Growing our impact on the state and the world

Sustainable future. Jenna Jambeck, Professor of Engineering, is internationally recognized for her work on plastic waste in the ocean. Her landmark study found that 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year. As Associate Director of the New Materials Institute (NMI), she is working to provide economically viable plastic alternatives. NMI is focused on green engineering, developing biodegradable plastic alternatives, and minimizing waste.

This summer, Jambeck co-led an international expedition that studied plastic pollution in India’s Ganges River. The “Sea to Source: Ganges” river expedition was organized and sponsored by National Geographic.

As a land- and sea-grant institution, the University of Georgia is committed to the economic vitality of our state. Our research creates innovative technology that lays the foundation for new companies and makes existing organizations more profitable. We prepare students to be leaders in their fields, and we provide training that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive. We help communities revitalize their downtowns, develop their workforces, and attract industry and jobs. Through all of this and more, the University of Georgia generates an estimated annual economic impact of more than $6.3 billion on our state—and we’re just getting started.

Small business, international reach

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) supports Georgia businesses, like blasting equipment manufacturer ShotKing in Adel. Owner Bruce Roberts approached the SBDC when he realized he had no idea where to start with international commerce. He signed up for an ExportGA course, which is taught by SBDC consultants who paired him with an intern from the Terry College of Business. Since working with the SBDC, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, Roberts has expanded his sales to Canada, South America, and the Middle East. ShotKing is just one of many examples of the SBDC’s reach in rural Georgia.

Advancing our great commitments

UGA’s Great Commitments are to advance a world with healthier people, a more secure future, and stronger communities. A presidential working group, chaired by Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum, has pushed forward these commitments by developing several new initiatives.

Included in the plans are an interdisciplinary research seed grant program focused on Great Commitments; an ambassador program designed to connect faculty researchers with communities around the state; a student-led service program focused on Georgia communities; and a students’ “tour of Georgia” program aligned with Great Commitments.

Combating an invasive species

The silverleaf whitefly is a formidable adversary for Georgia farmers. Over the course of two growing seasons, whiteflies and the viruses they transmit have decimated vulnerable crops, especially vegetables, throughout the southern part of the state. They caused an estimated $80 million to $100 million in crop loss and ruined nearly 80 percent of the area’s fall season snap beans and almost half of its squash and cucumbers. UGA researchers are working with Cooperative Extension specialists and agents to manage whiteflies and whitefly-transmitted viruses.

Hurricane aftermath

The University of Georgia is committed to helping communities prepare, respond, and recover from natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur throughout the state. After Hurricane Michael ravaged southwest Georgia in October 2018, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agents were there, assessing damage and helping farmers and communities recover from the devastating storm. Michael caused an estimated $2.5 billion in losses and hit the pecan, cotton, and vegetable crops particularly hard. Timber in the southwest region was devastated. UGA Extension continues to help farmers return to normal operation and prepare employees for local disaster response.

Protective barrier

Tens of thousands of patients develop a secondary infection from medical devices, such as catheters and central lines, that are used during their hospital stays. Assistant Professor of Engineering Hitesh Handa is developing coatings that use nitric oxide, a powerful gas naturally present in the body, to prevent bacteria from multiplying on a device’s surface. The nitric coating also can be applied to plastic tubing used during dialysis and blood transfusions to prevent blood from clotting.

Archway honors

It looked like Pulaski County would lose its small regional hospital until UGA’s Archway Partnership and the College of Public Health stepped in to perform a Community Needs Health Assessment. Their findings made a strong case for keeping the hospital but making some necessary operational adjustments. Ultimately, the work helped save the hospital. For that, the Archway Partnership and the College of Public Health received the National Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association.

Helping Communities Address Cybersecurity Threats

Cybercrime takes one of our society’s great strengths—the internet—and exploits its weaknesses. UGA launched CyberArch to help our state’s communities protect themselves against cybercrime. Organized through UGA Public Service and Outreach, CyberArch shares customized cybersecurity resources with Georgia communities through on-site consultations, Small Business Development Center trainings, and cybersecurity risk assessments.

Interdisciplinary seed grant program

A program designed to promote research collaboration across campus and attract major external grants yielded a nearly tenfold return on investment.

In its first iteration, the President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program provided a combined $1.37 million in funding to 12 faculty teams. With projects ranging from coastal resiliency to mapping the global risk of emerging infectious diseases, the teams generated an initial $12.9 million in external awarded grants.

At the State of the University address in January, the President announced plans to continue the program with a second wave of funding in 2019.

Empowering Community Development

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is committed to educating the state’s leaders and supporting city and county governments across Georgia. A partnership between the Institute of Government and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program provides Georgia-specific training on practical topics for economic developers from across the state. The program features courses tailored to the needs of Georgia’s communities and emphasizes practical, skills-based training with immediate application.

Leading in commercialized products

Building on our continued growth in research and innovation, the University of Georgia ranked first among 193 U.S. institutions for the number of commercial products reaching the market in 2017, according to a survey released by AUTM, a nonprofit organization that tracks technology transfer among universities, colleges, and other research institutions.

In 2017, 52 new products based on UGA research reached the market. UGA also ranked fourth among universities for the number of new intellectual property licenses to industry, its 11th consecutive year in the top 10.

Over the years, some of UGA’s commercialized products and startups have included:

  • Cogent Education, an educational software company that creates interactive games to teach complex concepts
  • Kanuma, an FDA-approved drug that treats a life-threatening, ultra-rare disease in humans called lysosomal acid lipase deficiency
  • Candidus (pictured), a startup aimed to reduce product costs for greenhouse growers by providing cost-effective supplemental lighting strategies
#1 in bringing new products to market in most recent ranking by AUTM