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UGA named top research institution in the nation for service to student veterans

The University of Georgia has been named the top tier one research institution in the nation in Victory Media's Military Friendly Schools 2017 rankings. The designation recognizes the university for its outstanding commitment to and programs for student veterans and their families.

Nearly 1,200 colleges and universities nationwide have achieved the Military Friendly designation, which results from a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student success rates.

"We are delighted by these national recognitions highlighting our support for student veterans," said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. "For all that these remarkable students have given of themselves to our nation, it is our honor to provide outstanding, tailored resources to aid in their academic, personal and professional success."

UGA's comprehensive service to student veterans is the result of collaborations across multiple divisions and departments, including Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, the Office of the Dean of Students, UGA Athletics and the Student Veterans Resource Center.

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Governor caps 2016 Biennial Institute by touting Georgia’s economic success

Georgia remains a national leader in job creation and economic development because of infrastructure improvements the General Assembly supported, Gov. Nathan Deal told lawmakers at the 30th Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators Tuesday.

Deal addressed legislators on the third and final day of the Biennial, coordinated by the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to help lawmakers prepare for the next legislative cycle. The governor cited evidence of Georgia's success.

• For the fourth consecutive year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia the best state in the country to do business.
• In fiscal year 2016, the Department of Economic Development brought more than 25,000 new jobs to Georgia, a $4.4 billion capital investment.
• Also in fiscal year 2016, state revenue exceeded projections by 3.2 percent to reach 9.4 percent.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit, has coordinated the Biennial for 58 years, working with the Georgia General Assembly to organize and assemble the resources and expertise needed to carry out the planned events. The Institute provides customized assistance, applied research and professional development for government leaders and employees across Georgia and internationally.

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UGA-led research team discovers a pathogen’s motility triggers immune response

Until now, a pathogen's ability to move through the body has been overlooked as a possible trigger of immune response, but new research from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine found that motility will indeed alarm the host and activate an immune response.

The team, led by Balázs Rada, an assistant professor in the department of infectious diseases in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, studied Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterium that can wreak havoc on patients who have a weakened immune system-like burn patients or those battling HIV, cystic fibrosis, cancer or pneumonia.

Data from the study, published in mid-November in PLOS Pathogens, suggest that a bacteria's ability to swim, also known as motility, is an important factor to certain opportunistic pathogens, like P. aeruginosa. The team identified the flagellum-a whip-like appendage that works like a propeller to move the bacteria-as the main P. aeruginosa component that triggers the immune system to release what are called neutrophil extracellular traps, or NETs. NETs are web-like structures of DNA associated with antimicrobial molecules that trap and kill microbes.

The study is the first to show that flagellar motility induces activation of neutrophils, the most abundant type of white blood cell in most mammals and the first line of defense against infection.

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Researchers receive $2.78 million to explore and exploit bacterial immune systems

Researchers at the University of Georgia have received a $2.78 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study CRISPR-Cas, a powerful gene editing tool derived from a defense mechanism evolved in bacteria and other single-celled organisms.

Like a pair of molecular scissors, CRISPR-Cas allows scientists to precisely edit sequences of DNA in everything from plants to humans, and it could one day be used to silence the genes that predispose humans to myriad diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and mental illnesses.

"This is a technology that has taken the scientific world by storm," said Michael Terns, Distinguished Research Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator for the project. "But there are still a lot of things that we don't know, and this project will help us expand and refine our ability to exploit CRISPR for research and biomedicine."

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UGA named a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists

The University of Georgia received a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University award by the League of American Bicyclists for its commitment to safe, enjoyable and convenient bicycling for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

"We're proud of this distinction and we remain committed to creating safe, convenient bicycle infrastructure and programs at UGA," said Kevin Kirsche, director of sustainability at UGA.

UGA was part of a group of 51 new and renewing bike friendly universities from 25 states recognized. Athens-Clarke County also received a Bronze Bike Friendly Community award, and BikeAthens was named a Silver Bike Friendly Business.

To date, UGA has over 16 miles of bike lanes, trails and shared use paths on campus; over 600 members of the UGA community participate in Bulldog Bikes bike share; and more than 20 students have received refurbished bikes through the reCYCLE bike donation program. UGA holds pop-up bike safety checks and has made improvements to campus bicycle infrastructure including the contraflow bike lane and green bike box on Sanford Drive.

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UGA Alumni Association announces eighth annual Bulldog 100 list

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has released the 2017 Bulldog 100. This annual program recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. More than 500 nominations were submitted for the 2017 list.

The 2017 Bulldog 100 includes businesses of all sizes and from industries such as veterinary medicine, IT consulting and pest control. Several areas of the country are represented, including companies from as far north as New York and as far west as California. Of the 100 businesses, 79 are located within Georgia, and only one business has made the list all eight years: Vino Venue/Atlanta Wine School.

The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors verified the information submitted by each company and ranked the businesses based on a compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period.

Click here for a list of the 2017 Bulldog 100 businesses.

