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Three UGA faculty members receive Russell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Three University of Georgia faculty members have received the Richard B. Russell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s highest early career teaching honor.

The awards were established by the Russell Foundation and named for Richard B. Russell, the university alumnus who served Georgia in public office for 50 years, including almost 40 years as U.S. Senator. The awards, first presented in the 1991-1992 academic year, are administered annually by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and include a $5,000 prize for each recipient from the Russell Foundation.

“This year’s recipients of the Russell Awards share an exemplary dedication to creating life-changing learning experiences for students,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Their innovative teaching methods and commitment to student success epitomize the world-class learning environment that the University of Georgia provides.”

The 2015 Russell Award winners are:

  • Peter Jutras, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ Hugh Hodgson School of Music.
  • Andrew Owsiak, an assistant professor of international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs.
  • Jennifer Palmer, an assistant professor of history in the Franklin College.

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UGA to dedicate Washington, D.C., facility Feb. 26

The University of Georgia will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Delta Hall, its new permanent residential facility located in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. at 608 Massachusetts Ave., NE.

Speakers for the event include Sen. Johnny Isakson; Tad Hutcheson, vice president of community affairs for Delta Air Lines; UGA President Jere W. Morehead; UGA Foundation Chair John P. Spalding; and Torie Ness, a political science major and Washington Semester Program participant.

UGA established the permanent facility in Washington, D.C., to enhance the quality of the student experience while providing significant cost efficiencies. Purchased by the UGA Foundation in 2013 and named Delta Hall this month in recognition of a $5 million grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation to support UGA in Washington, the facility has undergone extensive renovations. Once a commercial office building, the 20,000-square-foot space is now capable of housing 32 students and additional faculty and staff.

The three-story building includes classroom and study space, common living areas, conference rooms, kitchens and suite-style rooms. Students are steps away from Stanton Park, a 10-minute walk from the U.S. Capitol building and six blocks from Union Station.

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UGA students sing ‘Glory, Glory’ to a record $683,251 raised for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

 During a 24-hour stretch from Feb. 21-22, more than 1,000 participants filled the University of Georgia Tate Student Center Grand Hall to dance, play on inflatable obstacle courses, sing “Glory, Glory” and raise a record-setting $683,251.15 to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Dance Marathon, now a touchstone in the on-campus experience of many UGA students, has served as the annual culminating fundraising event for the student-run philanthropic organization, UGA Miracle, for two decades. During the event, students give up an entire day in a symbolic gesture in support of children combating illness in hospitals. Over the course of 24 hours, the students, joined by current and former Children’s Healthcare patients have a marathon dance session that includes live music, talent shows and special messages from the families whose lives they impact with their support.

“The University of Georgia is incredibly proud of these students,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “Our students do so much to support the university and local communities, and we appreciate their impressive efforts to make such a positive impact.”

For this year’s event, student leaders set a goal to raise $610,000, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2014’s record-setting total of $507,203. For the reveal, children lined up across the stage, each holding a large square card with a number written on the back. The entire room’s focus was on the stage as each child held his or her number up. When the last child on the left held the six high in the air, the entire room burst into cheers and tears—they had surpassed their goal by more than 12 percent.

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UGA names new Washington, D.C., facility

The University of Georgia has received a commitment for a $5 million grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation to support UGA in Washington. In recognition of the gift, UGA will name the university’s new residential facility in Washington, D.C., Delta Hall.  The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia formally approved the naming at its meeting on Feb. 11.

“We are grateful to the Delta Air Lines Foundation for supporting UGA in Washington,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Delta Air Lines has been a strong corporate partner of the University of Georgia for many years, and this latest gift demonstrates the leadership role Delta is taking in our ongoing comprehensive campaign to advance the University of Georgia.”

Funding UGA in Washington has been a priority for the university president and the UGA Foundation board of trustees as they seek to elevate the university to greater national stature. Delta’s gift also establishes a lecture series that will feature prominent speakers each year as well as five internships.

“The Delta Air Lines Foundation is proud to support the University of Georgia as it expands its reach and provides educational tools and resources to its global student population,” said Tad Hutcheson, vice president of community affairs for Delta. “Through the new facility in Washington, D.C., we aim to increase exposure for UGA and create a place where students can prosper.”

