, petaflops and supercomputers

Very recently, the CSP was part of a National Science Foundation grant that encapsulated some of the needs for running advanced algorithms in term of both hardware and software.

“The NSF was funding Petaflop computers, and the goal of the program was to develop applications software, or frameworks, that would take advantage of these machines,” Landau said. “Programming machines with many computing cores is very difficult, and many ‘standard’ applications run very inefficiently.

“We developed a new, generic, parallel framework for Monte Carlo simulations called ‘Replica-exchange Wang-Landau’ sampling that has almost 100 percent parallel efficiency when using 10,000 computing cores in a single program.”

A different group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has now used the framework with 51,000 cores plus 3200 GPUs, or graphic processing units, to achieve a peak performance of 2.5 Petaflops using 17 percent of the Titan supercomputer, he explained.

The grant, which ended in 2015, was awarded $1.5 million and was part of the NSF’s now defunct PetaApps program.

From high-temperature superconductors to biological circuits

Heinz-Bernd Schüttler came to UGA as a faculty member to work on quantum models for high temperature superconductivity. When they were discovered in 1986, high temperature superconductors were hailed as the next major breakthrough in materials science that would revolutionize industry and the world.

“Twenty years later with many people including some Nobel laureates only sort of nibbling around the edges, we still didn’t understand how high temp superconductors work from a fundamental theoretical viewpoint,” said Schüttler, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy and a member of the CSP.

Such can be the lags between discoveries, theories, experimentation and verification in the world of physics and astronomy, as evidenced most recently by the discovery of gravitational waves more than a century after Albert Einstein published “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.”

With daring and insight, Schüttler decided to switch his research focus and became interested in biological circuits and applying methods of simulational physics to complex biological problems. He began working with UGA colleagues in genetics, and soon the collaborations introduced the CSP to an expanded set of potential applications in biophysics and other interdisciplinary research pursuits.

“It is one of the things that I’m most proud of, people like Bernd Schüttler,” Landau said, “a wonderful colleague and scientist who has provided great service to the college and to the university.”

The 2016 workshop, “Recent Development in Computer Simulation Studies in Condensed Matter Physics,” carried special significance as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the CSP. The event also celebrated Schüttler’s 60th birthday. A strong tradition at many institutions around the world, the celebration for Schüttler honors a longtime pillar of interdisciplinary research collaborations at UGA who has served as department chair in physics and astronomy as well as computer science.

— Alan Flurry, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

March 2016
Growing graduate research

Graduate students discuss research opportunities at the annual Interdisciplinary Research Conference in 2015. (Courtesy of the UGA Graduate Student Association)

Growing graduate research

A deeper look at graduate studies, featuring David Lee and Suzanne Barbour.

Already one of the top college choices for undergraduates, the University of Georgia is now focusing on becoming a premiere institution for graduate students.

In 2015, the university had 6,974 students seeking master’s and doctoral degrees, and it is looking to increase those numbers in a strategic manner, said David C. Lee, vice president for research.

“We don’t want to just increase the number of graduate students,” he said. “We also want to improve the quality of our graduate programs and the experience graduate students have at UGA.”

In order to do this, the university is looking to expand and improve its interdisciplinary research activities, since this is essential to solving the world’s most pressing issues.

“We can no longer afford to work as individual researchers or even individual laboratories,” Lee said. “The problems that we’re being expected to find solutions to are on a grand scale. Universities are increasingly expected to be a part of the solution to the very significant problems that we face as a global society.”

The university wants to be smart about how it spends inevitably limited resources to grow its programs, he said, noting that one of UGA’s priorities is to make good investments in infrastructure.

“It takes quality space to do research in — appropriately designed, safe and functional space,” Lee said. “It also has to be attractive space to attract high-quality researchers. And we have to be able to provide our researchers, particularly our scientists and engineers, with access to often costly, high-end instrumentation that is located in core facilities.”

An example of these core facilities is the BioImaging Research Center, which contains a suite of instrumentation for collecting images of tissues in the body. While the average faculty member or individual program can’t afford such state-of-the-art equipment on their own, they can sign up to use the BIRC and use grant-designated funds to cover the costs.

Another example of being smart with investments is focused on growing infectious disease research, particularly from a “One Health” perspective. One Health is a concept that recognizes the important interplay between human, animal and environmental health, Lee said.

“So why is that a good sweet spot for UGA? Well, we’ve been known for decades as a school that has strong environmental sciences and ecology,” Lee explained. “It’s the university where Eugene Odum, who many recognize as the pioneer of ecology, did a lot of his groundbreaking work. We have a college of veterinary medicine here that’s actually located on campus, so we have a lot of experience and capabilities in aspects of animal health. And they have a very strong focus on infectious diseases. Add to these elements, our growing strength in human health and you can see why we’ve encouraged this as one of our smart, strategic growth areas.”

But growing the research enterprise requires growing the graduate student population.

“In order to do research, you have to have a workforce. That workforce is largely graduate students,” said Suzanne Barbour, dean of the UGA Graduate School. “If you’re going to be successful in research, then you have to have well-trained, ambitious, talented graduate students, otherwise, your research engine just falls apart.”

The Graduate School is also focusing on increasing the number of students from minority and other underrepresented groups.

“The fact is we’re still not training enough students from underrepresented groups,” Barbour said. “We’re still not training enough students who come from first-generation families, who are the first in their family to go to college, to go to graduate school, students who are of ethnic and racial minority. If we’re to continue to be a global leader in research and scholarship, it’s essential that we train more students who look like the demographics of our country.”

“It’s often graduate students, combined with undergraduates, technical staff and sometimes post-doctoral research associates, who actually do the research. They’re doing something important, and they’re getting a great education in return.”

— David Lee

Research opportunities are also integral in attracting these talented potential grad students, Barbour went on to add. “We are best positioned to train graduate students in areas where we have research strength. Conversely, outstanding graduate students contribute to our research strength.”

“For many of our research laboratories, graduate students are really the foot soldiers in a sense,” Lee explained. “They make the research happen. The faculty member gets the grant to do something interesting, something important, something that a funding agency has decided is worth funding, but faculty have lots of responsibilities including teaching, serving on committees, all sorts of things.

“It’s often graduate students, combined with undergraduates, technical staff and sometimes post-doctoral research associates, who actually do the research. They’re doing something important, and they’re getting a great education in return. It’s really an apprenticeship. And they don’t just do the work; graduate students often bring a creative spark as well.”

But grad students don’t just do research. They present their research and share their findings with the public, which is where conferences like the Interdisciplinary Research Conference, held by the Graduate Student Association in February, came into play.

“It was a nice venue for graduate students to feel like they actually have a platform on which to present what they are doing, to present it as their own work,” said June Brawner, director of the Interdisciplinary Research Conference and vice president of the Graduate Student Association. “I think there’s a lot of research, a lot of labor … that graduate students are doing, but we’re not always maybe on the publication or we’re not in the limelight. So this is just a really cool moment to think about what grad students are doing on campus and how we’re really helping the university run and operate the way that it’s supposed to.”

Gretchen Sneegas, a second-year doctoral student in geography, was one student who took advantage of that opportunity.

Sneegas conducted a two-part workshop on what the concept of interdisciplinary research means to people. The workshop started a project Sneegas hopes will eventually turn into a collaborative research project down the road.

Conferences like the Interdisciplinary Research Conference are important opportunities for graduate students because they build students’ communication skills on their topics of interest, Barbour said.

“They’re critical for students who want to teach, obviously, because they have to communicate their disciplines to students,” she said. “They’re also critical for people who want to get funding for their work because they to communicate their work to funding agencies.

“Students should have the skill sets necessary to communicate what they’re doing to the general public, whose taxpayer dollars pay, in part, for their work.”

Brawner, a third-year doctoral student in anthropology and a second-year master’s student in crop and soil sciences, said she hopes the administration takes note of the 250 people who registered for the conference and offers more opportunities like it.

“If I were considering going to a university and doing research and I looked at UGA and I saw things like this more often and even bigger and better, I think that that would be a real draw for me,” Brawner said.

— Leigh Beeson, Division of Marketing & Communications

March 2016
Earth’s battery<br>is running low

(Illustration by Matt Blanks and Lawson Grice)

Earth’s battery running low

Destruction of plant life places humankind in jeopardy.

Humankind could be in big trouble. Rapid population growth coupled with the advent of modern industrial technology has allowed us to establish a dominion over the natural environment that is unprecedented. We can now mold the landscape in ways that were unthinkable only a century ago, but as we do so, we are draining our planet of the very materials that make life possible: plants.

From steamy rainforests to trees and shrubs in city suburbs, humans are destroying plant life at an alarming pace. We must of course use plants for food, fuel and building materials — and sometimes, we even do so in a sustainable way — but we also steamroll vast swaths of densely forested land simply to make way for agriculture or industrial development. Unless we stop this destruction, researchers at the University of Georgia conclude, civilization as we know it is completely unsustainable.

“To understand why plants are so critical to our survival, it helps to think of Earth as a battery, one that has been charged very slowly by the sun over eons,” said John Schramski, an associate professor at UGA’s College of Engineering and lead author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that warns of the danger posed by the destruction of plant life. “All the plants we have today are the planet’s stored chemical energy, and it’s this energy that keeps us alive. They are what make our planet a habitable place for humans and all other life forms.”

The good news is that Earth is a rechargeable battery. The bad news is that we’re draining it faster than it can recharge.

By the numbers

Schramski and his colleague David Gattie, an associate professor of engineering at UGA, joined with James H. Brown, an ecologist and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico, to model how the planet’s organic energy stores are disappearing and what that means for the future of humankind.

Studies in the scientific literature estimate that 2,000 years ago Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass. Since that time, humans have reduced this total by almost half. Perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that just over 10 percent of that reduction occurred in the last century alone, and the pace is accelerating.

Today, humans are depleting the remaining 550 billion tons of carbon in living biomass at a net rate of about 1.5 billion tons per year. As more biomass is destroyed, Earth has less stored energy for maintaining complex food webs and biogeochemical balances.

To better illustrate the correlation between human activities and biomass degradation, the researchers created a new sustainability metric they call “omega,” which combines two critical variables affecting the energy status of the planet: the total amount of global living biomass and the human population.

Omega is the amount of energy contained in the world’s living biomass divided by the yearly energy required to feed the global human population. The resulting figure gives the number of years at current rates of consumption that global biomass storage could feed the human race.

“The omega equation is not actually designed to predict how much food we’ve got left; it’s simply a way of demonstrating the correlation between human population growth, energy consumption and biomass destruction,” Schramski said. “Omega gives us a framework built on real numbers that we can use to understand the increasing human impact on biomass.”

And that impact has been dramatic. In just 2,000 years, our single species has reduced omega from 67,000 years to 1,000 years, or by more than 98 percent, according to the paper. But Schramski warns that we shouldn’t take comfort in what sounds like plenty of remaining time. For starters, it is an extraordinarily conservative estimate. The calculation assumes, for example, that all biomass could be harvested to feed humans — that all of it is edible — and that’s clearly not the case, he said.

“These laws are absolute and incontrovertible; we have a limited amount of biomass energy available on the planet, and once it’s exhausted, there is absolutely nothing to replace it.”

— John Schramski

“The important thing to note here is that omega is declining predictably and rapidly,” Schramski said. “This metric is more about the trend, not a specific value, and the conservative assumptions used in the calculation of omega and its rapid decline underscore how little time is left. We are already solidly within the zone of scientific uncertainty where some perturbation in our environment could trigger a catastrophic shift.”

This downward trend has dire implications for the planet’s energy balances, the researchers said. Earth’s battery was charged very slowly over billions of years by the sun, and most of that energy now resides chemically in plants. Their concern is that as we destroy plants, we release that energy, moving the planet ever closer to a thermodynamic state known as “equilibrium.”

In common parlance, equilibrium is generally a positive thing; it suggests stability, calmness or the absence of conflict. But in the context of planetary thermodynamics, equilibrium has a decidedly more negative connotation.

“Earth is out of equilibrium compared to the very cold void of space, because Earth contains a lot of stored chemical energy in the form of living biomass,” Schramski said.

“But as we deplete those energy stores, the planet becomes more and more like outer space. We are gradually shifting our energy state back to equilibrium.”

One way to illustrate this idea is to think of a fireplace. As you burn logs, the chemical energy stored in the wood is released as heat and light. The ashes that remain after the fire goes out contain far less energy than the original wood, so the only way to keep the fire going is to add more wood.

Just like the woodpile that fuels a fireplace, the energy reserves on Earth are finite.

The road ahead

What does the future hold for planet Earth and its people? The picture is murky, but unless we find a way to quickly stabilize the stores of chemical energy in Earth’s biomass, humankind is absolutely unsustainable, according to the paper.

Left unperturbed, vegetation will regrow, but restoring decimated landscapes takes time. Some of the forests in the United States, for example, have recovered from the destruction wrought by early westward expansion, but that’s only a sliver of the total picture. “You have to think about this on a global scale,” Schramski said. “Yes, biomass is returning in some places, but the destruction of plant life in other areas more than offsets these smaller gains.”

It’s difficult to say how much time we have to act, said Schramski, because scientists don’t know precisely how much biomass is necessary to support all of Earth’s ecosystems. But although we don’t know exactly where the tipping point is, we do know that we’ll reach it unless something changes.

If the stores of biomass do drop below sustainable thresholds, life on the planet will inevitably become less hospitable as more people depend on fewer available energy options, Schramski said. And it is not unreasonable to assume that humanity’s collective standard of living will become more vulnerable to fluctuations such as droughts, disease epidemics and social unrest. At the limit, given present trends, “right now the unsustainability of our future is, from a thermodynamic standpoint, 100 percent certain,” he said.

