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CAES launches Certificate in Agricultural Data Science

From remote moisture sensors that produce a real-time feed of soil conditions to drones that use optical data to spot plant disease, new streams of data will fuel the next green revolution.

Remote sensing technologies will offer farmers the ability to customize irrigation and fertilizer applications for areas that have unique characteristics within fields, which will reduce ecological impacts and costs. However, putting precision agriculture strategies into practice requires agricultural scientists who are equipped to interpret the data that these sensors generate.

In fall 2018, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will launch an Interdisciplinary Certificate in Agricultural Data Science to equip CAES graduate students with the data analysis expertise that they will need to capitalize on this big data revolution.

CAES’ certificate program will be one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Through the certificate, current and future CAES graduate students will plan a schedule of elective and related courses that will complement their agricultural research and expose them to a wide range of principles and practices of data analysis.

“The goal of the graduate certificate is to develop a curriculum that will produce cross-disciplinary and cross-functional, data-smart graduates who can bridge the gaps between the generation, analysis and interpretation of complex data in the agricultural field,” said Harald Scherm, professor and head of UGA’s department of plant pathology. “We’re not looking to train computer scientists, but we want them to be able to discuss data issues and incorporate analysis into their practice.”

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Pulliam family honors patriarch through faculty chair position

To honor his legacy in agricultural education, Dr. Michael and Elaine Pulliam and family have gifted $1 million to create the H.M. (Morris) Pulliam Chair Fund in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

This endowed chair position will be awarded to a currently tenured professor or a tenure-track faculty member. The Pulliam Chair faculty member must have an outstanding record in externally funded research and/or scholarly publications and be engaged in teaching, research and public service.

The decision to fund the endowed chair was fueled by life-saving surgery Elaine Pulliam received at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“A chair was being created for the surgeon, Andrew Warshaw (at the Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research), and we helped with that for several years. Once that seed was planted in our minds, we decided to do something that would memorialize my father’s life,” Michael Pulliam said.

A lifelong resident of Newton County, Morris Pulliam loved his family, his community and his students. He became a teacher during the Great Depression to provide a better way of life for rural youth.

Michael Pulliam said his father was a meek man who would not have wanted the recognition of the endowment. “But I recall what my mother once told me,” he said. “The only thing we can carry with us when we leave this world is what we have given to others.”

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UGA and UConn Health researchers discover roles and teamwork of CRISPR-Cas proteins

Recently published research from the University of Georgia and UConn Health provides new insight about the basic biological mechanisms of the RNA-based viral immune system known as CRISPR-Cas.

CRISPR-Cas, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR-associated, is a defense mechanism that has evolved in bacteria and archaea that these single celled organisms use to ward off attacks from viruses and other invaders. When a bacterium is attacked by a virus, it makes a record of the virus’s DNA by chopping it up into pieces and incorporating a small segment of the invader’s DNA into its own genome. It then uses this DNA to make RNAs that bind with a bacterial protein that then kills the viral DNA.

The system has been studied worldwide in hopes that it can be used to edit genes that predispose humans to countless diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. However, to reach this end goal, scientists must gain further understanding of the basic biological process that leads to successful immunity against the invading virus.

 

Distinguished Research Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator for the project Michael Terns and UGA postdoctoral fellow Masami Shiimori collaborated with Brenton Graveley and Sandra Garrett at UConn Health to sequence millions of genomes to learn more about the process. Graveley is professor and chair of the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences and associate director of the Institute for Systems Genomics at UConn Health, and Garrett is a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory.

Previously, researchers did not understand how the cell recognized the virus as an invader, nor which bacterial proteins were necessary for successful integration and immunity.

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UGA alumni chosen for Songwriters Hall of Fame

The Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced its class of 2018, and two Bulldogs are on the list. UGA alumni Bill Anderson ABJ ’59 and Steve Dorff ABJ ’71 are two of the 10 songwriters and musicians to be welcomed into the hall of fame this year, alongside household names like Alan Jackson and John Mellencamp.

The inductees will be celebrated at the Hall of Fame’s 49th annual induction and awards ceremony in New York. Anderson, who grew up outside of Atlanta, is not only an accomplished songwriter but also a world-renowned country singer, earning the famed nickname “Whisperin’Bill” for his soft vocal style. His songwriting credits include collaborations with artists like Conway Twitty, Kenny Chesney, and Brad Paisley. Dorff is a popular songwriter and composer who has written songs for artists like George Strait and Kenny Rogers. His career has included both country and popular music credits, alongside many compositions for film and television. He is a three-time Grammy and six-time Emmy nominee.

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WSB takes an insightful tour of UGA's Cortona campus

Legendary sportscaster Chuck Dowdle visited UGA’s campus in Cortona, Italy, where students gain valuable international learning experiences. He provides an inside look at the city and our satellite campus. This segment aired Saturday, June 2 on WSB-TV. Click here to watch the video.

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Morehead elected to SEC Executive Committee

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead has been elected to the Southeastern Conference Executive Committee. The election took place June 1 during the conference’s annual spring meeting in Destin, Florida.

The seven-member Executive Committee is composed of three university presidents, two faculty athletics representatives, a senior woman administrator, and an athletic director. The primary responsibility of the committee is to oversee the financial and fiscal affairs of the SEC, including approving the annual operating budget of the conference.

Morehead also continues to represent the SEC as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Presidential Forum. He formerly chaired the SEC Working Group on Compliance, Enforcement, and Governance and served on the SEC Working Group on Student-Athlete Conduct.

