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University of Georgia Board of Visitors welcomes new members

The University of Georgia Board of Visitors welcomed 31 new members at its winter meeting in Atlanta.

The Board of Visitors is comprised of government, business and community leaders who reside both in and outside Georgia. As members, they act as ambassadors for the university, helping to build a constituency with a strong knowledge base and passion for advocacy for the University of Georgia and its mission of teaching, research and service.

“I appreciate the commitment of our new Board of Visitors members to serving in this important capacity,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “They will play a critical role in telling the story of the University of Georgia, and, without a doubt, we have a very compelling story to tell.”

The Board of Visitors, established in 2010, is part of an outreach initiative coordinated by the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees. Board of Visitors members serve two-year terms and are invited to participate in luncheon programs that focus on topics of importance to the university and the citizens of Georgia. Recent program topics have centered on UGA’s experiential learning initiative, active learning environments in the UGA Science Learning Center, and the impact of need-based scholarships.

A list of the new members joining the Board of Visitors Class of 2017–2019 is available here.

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Stem cell treatment may restore vision to patients with damaged corneas

Researchers working as part of the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center have developed a new way to identify and sort stem cells that may one day allow clinicians to restore vision to people with damaged corneas using the patient's own eye tissue. They published their findings in Biophysical Journal.

In their study, researchers used a new type of highly sensitive atomic force microscopy, or AFM, to analyze eye cell cultures. Created by Todd Sulchek, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, the technique allowed researchers to probe and exert force on individual cells to learn more about the cell's overall health and its ability to turn into different types of mature cells.

They found that limbal stem cells were softer and more pliable than other cells, meaning they could use this simple measure as a rapid and cost-effective way to identify cells from a patient's own tissue that are suitable for transplantation.

Building on their findings related to cell softness, the research team also developed a microfluidic cell sorting device capable of filtering out specific cells from a tissue sample. With this device, the team can collect the patient's own tissue, sort and culture the cells and then place them back into the patient all in one day, said Lauderdale. It can take weeks to perform this task using conventional methods.

Steven Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, who plays an important role in fostering cross-interdisciplinary collaboration as director of the RBC, initially brought the researchers together and encouraged a seed grant application through the center for Regenerative Engineering and Medicine, or REM, a joint collaboration between Emory University, Georgia Tech and UGA.

"A culture is developing around seed funding that is all about interdisciplinary collaboration, sharing of resources, and coming together to make things happen," said Stice.

The REM seed funding program is intended to stimulate new, unconventional collaborative research and requires equal partnership of faculty from two of the participating institutions.

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Shades of Green: Scientists and engineers help turn ocean plastic into new products

Two years ago, socially conscious entrepreneurs Rob Ianelli and Ryan Schoenike founded their company, Norton Point, to manufacture sunglasses made from the huge amounts of plastic cleaned up from ocean coastlines.

Their goal was to be a part of the solution to one of the planet's greatest challenges: the 8 million tons of plastic entering Earth's oceans each year. Moreover, they wanted to reinvest their profits in research, education and development efforts that help reduce the impact of ocean plastic.

Now, engineers and polymer scientists with the University of Georgia's New Materials Institute are helping Norton Point, which is based in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with testing of its "ocean plastics" products and finding new product applications.

New Materials Institute researchers will work with Norton Point to help make "green" products from re-purposed plastics obtained from locations around the globe.

"Norton Point wants to know how the recycled materials respond to different manufacturing processes like extrusion and injection molding, and how they compare with virgin petroleum-based high-density polyethylene in terms of qualities like impact-resistance, toughness and durability," said Jason Locklin, director of UGA's New Materials Institute and associate professor of chemistry and engineering at UGA.

The institute also is looking to help Norton Point identify new types of products that make the best use of the material properties of ocean plastics.

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UGA satellite among NASA’s eighth class of candidates for space mission launch

The University of Georgia CubeSat project is among 34 small satellites selected by NASA to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard missions planned to launch in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The UGA project, led by a team of undergraduate students and including faculty from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering, performs multispectral analysis from low Earth orbit, in this case an altitude of 400 kilometers.