“It feels strange to make these kinds of predictions,” he said. “Despite what some people may think, I’m not an ardent environmentalist; my training and my scientific work are rooted in thermodynamics. But these laws are absolute and incontrovertible; we have a limited amount of biomass energy available on the planet, and once it’s exhausted, there is absolutely nothing to replace it.”

Still, such outcomes are in the realm of worst-case scenarios. Schramski and his collaborators are hopeful that recognition of the importance of biomass and prevention of its destruction will slow the steady march toward a bleak future.

“I like to think of myself as a realistic optimist; I won’t hide from the truth, but I’m hopeful that what we’ve found through our research will help inspire change,” Schramski said.

But the measures required to stop the progression toward unsustainability will have to be drastic.

“We will need to be very innovative as we move forward,” said Gattie. “Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.”

— James Hataway, Office of Vice President for Research, Research magazine, fall 2015

March 2016
Reaching far<br>beyond our borders

William Kisaalita, right, a biological and mechanical engineering professor in UGA’s College of Engineering, works with Ryan Brush, an undergraduate student worker in his lab, on the milk cooler used in his refrigeration project in Uganda.

Beyond our borders

Research at UGA extends from Georgia to sites throughout the world.

From Costa Rica to Indonesia to Uganda, the University of Georgia is involved in vast array of research that improves lives both in the U.S. and in countries where UGA faculty, staff and students are conducting studies.

International research collaboration at UGA is nothing new, but the increased emphasis on producing globally minded graduates, in addition to growing concerns of the potential for local disease epidemics to become global, recently has increased the importance of quality research partnerships that cross our country’s borders.

“The Office of International Education at UGA is the nexus of the university’s international collaborative research initiatives,” said Noel Fallows, interim associate provost for international education. “These collaborations expand the global reach of the University of Georgia, forging partnerships not just across university departments and colleges, but also with peer institutions and grant-funding agencies throughout the world.”

As a major public research university, UGA is poised to lead the state and Southeast in partnering with foreign institutions to increase our capacity for basic and applied scientific research, as well as research in the arts and humanities.

“Whether it is climate change, food security or emerging infectious disease, many of the most pressing issues facing UGA researchers today are global in nature,” said Brian Watkins, director of international partnerships at UGA. “Working in tandem with faculty, departments and colleges and the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of International Education serves to inform faculty of existing and emerging opportunities, facilitate broad and expansive interdisciplinary grant-funding proposals, and raise the profile of the university as it generates knowledge that will have a global impact.”

We’ve collected a sampling of the many collaborative research projects currently in progress in the paragraphs below.


Three farmers in Uganda are now putting William Kisaalita’s unique milk chilling devices to a real-world test to determine if the coolers can keep milk cold overnight and allow it to be accepted at milk processing facilities the following morning. Using the principle of evaporative cooling, the milk chillers are powered by biogas — which is supplied through the collection of cow manure — and allow farmers in sub-Saharan Africa without access to refrigeration to collect and store milk without losing so much of it to spoilage.

Kisaalita, a professor of engineering, received a grant of $1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop the technology and then work with locals in Uganda to manufacture and distribute the coolers.

Related links:

UGA engineer receives $1 million to develop milk cooler

Modern milk is kind of miraculous

Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Milk’s 3-Week Shelf Life For Granted

UGA Prof Awarded $1 Million Grant for Sub-Saharan Milk Project


In addition to working with colleagues at the University of Liverpool in the U.K. and other American institutions that contribute to the EuPathDB bioinformatics database, Jessica Kissinger has been working to expand bioinformatics research on parasites in Brazil for more than 11 years.

Kissinger, a professor of genetics and director of UGA’s Institute of Bioinformatics, will spend one month each year through 2017 in Brazil as part of her “Science without Borders” fellowship at the Centro de Pesquisas Réne Rachou—FIOCRUZ in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Kissinger has a long-standing relationship with this institution; she completed two years of postdoctoral work there in the mid-1990s. Her fellowship also funds two graduate students to work in her lab for one year and a postdoctoral researcher in Brazil.

Her work was funded previously through a 10-year National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center training award, through which Kissinger taught hundreds of Brazilian students in their home country and at UGA.

Related links:

Infectious Disease Genomics and Bioinformatics training in Brazil

Professor receives Brazilian award to train infectious disease researchers

Grant will help provide informatics training to Brazilian scientists

Veterinary medicine — infectious diseases

Infectious diseases researcher Ralph Tripp, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar in vaccine and therapeutic development, is leading a group of UGA researchers in collaboration with Australia’s CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship program to guide Australia’s biosecurity research focus and inform their government on policy. A combined approach to animal, human and environmental health — often referred to as One Health — is key to the program’s research.

Currently UGA, CSIRO and biotech company Proventus Bio are working to engineer cell lines specifically for the rapid development of vaccines for emerging and important pathogens such as polio, influenza virus, measles virus and Zika virus. The development of appropriate cell lines, along with humanitarian-purpose licensing agreements, will allow developing countries to benefit from vaccines and treatments for these diseases globally, while also aiding the biosafety of the U.S. and Australia.

In addition to the research agreement, UGA and Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, have a student exchange program to cross-train scientists. Currently, one of Tripp’s doctoral students is working on the Hendra virus with a Deakin faculty member whose lab is located in CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

Related links:

Division of One Health

Animal Health Research Center

Zoonotic disease threat

Marine Sciences

Along the Spermonde Archipelago in Indonesia, coral reefs serve as a source of livelihood, food and island protection and are a rich source of biodiversity. Brian Hopkinson, assistant professor of marine sciences, is working with Indonesian scientist Nita Rukminsari of Hasanuddin University to identify corals in Indonesia that are either highly sensitive or resistant to high temperature and low pH in order to assist conservation efforts in the archipelago.

Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere cause ocean temperatures to increase to the point where corals “bleach” — or lose their symbiotic algae — more frequently, causing stress to the corals. Knowing which corals are more or less sensitive to these stresses will help researchers prioritize management strategies. Additionally, these researchers want to identify areas the ocean that are less stressful to corals — those areas with naturally lower temperature and higher pH.

Hopkinson will travel to Indonesia in April to train researchers on how to run temperature and carbon dioxide stress experiments on corals. The project is funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development via Hasanuddin University, and Hopkinson was asked to join the project as an adviser because of his existing work on the effects of ocean acidification on corals.

Related link:

Coral vulnerability assessment study

Public Health

Dr. Christopher Whalen, Ernest Corn Professor of infectious disease epidemiology, has long-standing research and training relationships with public health and academic institutions in Uganda and has trained many of their local public health officials. His most recent grant, $1.49 million from the NIH Fogarty International Center, will help train Ugandan scientists to study the transmission of HIV and tuberculosis — a global health threat that kills 50,000 people annually in East Africa alone.

Working alongside Whalen is Dr. Juliet Sekandi, a postdoctoral and teaching associate in the College of Public Health who earned her medical degree in Uganda. They study community networks and how these networks affect TB diagnosis and transmission. The largest public health hazard related to TB lies in patients’ inability to reach a quick diagnosis, which in turn delays treatment of the patient.

Related links:

Whalen receives $1.49 million grant for HIV, TB research training in Uganda

Study looks at reasons for delayed tuberculosis diagnosis in Uganda

UGA Costa Rica

Fabricio Camacho, the general manager of the UGA Costa Rica campus, recently co-authored a paper in the Biochemical Engineering Journal about the use of tubular anaerobic digesters in developing countries to produce biogas from livestock waste. The study found that household-scale digesters can provide enough biogas to meet households’ cooking energy needs; the gas may also be used to heat water and buildings or generate electricity on-site, reducing deforestation and air pollution by eliminating the need for firewood. Households that implement anaerobic digesters also reduce water pollution by decreasing the amount of organic livestock waste left exposed on their farms.

Related link:

Use of physical and biological process models to understand the performance of tubular anaerobic digesters

Global Research Collaboration Grant Program

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Office of International Education recently announced a matching seed grant program to encourage the development of sustainable, collaborative international research and service.

These grants may be used for videoconferencing, travel and other collaborative efforts, preliminary data collection, feasibility studies and proposal preparation. Proposals must identify and commit to pursuing specific sources of external funding. To help researchers identify potential support, OVPR and OIE have developed a database of international funding opportunities, searchable by geographical location or subject matter. Proposals are due April 5.

Related link:

New Global Research Collaboration Grant Program

— Sue Myers Smith, Office of International Education

March 2016
Coming up with<br>the big IDEAS

In January, the Odum School of Ecology held a graduate recruitment event to bring in top prospective students to meet with faculty, tour the facilities and attend their annual graduate student symposium. (Beth Gavrilles/UGA)

Coming up with the big IDEAS

UGA’s new doctoral training program in disease ecology admits first cohort.

Avian influenza, Ebola, Zika: The news is full of stories about infectious diseases. With each outbreak, doctors and public health officials across the globe scramble to respond.

As these international efforts show, fighting infectious diseases takes more than a purely medical approach. It requires an understanding of the ecological context in which the hosts and pathogens interact, the ability to process and analyze enormous amounts of data and the skills to communicate effectively with the public.

IDEAS — Infectious Disease Ecology Across Scales — is a new interdisciplinary doctoral training program in the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology designed to meet this demand.

Led by Vanessa Ezenwa, associate professor in the Odum School and College of Veterinary Medicine department of infectious diseases, and a steering committee made up of faculty from five academic units, IDEAS integrates knowledge from multiple scales of biological organization ranging from the cell to the biosphere. By combining disciplines like microbiology, public health and ecology with training in quantitative methods and science communication, IDEAS will provide students with the skills to solve complex problems in this increasingly high priority field.

The first cohort of IDEAS students will enter the program this fall.

According to Ezenwa, the hallmark of IDEAS is a series of courses that will teach students to think about problems in infectious diseases from this integrative perspective.

“Instead of having separate courses in cell biology, microbiology and population biology of infectious diseases, these courses will integrate all of these levels simultaneously using a case study-based approach,” she said. “For instance, we might focus on tuberculosis as a disease and teach fundamental principles about the causative pathogen and its interaction with hosts, all the way from what’s happening at the cellular level to the global spread of TB and TB drug resistance.”

It was this integrative approach that attracted Alex Lee to IDEAS.

Lee, from Oakland, Calif., is part of the first cohort of students accepted into the IDEAS program, drawn from schools including the University of California, Davis; Yale University; Tulane University; Penn State University and Virginia Tech, and with backgrounds ranging from biology to statistics.

Lee became interested in disease ecology as an undergraduate at UC Davis, when he took a class on parasitology.

“That was my first introduction to parasites and disease,” he said. “I took it almost on a whim, and it ended up being my favorite class. But it was the last class I took so I couldn’t pursue it further at that point.”

Lee graduated with his bachelor’s degree in evolution and ecology and went on to a successful career with the California Environmental Protection Agency. Then, a couple of years ago, he picked up a copy of “Parasite Rex” by the award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer.

“That book reignited my interest in disease ecology,” he said. “I realized that was what I really wanted to do. And when I learned about the Odum School and the IDEAS program, I knew it was the right fit for me.”

UGA is an ideal place for IDEAS, according to Ezenwa, given the breadth and depth of infectious disease research and interdisciplinary collaboration already underway across campus. The Faculty of Infectious Diseases boasts more than 100 members, and the project’s 28 participating faculty span 13 academic units.

“This important win is primarily a result of the remarkable creativity our faculty demonstrated in developing this truly innovative training program.”

— David Lee

UGA’s strength in computational and quantitative methods is another important factor, allowing IDEAS to emphasize mathematical and statistical modeling and other quantitative skills necessary to manage and analyze the rapidly increasing amount of infectious disease data.

Science communication training will benefit from the expertise of faculty members from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Experiential learning is another key aspect of the program. Students will participate in internships or study abroad opportunities where they will have the chance to apply their academic training in real-world situations, gaining the kind of hands-on experience that can’t be acquired in the classroom.

Suzanne Barbour, dean of the UGA Graduate School, credited Ezenwa and the IDEAS team for building an exciting and innovative program that will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in an increasingly competitive job market.

“IDEAS has potential to have significant impacts on graduate training beyond our campus, across the nation and potentially throughout the world,” she said. “Through Dr. Ezenwa’s program, the University of Georgia is poised to take a leadership role in graduate education.”

IDEAS is supported by a five-year, $2.99 million grant from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program, which was established to support innovative — and transferable — models for interdisciplinary graduate education in the areas of science, engineering and math, with a focus on critical research needs.

“This important win is primarily a result of the remarkable creativity our faculty demonstrated in developing this truly innovative training program,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “But it is also a tangible result of the university’s efforts to build a world-class infectious disease program.”

The IDEAS steering committee reflects the success of those efforts. Its members are associate dean and Athletic Association Professor of Ecology Sonia Altizer, professor Jeb Byers, associate professor John Drake, and assistant research scientist Richard Hall, all from the Odum School; assistant professor Courtney Murdock, associate professor Andrew Park, and professor Pej Rohani, all with joint appointments in the Odum School and the College of Veterinary Medicine; professor Julie Moore in the College of Veterinary Medicine; professor Duncan Krause in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Chris Whalen, Ernest Corn Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the College of Public Health; and Michael Yabsley, associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources with a joint appointment in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Our goal is that when they’re done, these students will understand the principles of infectious disease ecology across scales, and have the skills and global perspective to tackle the most pressing infectious disease problems of our time,” Ezenwa said.

To learn more about IDEAS, see

— Beth Gavrilles, Odum School of Ecology

March 2016
Research + real world

Crystal Leach has joined UGA as the founding director of Discovery and Innovation Partnerships.

Research + real world

Finding partners through discovery and innovation

Industry increasingly is turning to universities to know what’s going on at the cutting edge of research, and universities, in turn, are looking to industry to take its innovations to market and deliver benefits to society.

