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UGA researcher explores how light can solve wireless space shortage

The proliferation of wireless devices may make daily life easier, but their signals are crowding an already limited number of available radio frequencies that enable wireless communication. A University of Georgia researcher is looking to make the most of the spectrum by using photonics, the science of creating, detecting and maneuvering light.

Mable Fok, an assistant professor of engineering who also leads the university's Lightwave and Microwave Photonics Research Laboratory, received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study how photonics can be used to identify and harness unused holes in the radio frequency spectrum.

The spectrum is used to keep everything from wireless personal devices like cell phones and computers to medical system technologies and national security defense mechanisms running smoothly. But with the ever-increasing number of technologies relying on the frequencies, space on the spectrum is tight.

"Fundamentally, this spectrum is all we have," Fok said. "We cannot create more space. But we can make good use of what we have."

Fok will use photonics technologies to rapidly scan the spectrum and find frequencies that are not in use. Once identified, those gaps can be used to meet radio frequency needs of various devices. Fok's scheme not only allows the device to talk and listen at the same time using the same frequency, but it also enables the device to be "smart" enough to run away from interference and jamming.

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UGA scientists use robots and drones to accelerate plant genetic research, improve crop yield

It may be a while before robots and drones are as common as tractors and combine harvesters on farms, but the high-tech tools may soon play a major role in helping feed the world's rapidly growing population.

At the University of Georgia, a team of researchers is developing a robotic system of all-terrain rovers and unmanned aerial drones that can more quickly and accurately gather and analyze data on the physical characteristics of crops, including their growth patterns, stress tolerance and general health. This information is vital for scientists who are working to increase agricultural production in a time of rapid population growth.

"By the middle of this century scientists estimate the world's population will reach 9.1 billion people, which is a 30 percent increase in a little more than 30 years," said Changying "Charlie" Li, a professor in UGA's College of Engineering and the principal investigator on the project. "This increase in population will demand that we nearly double our current food production. That's a tall order but one solution is to use genomic tools to develop high-quality, high-yield, adaptable plants."

While scientists can gather data on plant characteristics now, the process is expensive and painstakingly slow, as researchers must manually record data one plant at a time. But the team of robots developed by Li and his collaborators will one day allow researchers to compile data on entire fields of crops throughout the growing season.

The project addresses a major bottleneck that's holding up plant genetics research, said Andrew Paterson, a co-principal investigator. Paterson, a world leader in the mapping and sequencing of flowering-plant genomes, is a Regents Professor in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

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UGA recognized by AACSB International as an innovator in business education

A women's initiative for students in the University of Georgia Terry College of Business was commended as an "innovation that inspires" by AACSB International, the largest business education network and accrediting organization in the world.

AACSB's Innovations That Inspire showcased 35 ways that business schools globally are empowering future business leaders and challenging the status quo to address societal needs. The objective of the Terry College's women's initiative, established two years ago, is to support the recruitment, retention and advancement of students in the business school by providing a range of resources and experiences that inspire confidence and advance their academic and professional goals.

AACSB International honored its second annual class of innovators at its 2017 Deans Conference on Feb. 6. A total of 315 submissions from 33 countries were under consideration.

"With great pleasure, I am thrilled to recognize the Terry College of Business for its role in driving innovation in business education and fostering positive change in the areas of diversity and global economic prosperity," said Tom R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International.

"The Terry Women's Initiative was created to inform our students and empower them to realize their incredible potential," said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. "This initiative represents a key part of our broader efforts to prepare students for success and for service as leaders in their businesses and communities."

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UGA College of Pharmacy opens doors to new educational facility in Augusta

For the first time in its more than 40-year history, the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy's program in Augusta has its own facility.

Located on the Augusta University Health Sciences campus, the new facility offers a 50-seat classroom, eight small group learning spaces that feature video connectivity to other UGA College of Pharmacy campuses across the state, a collaboration lounge, faculty and administrative offices and a full-service kitchen and break area.

