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UGA receives $1 million NSF grant to extend STEM minority program

The University of Georgia will launch a new program to increase underrepresented minority enrollment in graduate programs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Bridges to the Doctorate program, which is funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, builds on the university's longstanding Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. In the decade since the Peach State LSAMP was established, minority undergraduate enrollment in STEM fields at UGA has tripled. Through the new grant, students who successfully complete the undergraduate program will have an opportunity to continue their education at UGA and pursue a doctorate.

"The U.S. is at a critical inflection point with respect to its STEM workforce," said Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour. "While the overall demographics of the country are changing rapidly, diversity of the STEM workforce has lagged behind. This disparity has potential to threaten our role as the global leader in STEM research and development. Programs like Bridges to the Doctorate are essential, as they will allow us to retain the best and brightest minds in the pipeline to the STEM workforce."

Through the Bridges to the Doctorate program, 12 LSAMP alumni will receive two years of support for work toward a doctoral degree, with the remaining support coming from the department in which they study. The Bridges to the Doctorate program also offers peer and faculty mentoring, professional development, social support and outreach opportunities. The first cohort will begin their studies this summer.

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UGA alumnus Sonny Perdue confirmed as U.S. secretary of agriculture

With former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's confirmation Monday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, he becomes the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named to the White House Cabinet and the first Southerner to head the department in two decades. Perdue will lead the $150 billion agency, which directs the country's farm policy and food and nutrition programs.

At UGA, Perdue attended undergraduate classes — and played on the football team one year as a walk-on — and then earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1971.

"Secretary Perdue is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Georgia, and we are grateful for the tremendous support he has demonstrated for his alma mater over the years," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "We look forward to the important contributions he will make to the nation's vital agricultural industry in this new role."

As governor, Perdue championed UGA projects such as the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, the Medical Partnership and the new College of Veterinary Medicine hospital. He returned to campus often for official ceremonies, including the February 2004 dedication of the Student Learning Center, and to speak to students, including the May 2005 Commencement. During a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences conference in 2007, Perdue said, "One of Georgia's greatest strengths is our agricultural industry. Our farmers and our foresters. It's our oldest and largest industry."

After his final term as governor, Perdue gave his official papers in March 2011 to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, part of UGA's special collections libraries.

"Because of his experience and his lifelong commitment to agriculture, we are pleased to have former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the new secretary of agriculture," said Sam Pardue, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Not only does Secretary Perdue know firsthand the intricacies of providing, protecting and promoting the U.S. food system, he has long been a strong supporter of the land-grant mission in public universities across the country and our role in keeping U.S agriculture growing and leading in sustainable food production."

The USDA is the funding authority for land-grant university research and extension programs in agriculture, family and consumer science, and forestry.

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Two UGA students named 2017 Udall Scholars

The University of Georgia added two new Udall Scholars to its ranks this year as third-year students Shreya Ganeshan and Elizabeth Wilkes were honored for their leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment.

Each year, the Udall Foundation awards about 60 scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for their efforts related to Native American nations or their work in environmental advocacy and policy.

Ganeshan, from Johns Creek, is majoring in economics and statistics and intends to pursue a doctorate in clean energy innovation and deployment. She plans to study how weather-related disasters strain local and national infrastructure and plans to develop financial models for clean energy.

Wilkes, from Atlanta, is majoring in geography and ecology and will pursue a master's degree in either food policy or agricultural and environmental studies. She plans to pursue a career as an advocate for food justice and hopes to transform food systems to promote environmental and social justice.

Both are Honors students and Foundation Fellows. With the addition of Ganeshan and Wilkes, UGA has had 11 Udall Scholars in the past seven years.

"The University of Georgia congratulates our students for this significant accomplishment," said President Jere W. Morehead. "The experiences they have gained through research and internships have prepared them, like other UGA students before them, to compete at the highest levels."

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Georgia MBA team takes first place at real estate competition

For the second year in a row, a University of Georgia MBA team took first prize at the School Challenge case competition sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

Terry College of Business students bested teams from Emory, Georgia Tech and Georgia State to capture the $7,500 grand prize. The win is the 10th for the Georgia MBA program, tying Emory's record for most first-place finishes in the event's 25-year history.