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Gift supports scholarships for future teachers

The University of Georgia was recently awarded a $500,000 commitment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish five scholarships aimed at helping future teachers.

The gift, which is matched through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, established five need-based scholarships benefiting low-income students enrolled at UGA to study early childhood education.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students, and we are thankful for the support from the Kellogg Foundation,” said Denise Spangler, dean of the UGA College of Education, which houses the early childhood education program and other teacher-preparation degrees. “Because our students spend so much time in local classrooms, it’s difficult to maintain a second job with their schedule. Scholarship support is essential to help our students focus on their training.”

Matching funds provided by the UGA Foundation through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program will enhance the Kellogg Foundation’s commitment to removing barriers and opening doors for students—one of the three priorities of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign. The program provides a one-to-one match for gifts of $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000 to endow need-based scholarships at UGA.

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UGA law students embark on public interest fellowships

University of Georgia School of Law students are answering the call of public service in record-breaking numbers. Thanks to additional funding sources, the law school has been able to provide 48 students with monetary support to pursue summer public interest work in a variety of settings. This number more than doubles the number of participants from two years ago in 2016, which was 22. The total amount of funding has grown from $53,000 in 2016 to more than $83,000 in 2018 and the number of fellowship sources has grown to eight, including new grants supporting work in health and municipal law.

“Seeing our students answering the call to service is very rewarding,” School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said. “The law school’s mission is all about preparing our students with a first-rate legal education and connecting them with opportunities for real-world training so they can become future leaders for our state and society. Ensuring our students have access to public interest fellowships speaks to the heart of our mission.”

School of Law students will perform criminal justice, nonprofit and governmental work throughout Georgia, the nation and the globe. Select placements in Georgia include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Atlanta Legal Aid, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Augusta Public Defender’s Office, the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Public Defenders Council. Out-of-state positions include the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC; the Victims Rights Law Center in Boston, Massachusetts; the Mental Health Project in New York City, New York; King County Bar Association Pro Bono Family Law Services in Seattle, Washington; the Institute for Justice in Austin, Texas; the Cook County State’s Attorney Office in Chicago, Illinois; and South Carolina Legal Services in Greenwood, South Carolina. International locations include the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Samoa, Boat People SOS in Thailand and No Peace Without Justice in Belgium.

“I am grateful to our graduates and to our other sources of financial support, which are enabling students to gain real-life legal experience with work that benefits society and helps students build their careers,” said Alexander W. “Alex” Scherr, associate dean for clinical programs and experiential learning.

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UGA gets top ranking for service to student veterans

For the second time in three years, the University of Georgia has been named the top tier one research institution in the nation in Victory Media’s Military Friendly Schools 2018-2019 rankings. The designation recognizes the university for its outstanding commitment to and programs for student veterans and their families. UGA had previously achieved the top ranking in 2016-2017 and was listed at second place last year.

“I am continually proud of the successes of our student veterans and the growth of the Student Veterans Resource Center,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “We are deeply committed to ensuring that these impressive students have all of the resources, support and connections they need to flourish—not only in their time at UGA, but far beyond.”

The Military Friendly designation comes at a time when participation in the programs and services of UGA’s Student Veterans Resource Center is steadily increasing, with nearly 80 percent of UGA’s self-identified undergraduate student veterans engaged in the center’s signature persistent coaching program. Engagement in all SVRC programming has risen significantly since persistent coaching was piloted in fall 2016.

The persistent coaching program promotes student veteran success through a consistent progression of engagements with faculty, staff and nonprofits that begins at matriculation and continues until graduation.

UGA continues to maintain top designations in other publications, including Military Advanced Education magazine’s “Top Schools” for 2018, U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of “Best Colleges for Veterans” and Military Times Magazine’s “2018 Best for Vets” rankings.

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UGA promotes renaissance in multi-city partnership

 A Georgia mountain community is forging a unique economic development partnership with two Tennessee cities through a downtown revitalization process pioneered by the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The Copper Basin Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning collaboration unites key leaders from McCaysville, Georgia, its twin city of Copperhill, Tennessee, and nearby Ducktown, Tennessee, in a community-driven alliance to help the region’s economy flourish.

The first-ever two-state RSVP will enable the citizens, business leaders and public officials in the rural communities, which have interconnected economies, to implement a long-term regional development plan. 

The nine-month project is supported by a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation, which funds community revitalization strategies, arts and cultural activities, and conservation and outdoor recreation projects in Chattanooga and the surrounding region.

The RSVP is a component of the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership, a community revitalization initiative with the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and other partners.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and his staff have worked with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government since the initial discussions about this project. A longtime proponent of economic development initiatives like the RSVP, Ralston’s district includes McCaysville and Fannin County.

“Initiatives like this combine private-sector resources with public-sector expertise to revitalize downtowns to generate economic activity and create jobs,” Ralston said. “I am excited about the potential of this project, particularly when we are investing in McCaysville and the surrounding area with more than half a million dollars in state funding for streetscapes and (McCaysville) City Park as well as the ongoing work on widening Highway 5.”

In the past five years, the Institute of Government has helped 16 other Georgia cities implement downtown revitalization strategies through the RSVP program.

“Strengthening communities and promoting economic development throughout our home state are central to the University of Georgia’s mission as a land-grant institution,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We are excited about this partnership and the positive impact it will make.”