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$1.5 million gift enhances UGA’s proactive alcohol education

The University of Georgia will enhance its alcohol education and prevention programs thanks to a $1.5 million gift from Jack and Nancy Fontaine of Houston, Texas. The donation is their latest in nearly $6 million of support to the Fontaine Center for alcohol awareness and education since the center's establishment 11 years ago.

This gift will allow the Fontaine Center to increase the capacity of its Collegiate Recovery Community, as well as expand its proactive educational programming both on campus and throughout the state.

Liz Prince, who has served as director of the Fontaine Center since 2012, described the center's growth from assisting with individual cases of alcohol abuse to its current comprehensive programming that covers other drugs like marijuana and prescription drugs, as well as issues of interpersonal violence and sexual assault response.

"We're able to address things that really impact students where there's an intersection between alcohol and drugs and violence," she said.

Now the center offers a "spectrum of services," including prevention, early intervention and recovery support. They are also able to put students and families in touch with trusted treatment professionals around the country. Students know and trust the Fontaine Center and are getting in touch with counselors much earlier. Student organizations such as Greek Life groups and academic interest groups are reaching out to the center to request presentations and information sessions.

Prince said that the center has earned the respect of colleagues in the community and around the state.

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UGA students win national policy competition for TurnKey app

A new app wants to reward teens for not using the phone while driving. Created by students from the University of Georgia, the app recently took first place at the University of Pennsylvania's Fels National Invitational Public Policy Challenge held March 24-26 in Philadelphia.

The team-consisting of Master of Public Administration students Laura Pontari and Sara Richey, Doctor of Public Health student Hilary Carruthers, and Master of Public Health student Oluwatobi "Tobi" Olagunju-received $10,000 to complete the development of TurnKey, a mobile app designed to dissuade high school students from texting and driving.

The TurnKey app uses behavioral economics such as positive reinforcements to encourage students to drive safer. For each minute a student does not interact with their phone while driving, they earn points that eventually earn them prizes. Higher performing students will have their names entered into a drawing each semester for the chance to win a larger grand prize. In addition, students who team up to participate in the app's group competitions can claim awards that include bonus points or a group pizza party.

W. David Bradford, George D. Busbee Chair in Public Policy in UGA's School of Public and International Affairs, and Grace Bagwell Adams, assistant professor of health policy and management in the UGA College of Public Health, were the UGA team's faculty sponsors.

"TurnKey has implications for public safety and public health," said Bagwell Adams. "The application of behavioral science and technology to alter individual behavior in this context could save lives in Athens and other communities."

In collaboration with an app developer and the Athens-Clarke County School District, the TurnKey team will launch the pilot phase of the app at one Athens-area high school in fall 2017 and eventually span out to others.

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Roberto Docampo named UGA recipient of SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Roberto Docampo, Distinguished Research Professor of Cellular Biology and Barbara and Sanford Orkin/Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, has been named the University of Georgia's recipient of the 2017 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

The award, which is administered by provosts at the 14 universities in the SEC, recognizes professors with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship who serve as role models for students and other faculty members. Winners receive a $5,000 honorarium.

Docampo, a faculty member in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is a world-renowned researcher known for his work on neglected parasitic diseases including malaria, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness. He also is credited with the discovery of a novel organelle, the acidocalcisome, conserved from bacteria to human platelets, where it has a role in blood coagulation. His most recent work at UGA includes the successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to edit the genome of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. He also has characterized a key signaling pathway in the parasite, which could allow for advances in drugs or vaccines to treat or prevent parasitic diseases.

"Dr. Docampo is advancing research with implications for millions of people around the world while also educating and mentoring students who themselves will go on to improve global health," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. "His work exemplifies the vital role this institution plays in creating healthier communities in Georgia and beyond."

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UGA students, alumni offered record number of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

A record number of University of Georgia students and alumni have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this year.

Twenty UGA students and alumni were among the 2,000 fellows selected from over 13,000 applicants nationwide for the 2017 competition. NSF Graduate Research Fellowships recognize and support outstanding graduate students in STEM-science, technology, engineering and mathematics-disciplines. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

"The University of Georgia continues to raise the bar for excellence in the STEM disciplines," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "I am proud of these 20 outstanding students and alumni whose research will help to solve some of the greatest challenges facing our world."

A list of UGA's 2017 NSF Fellows and their fields of study is available here.

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Road Dawgs spread the benefits of a college education

Instead of using their spring break to take a hiatus from university life, over 40 UGA students met at the Arch at 6:30 a.m. to become Road Dawgs. From March 6-9, they visited high schools in metro Atlanta, Laurens County and Twiggs County to meet with and talk to several hundred students about their undergraduate experiences at UGA.

Now in its second year, the Road Dawgs program aims to inspire the next generation of college students by encouraging those still in high school to explore the benefits of a college education — and to consider becoming students at UGA.

The Road Dawgs program includes a panel discussion and one-on-one conversations in which the UGA students engage high school students to answer questions about campus life, academic rigor, and future career opportunities.

After returning to campus, the students lunched with UGA President Jere W. Morehead March 16 and gave him firsthand accounts about their Road Dawgs experience.

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UGA’s Robinson named Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Gregory H. Robinson, University of Georgia Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. A nonprofit organization with a heritage that spans 175 years, the Royal Society of Chemistry is the United Kingdom's professional body for chemical scientists and the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

Robinson joins his department of chemistry colleague, Graham Perdue Professor Henry "Fritz" Schaefer, who was elected in 2005 as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

A 2012 Humboldt Research Award from Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a 2014 recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award, Robinson is an internationally recognized scholar whose scientific achievements have been described as groundbreaking. Over the past 25 years, Robinson and his team have published a series of fundamental findings that have reshaped how scientists view chemical bonding in many chemical compounds.