"Having SPOC being officially selected as a candidate of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative solidifies the significance of the project," said David Cotton, assistant research scientist and adviser on the project. "Having UGA build a payload is an honor, but having it selected for launch makes it a reality for myself, the students and the university."

"The selection really speaks the passion and dedication of the students and faculty at UGA-that a student team can build a spacecraft, which typically only nation states and large corporations have been able to accomplish," said Caleb Adams of Powder Springs, an astrophysics and computer science double major and chief manager of the satellite research lab. "The SPOC will generate useful data, comparable to the NASA MODIS sensor, so SPOC is not just an educational tool but a state-of-the-art spacecraft that is on par with current cutting edge technologies."

The selections are part of the eighth round of the agency's CubeSat Launch Initiative. The selected spacecraft are eligible for placement on a launch manifest after final negotiations, depending on the availability of a flight opportunity. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstrations, scientific investigations and provide educational benefits.

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Five UGA faculty members named Meigs Professors

The University of Georgia has honored five faculty members with its highest recognition for excellence in instruction, the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship.

The Meigs Professorship underscores the university's commitment to excellence in teaching, the value placed on the learning experiences of students and the centrality of instruction to the university's mission. The award includes a permanent salary increase of $6,000 and a one-year discretionary fund of $1,000.

"This year's Meigs Professors create experiences both inside and outside of the classroom that challenge students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office sponsors the award. "Their commitment to students helps make the University of Georgia one of the nation's very best public universities."

The 2017 Meigs Professors are:

  • James "Jeb" Byers, professor and associate dean of administrative affairs and research in the Odum School of Ecology.
  • Markus Crepaz, professor and head of the international affairs department in the School of Public and International Affairs.
  • John Maerz, professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources,
  • Annette Poulsen, Augustus H. "Billy" Sterne Professor of Banking and Finance in the Terry College of Business.
  • Karen Miller Russell, associate professor of public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Meigs Professors are nominated by their school or college and chosen by a committee consisting of 12 faculty members, two undergraduate students and one graduate student. More information about the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorships is online.

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Business leaders share advice, experiences at inaugural Women’s Leadership Forum

Three dynamic female business leaders shared their advice and experiences with more than 100 students at the University of Georgia's inaugural Women's Leadership Forum on Wednesday.

Donna Hyland, president and chief executive officer of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Allison Moran, chief executive officer of RaceTrac, and Teresa Ostapower, chief digital officer for AT&T, discussed their career paths and answered students' questions on overcoming barriers, building confidence and leading with conviction.

The event was hosted by the Office of the President and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and is part of the campus-wide Women's Leadership Initiative that was launched in 2015.

"The growing emphasis on women in leadership roles bodes well for the future," said Provost Pamela Whitten. "We have made great progress in higher education and in the corporate world, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Providing thought-provoking opportunities like this for our students is an important step in preparing them for leadership roles in the future."

UGA's ongoing Women's Leadership Initiative is fostering the use of best practices in areas such as recruitment, hiring and work-life balance on campus. It also has resulted in new leadership development programming for faculty, staff and students.

Schools and colleges have created women's leadership events and programs such as the Southern Region Women's Agricultural Leadership Summit and the Terry Women's Initiative, which recently received recognition as an Innovation that Inspires by AACSB International, the world's largest business education network and accrediting organization.

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Rabun County’s Ladybug Farms awarded UGA students’ latest tiny house

It's only 175 square feet, but it's cozy, clean and makes all the difference in the world to a young farmer who is learning to work the land. It's a tiny house built by students taking a University of Georgia sustainable building course and donated to a Georgia farmer as part of Georgia Organics' organizational push for farmer prosperity.

Rabun County farmer Terri Jagger Blincoe of Ladybug Farms in Clayton received the keys to the tiny house in a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 18, at Georgia Organics' 20th annual conference in Atlanta. The house will be delivered to the farm the first week of March during UGA's spring break.