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UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts festival breaks attendance record

More than 23,000 people attended the University of Georgia's Spotlight on the Arts festival this November, setting an attendance record for the fifth straight year.

Held Nov. 2-13, the festival featured more than 100 events and exhibitions and engaged a total of 23,211 people in the visual, literary and performing arts. Events featured special guests as well as hundreds of student artists, musicians, writers and performers, including more than 200 who took part in an Opening Celebration kaleidoscope performance.

"The success of Spotlight on the Arts underscores just how important the arts are to the cultural and intellectual vitality of our university and state," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "I am so grateful to the members of the UGA Arts Council for organizing such an extraordinary festival."

For the first time in the festival's five-year history, the UGA Arts Council held a Spotlight on the Arts Family Day. More than 1,000 children and adults participated in the festivities on Nov. 5, which included dramatic and musical performances, art activities, dance classes, writing workshops and a chance to interact with musical instruments.

The 2016 festival also featured performances from the University Theatre, Hugh Hodgson School of Music and department of dance, a Shakespeare symposium, a roundtable on arts and the environment, a popular open house at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and exhibitions at the art school, the Georgia Museum of Art, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and College of Environment and Design.

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Laura Courchesne named 2017 Rhodes Scholar

Laura Courchesne's work throughout her three-plus years at the University of Georgia paid off incredible dividends Saturday evening as she became one of 32 students in the U.S. to be named a Rhodes Scholar, receiving the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world.

Courchesne, an Honors Program student and Foundation Fellow from Fair Haven, New Jersey, is majoring in economics and religion in the Terry College of Business and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, respectively. Her studies focus on the emerging field of behavioral approaches to conflict; her primary research interest is the link between non-state armed groups and civilian populations.

She is the 24th UGA student to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Recipients are nominated by their colleges and universities and are selected through a process spanning the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. The 2017 scholars will begin their various courses of study at the University of Oxford in October.

"The University of Georgia is very proud of Laura for earning this most prestigious scholarship," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "Her outstanding record at the university made this award possible, and her research interests have the potential to impact the world around us. I look forward to all that she will continue to accomplish as a UGA alumna and Rhodes Scholar."

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UGA announces $1.2 billion fundraising campaign

The University of Georgia announced an ambitious goal of $1.2 billion for the Commit to Georgia Campaign as well as a lead gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation on Nov. 17 at a kickoff event at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

A commitment to students is at the center of this major fundraising effort, beginning with eliminating financial barriers by increasing support for merit- and need-based financial aid. In recognition of the critical importance of need-based aid, the Woodruff Foundation has made a transformational $30 million gift to the University of Georgia.

"The Woodruff Foundation is pleased to join alumni and friends of the University of Georgia to help expand opportunity for students with financial need," said Russ Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation. "We recognize that many bright, hard-working Georgia students face significant financial barriers to attending the university, and that far too many students graduate with burdensome debt. UGA's ambitious campaign will help ensure both the educated workforce and the leadership our state needs to prosper in future years."

In addition to increasing scholarship support for hard-working UGA students, the Commit to Georgia Campaign also will create more opportunities for hands-on learning and mentorship.

Beyond supporting students, the Commit to Georgia Campaign will help faculty and staff address some of the biggest issues facing the state and world. UGA is uniquely positioned to tackle challenges ranging from preventing the spread of infectious diseases like Zika to feeding the world's growing population to spurring economic development in the state. The Commit to Georgia Campaign not only will secure resources for such efforts but also will create more endowed professorships to attract and retain the very best and brightest faculty.

Fundraising for the Commit to Georgia Campaign in the preceding silent phase already has reached more than $680 million, surpassing the total amount raised during UGA's previous major campaign. Last week, the university shared its campaign priorities at a campus event where more than a thousand faculty, staff and students gathered in celebration. The university aims to reach its $1.2 billion goal by 2020.

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UGA’s stable isotope lab becomes largest in North America

The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia is already world-renowned, but the center's role in the scientific community just became even bigger.

Following an expansion of the facility on Riverbend Road and acquisition of new instrumentation, the 24,000-square-foot center is now home to the largest stable isotope lab in North America, surpassing the University of California, Davis, and cementing its position as an industry leader.

Stable isotope analysis, which is the focus of the latest lab expansion, is the measurement of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, deuterium and sulfur isotopic signatures in environmental and biological samples. It can be used to track everything from animal migration patterns and ocean temperatures to helping reconstruct ecosystems, monitoring pollution or testing products.

"We're rebuilding and reimagining this center into something that I believe is truly phenomenal — as a whole, there's no place like this in the entire United States," said Jeff Speakman, director of CAIS. "Many smaller labs struggle because they are not able to reinvest in the latest and greatest technology, so being able to continue to invest into new instrumentation is key to staying ahead of the game."

The center, which operates under the Office of Research, was founded in 1968 and is home to one of the oldest radiocarbon and stable isotope laboratories in the world. Today 12 full-time scientists and 13 technical staff provide analytical services, conduct research and engage in teaching students from a variety of disciplines.