“Increasing collaborations with industry is a high priority for UGA,” said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee. “It’s a way to connect our research to the real world, part of our land grant mission in the 21st century.

“It’s also an important component of diversifying our portfolio of external funding,” he continued, “and it’s good for the students who are involved in these projects, since many of them go on to work for the industry sponsors.

“The question is, how do we do it?” he said, pausing. “It takes a multi-pronged approach.”

A new initiative + the right hire

A significant step was taken this February, when Crystal Leach joined UGA as the founding director of Discovery and Innovation Partnerships, a new initiative jointly supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Engineering. The Ohio native earned her master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Akron and her doctorate in textiles and polymer science at Clemson University. For the majority of her career, she worked at Kimberly-Clark, a Fortune 500 global health and hygiene company, in positions ranging from materials research to leading a global innovation and product development team.

“Because industry often moves faster than academia, we need to be efficient and responsive when negotiating terms,” Lee said. “We need to be as flexible as possible with our intellectual property policies and terms. And we need a point person who gets up every morning thinking about how to connect industry with relevant UGA researchers.”

“We are excited to now have Crystal Leach in this role. Her extensive background in industry research means that she’ll have instant credibility with her peers in industry as well as with our faculty.”

UGA + industry

In reflecting on the opportunities and advantages at UGA, Leach answered a few questions about why industry collaborations are a priority for the university.

Q: What’s the value of industry collaborations to UGA? To industry?

Leach: Industry collaborations offer faculty the opportunity to extend the impact of their research through an additional external funding stream. Through these partnerships, UGA researchers can directly contribute to the economic growth of our community, which is central to our mission as a land-grant institution.

For industry, the value of these partnerships extends beyond the specific outcomes of the research project: They gain access to technical capabilities they don’t have in-house and expand their resources without adding infrastructure. Identifying and partnering with faculty members who are on the leading edge of science is key for industries that want to be first to market with new technologies. Additionally, our industry partners tell us they highly value the ability to engage with students so that they have access to the pipeline of talented graduates.

Q: What kinds of UGA collaborations exist already?

Leach: I’m lucky to have a great foundation to build from in this new role. UGA has a strong history of collaborating with industries across the biological and agricultural sciences, ranging from fundamental exploration to applied research resulting in new products and services. Although relatively new, the College of Engineering is quickly building a portfolio of industrial partners across its research specialties, and they have the potential to greatly accelerate this within the next few years. The basic building blocks are in place to significantly expand UGA’s presence in this area: faculty with strong research portfolios, administration who are engaged and supportive and systems that enable collaboration. I’m excited to tap into all of this potential to build new industrial collaborations and strengthen our current partnerships.

Q: How can faculty start collaborations with industry?

Leach: Let’s talk! The first step is working together to outline the type of industry collaboration that best fits their research efforts and area of expertise. I’m happy to help faculty research target companies or sectors that would be a fit for their work. I would encourage them to check out the resources available on the OVPR website and talk with colleagues who are currently involved in industry-funded research projects. The most important thing is that we start the dialog so we can begin crafting the right strategy for their specific research efforts.

Q: What kinds of assistance can you offer?

Leach: I’m so impressed with the faculty here at UGA and the research I see taking place across multiple disciplines. My role is like a matchmaker: helping help faculty identify and engage industry partners, leveraging my own industry experience to assist them in understanding corporate culture, decision-making processes and research models.

Q: What will success look like?

Leach: Of course we want to increase UGA’s overall level of industry funding, especially for growing engineering programs, but there are additional factors that I will use as a measure of success. I’m especially interested in increasing our number of strategic collaborations—those long-term industry partners who engage with us across multiple fronts—research, recruitment and philanthropy. Also, I think there’s great potential for building research collaborations that span departmental and college boundaries, that is, bringing together the breadth of UGA capabilities to provide a complete solution for the challenges industry partners bring forward.

Connect with Crystal Leach at

— Terry Hastings, Office of the Vice President for Research

February 2016

Languages make
the world go around

UGA offers the expertise and infrastructure to teach and share the world’s major language traditions.

Whether as a foundation to a classical education or in preparation for a specific career, foreign language offerings at the University of Georgia present a nexus of opportunity, scholarship and discovery for students at every level.

Across several departments in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, UGA houses a world of language instruction opportunities on campus.

“It’s a truly diverse blend, that both harkens back to the roots of classical liberal arts education as it builds on the world as we know it today and looks forward to both the challenges and the opportunities of the future,” said Noel Fallows, Distinguished Research Professor of Spanish and associate dean in the Franklin College. “You can make the argument that, to be in the conversation of world-class universities, an institution must house the expertise and infrastructure to teach and share the world’s major language traditions. UGA certainly does that.”

The department of Romance Languages offers courses, majors and minors in French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese language and literature.

“The demand for Spanish is insatiable, simply because it is practical,” said Stacey Casado, a professor and head of the department of Romance Languages.

The numbers bear this out. Faculty and instructors in Spanish teach more than 4,000 students each semester. Add in another 900 students studying French, 600-plus enrolled in Italian and more than 250 learning Portuguese each semester, and that means there are faculty, instructors and graduate teaching assistants instructing more than 6,000 students every semester.

“It’s a major operation,” Casado said. “If students want to pursue careers here in the U.S., being English–Spanish bilingual gives them a huge advantage in the job market.”

Spanish instruction is also available online at all levels.

“Our Spanish majors come from two interconnected and mutually enriching areas of interest: in one, we find emerging scholars of linguistics, literature and culture,” said Elizabeth Wright, an associate professor of Spanish. “In the other are students who combine this major with another field in preparation for a wide range of professions, including education, medicine, business, media studies, law, social work and diplomacy.”

These latter combinations plus the increasing numbers of UGA students studying abroad present dynamic new avenues for career advancement and success.

“I initially started taking Spanish classes at UGA because I enjoy the language and felt I had an aptitude for it,” said Erin Cavalli, a fourth year journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “As I finished up my minor last year, I started thinking more seriously about what I might want to pursue as far as graduate school and a career.”

Cavalli said that the economic and social realities in the U.S. make a knowledge of Spanish a significant asset. Last month she was offered a corps position for 2016-2017 with City Year San Antonio, her first choice as a post-graduation program. That opportunity was attributable in part, she believes, to her knowledge of Spanish.

“I saw the deep impact that bilingual health professionals had on these patients.”

Darby Cook, Spanish major

A senior Spanish major in the Honors Program, Darby Cook realized her passion for working with underserved populations by volunteering at Mercy Health Center in Athens.

“A significant percentage of the patients are Spanish-speakers, needing the services of a translator, and I saw the deep impact that bilingual health professionals had on these patients,” she said.

Also on campus, the department of religion offers courses in Arabic and Hebrew, while German and Russian can be learned through the department of Germanic and Slavic studies. In addition to Arabic, the Virtual Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Islamic World, housed in the department of religion, offers courses in Turkish, Urdu, Pashto, Uzbek and Tajiki this academic year in conjunction with the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program.

The department of comparative literature offers coursework in Chinese (Mandarin and classical), Japanese, Korean, Swahili, Vietnamese and Yoruba.

“One of the major reasons why I came to UGA was because of the opportunity to learn Yoruba as an elective,” said Ayodele Daré, a second year biological science major in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Current president of the UGA Chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, Daré grew up in Jonesboro, heard Yoruba from his Nigerian-born parents and wanted to learn more about himself and his family.

“My future plans are to become a pediatrician that is fluent in Yoruba and Spanish,” he said. “My father always told me that having a doctor who could interact with other ethnic groups in their languages is a very valuable and necessary person to have in the world.”

Omotola Akinrolabu is a second-year nutritional sciences major. Akinrolabu, originally from Nigeria, has completed the first three semester of Yoruba.

“Granted, I am quite familiar with the culture, however I knew there were so many aspects of my own culture that I was completely unaware of and I was determined to get firsthand instruction in them,” Akinrolabu said. “Not only did we delve deep into the language and its origin, but we were exposed to the rich and unique culture, traditions, clothing, cuisine and so much more of the Yoruba people. I even found myself sharing interesting facts with my parents that they did not even know. I took this course as a self-reminder of where I came from.”

“If someone ever wanted to read the classical texts ... they would need to be able to read the classical language.”

Cody Cannon, religon M.A. student

Cody Cannon, an M.A. student in religion who began taking Mandarin Chinese to satisfy his undergraduate requirements, said the language can open a lot of doors.

“Many people fail to realize the significance of studying the classical version of Chinese. For more than 2,000 years, this was the way people wrote down their literature in China. It is not until recently that the language was written as it is spoken in its vernacular,” Cannon said. “If someone ever wanted to read the classical texts like The ‘Dao De Jing,’ Confucius’s ‘Analects,’ Mencius or even documents written up to 150 years ago, they would need to be able to read the classical language.”

Other old languages, Greek and Latin are the province of the department of Classics. The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute offers a four-semester sequence in Quechua, the language of the Incas and currently spoken in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of Argentina and Colombia.

The UGA linguistics program offers biennial course offerings in Classical Armenian, Gothic, and Old Church Slavic and a two-semester sequence in Sanskrit.

Learning languages like those is arguably the first point of entry into the study of any given culture. For students pursuing degrees in the arts, humanities or social sciences, proficiency in languages beyond English is requisite for deeper engagement with primary sources.

“I’m interested in the large body of works written in Sanskrit involving life and spirituality, which before I could only read through other translations,” said Christian Riesinger, a fourth year undergraduate in the linguistics program whose interest in orthography led to a desire to learn the writing system employed by Sanskrit known as Devanagari.

The College of Education offers a program in American Sign Language that fulfills the foreign language requirement in UGA schools and colleges.

“Many people erroneously understand language study simply as a way of acquiring requisite linguistic skills.”

Martin Kagel, Professor

For many UGA students, language fluency is included in the list of college requirements. All Franklin College, Grady and School of Public and International Affairs degree programs require completion of the third semester in a foreign language. The Terry College of Business co-major in international business requires completion of advanced level coursework through the third semester. International affairs majors in SPIA as well as several Franklin College majors must complete the fourth semester of a foreign language. Students who are required to take a language can choose any of the languages offered at UGA.

Recognizing the value of foreign language fluency for students pursuing careers in engineering, UGA recently has begun offering a five-year course of study leading to a dual degree in German and one of six engineering fields: mechanical, biological, agricultural, civil, electrical or computer systems.

“Many people erroneously understand language study simply as a way of acquiring requisite linguistic skills. What we offer, however—and because of UGA’s strength in German studies we can—is cultural study that equips students with the skills to negotiate intercultural environments in today’s global economy,” said Martin Kagel, A.G. Steer Professor and head of the department of Germanic and Slavic studies. “Students need deep knowledge and understanding of the culture they are dealing with. When you are sitting at a table with German executives or work in a lab of a German subsidiary here in the U.S., you need to understand how Germans think, how they view the issue, question or product at hand within their own value system and what the implicit expectations are for you.”

Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center, said learning a foreign language can be extremely beneficial to students and employers.

“Having a foreign language as a double major or minor can complement one’s academic experience, broaden their global understanding and appreciation of other cultures, and could potentially be a differentiating factor during the interview process,” he said. “From an employer’s perspective, I believe they would view the addition of a foreign language as the icing on the cake.”

— Alan Flurry, Franklin College

February 2016
Developing leaders to move UGA forward

This fall, nine faculty members were chosen as the inaugural class of the university’s Women’s Leadership Fellows Program, one of several programs instituted to move UGA forward.

Developing leaders
to move UGA forward

Women’s Leadership Initiative spurs new hiring practices, programs at UGA, laying the "groundwork for significant advances in gender equity."

UGA has updated its hiring practices, launched leadership development programming and made new resources available to faculty and staff as a result of its Women’s Leadership Initiative.

“To move the University of Georgia forward, we need to ensure that we attract, retain and advance the very best faculty and staff,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The three components of the Women’s Leadership Initiative—recruitment, hiring and retention; leadership and career and development; and work-life balance—all complement each other to benefit the entire university.”

Training on best practices for recruiting and hiring employees will begin this spring for administrators and faculty members participating on search committees. The Office of Faculty Affairs has partnered with Human Resources to craft materials to help search committees maximize the diversity of hiring pools, and the guides are expected to be posted online later this year.

Sarah Covert, associate provost for faculty affairs, noted that a full rollout of trainings on best practices for faculty search committees is on track to be complete by the summer in anticipation of the busy faculty hiring season. In addition, the Office of Faculty Affairs recently began offering workshops on faculty mentoring that include information on improving the retention of faculty in underrepresented groups, including women.

In the fall, nine faculty members were chosen as the inaugural class of the university’s Women’s Leadership Fellows Program, which provides professional development and networking opportunities for faculty members. The cohort, which includes representatives from seven schools and colleges as well as the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, will continue meeting monthly in sessions that feature senior administrators and speakers from academia, business and other fields. The training and mentorship program concludes with a weekend retreat in June.

The recruitment of a work-life balance coordinator is underway as well, and Human Resources is conducting an assessment of programs that support work-life balance to identify unmet needs and ensure that policies and guidelines on leave, flex-time and telecommuting are consistently applied across units. In addition, information on work-life balance topics such as child care, wellness programs, telecommuting and leave policies will be consolidated in a new online resource.

Other units also have launched programs to support female students, faculty and staff. The College of Family and Consumer Sciences held a Women in Leadership Panel in the fall that featured alumnae and was moderated by Dean Linda Kirk Fox, for example. On Feb. 8, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will host delegations from 13 states for the Southern Region Women’s Agricultural Leadership Summit, an event that will include an interactive research dialogue to provide input for policymakers as well as scholars. The Terry College of Business has scheduled events nearly every month this calendar year through its Women’s Initiative Annual Plan.