"This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Robinson in recognition of his creative and pioneering work in inorganic synthetic chemistry," said Jonathan Amster, professor and head of the department of chemistry. "The number of American RSC Fellows is quite small, and so Greg has established himself as a member of an elite group. This brings honor not only to him, but to our department and the university."

Robinson's research concerns the synthesis, structure and stabilization of compounds containing multiple bonds between heavier main group elements, such as gallium and lead. Recently, Robinson's research team, which includes Schaefer and research scientist Yuzhong Wang, prepared a rare silicon oxide molecule that was dubbed a precursor to "molecular sand."

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Cellular biology professor Rick Tarleton named Regents’ Professor at UGA

Rick Tarleton, Distinguished Research Professor and University of georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has been named Regents' Professor, effective July 1.

Regents' Professorships are bestowed by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents on faculty members whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized nationally and internationally as innovative and pace-setting.

Tarleton, who is a professor in the department of cellular biology and founder of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, has made research advances that have the potential to transform the lives of the 10 million to 20 million people suffering from Chagas disease, a potentially deadly parasitic infection that primarily affects people in Central and South America.

"Through the founding of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases in 1998, Dr. Tarleton has helped make the University of Georgia a leader in promoting global health," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. "His research into Chagas disease has implications for millions of people and inspires hope in the fight against one of the world's most neglected parasitic diseases."

Tarleton's laboratory established the Chagas Drug Discovery Consortium, which has brought together international researchers, pharmaceutical companies and not-for-profit groups to improve existing drug protocols and to establish new protocols for Chagas disease. Tarleton's research has resulted in findings that explained the host-parasite relationship regarding the immune system, and he has continued his research to encompass the development of diagnostics and the evaluation of drugs and vaccines.

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UGA alumna Patricia Andrews Fearon named Gates Cambridge Scholar

University of Georgia alumna Patricia Andrews Fearon was one of 36 Americans to be named a 2017 recipient of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which fully funds postgraduate study and research at the University of Cambridge in England.

The scholarship, which recognizes intellectually outstanding postgraduate students with a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others, was established by a gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Fearon is the seventh UGA student or alumnus to receive the award since it was first awarded in 2001.

"Patricia's achievement reflects the excellent preparation our students receive to compete for the most prestigious international scholarships," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "The University of Georgia is proud that she is carrying on our land-grant tradition of applying her education to improve the lives of others around the world."

Fearon earned a bachelor's degree in religion from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2009 before going on to earn a master's degree in the study of religions from the University of Oxford. She studied social and cognitive psychology as a post-baccalaureate scholar at the University of California-Berkeley.

As a journalist, she has traveled to more than 40 countries and worked with media outlets such as CNN and Time Inc. In addition, she worked with non-governmental organizations such as Room to Read and cycled across France for her documentary, "The Tour de Farm." In 2015 she joined the IC Thinking Research Team, through which she has collaborated on studies and intervention designs that tackle sectarianism, violent extremism and other forms of intergroup conflict in Bosnia, Pakistan and Scotland. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at Cambridge University's Selwyn College, through which she looks forward to "exploring the ways we can learn to listen in even the most hostile environments."

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Student entrepreneurs take center stage at UGA’s inaugural FABricate competition

From a smart irrigation system for the home landscape to a new recipe for a protein-packed meal on the go, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students have some great ideas.

Those great ideas were front and center Wednesday evening as the college celebrated the finale of its inaugural FABricate student entrepreneurship contest-a multi-month program in which teams developed new agricultural technologies, food products, and food- and agriculture-related startups, and pitched them to business leaders.

Students were given $1,500 in seed money to develop their products and business ideas as far as they could in six months. The team in each category with the most innovative and best-developed idea won $1,000 per team member. An overall winner was selected and a People's Choice Award was also presented.

"Universities have long been institutions that foster inquiry and investigation into nature and discovery," said CAES Dean Sam Pardue. "This program helps students transfer that curiosity and their ingenuity into an innovative business idea or product for the marketplace."

The competition enabled UGA students to expand their leadership and business skills. In addition to seed money, the college provided coaching and guidance from faculty mentors as well as monthly seminars from successful entrepreneurs.

For more information at the FABricate contest, see students.caes.uga.edu/current/fabricate.html.

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Small Business Week in Georgia celebrates UGA’s economic vitality efforts

After four decades of teaching, Marta Collier is making a business out of her passion for children's books by black authors, with help from the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center.

"Starting up a business is more than having a notion," said Collier, a schoolteacher and college professor. "Many fail because they don't have the support base. We not only feel like we have a supportive infrastructure. We feel like we have a friend."

Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services is just one of thousands of companies celebrating Small Business Week across Georgia March 13-17. Over the last five years, SBDC clients have started 1,422 businesses, creating 11,785 jobs and generating $8.9 billion in sales in the process.

Collier says the help she received from SBDC consultant Mike Myers was "game-changing." He encouraged Collier that her idea to sell lesson plans for children's books from neglected black authors was sound.

Myers helped her focus her energy on lesson plans and take the steps to set up her home-based business in Newton County. And he connected her with interns from UGA to make it a reality.

"Mike turned us onto a wealth of talent and they need experiences like this for their resume," Collier said. "It's been phenomenal for us to have someone to connect us to that kind of resource."