Prior to this new site, the program was housed in rented and shared buildings.

"With this new site, we've more than doubled the educational space for our expanded course offerings in Augusta," said Susan Fagan, the Albert W. Jowdy Distinguished Research Professor and the college's interim director of interprofessional education. "In addition, classroom and small group areas feature state-of-the-art technology and connectivity, allowing us to provide a truly superior academic experience for our professional pharmacy and graduate students."

The College of Pharmacy campus in Augusta provides an academic setting for 30 third-year students, 40 fourth-year students, eight doctoral students, eight residents, along with two post-doctoral fellows, an international exchange visitor and five staff members.

Other campuses of the UGA College of Pharmacy include the main campus in Athens, Savannah, Albany, and a pharmaceutical regulatory affairs program in Gwinnett.

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University of Georgia unveils 2017 Bulldog 100 rankings; Chicken Salad Chick tops list

The University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized the 100 fastest-growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni during the eighth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration on Feb. 4 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

The 2017 fastest-growing business was Chicken Salad Chick, helmed by president and CEO Scott Deviney, who received his degree in economics from UGA's Terry College of Business in 1995. The company is based in Auburn, Alabama, and was started by a stay-at-home mom and her software salesman husband after selling chicken salad at PTA meetings.

To date, the company operates 62 restaurants and has sold 146 franchises in eight states, selling chicken salad in 15 flavor profiles. In 2016, Chicken Salad Chick landed at No. 37 on Inc. Magazine's annual list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S., raking in $9.8 million in 2015, with a growth rate of more than 6,000 percent in the past three years. The company has also been named one of FastCasual.com's top Movers and Shakers and one of Nation's Restaurant News' 2015 Breakout Brands.

The remainder of the Bulldog 100 top 10 was as follows:

  1.  Kabbage Inc., Atlanta
  2.  The Holly Purcell Group, Athens
  3.  Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina
  4.  SMD LLC, Huntersville, North Carolina
  5.  Two Maids & A Mop, Birmingham, Alabama
  6.  Specialized Veterinary Services, Fort Myers, Florida
  7.  Lake Country Pharmacy & Compounding Center, Greensboro, Georgia
  8.  Cruise Planners, Decatur
  9.  Rev Coffee Roasters, Smyrna

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UGA outreach programs help Georgia communities grow and prosper

University of Georgia outreach programs had a $753 million impact on the state of Georgia last year, with communities benefiting from leadership training, downtown revitalization, workforce development and assistance to small businesses, among others.

Overall, UGA had a $5.25 billion economic impact on the state last year, according to a new study that analyzed how the three-part teaching, research and service mission of the university contributes to the economy.

"Citizens of this state can see and feel the work that the University of Georgia is doing in their communities, helping to create jobs, develop leaders and address critical issues," said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach. "As a land- and sea-grant institution we are committed to extending our resources to every corner of the state."

In the past year, the Small Business Development Center, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, which has 17 offices around the state, helped create more than 3,300 jobs.

Over the past five years, business owners and entrepreneurs who have sought assistance from the SBDC have created more than 1,600 businesses and over 12,000 jobs.

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Matthew Auer named dean of UGA School of Public and International Affairs

Matthew Auer, a veteran administrator and policy scholar, has been named dean of the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs.

Auer is currently vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Bates College in Maine, where he is also a professor of environmental studies. His appointment at UGA is effective July 1.

"Dr. Auer is committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences for students while also advancing scholarship and service that has a national and international impact," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. "He is an ideal choice to lead UGA's highly regarded School of Public and International Affairs into a new era of excellence."

As dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, a position he has held since 2013, Auer has helped shape the academic mission of Bates College. His responsibilities include faculty recruitment, review, tenure and promotion, as well as nurturing faculty career development. He co-chaired the campus-wide institutional planning process and is leading major campus initiatives, including the revision of general education requirements and the enhancement of academic support programs. He helped Bates garner a $1 million Mellon Foundation grant to build the college's long-term capacity for recruiting diverse faculty as well as a $270,000 grant to support up to 45 student research positions in science, technology, engineering and math over a four-year period.

Auer began his academic career in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. As director of undergraduate programs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, he oversaw eight majors and six certificate programs and increased the enrollment of students in the school by 25 percent. In 2008 he was named dean of the university's Hutton Honors College, where he oversaw a student body of approximately 4,200 and helped raise more than $1.6 million in private support.

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Student Affairs grants encourage innovative faculty research partnerships

Three University of Georgia research projects have been named as the inaugural recipients of the Student Affairs Faculty Research Grant. The grants encourage the use of Student Affairs programs and facilities as a principal laboratory for research, enhancing the role of the division in campus research.

The recipients include projects that will assess the social and financial impact of the UGA Food Scholarship, examine family relationships when students transition to college and investigate plans to improve water quality.

Erin Richman, director of Student Affairs academic partnerships and initiatives, explains that incentivizing partnerships between Student Affairs and faculty benefits both students and researchers.

"The grants encourage researchers to access the many campus resources using our robust facilities," said Richman. "Ultimately, we not only create innovative partnerships, but we maximize the impact of scarce research dollars."

Recipients of the 2017 Student Affairs Faculty Research Grants are:

An Exploration of How the UGA Food Scholarship Affects Students' Social and Financial Success in College
Georgianna L. Martin, assistant professor in the department of counseling and human development services, College of Education

Parent-Child Relationships across Students' Transitions to College
Katie Ehrlich, assistant professor in the department of psychology and the Center for Family Research, and Anne Shaffer, associate professor in the department of psychology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Concept Plans to Improve Water Quality
Jon Calabria, associate professor in the College of Environment and Design, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability

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New UGA facility in Griffin will help launch new food products

University of Georgia scientists are now better equipped to help businesses launch new food products with the opening of the Food Technology Center, locally known as the FoodPIC building, on the UGA Griffin campus. The facility houses the university's Food Product Innovation and Commercialization, or FoodPIC, Center.

The $7.4 million project was funded by $3.5 million from the state of Georgia and additional funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the University of Georgia.

The state-of-the-art 14,500-square-foot facility was dedicated on Jan. 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony included Board of Regents Chairman Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority Board Charles Copeland, Dean and Director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Sam Pardue, and Pike County STEM Academy student Nikki Dodson, along with UGA President Jere W. Morehead.

"The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is an outstanding example of the University of Georgia using its resources to help strengthen our state's economy," Morehead said. "We are grateful for the support we have received for the new Food Technology Center, and we are excited to expand the reach of FoodPIC within the global food industry."

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UGA joins initiative to advance biotech manufacturing in the U.S.

The new public-private partnership, called the National Institute for Innovation of Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, or NIIMBL, will focus its efforts on driving down the cost and risks associated with manufacturing advanced cell and gene therapies for biopharmaceutical production.

Steven Stice, director of the UGA's Regenerative Bioscience Center, is the UGA lead in the partnership, which is coordinated by the University of Delaware.

NIIMBL represents a total investment of $250 million, including $129 million in private cost-share commitments from the NIIMBL consortium of 150 companies, nonprofits, educational institutions and state partners across the country, combined with at least $70 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NIIMBL is the 11th institute under the Manufacturing USA National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative created to advance manufacturing leadership and restore jobs to the U.S. This recent success follows an announcement in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Defense that an MIT-led team involving UGA was selected for funding as the eighth NNMI institute.

"We are pleased to have UGA participate in these high-profile public-private partnerships that are aimed at advancing U.S. leadership in key manufacturing sectors," said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee. "We are eager to assist industry partners in meeting their goals through the development of new and existing intellectual property, and the training of an appropriate workforce."