Students have contributed to the effort, with the newly formed Women in Science organization presenting a WiSci (Women in Science) Career Symposium and members of the Demosthenian Literary Society, Phi Kappa Literary Society, Roosevelt Institute and Women’s Studies Student Organization participating in a Women’s Leadership Initiative debate in November.

“We still have plenty of work to do,” Whitten said, “but the dedication of administrators, faculty, staff and students across campus has laid the groundwork for significant advances in gender equity at the University of Georgia.”

— Camie Williams, Provost’s Office

February 2016
Diversity and Inclusion

Shonte Wallace: "We want people to feel included and to be engaged with each other despite differences.”

Diversity and Inclusion

Certificate program helps foster inclusive campus environment.

More than 1,000 UGA faculty and staff have taken it upon themselves to learn how to make the university a more welcoming and inclusive place.

The first 18 recipients of the UGA Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program, a partnership between the Office of Institutional Diversity, Training and Career Development and other diversity-related offices and programs at UGA, were recognized in 2012, and since then the program has continued to grow exponentially. A total of 300 certificates have been handed out.

Shonte Wallace, coordinator of faculty and staff development in OID, oversees the program and is working on further adding to the line up of available courses. To receive a certificate, employees must attend a core diversity class and five electives focusing on different areas of UGA’s diverse campus.

“Since we have the strong interest in the certificate, I want to start making sure that the people who are here are taking something that matters away …from the program, in which they can implement into their work here at UGA,” Wallace said.

To ensure that, Wallace and Kelly Slaton, OID coordinator of assessment and diversity initiatives, are working on a review of the program to see how it can be improved upon. Despite a total of 14 certificate courses being offered this quarter, Wallace wants to see even more, along with some classes focusing on topics like socioeconomics and religious diversity.

“We need to definitely talk about the religious diversity because religion is so central to who people are,” she said. “We don’t want people to have to give up their religion or be afraid to be who they are in their faith. We want people to feel included and to be engaged with each other despite differences.”

Wallace said it’s imperative that the conversation on diversity be continued even after staff and faculty fulfill the requirements.

“I don’t want it to be where people are taking this just to have something to put on their resume,” she said. “We need to know that the students see a difference, that your colleagues and administrators notice the difference.”

One of the ways she hopes to keep the conversation going is to start a “mini conference” where graduates return to discuss how they’re integrating their lessons into their work.

Another areas Wallace wants to focus on is having more faculty members earn a certificate. Wallace is currently hosting focus groups with faculty members to see what they want out of the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program and how she can improve it to meet their needs. One option she’s looking into is creating professional learning communities where faculty come together in small groups and work out problems relating to diversity.

“I want to help faculty integrate diversity in a way that is not pushing it on the students, but that it just becomes a part of the curriculum,” she said, “and I think that collaboration will make problem solving for that more thorough because you’re more creative when you have a variety of knowledge, skills, and experiences”

Wallace aims to make UGA an exemplar in diversity training. She also wants to look into making the program more academic and well-respected

“I want it to be a respected program that matters, not just something to do,” she said. “I’m hoping the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program makes people advocates for change, advocates for diversity, advocates for inclusion,” she said. “I don’t want people to sit back and say ‘I did it for me,’ we have to do it for a better UGA.

“It has to become something that’s not just I do diversity, but I am diversity,” she also said.

— Matt Chambers, News Service

February 2016
Doing the work of her heart

Meg Evans, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said she never wants a UGA student to feel like they don't have a place on campus. "This is not a 9-to-5 job for me; this is a 24/7 thing for me that I care deeply about," she said. "If in any way I can help somebody explore their identity, that's what I want to do." (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Doing the work of her heart

LGBT Resource Center director helps students explore their identity.

FFor Meg Evans, it's personal. When she started her collegiate career, there was no place for her, someone who identifies as queer and gender non-conforming, on campus. 

“I didn’t have that support that I needed,” she said. “I didn’t have anybody that I could talk to.”

Now as director of the on-campus LGBT Resource Center, she wants to ensure that no UGA student ever feels the same way.

“This is not a 9-to-5 job for me; this is a 24/7 thing for me that I care deeply about,” she said. “If in any way I can help somebody explore their identity, that’s what I want to do.”

Evans began in higher education at Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa, North Carolina, where she was earning a degree in outdoor leadership. It was there she took a position as a student resident director, supervising four resident assistants and a residence hall. After she received her degree, she became interim housing coordinator. During both positions, she worked advising LGBT student groups.

“I was really excited to work with college students,” she said. “Being able to listen to stories and share my experience with them, I loved it.”

In her role as director of UGA’s LGBT Resource Center, Evans does a lot of listening and sharing stories. Since she started in early August, she has been “engaging in conversations about how we can make UGA more affirming and welcoming for LGBT and trans-identified folks on campus.”

Her role, Evans said, is to do big-picture visioning, figuring out how the LGBT Resource Center fits in to the fabric of the university and how it can help move UGA forward in terms of supporting its students with their identities.

“My hope is that we can have a voice—and we do—and figure out how we can collaborate better to meet the intersectionality (the understanding of the complex and multi-dimensional nature of people) of our students,” Evans said. “With us being a two-person office, collaboration is key.”

Evans’ position also allows her to “make sure the queer voice is represented” in committees or places around campus. She also advises the LGBT graduate student group, handles administrative details for the center, gives presentations and training workshops, and helps students, faculty and staff as needed.

Coming from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was LGBTQ resources coordinator and housefellow, Evans said that UGA had a lot of appeal for her.

“I was excited knowing that there’s a lot of really incredible people here who want the work to be done,” she said, “and throughout my interview process, I really saw a spirit of intersectionality.

“I saw a spirit of inclusion here that is unlike what I’ve seen at a lot of other institutions. It’s a spirit of inclusion I don’t think people necessarily think of when they talk about a state school in the Southeast,” Evans also said. “I wanted to be a part of that act of changing how people here think about LGBT folks and also about how people might see us, the university.”

Outside of work, Evans and her fiancee, Kadesha, enjoy sports and the outdoors. The pair has a passion for geocaching, an activity in which one uses GPS to hide and find containers in outdoor spaces.

“The fact that someone can come in here and feel comfortable enough, safe enough and let me share in that experience with them, that to me is a total privilege that I am deeply honored by.”

Meg Evans

“It’s a nerdy pastime that’s like adult treasure hunting,” Evans said. “It’s great because we get to be outside, we get to hang out with our dogs, we all get exercise, it’s free and it allows us to explore places that we’ve never seen.”

Similar to her work at the LGBT Resource Center, Evans said the activity allows her to “see the world through other people’s eyes.”

Evans takes that responsibility of empathizing with others and hearing their stories very seriously. She’s always willing to have a conversation with any campus community member about anything related to LGBT issues or identities.

“It’s taxing hearing people’s stories and constantly holding those personal stories for folks, but I also absolutely see it as a privilege,” Evans said. “The fact that someone can come in here and feel comfortable enough, safe enough and let me share in that experience with them, that to me is a total privilege that I am deeply honored by.

“Some days are hard, and some days are amazing, and some days are some days,” she also said. “But, by and large, the fact that I get to show up to work every day and do the work of my heart, I can’t really beat that.”

— Matt Chambers, News Service

February 2016
Unity through diversity

The Multicultural Greek Council champions the motto “unity through diversity.”

Unity through diversity

Greek life fosters diversity through Multicultural Greek Council.

The Multicultural Greek Council is the newest of four councils that comprise UGA’s Greek Life office, an arm of Student Affairs that serves to advise social fraternities and sororities.

Founded in 2004 by the Delta Phi Lambda, the first multicultural Greek organization at UGA, along with Sigma Beta Rho and Lambda Phi Epsilon, the MGC currently consists of 12 chapters—six fraternities and six sororities—that champion the motto “unity through diversity.”

While the 12 fraternities and sororities were founded under particular cultural interests, the organizations created and have sustained an ethnically diverse environment that encourages cultural awareness and diversity amongst their members and across UGA.

“We are proud to be an extremely diverse organization with sisters of all ethnic and racial backgrounds,” said Chandni Patel, fourth-year biochemistry and molecular biology major and vice president of Delta Phi Omega sorority.

Being a member of a multicultural organization opened the door for leadership and volunteer opportunities, and a deeper connection to UGA, she said.

“I can attest for my whole sorority when I say that MGC has remarkably influenced our college experience at UGA,” Patel said. “Not only to encourage our relationship with the university, but also to strengthen our relationship with other student organizations.”

The multicultural Greek organizations not only define themselves by their diverse membership, but also by their commitment to philanthropy and engagement with each other. Each organization has their own designated philanthropy and also volunteers to raise funds and awareness for the MGC’s major cause, the Boys & Girls Club of Athens.

“We’re not exclusive (to specific ethnicities) and have members from different cultural backgrounds,” said Kimberly Lai, third-year health promotion major and incoming MGC president.

Lai, a member of Delta Phi Lambda, said the cultural background of each organization fosters interest in and awareness of specific cultural community needs that can be overlooked on such a big campus.

MGC fraternity and sorority’s cultural backgrounds often serve as an impetus for their chosen philanthropy, Lai said.

Delta Phi Lambda, an Asian-interest sorority that was first chartered at UGA, focuses their philanthropy efforts on osteoporosis, a bone disease that increases the risk of broken bones and disproportionately affects Asian women.

Since its 2004 creation, the MGC has grown from three to 12 organizations and Lai said the quick growth gives UGA students more options to join culturally diverse organizations.

As president of the youngest Greek council, Lai hopes to initiate more collaboration with the other three councils. She said philanthropy programs like the third annual superhero-themed 5K marathon—a Boys & Girls Club fundraiser—show UGA the unique approach that MGC brings to campus.

— Erica Hensley, News Service

February 2016
Global education

With the emphasis on sustainability at the UGA Costa Rica campus, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects such as planting trees on campus and in the community. Pictured are students from the 2015 IPIC course (L to R): Brittany Winbush, Camile Jones, Matt Chaiken (back row), Starky Thomas (back row), Rachel Huppertz (front row), Emilie Clarke, Alexandria Gonsalves.

Global education

Costa Rica course provides international perspectives on interracial communication.

Ashared personal connection on campus brought communication studies professor Tina M. Harris into territory that was at the same time familiar and unfamiliar. The unfamiliar territory was Costa Rica; the familiar was interracial communication, Harris’ specialty and an area in which she has actually co-authored the leading textbook.

Harris, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor and multiple-award-winning faculty member in the department of communication studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has taught her “International Perspectives on Interracial Communications” course at the UGA Costa Rica residential campus each summer since 2008.

To date about 90 students have completed the program. As many as 14 students each year engage in readings and class discussions about race and culture as they journey through different regions of Costa Rica, each with its own unique racial makeup and cultural heritage.

Each new student group brings their own personal histories, preconceived notions, fears, preferences and biases to the course. This not only makes each year’s course unique but also requires Harris to juggle any group tensions with a consideration of how each student’s own self-discovery and racial identity directly impacts his or her experience with the program.

“There’s a lot of emotional labor that goes into the program,” Harris said. “Some have some discomfort trying new food or question whether it’s safe to drink the water, or there’s discomfort with the hotel accommodations.”

Then there are emotional reactions to the course material itself. For many, this is their first experience outside of the U.S. and the first time they’ve taken the time to listen to people from other races talk about their experiences and struggles, and to openly admit—and discuss—their preconceptions.

Harris occasionally has to address interpersonal and interracial conflict within the group, or help students identify coping strategies to deal with cultural immersion and a very unique group dynamic. Often the discussions result in the students becoming more aware of their biases and different methods of communication, which is one of the goals of the course.

Although Harris had never traveled to Costa Rica before she began planning her first course, she grew up in a military family that lived in Rota, Spain, for four and a half years, during which time Harris learned Spanish as a native speaker does—by being immersed in it.

“My mom recently joked that Spanish is my first language,” Harris said.

Harris said that living in Spain “was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. It played a critical role in shaping my identity and the way I view differences in culture and ethnicity.”

On the recommendation of a colleague in UGA’s administration, Harris met with Quint Newcomer, director of UGA Costa Rica, to talk about diversifying the study abroad course offerings at the campus.

“Given my affinity for Spanish-speaking cultures and the opportunity that was presented to me, there was no way that I could say ‘I’m not doing this,’” Harris said. “I’ve fallen in love with the country and the culture, and now when I go back it’s like going home.”

Costa Rica provides a rich laboratory for the students to see how race, ethnicity and culture function in another country. After starting the program on the UGA Costa Rica campus, the students spend six days in the capital city of San José, followed by six days in a predominantly Afro-Caribbean region known as Puerto Viejo.

“How race is constructed in Costa Rica is similar (to the U.S.), but different,” Harris said.

Some places are much more like the U.S., such as San José, which is popular with tourists. Upon arriving in Puerto Viejo, however, students get a true immersion into the culture through panel discussions and structured time with locals. Afterward, the students get a short break, which gives them the chance to regroup and refresh before returning to the UGA Costa Rica campus to present their research projects.

While she doesn’t expect to see an immediate drastic change in her students in the three and a half weeks they are in Costa Rica, Harris has witnessed post-program transformations and awareness by remaining in touch them months and years after the program has ended.

One student in particular provided a great example of this—although the student is of Puerto Rican descent, during class discussions she said she had always thought of herself as white. The course readings and discussions had her examining her own heritage more closely, however, and just a few weeks into the course, the student was self-identifying as Puerto Rican and discussing with her parents this transformative experience. Shortly after returning from Costa Rica, she became involved with a Puerto Rican student association, immersed herself in the culture and started speaking Spanish more regularly.

“This is what the program is about … I want the students to have some self-discovery while they are on the program that is long lasting,” Harris said.

