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UGA to get 19 new electric buses

The University of Georgia has been awarded $10 million from the state of Georgia to purchase 19 electric buses.

The funding was announced at a ceremony in the Governor's Office today and was awarded by GO! Transit Capital Program, a competitive funding program administered by Georgia's State Road and Tollway Authority. UGA will provide $5 million in matching funds.

The 40-foot electric buses emit no pollution, are quieter and have lower operating costs than existing diesel powered buses. The buses should arrive on campus in 2017 and are part of the university's strategic plan to advance campus sustainability.

"We are grateful to Gov. Deal and the Georgia General Assembly for backing this important transportation initiative, and I thank the Go! Transit Capital Program for supporting our proposal," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "This significant investment will put the University of Georgia at the forefront of advancing innovative and cost-effective campus transportation."

The buses will augment the university's existing fleet of 59 diesel buses and will replace the university's oldest buses.

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Scherr named law school’s associate dean for clinical programs and experiential learning

Alexander W. Scherr has been named the University of Georgia School of Law's new associate dean for clinical programs and experiential learning. In this role, he will work to enhance and advance the school's experiential learning offerings, which currently include 15 clinical courses and a wide range of simulation classes.

"Alex is a longstanding leader in the clinical legal education community," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "I know he will build on the good work that his predecessor Erica J. Hashimoto has done. His appointment aligns with the university's mission to emphasize experiential learning, and this position is critically important at the law school as we pride ourselves on providing first-class training to the next generation of legal leaders. By ensuring our students have multiple opportunities for hands-on learning, we can assure that they will be practice-ready and meet the needs of employers when they graduate."

Scherr will continue former dean Hashimoto's work to create new clinical opportunities and to increase support for clinical faculty and students. His new initiatives will include fostering collaboration with the university's graduate and undergraduate programs, meeting new American Bar Association requirements for experiential courses and assessing the impact of Georgia Law's clinics on local and state communities.

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UGA graduate student receives Schlumberger Fellowship to study tuberculosis transmission

University of Georgia doctoral student María Eugenia Castellanos has been awarded a 2016-2017 Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship to fund her research on tuberculosis transmission in Guatemala.

Castellanos, a doctoral student studying epidemiology in the UGA College of Public Health, will work to identify the risk factors associated with TB and spread of with TB—especially in HIV patients. The one-year, renewable Schlumberger Foundation grant provides women scientists from developing and emerging countries up to $50,000 to pursue advanced degrees in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field.

"The leading causes of death in Guatemala are preventable and treatable infectious diseases," Castellanos said. "Tuberculosis, in particular, is an illness that affects the most vulnerable people and one that we have not been able to reduce the prevalence of in the last 10 years."

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Two from UGA receive U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships

A University of Georgia student and a recent graduate have been selected to study the Arabic language while abroad this summer through the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship program. Cassidy Lyon will travel to Tangier, Morocco, and Alice Naghshineh will study in Madaba, Jordan. The participants will join about 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who will spend eight to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes across the globe.

Lyon is a 2016 graduate who majored in international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and hails from Newnan. This fall she begins her master's program in Washington, D.C., at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Lyon says that the CLS program will be key to pursuing her own research while in graduate school.

"It's always great to be surrounded by people who are doing incredible things with their passions for language and culture," Lyon said. "I spent last summer in Marrakech, Morocco, through UGA's study abroad program and fell in love with the country. I have many friends there that I can't wait to see again.

"The Arabic language is an incredibly beautiful and difficult language, so I'm looking forward to having a completely immersive experience with the language for eight weeks. We also will be taking some Moroccan dialect lessons, which will help me connect more with Moroccan culture and people. ... The connections, friendships, and support from the CLS community are going to give me incredible opportunities to further my knowledge of language and culture."

Naghshineh is a senior Honors student from Marietta, majoring in Arabic and mathematics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and economics in the Terry College of Business. Last summer she studied the Persian language in Tajikistan, where she was placed with a local family for two months through the Critical Language Scholarship program. Her experiences earned her a Fulbright grant to return to Tajikistan, where she will perform economic development research this fall.

"This was one of the most significant experiences of my life," Naghshineh said. "My [host] family will be the first people I visit upon my return [to Tajikistan]. I was thrilled to discover that I also will be staying with a family during this summer's program in Madaba, Jordan. I look forward to laughing with a new family, growing with them and, inevitably, embarrassing myself in front of them.

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Georgia teachers among first to join UGA Skidaway Institute research cruises

JoCasta Green became a teacher after she was told as a child she couldn't be a scientist because she was a girl. In May, the pre-K teacher from Decatur achieved a small piece of her childhood dream by joining a research cruise on board the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography's Research Vessel Savannah.

Green was one of two teachers on the overnight cruise, some of the first to participate in a cooperative program between UGA Skidaway Institute and Georgia Southern University's Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education, or i2STEMe.

"Because I am an elementary teacher, I was afraid that maybe I shouldn't have applied," Green said. "However, once I got here and everyone was so interested and wanted to share, I really did learn a lot."

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Marc Frischer led the cruise with the aim to hunt, collect and study doliolids-a small gelatinous organism of great significance to the ecology and productivity of continental shelf environments around the world. Green and middle school teacher Vicki Albritton of Savannah were the only teachers on board and were able to actively participate in the research activities.

"I think giving any teacher the opportunity come out to sea is an amazing experience," Frischer said. "I think it's transformative, but to have them integrated into the research, we haven't really done that before."

Green and Albritton participated in the deck activities. They helped launch the CTD, or conductivity-temperature-depth, sensor packages mounted on heavy metal frames and deployed plankton nets that concentrated a wide variety of tiny marine creatures into a small container. The two teachers then worked with the science team in the darkened wet lab to sort through gallons of water and to isolate the doliolids they were seeking.