This is the second tiny house that UGA students have donated to a Georgia farmer through Georgia Organics. "Green Building and the Tiny House Movement," a course offered jointly through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, launched in fall 2015.

During the class, which is co-taught by FACS assistant professor Kim Skobba, housing management and policy department, and CAES associate professor David Berle, of the horticulture department, students learn about land planning and building code issues facing American cities. They also design and build a tiny house. Georgia Organics helps to fund the construction, then selects a farmer to receive the house, one who pledges to use the house to help train a younger farmer.

Ladybug Farms distributes produce to restaurants around metro Atlanta and through a community-supported agriculture program in Atlanta's Cabbagetown neighborhood. The farm is also active in the Northeast Georgia Farm to School program and serves as an apprenticeship site for UGA's Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program.

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Lisa K. Nolan named dean of UGA College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Lisa K. Nolan, a veteran educator, administrator and scholar of diseases that affect animal and human health, has been named dean of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

Nolan is currently professor and Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and her appointment at UGA is effective July 1.

"Dr. Nolan is one of the nation's most respected veterinary educators and administrators, and I'm delighted that she has joined the University of Georgia's leadership team," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. "She comes to our College of Veterinary Medicine at a time of growth in the scope and impact of its instruction, research and service, and I am confident that the best is yet to come under her leadership."

Nolan has led the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University since 2011. She co-chaired a campus-wide "One Health-One Medicine" initiative that brought faculty members from across campus together to foster new collaborations that span animal, human and ecosystem health. The initiative has resulted in several faculty hires across campus and a significant enhancement of Iowa State's research capacity.

To improve student learning outcomes, she oversaw a comprehensive curricular review, enhanced the assessment of teaching, and upgraded teaching labs and study spaces. The college met or exceeded all of its fundraising goals under her leadership, and it is now in the public phase of an ambitious campaign to increase scholarship support, enhance facilities and create additional endowed faculty chairs.

"Dr. Nolan has built an extraordinary career as a researcher, professor and administrator," said President Jere W. Morehead. "We are fortunate to have such an outstanding alumna of the University of Georgia return to campus to lead the College of Veterinary Medicine to new heights of excellence."

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UGA named a top producer of Fulbright students, scholars

The University of Georgia's 15 Fulbright students and six Fulbright scholars for the 2016-2017 academic year have landed it among the top producing Fulbright institutions in the country-the first time the university has been named to the collective top students and scholars list.

UGA is one of only 16 institutions included among the top Fulbright student and scholar producers, which were announced today by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

"I am proud of the students and scholars who have been selected to represent our nation in this prestigious program," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "Their collective achievement is a testament to the strength of this institution as one of the very best public research universities, and we wish all of them well in their pursuit to make a positive difference in the world."

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program.

UGA hit a record high of 19 Fulbrights offered to its students and recent alumni in 2016-2017. Eighteen accepted, but with the closure of Turkey's program at the end of July, only 15 were able to participate. This is the second time UGA has been recognized as a top Fulbright student producer.

In addition to student involvement, UGA has been named a top producer of Fulbright scholars twice before with six Fulbright Core scholars in 2014-2015 and five in 2013-2014.

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Three faculty members receive Russell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

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

"This year's Russell Award recipients combine innovation in the classroom with a heartfelt commitment to student success," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office administers the awards. "They inspire students and exemplify the University of Georgia's unrivaled learning environment."

The prize was established during the 1991-1992 academic year by the Russell Foundation and named for Richard B. Russell. Recipients receive a $7,500 cash award and are honored at the Faculty Recognition Banquet during Honors Week.

The 2017 Russell Award winners are:

  • Kelly Dyer, associate professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences,
  • Sonia Hernandez, an associate professor with a joint appointment in Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, a unit in the department of population health in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and
  • John Mativo, associate professor of career and information studies in the College of Education.

Nominations for the Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are submitted by deans and considered by a committee of senior faculty members and undergraduate students. To be eligible for the award, a faculty member must have worked at UGA for at least three years and no more than 10 years in a tenure-track position.

To learn more about the Russell Awards and for a list of past winners, click here.