— Sue Myers Smith, Office of International Education

February 2016
Improving success of veterans

In the past year, the Student Veterans Resource Center has worked with the community to add nine awards and scholarships to ease student veteran financial strain, created a new certificate program for student veterans and established the Veteran Success Council. (Photo by Don Reagin/UGA)

Improving success of veterans

Student Veterans Resource Center helps military veterans become ‘career ready.’

Since the Student Veterans Resource Center opened two years ago, director Ted Barco has been working to help military veterans more fully integrate into student life at UGA.

In the past year, the SVRC has worked with the community to add nine awards and scholarships to ease student veteran financial strain, created a new certificate program for student veterans and established the Veteran Success Council. Comprised of senior UGA leadership and co-chaired by Dean of Students Bill McDonald and Ronald Cervero, associate vice president of instruction, the board identifies key areas where UGA can improve student veteran success.

Barco, twice retired from the national security arena, likes to map out his goals. So he’s created a wheel-shaped graphic that includes the SVRC’s priorities. Two of these priorities are easing student veterans’ transition into a large university setting and enabling access to UGA services. The third component focuses on the next phase of their lives by helping them transition to graduate school or a career.

Because student veterans are on a strict timetable to graduate within the parameters of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which covers up to 36 consecutive months of tuition, it is vital to make sure they are “career ready” by the time the funds are exhausted, Barco said.

The average age of the student veterans at UGA is 28. Of the 210 student veterans at UGA, about half of them have spouses or children and more than half are working while attending school.

“The challenge with our student veterans is that as nontraditional students they are often pulled in multiple directions at the exact same time with school, family, work and health issues,” Barco said. “This challenge is compounded by a sense of self-reliance, which at times may work against their long-term career interests.”

To address this issue, the SVRC implemented the Black Belt Certificate Program in partnership with the Office of the Dean of Students, the UGA Career Center, First Data Corp. and the Reynolds Veterans Association. The program offers a defined pathway to career readiness.

Students who complete the journey are awarded a Black Belt Certificate.

In addition, the SVRC coordinates three mentoring programs. In one program, faculty and staff help students transition into college. A second peer mentoring-based program pairs juniors and seniors with graduate student veterans and a capstone corporate mentoring program connects students to working professionals through American Corporate Partners for a yearlong mentorship.

Justin Sailers, a combat-Marine veteran and fourth-year finance major who works part time in the SVRC, said he has benefited from the array of services provided to aid entry into a career. Sailers also is president of the Student Veteran Association, a student-run organization that works in tandem with the SVRC to foster veteran engagement and enable access to university services. He attributed his internship with a financial advisement firm to reliance on the career-readiness student services.

While serving a population as diverse as student veterans can be complicated, Barco said UGA’s tailored approach is working.

“Everyone at UGA wants to help student veterans successfully transition through higher education” Barco said, “and we’re showing them how.”

— Erica Hensley, News Service

February 2016

Building a welcoming and supportive campus community

UGA Alumni Association supports black graduates with UGA Black Alumni.

Launched during the 2015 Homecoming Weekend in October, UGA Black Alumni is the official affinity group for black graduates of the University of Georgia. Similar to the Women of UGA program, UGA Black Alumni exists underneath the umbrella of the UGA Alumni Association and seeks to connect black alumni and students.

Each year, UGA enrolls an increasingly diverse student population and it is important to connect alumni and students with shared experiences to continue building a welcoming and supportive campus community.

“As a student and an alumna, one thing I felt was missing from my UGA experience was the presence and mentorship of UGA alumni who looked like me. In 2008, I saw the first Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Myers Quad and was full of emotion,” said Ambre Reed (BSFCS ’09), a member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council. “The creation of UGA Black Alumni and its Black Alumni Leadership Council is so important to our community. Becoming involved was a no-brainer for me.”

The mission of UGA Black Alumni is five-fold: recruit black students, faculty and staff; support black students to completion of a degree program; engage current students and alumni by mentoring and professional development; ‘friendraising’ and fundraising for UGA needs; and serve as UGA ambassadors in the community and to fellow Bulldogs

The Mission of UGA Black Alumni is five-fold:

BAC Mission

Raymond Phillips (BS ’12), another member of the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council says that groups like UGA Black Alumni and Women of UGA send an important message to the university community, as well as prospective students.

“The time and resources the university is investing into UGA Black Alumni demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said. “This investment shows there is a place for everyone at UGA, regardless of one’s race, gender or age.”

Reed echoed this message.

“The creation of UGA Black Alumni sends the message that the university not only sees diversity as an asset while on campus, but after graduation, too,” she said.

Serving as an ambassador for UGA, a key part of the group’s mission, involves activities like participating in Give That Dawg a Bone, a card-writing campaign in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which invites alumni to write notes to accepted students, encouraging them to call UGA home for the next four years.

Members of UGA Black Alumni also are invited to attend information sessions and recruitment fairs throughout the year, where they can educate talented black high school students about UGA, its traditions and culture.

Reed admits that as a high school student, she never considered attending UGA. It was not until a black recruiter visited her high school in metro Atlanta and spoke about UGA with passion and pride that she realized it could be a place that she, a black student, could feel accepted and comfortable.

The services that are now a core part of UGA Black Alumni are what helped recruit Ambre and are what will help recruit more talented and diverse students in the future.

Another key component of UGA Black Alumni is raising funds for the Black Alumni Scholarship, which supports up to four students a year. Charles Orgbon III, a member of the Class of 2017 and recipient of the Black Alumni Scholarship, is CEO of Greening Forward, one of America’s largest youth-driven environmental organizations. It is talented students like Orgbon, who are supported by the important work of UGA Black Alumni, that are helping to further cement UGA’s reputation as a top-tier public institution.

The UGA Alumni Association is proud to support UGA Black Alumni as it continues to engage the university’s more than 288,000 alumni around the world.

To learn more about UGA Black Alumni, visit

Interested in joining Ambre and Raymond on the Black Alumni Leadership Council? Click here.

To support students like Charles Orgbon III and other recipients of the Black Alumni Scholarship, click here.

— Jamie Lewis, Alumni Association

February 2016
Taking HEED<br> of diversity

"Units throughout the university are engaged in celebrating diversity and making our campus a more inclusive and welcoming place. It is truly a community effort that supports a core value of the University of Georgia." — Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer.

Taking HEED of diversity

UGA receives national diversity award for second consecutive year.

The University of Georgia has received national recognition for its efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse campus for the second year in a row as a 2015 recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

The HEED Award is the only designation of its kind awarded to institutions that exhibit outstanding efforts and success in the area of diversity and inclusion throughout their campuses.

“The university is pleased to receive, once again, this important recognition for the diversity of our campus community,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia strives to cultivate an environment where individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and supported. We are pleased to be recognized for our efforts to create a positive and inclusive academic community.”

As a HEED Award recipient, the university was featured in the November 2015 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.

“As an institution we are proud to be recognized as a HEED Award recipient,” said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer. “Units throughout the university are engaged in celebrating diversity and making our campus a more inclusive and welcoming place. It is truly a community effort that supports a core value of the University of Georgia.”

UGA’s successes include initiatives to recruit diverse students, faculty and staff and to improve graduation rates of underrepresented groups. All students are required to complete a course that explores cultural diversity, and the university offers several diversity related events, curricular offerings and training and certificate programs for faculty and staff.

Programs such as the Georgia African American Male Experience, the National Institutes of Health-funded PREP@UGA and Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation have increased minority enrollment at UGA over the past decade from 22 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2014.

UGA’s six-year graduation rate for African-American students is 81.5 percent-more than double the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The graduation rate for Hispanic students is 79.5 percent, which also far exceeds the national average.

UGA has recently taken steps to expand its efforts to promote inclusion, including opening a Student Veterans Resource Center in 2013 and broadening the Office of Institutional Diversity’s portfolio to include women in 2014. Earlier this year, the university launched a Women’s Leadership Initiative to enhance the representation of women in leadership roles on campus.

“Fostering diversity among our faculty, staff and students gives the University of Georgia a competitive edge in today’s globalized world,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten said. “We all benefit when a broad range of perspectives and ideas are considered, and I am delighted that UGA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion continue to receive national recognition.”

UGA also offers the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program-which has reached about 1,000 faculty and staff members in the past three years across three UGA campuses-as well as a lunchtime series called Dialogues in Diversity that was created in 2012.

The university offers more than a dozen multicultural/diversity events each year for students, faculty and the community, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast, the International Street Festival, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture-which honors the first African-American students to enroll at UGA-and other special events.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees-and best practices for both-continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a holistic approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across a campus.”

— Camie Williams, Office of the Provost

February 2016
Empowering<br> and motivating

UGA student Mansur Buffins leads a discussion during a mentorship session at Clarke Middle School.

Empowering and motivating

UGA sophomore launches mentor program at Clarke Middle School, providing a role model for the importance of higher education.

Mansur Buffins first stepped on to UGA’s campus as a high school senior as part of the inaugural cohort of the Georgia African American Male Experience, a residential weekend program that focuses on leadership development and offers a glimpse into college life.

“That was my first time on a college campus,” Buffins said. “I thought, ‘This is pretty cool. This is what college looks like?’ I mean, it actually looks like the movies.”

When it came time to make his college decision, Buffins’ friends warned him against choosing the University of Georgia.

“They would say, ‘Why are you going to UGA? It’s just a bunch of white students,” he said. “I’m like, ‘I’m just trying to go to college, and I heard UGA was a good one. I mean, I’m from Georgia.’”

Buffins’ experience with GAAME helped paint a picture of the university that was different than the views of his friends. The UGA students that led the GAAME program told participants about programs like the UGA chapter of the NAACP, the Black Male Leadership Society and the Black Educational Support, which pairs an upper classman mentor with a freshman mentee to ease the transition to campus.

“That’s what attracted me,” Buffins said. “Knowing there’s a place on this campus for me. It relieved a bunch of the unnecessary stress. I knew I wasn’t going to feel out of place.”

Buffins, who is double-majoring in social studies education and African American studies, now is helping other local students feel more connected to campus. As a sophomore, Buffins has launched a new mentor program that connects black male UGA students with their counterparts at Clarke Middle School.

“Working with those kids is the highlight of every week,” he said. “It is very joyful for me.”

“I realized that these young men needed some encouragement.”

Mentor Mansur Buffins

The spark for the program came after Buffins was attending class one day with his mentee from the Clarke County Mentor Program. The pair observed several of the young black males sitting in the back of class and being removed from class for disruptive behavior. During that same day, Buffins passed a classroom filled with mostly white students and asked one of the students he was with about the class.

“Those are the smart students,” the student told Buffins.

“At that point, I realized that these young men needed some encouragement,” Buffins said. “I’m seeing little brothers down the street who look like they could use something that could empower and motivate them a little bit more.”

So Buffins approached the Clarke Middle School administration with an idea about how best to reach the black male students—black male UGA student mentors.

“I’m a black male, and I’m a student at UGA,” he said. “If you’ve made it to UGA, you’re doing something right and you have some sort of advice to give someone younger who’s trying to do that.”

The school administrators confirmed that there was a need for black male mentors and embraced Buffins’ idea. Not only did they encourage him to recruit black male UGA students into the Clarke County Mentor Program, but they also formally added a course to the school’s after-school programs.

With the help of a colleague, Buffins successfully recruited eight UGA students to volunteer for the one-on-one mentoring component of the program and then got to work preparing for the after-school course.

“I spent a lot of time in the UGA Library last summer,” he said. “I checked out books about empowering young black males, mentoring students of color, psychology of black boys—there was a lot of information on this topic.”

Each Tuesday from 4-6 p.m., Buffins leads two one-hour sessions with seven boys. Some weeks, Buffins invites a guest speaker, usually a UGA faculty member or student. Other weeks, he and the boys simply discuss things that are on their minds.

“We have a good time,” he said.

The program is proving effective already. One teacher told Buffins about a participant who used to be in gifted programs in elementary school, but had lost interest and opted out in middle school. The teacher said that after participating in Buffins’ program, the student was showing “brightness” and enthusiasm again.

“The program offers students a place to discuss topics they don’t feel comfortable discussing anywhere else,” he said. “They write in journals about serious issues, and we tackle some important stuff.”

Interest in the program is growing, and the school administration has told Buffins that it will likely increase the size of the program next year.

The middle schoolers aren’t the only ones learning from the program. One discussion was particularly eye-opening for Buffins.

“One day, we took on the topic of incarceration and police brutality,” he said, “and the kids started talking about their brothers, fathers and other family who were in jail. It wasn’t just some national theme to discuss—for them, it was very real.”

— Stan Jackson, Student Affairs

January 2016
Economic Development
UGA is moving discoveries to<br> the marketplace

Chung K. "David" Chu is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences. His antiviral drug clevudine, marketed under the trade names Levovir and Revovir, is used in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infections in South Korea and the Philippines.

UGA is moving discoveries to the marketplace

Products developed from UGA research add a big boost to the Georgia economy.

Since the University of Georgia first began licensing technologies over 30 years ago, more than 575 products based on UGA research — ranging from peanuts and hydrangeas to pharmaceuticals and biotech research tools — have reached the marketplace, and over 135 companies have been started based on UGA research.

Thanks to an innovative research faculty, industry partners, and a highly efficient commercialization pipeline, UGA consistently ranks among the top U.S. universities for commercializing its research. In 2015 alone, 55 new products based on UGA research were introduced into the marketplace, up from 28 new products in 2014, and it launched five startups in both 2014 and 2015. Just last month, the FDA approved a new drug produced using patented technology discovered at UGA.

In a move to streamline the path from laboratory and field to marketplace, the University of Georgia recently merged its technology licensing and startup programs to create a combined unit called Innovation Gateway, which works with faculty to identify technologies with commercial potential, protect intellectual property and delineate possible paths to the marketplace.