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UGA to add glycoscience researcher Robert Haltiwanger as newest GRA Eminent Scholar

One of the nation’s leading glycobiology researchers will join the University of Georgia faculty this fall as its newest Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.

Robert Haltiwanger, currently head of biochemistry and cell biology at Stony Brook University, will join UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center as the GRA Eminent Scholar in Biomedical Glycoscience. His addition brings the total number of GRA scholars at UGA to 16.

The Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, recognized as a world-class research facility, is devoted to understanding the many important roles of sugars that are added in diverse complex combinations to proteins and other biological molecules that are responsible for life.

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UGA researchers to develop new treatment for Chagas disease

University of Georgia researchers in collaboration with Anacor Pharmaceuticals have received a $5.3 million grant from the Wellcome Trust to develop a new drug for the treatment of Chagas disease, which they hope will be ready to enter clinical trials by 2016.

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which spreads via a subspecies of blood-feeding insects commonly known as “kissing bugs” because they tend to bite people on the face and lips. While the disease can progress slowly, chronic infection almost inevitably results in irreparable damage to heart and digestive system tissues.

Between 10 and 20 million people, mostly in Central and South America, are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, and Chagas disease kills more people in Latin America than any other infectious disease—including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. An increasing number of cases are also being documented outside the normal high transmission areas, including in the U.S. and Europe.

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UGA to celebrate African-American life, history and culture during Black History Month

The University of Georgia will celebrate Black History Month 2015, “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture,” this February with a variety of programs and activities across campus, including a panel discussion hosted by journalist Soledad O’Brien as part of her “Black in America Tour.”

The month-long series of lectures, performances, movies and discussions will celebrate diversity and inclusion on campus, with particular focus given to milestones in African-American culture during the 20th century.

The “Black in America Tour” will come to UGA on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Tate Student Center Grand Hall. The event will feature a screening of “Black and Blue,” the latest segment of the CNN documentary series “Black in America,” followed by a panel discussion on the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities. Tickets are free for students with valid UGACards who pay activity fees on the Athens campus and $5 for non-students; they are available at the Tate Student Center Cashier Window.

O’Brien will moderate a panel of experts, including economist, author and political commentator Julianne Malveaux and socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell.

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UGA professor of veterinary pathology to receive 2015 Iverson Bell Award

Dr. K. Paige Carmichael, a professor of veterinary pathology and the former associate dean for academic affairs in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Iverson Bell Award given by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

The Iverson Bell Award is given every other year to a member of AAVMC’s academic veterinary community in recognition of outstanding leadership and the promotion of diversity in veterinary education. Carmichael is the 14th veterinary educator to receive the award, which will be presented at the AAVMC’s 2015 Annual Conference March 13-15 in Washington, D.C.

“I am shocked, delighted and humbled all at the same time,” Carmichael said. “I stand on the shoulders of many others who have paved the path that I have been lucky enough to walk. I hope to do the same for others.”

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Beating the clock: UGA researchers develop new treatment for rabies

Successfully treating rabies can be a race against the clock. Those who suffer a bite from a rabid animal have a brief window of time to seek medical help before the virus takes root in the central nervous system, at which point the disease is almost invariably fatal.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have successfully tested a new treatment on mice that cures the disease even after the virus has spread to the brain. They published their findings recently in the Journal of Virology.

“Basically, the best way to deal with rabies right now is simple: Don’t get rabies,” said study co-author Biao He, a professor of infectious diseases in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. “We have vaccines that can prevent the disease, and we use the same vaccine as a kind of treatment after a bite, but it only works if the virus hasn’t progressed too far.

“Our team has developed a new vaccine that rescues mice much longer after infection than what was traditionally thought possible.”

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UGA researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow these tiny cell organelles become deformed and cause these diseases because of a problem related to their assembly, which requires the translocation of vast quantities of the vital cell protein tubulin. What they didn’t know was how tubulin and another cell organelle known as flagella fit into the process.   

Now, a new study from University of Georgia cellular biologists shows the mechanism behind tubulin transport and its assembly into cilia, including the first video imagery of the process. The study was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

“Cilia are found throughout the body, so defects in cilia formation affect cells that line airways, brain ventricles or the reproductive track,” said the study’s lead author Julie Craft, a sixth-year doctoral student at UGA. “One of the main causes of male infertility is the cilia won’t function properly.”