"I was hoping to see science in action, and I did that all day long," Albritton said. "I got to participate and learn what was going on and take many pictures, and now I have a wealth of information to take back to the classroom."

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New fellowships expand public interest opportunities at Georgia Law

The University of Georgia School of Law has three new fellowship opportunities, which combined with existing support will allow more than 20 rising second- and third-year students to take summer positions in the public interest arena.

Public interest fellowship recipients will spend the next few months working in legal placements including public defender's and prosecutor's offices, nonprofit agencies, a law school clinic and the U.S. Department of Justice. Three placements will take students overseas to Phnom Penh, Jerusalem and Bangkok.

"The students we are supporting in public interest placements this summer are the next generation of Georgia Law's legacy of public service, which includes elected, judicial and nonprofit leaders who have made, and are continuing to make, an impact across our state and nation," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "We are extremely grateful to those who have chosen to invest in these students' futures both through their financial support and their engagement with our institution."

The three new fellowship opportunities result from a partnership between the law school and the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Foundation, the creation of the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic at Georgia Law and funding from the Melburne D. and Jacqueline K. McLendon Endowment.

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UGA researchers to study effects of Georgia policy designed to curb opioid addiction

Researchers at the University of Georgia will use a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to study the effect of public policy aimed at limiting potential misuse and potentially inappropriate prescribing of opioids in vulnerable populations.

The research grant provides $675,000 over three years to fund the study.

In the last few months, the federal government has mandated stricter warning labels for prescription painkillers and handed down the first-ever set of practitioner guidelines for prescribing painkillers. Also, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's office is planning to release the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on substance use, addiction and health this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 29,000 people died by opioid overdose in the U.S. in 2014, a rate that has quadrupled since 1999.

Research suggests the steady increase in opioid overdoses is linked to both poor prescribing methods from physicians, like over-prescribing and refilling too soon or often, and patient prescription misuses. Both have been linked to heroin use, often seen as a cheap, accessible alternative to prescription medications.

In 2013, Georgia became one of the few states to enact a policy to try to curb opioid addiction. The state is doing so by adapting its Medicaid program to more carefully monitor prescription opioid refills, limiting the number of prescriptions for opioids a patient can receive per month, and ensuring that certain medications are not used at the same time as opioids. However, until now, the policy's effectiveness has not been tested.

In the UGA College of Pharmacy, assistant professor Jayani Jayawardhana and professor Matthew Perri are leading the investigation to study the impact of the Medicaid policy change.

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Dawn Cartee named director of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education

Dawn Hall Cartee, president of Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, has been named director of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education, effective July 1.

Cartee comes to the Georgia Center, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit, after leading Ogeechee Tech since December 2007. She led the development of more than 20 online programs during her tenure at Ogeechee Tech, which enrolls more than 2,000 students and last year was named Georgia's Technical College of the Year for the second time under her leadership. The campus expanded by 40 acres under her leadership, adding about $27 million in capital projects, including a print center, café and additional rental space.

"Dawn has extensive experience managing complex educational organizations and has led unparalleled growth at Ogeechee Tech," said Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach. "That, along with her outstanding leadership managing facilities and auxiliary enterprises, makes her the ideal candidate to direct and enhance Georgia Center operations and educational programming."

At UGA, Cartee will oversee the Georgia Center, a 300,000-square-foot facility that opened in 1957 as part of a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to UGA. Today, the Georgia Center's continuing education programs focus on conferences and professional development both online and through the use of two auditoriums, nine conference rooms, five executive boardrooms and a computer training lab. The building also houses 200 hotel rooms, banquet areas, a full-service restaurant and a café. Bill Crowe, who led the Georgia Center since 2007 and implemented many facility improvements and new educational programs, will retire from UGA June 30.

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UGA meal plan scholarship program to expand

More University of Georgia students will be able to concentrate on their education and worry less about finding meals thanks to a significant six-figure gift from the R. Halsey Wise and Lisha S. Wise Family Foundation to the Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship, which is an integral part of UGA's commitment to overall need-based scholarship programs.

The food scholarship sponsors UGA Food Services meal plans for students with demonstrated need. Established by the Division of Student Affairs in 2015 with an initial gift from Wayne and Robin Hoover of Atlanta, the program began with two student recipients. Over the following year, additional support from alumni and donors, as well as the contribution of four food scholarships from UGA Food Services, has enabled the program to support more than a dozen students, nine this past semester alone.

The Wises' gift will transform the scholarship to make an exponentially greater impact.

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UGA’s Portuguese Flagship Program renewed for additional 4 years

The University of Georgia's Portuguese Flagship Program, the first Portuguese program of its kind in the nation, has been renewed for an additional four years. The program, which began in 2011, will receive approximately $3 million in additional funding from the U.S. Department of Defense's National Security Education Program to continue its mission.

Students in the UGA Portuguese Flagship Program reach the highest levels of proficiency in Portuguese, a language growing in popularity and considered critical for U.S. interests. They then spend a year in Brazil, studying at the Federal University of São João del Rei and complete an internship related to their area of study.

Administered by the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C., and unique in practice, flagship programs aim to help students enhance their current major with international and linguistic credentials. Flagship programs have been launched across the nation in Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Turkish and other languages considered vital to U.S. interests.

"The Flagship Program at UGA is the only one of its kind in Portuguese in the U.S., and it represents, arguably, one of the largest federal investments in Portuguese instruction in the history of higher education in this country," said Flagship program director Robert Moser, associate professor of Portuguese in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.