“The optimal approach for moving a discovery from the lab to the market can vary depending on the type of technology and stage of development,” said Derek Eberhart, Innovation Gateway director. “In some cases, the best route for a promising technology is licensing to an established company, while in other instances, the best way to nurture the nascent technology is launching a startup company.”

The Innovation Gateway team helps researchers and companies navigate either of these pathways and ensure that groundbreaking discoveries emerging from UGA research will reach their full commercial potential.

Many newly disclosed inventions require additional research and/or proof of principle testing before they are attractive to an industry partner to license for further commercial development. Innovation Gateway works with inventors to ensure technologies are license-ready for partnering with an industry collaborator.

Once a technology is licensed, new industry partners leverage their resources and development expertise to bring products to the market, said Eberhart. “Depending on the technology, product development can take just a few months, or for those products requiring extensive regulatory approval, up to 10 or more years.”

Once a technology has been developed into a commercial product, the inventor and university typically see a return on the resources invested in the technology many years prior through royalty revenue from product sales.

But this isn’t the only way to move products and services into the marketplace; sometimes launching a new company is the best commercialization route. Innovation Gateway’s startup incubator, located on Riverbend Road, enables startup companies to accelerate their early growth through access to space, state-of-the-art equipment, and support services.

This pathway begins with the pre-company stage, in which early-stage business enterprises evaluate the potential for university technologies to address a market need, explained Eberhart. Innovation Gateway assists companies with proof-of-concept analysis and business assessments to determine the feasibility of launching a new venture. The Georgia Research Alliance may also provide seed grant funding to companies at this stage through the GRA Ventures program and throughout the commercialization process.

Once companies become legally incorporated and establish operations, they seek to leverage funding from a variety of sources including GRA, federal small business grants or private investment to develop their idea into a robust business venture.

At the final stage of incubation, Eberhart said, companies have developed into financially sustainable businesses. “This is what we aim for – companies with significant economic and societal impact.”

Whichever pathway is taken, Eberhart said, “Our goal is to enhance the creation of new innovative companies and products based on UGA research, and ultimately, improve the quality of life in our state and around the world.”

— Terry Hastings, Office of the Vice President for Research

January 2016
Economic Development
Training tomorrow's entrepreneurs

Bob Pinckney is UGA’s director of entrepreneurial programs.

Training tomorrow's entrepreneurs

New certificate program will help students turn their ideas into innovations.

The University of Georgia will offer a campus-wide certificate program for students who are interested in launching and growing businesses and nonprofit organizations.

UGA’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, which will begin in fall 2016, will be housed in the Terry College of Business but is open to students from any major. Students in the program take three required courses — “Introduction to Entrepreneurship,” “Entrepreneurial Finance” and “Managing the Entrepreneurial Venture” — as well two elective courses that are tailored to their interests and aspirations.

“UGA’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program allows students to complement the knowledge they gain through their major coursework with fundamental business principles that help them turn their ideas into innovations,” said Bob Pinckney, UGA’s director of entrepreneurial programs.

Elective courses in the Entrepreneurship Certificate program span the schools and colleges at UGA. Computer science majors, for example, can take elective courses such as software development and database management, while students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication can take electives such as public relations administration and digital communication strategies.

The campus-wide Entrepreneurship Certificate Program extends the reach of the certificate program that has been offered to students in the Terry College and College of Family and Consumer Sciences since 2013, and Pinckney noted that it is part of a broader effort to promote entrepreneurship at UGA.

The university’s Bulldog 100 program has recognized the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni since 2010, and UGA’s Thinc. initiative was launched in 2013 to provide inspiration and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Thinc. launched a series of noncredit pop-up classes — such as coding classes for non computer-science students and design thinking skills for non-design students — and UGA students also have access to the MakerSpace in the science library, where they can design and fabricate products using 3-D printers, laser cutters and digital scanners.

On March 30, UGA will host its annual, campus-wide Next Top Entrepreneur competition, in which students compete for prize money and potential venture and angel investment capital. Students who are ready to start or expand their business can apply to the university’s Accelerator Program, which provides a board of experienced, successful entrepreneurs, advisers and investors to help students succeed. In addition, the Terry Innovation Fund helps UGA students launch early stage ventures by providing funding and mentoring.

“Entrepreneurship is embedded into the University of Georgia’s culture,” noted Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, “and we are committed to giving students the types of hands-on learning experiences that will enable them to thrive after graduation.”

To learn more about UGA’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, see

— Sam Fahmy, Provost’s Office

January 2016
Economic Development
Success stories

Jason Reott leveraged SBDC's expertise into a thriving peach business.

Success stories

The Georgia Small Business Development Center helps businesses grow and prosper across the state.

Helping entrepreneurs

Georgia Peach World, Townsend

Jason Reott was selling peaches off the back of his truck in 2013 when he approached the Georgia Small Business Development Center in Brunswick for help in launching a year-round store. Brunswick SBDC Director David Lewis taught Reott how to run a business — everything from paying sales taxes to writing paychecks. With Lewis’ help, Reott got a permit to sell peach wine, find the right technology to run the business and obtain a state trademark for his store. When online sales began to grow, Reott returned to Lewis for help. The company has 19 full-time employees and has seen its sales double over the last two years, “and we’re on track to double them again this year,” Reott says.

Expanding small businesses

Senior Solutions, Americus

Sisters Eshonda Blue and Jessica Wright launched their business, a home health care provider for seniors and people with disabilities, in Americus in 2007. Both nurses, they recognized the needs of an aging population. When they decided to expand, they reached out to the SBDC in Albany. SBDC staffers helped them develop financial, marketing and operations strategies for growth. The women also went through the SBDC GrowSmart program, which assists fast-growing businesses across the state. The company now employs more than 100 people, operates two personal care homes and provides personal care and adult day care services to people in a 19-county region.

Growing internationally

Cocoa Town LLC

Roswell equipment makers Andal and Balu Balasubra-manian were targeting sales to Indian retailers and restaurateurs in metro Atlanta until they approached the SBDC in 2007. They had discovered the grinders they sold for coffee could be modified to grind cocoa beans into chocolate, which opened up a whole new venture. With SBDC assistance they drafted a business plan, developed digital marketing, developed a strategic plan and went through the SBDC’s ExportGa training program. International Trade Center Director Rick Martin helped them find international market opportunities. The business that once operated out of a 1,500-square-foot warehouse with three employees now has a 7,000-square-foot facility, four full-time and two part-time employees, and two interns. Now experts in the chocolate industry, they are invited to make presentations around the world.

January 2016
Economic Development
UGA has a $4.4 billion impact

A new economic impact study has found that UGA generates nearly $39 for each dollar of state instructional funding.

UGA has a $4.4 billion impact

UGA strengthens the economy by educating students, through the inventions of its researchers and by supporting businesses and creating jobs through its public service and outreach.

Georgia’s flagship university has a $4.4 billion annual economic impact on the state, according to a new study that analyzed how the three-part teaching, research and service mission of the University of Georgia contributes to the economy.

The study, conducted by UGA economist Jeffrey Dorfman, quantified variables such as the increase in earnings that graduates of the university’s schools and colleges receive, revenues from the licensing of university inventions, and the creation of business and jobs resulting from the university’s public service and outreach units.

“Nowhere is the bond between the state of Georgia and the University of Georgia more evident than in our far-reaching economic impact,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The contributions of UGA faculty, staff, students and alumni are helping to ensure a strong economic future for our state.”

Educating Students

Each year, more than 9,000 UGA students earn undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in fields ranging from business to engineering, the sciences, arts and humanities. To measure the economic impact of these degrees, Dorfman and his colleagues took data on earnings by major and multiplied the estimated value of each degree and major offered by UGA by the number of graduates in the 2013-2014 academic year. To ensure they were capturing the economic impact in Georgia alone, they multiplied the economic impact of the degrees awarded by the percentage of each college’s alumni who remain in the state after graduation. Overall, 62 percent of UGA graduates remain in the state after earning their degrees.

To put the value of UGA’s academic programs into perspective, the researchers took the economic impact created by the degrees that UGA awarded in the 2013-14 academic year and divided it by state funding. They found that UGA generates nearly $39 for each dollar of state instructional funding.

“The University of Georgia has more than 181,000 alumni in each of Georgia’s 159 counties,” noted Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “They include business leaders, teachers, physicians, scientists and elected officials, and all of them play a critical role in the economic vitality of our state.”

Fueling Discoveries

Discoveries by UGA scientists have resulted in more than 575 products that have reached the marketplace, including drugs, vaccines and software, as well as crop, ornamental plant and turfgrass varieties. Most recently, the FDA approved sale of a new drug, called Kanuma, that is based on a technology developed by a UGA startup company. Kanuma is a treatment for patients with a life-threatening ultra-rare disease.

Licensing and royalty revenue from these inventions contribute to UGA’s economic impact, as do companies that are launched based on UGA inventions. More than 60 Georgia companies are based on UGA inventions, including biotech companies Abeome Corporation and ArunA Biomedical, agricultural technology company Electrostatic Spraying Systems, and educational software company Cogent Education.

The research enterprise at UGA is on an upward trajectory, with a 7 percent increase in external funding from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health as well as private organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the past fiscal year. In addition to contributing to advances in health, safety and security, such research funding generates economic impact by bringing money into Georgia that is spent on equipment and personnel. Using a commonly used model known as IMPLAN, Dorfman and his colleagues found that UGA generates nearly $2 in economic impact for each $1 of federal and foundation research funding it receives.

“UGA researchers continually strive to make new discoveries that underlie the innovative products and companies that help drive Georgia’s economy,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “Through our technology transfer and startup company support, the UGA research enterprise ensures that UGA discoveries reach their full potential for public benefit, in Georgia and beyond.”

Serving Georgia

Service to the state of Georgia is an integral part of UGA’s land-grant mission, and the university’s public service and outreach units contribute to economic prosperity and quality of life through programs for individuals, businesses and communities. Public Service and Outreach at UGA has a $345 million annual impact on the Georgia economy, the study found.

UGA’s Small Business Development Center, for example, last year provided 4,705 small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs with advice and expertise through its 17 offices across the state. SBDC assistance led to the creation of more than 3,000 new jobs over that period and helped launch more than 330 new businesses.

The researchers also quantified cost savings associated with the more efficient operation of state and local governments as a result of training programs offered by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the value of services offered by units such as Marine Extension.

“UGA’s public service experts are out in the state every day making a difference in people’s lives, whether by training elected officials and community leaders, helping companies grow their businesses, or diversifying opportunities for coastal fishermen,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. “It is our mission to help Georgia prosper by developing leaders, creating jobs and addressing issues critical to local communities. The economic impact study confirms what we already know, that we provide taxpayers a good return on their investment.”

Dorfman noted that he designed the study to only capture economic impacts that would not exist were it not for the presence of the University of Georgia. He also emphasized that many UGA programs create economic impacts that are difficult if not impossible to measure. The university’s 4-H youth development and mentoring programs, for example, have been shown to encourage healthy choices, civic participation and interest in science, technology, engineering and math. In the 2103-2014 school year, 4-H served more than 115,000 students in schools across Georgia.

“Our findings are a conservative estimate of the university’s economic impact on the state of Georgia,” Dorfman noted, “so the $4.4 billion figure that we arrived at should be treated as the minimum impact UGA has on the state.”

An interactive map with data on the University of Georgia’s economic impact at the county, regional, Congressional district and state level is available at

— Sam Fahmy, Provost’s Office

December 2015
Best of 2015
Dining commons<br>     go trayless

Students converse while eating in Bolton Dining Commons on the first day of fall semester. The UGA Food Services has implemented a trayless dining program to save money and improve sustainability. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Dining commons go trayless

UGA is saving water and cutting wasted food through new program.

The University of Georgia is saving nearly 107,142 pounds of food and 16,550 gallons of water per semester by removing trays from the dining commons.

The trayless dining program launched this summer in the dining commons on campus.

With the new trayless dining program, instead of heaping food on plates on trays, students simply use one plate at a time. It’s part of an ongoing go-green effort to save money and eliminate food waste.

Food waste

“When we were using trays, customers would select multiple items and beverages before sitting down to eat including, perhaps, an entrée, dessert and numerous beverages,” said Bryan Varin, interim director of food services. “Because of this, many of the items selected were not consumed. We have found that without trays, customers select reasonable amounts on their first pass through our service areas and take more only if they are still hungry.”

Landon Bentley, a senior science major, has been on the meal plan for the past four years. His routine of filling his tray to his heart’s desire had to change with the new system, he said. He now puts his backpack and books down at a table, gets a plate of food and finishes with another trip for a drink and silverware.

The self-professed meal-plan master said he “knows exactly how much food I could eat and be happy. I do welcome the change because it saves food and water in large quantities.”

By the numbers

In February, UGA Food Services and the Office of Sustainability held a two-week-long trayless pilot in Snelling Dining Commons. During the pilot’s first week, trays were provided as normal, and during the second week, trays were removed.

After measuring the amount of food waste (food that students put on their plates but didn’t eat) that came through the tray return, the study showed that 26.7 percent less food (40 gallons or about 280 pounds) was wasted a day. And because the trays didn’t have to be washed, the dining commons used 16.4 percent less water (250 gallons) a day.

Overall, the study estimated that by eliminating trays, 1,103.35 gallons of water and 7,142.8 pounds of food waste could be saved per week.

Cost savings

The trayless dining program impacts go beyond food waste. Because there are no trays to wash, electricity for dishwashers is conserved, less water and detergent are used, and the cost of the trays themselves is eliminated.

Food Services passed the cost savings on to meal plan customers—and for the third consecutive year, didn’t increase prices.