To win, the Georgia team provided the best solution to a case that required the students to suggest suitable properties for a 1,000-employee firm planning to move to Atlanta.

"The team's presentation showed the amount of thought and research they gave this case," said Anne Cooper, team adviser and director of MBA student experience at UGA. "What I liked most about their solution is that, while they solved the real estate riddle, they never lost sight of the business case-that a publicly traded company must deliver shareholder value in every decision it makes. That's what made the case for their recommendation."

The Georgia team consisted of students Matt Green, Josh Williams, Cody Hughes and Peter Farag, with assistance from faculty adviser Richard Martin, associate professor of real estate, and industry coaches Jay O'Meara of CBRE and Andy Kroll of Trimont Real Estate Advisors, both alumni of the Terry College.

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UGA law school wins national mock trial tournament

The University of Georgia School of Law recently won the Sixth Annual South Texas Mock Trial Challenge, an invitation only national advocacy tournament.

Third-year law students Jacob S. "Jake" Edwards and Christopher D. "Chris" Stokes argued the case, and second-year law students Oliver R. Ladd and Lauren E. Lutton served as witnesses. Third-year student Andrew Z.R. Smith served as student coach.

In addition to being undefeated throughout the competition, the group was presented with the Outstanding Trial Brief Award, and Stokes was named the Most Professional Advocate.

Georgia Law Director of Advocacy Kellie Casey praised the team for its efforts. "It is great to win this national mock trial tournament," she said. "We faced law school teams from the states of Alabama, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota and Texas as well as Washington, D.C."

"I am also grateful to current Georgia Law faculty member and former advocacy student J. Robert ‘Rob' McNiff and Georgia Law graduates Michael T. ‘Mike' Rafi, Margaret E. ‘Maggy' Randels, Adam J. Fitzsimmons, David B. Dove and Eric L. Roden for their help in readying our students for competition," she said. "At the end of the day, it is all about preparing our students to be successful, and it is tremendous to have so many graduates and former advocacy program participants investing in the next generation of legal advocates."

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UGA entrusted with archaeological collection from American Museum of Natural History

The University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology has received an extensive archaeological collection that includes artifacts and other paleoenvironmental materials recovered by the American Museum of Natural History during a decade of excavation led by David Hurst Thomas on St. Catherines Island, Georgia.

The St. Catherines Island Collection contains more than 109,000 cataloged artifacts, 2,650 radiocarbon samples, and paleoenvironmental assemblages of animal bones, mollusk shells and plant remains. The collection coming to UGA includes prehistoric ceramics, partially reconstructed ceramic vessels, prehistoric ceramic pipes, lithic projectile points (arrowheads), bone tools, shell beads, shell gorgets and shell ear plugs.

The materials are accompanied by a comprehensive digital database that contains relevant field notes, photographs, catalogs, reports and publications that relate to the excavations conducted on the island from 2005 to 2015. The university will also receive any future artifacts excavated on the island.

"This is one of the most important archaeological collections to come to the Laboratory of Archaeology since its founding in 1947," says Mark Williams, director of the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology. "It will enhance our already extensive coastal collection and allow current and future researchers to continue answering questions concerning the role that islands and coastal regions played in the development of human societies over time."

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Georgia wins 2017 SEC MBA case competition

The University of Georgia won first place in the 2017 SEC MBA Case Competition held at the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida on Saturday. The winning team was comprised of Rohit Banerjee, Matthew Green, Desiree Sullivan and Noah Winterer.

A team of four MBA students from every SEC university was presented a business case by Nationwide on Friday. The teams, who were separated into four divisions, proposed their solutions to a panel of judges on Saturday morning in divisional rounds. The top four proposals moved on to the final round to determine the winner of the competition.

"Winning this competition is so rewarding because we gave so much effort and stayed up late into the night," said Sullivan. "We put together a bold strategy and it took a lot of endurance to prepare our presentation."

Other awards given during the divisional rounds included Best Presenter and Best Q&A.

Noah Winterer from the University of Georgia, Alison Houlihan from the University of Florida, Chris Stegmaier from the University of South Carolina and Daniel Robinson from Auburn University were named Best Presenters for their respective divisions.

In its fifth year, the SEC MBA Case Competition provides an opportunity for SEC business schools to showcase their students' skills at solving simulated, real-world problems that cover the spectrum of business disciplines.