“The trayless dining project is a win-win. UGA Food Services is continuing to provide exceptional dining experiences for our campus community while also significantly reducing energy, water and food waste,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability.

By decreasing food waste with trayless dining, UGA’s environmental footprint lessens.

“In going trayless the students are taking another step in increasing the sustainability of our campus,” said Robert Holden, associate vice president for auxiliary services. “The reduction in wasted food not only reduces the amount of food produced and delivered, it also reduces the amount of water and electricity used by the campus. Reductions in those areas help our community in being more sustainable.”

Students with medical conditions or guide dogs can still ask for a tray from a cashier or manager.

The program is part of Food Services’ ongoing sustainability efforts. Last year, the dining commons stopped using non-compostable items. All food waste from the dining commons goes to UGA’s bioconversion center for use as compost at UGA, thus keeping food waste from the landfill and helping to fertilize campus plants.

—Allison Brannen, Auxiliary Service

December 2015
Best of 2015
Focus on Faculty: Tina Carpenter

Tina Carpenter: "It is truly a pleasure when my research and scholarship inspire my teaching and vice versa. It is the ideal situation."

Focus on Faculty: Tina Carpenter

Tina Carpenter, an associate professor in the Terry College of Business’ Tull School of Accounting, is passionate about her work. Through research and teaching, she strives to help auditors, investors, policymakers, and students better prevent and detect fraudulent financial reporting.

Where did you earn degrees, and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

As a first generation college student, I earned my bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from Florida State University (FSU). I worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and auditor for Arthur Andersen for three years before returning to FSU for my Ph.D. As a native of Florida, FSU was a great place for me to build the foundation for my career. I am currently an associate professor and an EY Teaching Fellow in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting in the Terry College of Business. I am passionate about my research, which investigates the prevention and detection of fraudulent financial reporting. I light up when I teach Advanced Accounting and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination in our master’s of accounting program. Working with and mentoring doctoral students inspires me, and I have enjoyed serving as a team member of my department, college, university and the academy as we strive for excellence.

When did you come to UGA, and what brought you here?

I came to UGA in 2004. This was my first professor position out of my Ph.D. program. I was fortunate to interview at six schools across the country. UGA was my first choice, and I was thrilled to learn that the feeling was mutual. The Tull School had an outstanding reputation for excellence in research and teaching, and I was excited to be a part of that mission. The weather in Athens was also a big plus for my husband, who was an aspiring professional golfer at the time. My family also cheered for UGA as my parents and grandparents and my husband’s parents lived in Florida, my brother and his wife lived in North Carolina, and many of our cousins and aunts and uncles lived in Alabama. UGA was the perfect fit for my family and me in 2004, and that remains true today.

What are your favorite courses, and why?

My favorite courses are Advanced Accounting and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination. I love the Advanced Accounting course for its rigor and intellectual stimulation. This course provides rich and complex content that is a critical component of the CPA exam that most of our students take. I love to see big light bulbs come on when students ultimately understand a complex computation or issue. Receiving emails and phone calls from former students celebrating their success on passing this difficult exam is a real highlight, especially given that the pass rate for UGA students last year ranked first in the country among public schools. I love the forensic accounting class because it allows me to integrate my research and teaching. This integration stimulates intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. The fraud simulation in the course generates genuine excitement to learn. It is truly awesome to be engaged with my students in their learning.

What interests you about your field?

I am passionate about contributing to the fight against fraud. Investor losses from fraud are significant, and lawsuits against accounting firms are a big concern for the profession. Through my research, I work with auditors, investors and future managers to build knowledge about how we can better prevent and detect fraud. My research contributes to theory and practice. As a result, I have been invited to serve on two fraud panels at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) in Washington D.C., and my research has been cited by the PCAOB, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and in TIME magazine. The United States Department of Defense recently interviewed me for my work in fraud. I feel fortunate that regulators and standard setters are interested in my research and that they are listening. Bringing auditors, investors, managers and policymakers together through research is really making a positive impact.

What are some highlights of your career at UGA?

My career is full of highlights in research, teaching, and working with faculty and students. I was honored to receive the American Accounting Association’s (AAA) Auditing Section Outstanding Dissertation Award for my dissertation on fraud brainstorming, and I was recently awarded the AAA Deloitte Wildman Medal Award, a national honor for research that has significant impact on practice. Three of my other papers have been awarded the AAA ABO Section Outstanding Manuscript. KPMG, PwC, The Institute of Internal Auditors, and The Institute for Fraud Prevention have provided grants to support my research. I have been recognized for teaching excellence with awards at the department, college, and university levels. However, what is truly the biggest highlight for me are the personal relationships that I have built with master’s and Ph.D. students and fellow faculty. I care deeply about my students and my colleagues. I feel fortunate to be at UGA, surrounded by bright minds and a spirit of succeeding together and celebrating each other.

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching and vice versa?

It is truly a pleasure when my research and scholarship inspire my teaching and vice versa. It is the ideal situation. While I have served on many dissertation committees, I am currently chairing my first dissertation of Ashley Austin. I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful doctoral student. She recently worked as an auditor, and she brings fresh and creative ideas that are relevant to the challenges auditors face in practice. She and I share an interest in fraud. She served as my teaching assistant in my Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination class and was an amazing part of running the hands-on fraud simulation experience. Simulations are truly engaging to students and really push them to learn. Through much brainstorming, we have refined our research and were recently honored with two research grants to fund this innovative research that examines the benefits of stimulating auditors’ skepticism about fraud.

What do you hope students gain from your classroom experience with you?

I hope my students gain an appreciation for lifelong learning. I hope that I inspire them to think deeply, and to always be passionate about learning something new each day. I hope that they know that I genuinely care about their success and that I believe in them. I hope that they feel encouraged to be the best that they can be. I hope that I have supported them to try to find that place in their life that they are truly passionate about. I hope that I have challenged them to move out of their comfort zone to understand the importance of hard work and dedication. I hope that they understand that these challenges will allow them to learn and grow. I hope that they know that I love what I do and that I am pulling for each of them to find what they love to do, too.

Describe your ideal student.

My ideal students are all of my students at UGA. We are fortunate to attract the best and brightest students. They are all self-motivated, intellectually curious, critical thinkers who are great team players and who also like to have fun when they learn. They have strong technical and personal skills, and it is awesome to watch them grow as people.

Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…

When I need inspiration, I love to sit in the Founders Memorial Garden behind the Terry College of Business. The fresh air and beauty are usually perfect for allowing me to step away from whatever issue I may be facing and really see the big picture and gain perspective. For pleasure, I love attending sporting events with my family. We love walking from our home in Five Points to baseball games, football games, basketball games, swim meets, and gymnastics meets. We all love to cheer on the Dawgs. The energy that comes with us all cheering on our team is priceless. We also love walking around campus to enjoy the beautiful seasons. The color on the trees is breathtaking in fall, and the flowers in spring are equally amazing. We also love to play in our rare snow in winter, and we enjoy the relaxed pace of summer.

Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…

Enjoy time with my family and friends. I love to travel, I love to cook, I love to work on taking care of our charmingly older home, and I love to grow flowers, vegetables, and fruit in our garden. I also enjoy exercising, especially outdoors. I am not an expert in any of these areas, but I love to try. I grew up very close to the beach in Florida, so I love going to the beach as often as I can. While we don’t get the chance to do this often, I hope the future provides more opportunities for my family to spend more time on the golf course and the tennis courts. We all enjoy being outdoors and being active, and both golf and tennis provide an opportunity for us to share in these experiences together.

Community/civic involvement includes…

It is so important to me to give back to the community that I am a part of. I enjoy working with our church, our neighbors, and our church preschool (where my little boy attends school) and Barrow Elementary (where my little girl attends school). We love working as a family to create bags of food to send overseas to “Stop Hunger Now,” stuffing “shoeboxes” for families in need at Christmas, and adopting families to provide them with gifts for their children. Walks and runs for various causes invigorate us, and we have special memories of preparing and serving meals for the homeless. We enjoy working at the food bank to prepare bags of groceries for children in our community in need, and we love providing books to children who don’t have any at home. It is rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of those that we serve.

Favorite book/movie and why?

I have two favorite books that I love reading to my children at night before they go to bed. First, “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer illustrates the power of kindness and the human spirit. It also emphasizes the importance of lifting each other up. Second, “I Believe in You” by Marianne Richmond is special to me as I am so grateful to the many people who have believed in me in my life and in my career. I feel so fortunate to have a wonderful family, husband, and friends who have loved me and supported me every step of the way. I am also grateful to my amazing mentors, especially my dissertation advisor, and my senior faculty in the Tull School of Accounting. They always believed in me. I would not be who I am today without their investment and continuous encouragement and support.

Proudest moment at UGA?

My proudest moment at UGA is making tenure, but I also have had many other special moments that were great too. I was excited to be selected as a UGA Lilly Teaching Fellow and was honored to visit Sapelo Island for the Lilly Fellows spring retreat with my mentor, Dan Smith. I learned so much from Dan about how to be the best professor I could be. I was proud of John Campbell, assistant professor in the Tull School, who was recently selected to be a Lilly Teaching Fellow. I was honored when John asked me to be his mentor, and I enjoyed visiting Sapelo Island again. I am so proud of my students when they graduate and when they pass the CPA exam. I love celebrating the success of my students and colleagues. I am proud to be a part of an incredible faculty that continuously strives for excellence in research and teaching.

December 2015
Best of 2015
Amazing Student: Sarah Huber

Sarah Huber: "UGA has provided me the opportunity to discover service roles that fit my specific interests."

Amazing Student: Sarah Huber

From the moment she stepped foot on the campus, Sarah Huber could tell that UGA was the perfect place for her. Nearly four years later, the future dentist calls the journey an “extraordinary experience.”


Athens, Ga.

High School:

Bishop Watterson (Columbus, Ohio)

Degree objective:

B.S.A. in biological science, B.S. in psychology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2015

University highlights, achievements and awards:

Throughout my four years at UGA, I have experienced significant development in my character and drastic change in my approach to life. I entered college with an outlook that was enthusiastic, yet full of uncertainty in my surroundings and in my hopes for the future. Today, my recent acceptance to dental school and each of the incredible relationships I have formed at UGA serve as reminders of the extraordinary experience that this university has provided me over these past four years.

During the spring of my sophomore year, I made the decision to co-lead a Global Health mission trip to Costa Rica through International Service Learning. My experience in Costa Rica not only helped improve my communication skills with patients and my understanding of health care in impoverished areas, but witnessing their simple existence, in combination with their endless happiness and generosity, gave me a new appreciation for the life we so often take for granted. Beginning the fall of my junior year, I was selected by ISL to become the UGA campus representative and through this position, I have guided students in planning and recruiting teams for their own trips throughout Central and South America.

When I developed an interest in pursuing dentistry at the end of my sophomore year, I became involved with the Pre-Dental Society at UGA. One year later, I was elected as a dental school liaison for the Pre-Dental Executive Board, which has given me the opportunity to meet admissions officers from a variety of dental schools throughout the U.S. Another highlight of my college experience has been joining Be the Match at UGA, first as a potential donor, then later as the vice president for the organization. Be the Match manages the largest bone marrow registry worldwide and aims to provide bone marrow donors to patients suffering from life-threatening blood cancers.

Since my junior year, I have thoroughly enjoyed opportunities that have allowed me to assist underclassmen in adjusting to the demands of the college lifestyle. I was given this opportunity by serving as a Panhellenic recruitment counselor two years in a row, in addition to serving as a member of the Georgia Recruitment Team. As a member of GRT, I have met with high school seniors and their families both on campus and as far away as Columbus, Ohio, (where I am originally from) to discuss my experiences at UGA and to offer suggestions on organizations, study abroad trips and courses that best fit their interests. Furthermore, I have also served as the academic chair and standards board representative for Kappa Delta sorority, which has allowed me to meet with individual students to discuss their academic goals and challenges for each semester.

UGA and the surrounding Athens community offer an array of volunteer opportunities, which has provided me the opportunity to discover service roles that fit my specific interests. A key experience throughout my college years has been serving as a classroom leader at Athens Church, where I worked with 2-year-olds as well as preschoolers. Another organization that has brought me great joy is Athens PB&J, where a group of UGA students prepare and serve lunch to the homeless population of Athens every Sunday.

Additional highlights throughout my college years include induction into Order of Omega and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the premedical honor society. Upon entering AED, I was awarded the Rising Senior Scholarship. The summer after my junior year I traveled to Australia and New Zealand and shortly after returning, I was recognized by UGA Discover Abroad for my photography of the dusky dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Current Employment:

Student assistant for math department and student tutor for the athletic department.

Family Ties to UGA:

I came to UGA from Columbus, Ohio, having no prior connections to the university. UGA has become such a home for me that I recently became a Georgia resident and I plan to remain in Georgia for both dental school and my career to follow. I have a strong feeling that my sister will continue the tradition and join the Bulldog family just a few years down the road.

I chose to attend UGA because…

Traveling down for an hour self-guided tour of the campus, I was blown away by everything that UGA offered. The spirit of the UGA community was incomparable to anything I had experienced at any other university, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences offered a challenging and dynamic curriculum for my interests, and the warmth of the individual faculty members within such a large university captivated me.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… grabbing coffee before going on long walks with friends on North Campus and running through the trails around Lake Herrick.

When I have free time, I like…

I love being active, whether that is swimming, hiking or snowboarding, and I especially like to spend time outside with my family and close friends. I also thoroughly enjoy baking for people and trying new recipes.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

I don’t know about the craziest, but the most surreal experience for me took place over my 16th birthday when I flew with my dad in the cockpit over various Caribbean islands and afterward, we had a family dinner in the old summer home of the British royal family.

My favorite place to study is…

… around the turtle pond outside of the ecology building.

My favorite professor is…

Once in awhile someone comes into your life whose mere presence encourages you to strive to become the greatest version of yourself, and to dream of future plans you may have never before considered. That is exactly what I have found in Karl Espelie. He single-handedly has had a greater impact on my experience and growth throughout my years at UGA than any other individual at this university. His willingness to spend hours in an advising session with each student, his genuine enthusiasm for the small achievements in my life that others so easily overlook, the wisdom and guidance he shares with any new opportunity, and the endless warmth and hospitality he displays to everyone he encounters is what makes him the most selfless and inspiring person I have ever met.

The University of Georgia abounds in professors who are not only passionate about their academic areas of expertise, but who are also invested in the lives of each of their students. I had the privilege of taking an ecology course taught by James Richardson this past semester, and even though I had high expectations for what I would learn from the course, what I actually gained by the completion of the semester exceeded my expectations substantially. Dr. Richardson taught me the value of learning for the sake of learning alone. In a culture that is so wrapped up in performance and achievement of the highest grades, he gave me the invaluable reminder that there is incredible joy in simply gaining a greater understanding of the world around us. He cares about each of his students immensely and always has their best interest in mind.

Maria Navarro is another professor who has had a major impact on my experience at UGA through her course, “Fighting World Hunger.” This woman is amazing because she manages more on her plate than anyone I have ever met and constantly maintains such an optimistic outlook. Dr. Navarro’s wisdom, experiences, and personality make her such an incredible role model for anyone lucky enough to know her. In addition, Arvin Scott, who teaches African drumming, is a brilliant musician and I have gained an entirely new appreciation for the art of drumming from this man who puts his entire heart and soul into his every day of his teaching.

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

I would jump at the chance to venture out with Steve Irwin on one of his past adventures.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… travel back in time to see the creation of the world. I can’t imagine something more amazing to experience.

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

… become a pilot and provide dental care to people in need around the world and simultaneously get to experience and appreciate cultures all across the globe.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend Georgia Regents University to earn my D.D.S. through the College of Dental Medicine, and afterward I plan to look into various specialty programs including orthodontics.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef on a biology Maymester through the Discover Abroad program. Scuba diving has always been a passion of mine, but diving into the Great Barrier Reef with the brilliance of the corals and the diversity of the marine life from the sea turtles and reef sharks to the giant clams was unlike anything else I have ever experienced.

December 2015
Best of 2015
Dawgs raising dogs

Jana Burchette, an exercise and sport science student in the UGA College of Education, walks with her Labrador puppy Vicki. Now 10 months old, Vicki is in the initial phase of training to be a service dog when she gets older.

Dawgs raising dogs

Raising a future service dog is one way that hundreds of students give back.

Vicki has learned to be patient during classes, but so far she’s gotten out of long exams.

But it’s OK if others cut Vicki some slack. She’s only 10 months old. But this fall, if her work on campus stays on track, she’ll go back to her home in New York to learn to be a full-fledged service dog.

Vicki is one of around 120 puppies—mainly Labradors and golden retrievers, but also some other breeds—that get formative training with students at the University of Georgia. Raised by an army of volunteers, many of whom sign up even if they can only watch a dog for a few hours or overnight, the dogs learn basic obedience and get exposed to an array of life situations. When they’re around 16 to 18 months old, they begin full training with Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, New York.

The inevitable departure is bittersweet for Vicki’s raiser, Jana Burchette, a third-year exercise and sport science major. Burchette said she was interested in the program her freshman year, and after doing more research on what was required, she felt inspired by the work the dogs would go on to do.

“Letting her go is going to be really hard; she’s like a child,” Burchette said. “But I want her to do something good for somebody. I want her to be a guide dog.”

UGA is home to the largest group of puppy raisers for the Guide Dog Foundation. The organization mainly has families up and down the East Coast raising puppies, and another group of students at Georgia Southern, but they pale in comparison to the 200 to 250 students who volunteer their time to be a puppy raiser.

The connection began about eight or nine years ago with just one student on campus, said Deana Izzo, the Georgia field representative for the foundation. After a few years, the idea took off. Today, Izzo said most of the puppy raisers are students in veterinary science programs, but students from across all colleges take part.

Working with students has also introduced some new protocols for puppy raising, both with the foundation and with UGA. For example, while the timeframe of raising a puppy meshes well with the time a student spends on campus—students know they will have a dog for a set period of time, but not beyond graduation—it raised the issue of allowing pets in dorms (future guide dogs are allowed) and what to do when you have a long exam or plan to study abroad (“buddies” and “campers” are fellow students who will watch the puppy in the interim).

“When we brought this program on campus, one of the first problems we ran into was an exam. The raiser would call and say, ‘I have a five-hour exam and the puppy is too young (to sit for it),’” said Izzo. “So we took a look at the situation here and said, we need buddies. Buddies are people who want to do the program but really don’t have the time; they can sign up when someone is taking an exam. Campers are people in the same boat, but maybe their time is more flexible, so if we have someone who is going on vacation, they can step up and volunteer for a camp.”

If a student needs some time to study without a puppy, Izzo said, there are dozens of students willing to step in and help.

But just because a student doesn’t have a dog doesn’t mean they have fewer responsibilities. To be in the foundation’s program, students—with and without dogs— must attend regular obedience sessions, where they go over basic training and address any issues. Students who volunteer to be campers must also be willing to host a puppy at least twice a month. Izzo said there is a general sense among the volunteers that you have to give help to get help.

“It’s not an easy program. If you were to apply, from application to the day you get your puppy, it’s going to take three months,” she said. “We want to make sure that they are as prepared as we can make them for the commitment that they think they want to do.”

Brianna Goodman, a recent agricultural engineering graduate who now lives in Athens, said she got her first puppy at 2 1/2 months old, and he left for training at 19 months. Leaving was difficult, she said, but she had the chance to meet the dog’s new handler, and the experience cemented the importance of raising the dogs.

“It was the best worst thing I ever did,” she said of letting the dog go back to New York. “But you could tell he loved what he did. His handler now, this is his 11th dog, and he says it’s his best one yet.”

Madison Fellows, a first-year animal health student from Hiram, is starting the training to get her first puppy. She’s already dreading the day the dog will leave, but she also says the experience will help her later in life.

“It’s a really good way to have a dog on campus, but it’s still a huge responsibility,” she said. “I’m going to be a vet, so it’s going to be good for me first to know how to not get too attached to an animal.”

Raising a puppy, Izzo added, can also give students a great sense of accomplishment.

“This is really the first thing they’re doing without mom and dad, and I think that makes much more of an impact,” she said. “And the way that the community rallies around people who raise puppies, even if you’re not a dog lover, it’s still impressive. They’re still going to stop and say, ‘That’s really cool.’”

—Kristen Morales, College of Education

December 2015
Best of 2015
Staff Closeup: Tyler Daniels

Tyler Daniels: "I have a unique perspective in that I get to hear and share the success stories of the university."

Multimedia specialist aims to inspire others by telling ‘that big UGA story’

"I think people react well and enjoy that good storytelling element of what we do at the University of Georgia."

Shortly after receiving his undergraduate degree and getting married, Tyler Daniels turned to the university that had been his home to find a job. He didn't know it at the time, but accepting a position at UGA would impact his career path for years to come.

Daniels, now a multimedia specialist in the Division of Development and Alumni Relations, started at the university in 2010 as a general office manager in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. He later became an annual fund officer in Student Affairs. That first taste of development and alumni relations shaped his career.

“Little did I know that position would be a fantastic opportunity, not only to join the university and do great work to help enhance the student experience over there, but it also was a chance to further my own educational opportunities and studies,” Daniels said. “The opportunity was even better than I realized at the time.”

A few years later, he moved into a more centralized development role in donor relations, where he was “making sure our donors felt appreciated.” In June, he began his current position as part of a new communications effort in Development and Alumni Relations. In this position, Daniels shares what’s happening at UGA through photography, video and other multimedia.

“My main role is to tell the story of what our students and alumni are doing at the University of Georgia or with their degree,” Daniels said. “I’m telling that big UGA story with the hopes that storytelling will inspire people to give back to the university in some way, whether it be giving their time or giving back financially.”

In between working on his doctoral degree in adult education, Daniels juggles multiple multimedia pieces on any given week. Between initiating, planning, filming, editing and reworking, each product he works on takes an average of two weeks to complete.

“This is interesting work because there’s a very technical aspect of what I do, but there’s also a creative aspect,” Daniels said.

For each project he produces, Daniels makes sure there is an emotional element as well as a story with a beginning, middle and end. The goal for each two-minute video is to encourage people to act and give back to the university.

“I think people react well and enjoy that good storytelling element of what we do at the University of Georgia,” Daniels said. “It’s helpful for them to see the product of their gifts, that impact they can have.”

During his time at UGA, Daniels has been able to speak and work with many people who have been impacted by the university in different ways. He said seeing how UGA can open doors and create opportunities inspires him to create the best stories he can.

“I have a unique perspective in that I get to hear and share the success stories of the university; I get to hear the story about a student who came from a small town whose only opportunity to come to UGA was through a scholarship,” Daniels said. “To see their gratitude toward someone out there, who hasn’t even met them, who cared enough to give their own financial means, is amazing.

“Being an alum, student and an employee myself, I’m constantly inundated with what it means to be a Bulldog,” he said. “It’s hard not to love this place.”

— Matt Chambers, News Service

December 2015
Best of 2015
$4.4 million to reduce class size

UGA has an 18-1 student-faculty ratio and is looking at reducing that even more.

UGA investing $4.4 million to reduce class size

The push to decrease class sizes at UGA builds upon a series of academic enhancements the institution has implemented in recent years.

In the latest in a series of steps to enhance the learning environment, the University of Georgia is investing $4.4 million to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections.

“This major initiative demonstrates the University of Georgia’s strong commitment to putting students first,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Reducing the number of large class sections in critical instruction areas will improve student learning and success and further enhance our world-class learning environment.”

The first of the new faculty members will begin teaching this fall, and a total of 56 will be hired in the coming year. By fall 2016, a total of 319 new course sections in 81 majors will be added, the majority of which will have fewer than 20 students.

UGA currently has an 18-1 student/faculty ratio, and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten noted that the new courses will help ensure students receive even more personalized attention from their professors.

She added that the push to decrease class sizes at UGA builds upon a series of academic enhancements the institution has implemented in recent years. Last fall, the university hired 10 new faculty to teach in 80 high-demand course sections. In the spring, the university approved a new graduation requirement that will make UGA the largest public university in the nation to require that each of its nearly 27,000 undergraduate students engage in experiential learning-such as internships, research, study abroad or service-learning-prior to graduation.

“UGA offers the broad range of resources and opportunities that a major research university provides as well as personalized and hands-on learning experiences that are typically associated with smaller universities,” Whitten said. “It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s exactly what our world-class students deserve.”

December 2015
Best of 2015
New class sets academic record

As UGA President Jere W. Morehead says, "This year's incoming class is another sign that UGA is reaching new heights of academic excellence."

UGA’s incoming students set records for academic qualifications

UGA students have set a record for academic quality, with the highest GPA and SAT scores in the university's 230-year history.

Incoming University of Georgia students have set a new record for academic quality, with the highest GPA and SAT scores in the university's 230-year history.

The approximately 5,300 first-year students will begin fall semester on Aug. 17 with an average GPA of 3.91 and an average SAT score of 1301. Just five years ago, those figures were 3.83 and 1264, respectively.

“We are pleased that the University of Georgia once again has enrolled a record-setting class of first-year students,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said. “These students are attracted to UGA’s world-class learning environment with bold new initiatives to expand experiential learning and to reduce class sizes. This year’s incoming class is another sign that UGA is reaching new heights of academic excellence.”

UGA received more than 22,000 applications (a 4 percent increase over last year) for fall 2015 admission, with an admittance rate of 52 percent of all applicants. Since 2010, the number of freshman applications has increased by 25 percent. Around 1,550 transfer students also will begin classes this fall.

A breakdown of the numbers indicates that the mid-50 percentile GPA range for the class of 2019 is 3.81-4.06. Additionally, this class has a combined mean critical reading and math score of 1301 plus an average writing score of 626, for a total of 1927 on the 2400 scale-14 points higher than last year’s incoming class. This year’s mean score for students who took the ACT was 29, matching last year’s record.

The Honors Program will enroll 525 new students in the first-year class who have earned an average high school GPA of 4.07, a strong indication of their rigorous Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate curriculum. Incoming Honors students have an average SAT score of 1469 and an average ACT score of 33.

The rigor of students’ high school curriculum continues to be a key factor in admissions decisions, with some 94 percent of the students having enrolled in College Board Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes while in high school. Many students earned enough credits to be classified as sophomores and several as juniors during their first term of enrollment. The average number of AP and IB courses taken by students was six. Sixteen percent of students dually enrolled in college while attending high school, up 3 percent from 2014. The top preferred majors are biology, business, finance, marketing, psychology, biological science, biochemistry/molecular biology and computer science.

“UGA’s future is bright,” said Patrick Winter, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management. “The incoming class represents some of the top scholars, leaders, innovators and artists from across Georgia, the nation and the world. They have achieved at an incredibly high level already, and I am looking forward to welcoming them to campus. I can’t wait to see what they are going to accomplish at UGA.”

In addition to being the most academically qualified, the 2015 freshman class also is one of the most diverse in UGA history, with more than 30 percent of the entering freshmen self-identifying as other than Caucasian. Eight percent have self-identified as African-American and 6 percent as Hispanic.

Approximately 86 percent of the first-year class hails from 443 high schools and 133 counties across Georgia. Almost 13 percent of the class comes from other states and countries. Of the 43 states represented, the largest number of students outside of Georgia are from North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, New Jersey, South Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

More than 200 of this year’s incoming students are ranked as first or second in their high school graduating class.