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UGA students surpass $250,000 raised in fight against cancer

During Emily Maggs' four years at the University of Georgia, she has learned that she shares something with every other student: She hates cancer.

Overnight from April 7 to April 8, Emily and nearly 3,000 of her fellow students participated in the 18th Annual University of Georgia Relay for Life at UGA's intramural fields. The event culminated with the early morning announcement that the students had raised a total of $255,129.47 to support the American Cancer Society.

Maggs, a senior majoring in consumer journalism, is originally from London, but her family now resides in Savannah. She served this past year as executive director for UGA's Relay for Life. "Everyone has a connection to cancer," Maggs said. "You could be attending a concert with 10,000 people, and every single person will have been touched by cancer in some way."

Maggs initially got involved with Relay for her mom and dad, who are both cancer survivors, but she now says her reasons have grown. "The more you are involved in Relay, the more you realize that you Relay for everyone around you-everyone who Relays and everyone on campus," Maggs said. "I Relay so that one day my children won't have to."

UGA's event is notable for being Relay's first event organized by, led by and composed entirely of college students. The student group is an affiliate of Relay for Life that is registered with UGA Student Affairs' Center for Student Activities and Involvement.

UGA Relay has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society since the first relay in 1999 and annually ranks as one of the top collegiate relays in the nation.

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Charlayne Hunter-Gault announces Giving Voice to the Voiceless fund

Award-winning journalist, author and distinguished University of Georgia alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault has established a new endowment, Giving Voice to the Voiceless. The endowment, created by Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ronald Gault, will provide grants to university students to promote social justice and global understanding by giving voice to the voiceless, the charting light of the life and work of Hunter-Gault.

"From Athens to Africa and beyond, my 'journeys to the horizon' as a journalist have tried to find people whose voices need to be heard so they can realize their dreams for themselves and their communities," Hunter-Gault said. "I hope this fund will encourage Georgia Dawgs from anywhere in the university to travel near and far, as I have tried to do, to give voice to those whose voices are unheard."

Hunter-Gault announced the fund during her keynote address at the fifth annual Chess and Community Conference at the Georgia Center on April 1. Hunter-Gault has reported on the Chess and Community program, created and directed by UGA alumnus Lemuel LaRoche, on PBS.

"Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an instrumental figure in the history of this institution," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "We are honored that she and Ron have established this fund, which will further Charlayne's profound legacy and will positively impact the lives of our students."

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Charles Davis lauded "the remarkable work and commitment of Charlayne Hunter-Gault-from her PBS program 'Race Matters' that has shown us Lemuel LaRoche's dedication to chess and community in Athens, to her Peabody-winning stories and her service on the Peabody Board of Jurors, and as a champion of journalism the world over. We are grateful to be the stewards of Charlayne and Ron's vision for this fund. As it grows, it will help generations of students engage in innovative projects, internships, study abroad experiences, field study and other endeavors that give voice to the voiceless."

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Two UGA Honors students named 2017 Goldwater Scholars

University of Georgia juniors and Honors Program students Morgan Gibbs and Mallory Harris are among 240 students across the nation to be recognized as Barry Goldwater Scholars, earning the highest undergraduate award of its type for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

Gibbs and Harris are each studying in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Gibbs, from Peachtree City, is majoring in chemistry and minoring in pharmaceutical sciences. Harris, from Dunwoody, is pursuing mathematical sciences with a concentration in computational biology. Both plan to earn doctorates in their prospective fields.

"Once again, multiple UGA students have received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship-a clear signal of the strength of undergraduate education at this great institution," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "As Morgan and Mallory continue on their academic and career paths, I have no doubt their research discoveries will help to improve lives around the world. The University of Georgia is very proud of them."

Since 1995, 53 UGA students have received the Goldwater Scholarship, all of whom have been members of the Honors Program.

The scholarship recognizes exceptional sophomores and juniors across the nation. This year, awardees were selected from a field of 1,286 undergraduates who were nominated by campus representatives from 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. The awardees will receive up to $7,500 toward the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

"I am so pleased for Morgan and Mallory," said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program, who serves as the UGA campus faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship. "As individuals, they each richly deserve this recognition. Together, they represent the quality of UGA's undergraduate research program and the strong support that faculty members provide to our students."