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National champion head coach to lead UGA track & field

Caryl Smith Gilbert, who just led the USC women to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor National Championship and the men to another top-5 finish, has been named Georgia’s Director of Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks announced Sunday. Smith Gilbert will be the first female head coach of a men’s sports program in the history of Georgia Athletics.

“I am thrilled to welcome Caryl Smith Gilbert to the University of Georgia,” Brooks said. “She is a phenomenal coach, skilled motivator and strong leader who will make our entire program better. Caryl exudes energy and passion that resonates with student-athletes, recruits and colleagues. She leads and coaches with the integrity, tenacity and toughness that aligns perfectly with our mission.” 

“Georgia combines elite athletics and academics with outstanding leadership, in a premier athletics conference,” said Smith Gilbert. “When I spoke to Josh [Brooks], I was immediately impressed with his vision and passion for Georgia Athletics and track and field. I’m thankful to President Morehead and Josh for leading the way, and opening doors for women and particularly women of color. It’s an honor to be Georgia’s first female head coach of a men’s sport. I firmly believe we can continue to build upon UGA’s strong program and compete for and win SEC and National Championships. I am excited to get started in Athens.”

Smith Gilbert has spent the last eight seasons as the Director of Men and Women’s Track and Field at USC, building the program into a national powerhouse. This year’s USC women’s squad gave Smith Gilbert her second national title in the last three NCAA Outdoor National Championships, while the men finished in the top-five for the fourth time in the last seven championships under her guidance. 

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Graduate students named recipients of DOE fellowship

Three Ph.D. students at UGA were named recipients of the 2020 Office of Science Graduate Student Research fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy. Kenneth Allen, Anna Doner and Scott Oswald were recognized for outstanding accomplishments in academics and research that show the potential to make important contributions to the mission of the DOE Office of Science. The fellowship provides supplemental funds for recipients to conduct part of their thesis work at a host DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE scientist.

Allen, a Ph.D. student in mathematics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, researches data completion: When an array of data is incomplete, for example, what strategies can be used to complete the data as best as possible? His adviser is Ming-Jun Lai, UGA professor of mathematics, and he is completing a research assistantship with Lin Mu, assistant professor of mathematics. Allen will work with David Green at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Doner, a Ph.D. student in chemistry in the Franklin College, is using automated software to discover new chemical reactions in combustion chemistry, which will improve modeling needed for engine design. Her adviser is Brandon Rotavera, assistant professor with appointments in the College of Engineering and the department of chemistry in the Franklin College. Doner will work with Judit Zádor at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California.

Oswald, a Ph.D. student at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, works with adviser Doug Aubrey, associate professor at Warnell and the Savannah River Ecology Lab. Oswald studies how sugar and starch concentrations change over the course of a year after a drought, helping scientists predict when plants are resilient to stressors. Oswald will work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, under the supervision of Dan Ricciuto and Jeff Warren, on a project with two related goals.

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Cornish receives Education Abroad Leadership Award

The world’s largest association serving international educators has named Yana Cornish, director of global education in the University of Georgia’s Office of Global Engagement, the recipient of its 2021 Education Abroad Leadership Award.

The award is given to members of NAFSA: Association of International Educators whose records of distinguished service to the education abroad profession exceed 15 years. One recipient is selected each year for the highly competitive award.

NAFSA noted that Cornish has a successful track record in increasing student participation in education abroad. In addition to expanding education abroad program offerings and increasing student participation, she focuses her efforts on working with the campus community on risk management in study abroad; curricular integration of study abroad; assessment of student learning; securing financial support for international opportunities; maintaining financially sound operations, utilization of information technologies; and attracting diverse students to take part in global experiences.

“I feel privileged to be a part of the University of Georgia, with its 50-year history of study abroad,” Cornish said. “Humbly receiving this award, I am mindful that I am standing on the shoulders of many at UGA who are committed to international education and support our work every step of the way.”

UGA is one of the top institutions for the number of students who study abroad, ranking sixth in the nation in the latest Open Doors ranking.

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Segars named director of Student Veterans Resource Center

Following a national search, Jon K. Segars has been named the new director of the University of Georgia’s Student Veterans Resource Center, a department within the Division of Student Affairs. 

Segars holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Auburn University; a master’s degree in adult, occupational, and continuing education from Kansas State University; and a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of North Georgia. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Joint and Combined War-fighting School at the National Defense University.

During his 22-year career in the United States Army, Segars held three command positions, served four combat tours, two additional overseas tours and an assignment supporting national security along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. As professor of military science in the Army ROTC at Auburn University, he was instrumental in establishing the institution’s student veterans resource center as well as a student veterans association. He also held a lead role with the City of Auburn Veterans Committee.

Segars retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2010. He was inducted into the U.S. Army ROTC National Hall of Fame in 2016.

Founded in spring 2013, the SVRC serves as the go-to location for wayfinding and entry into an array of services provided by the university while offering wide-ranging support to and advocacy for student veterans. For the past six years, UGA has been named a top five Military Friendly School by Victory Media, attaining the No. 1 designation in 2017 and 2021. Military Times magazine and U.S. News and World Report have also consistently ranked UGA among the top universities for service to student veterans.

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Public Service & Outreach names Archway Partnership director

Michelle Elliott has been named director of the University of Georgia Archway Partnership, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, effective June 1.

“As a longtime Archway Partnership faculty member, Michelle has vast experience with and knowledge of the program and has built strong bonds with Archway communities over the years,” said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach. “Michelle has proven her leadership skills and demonstrated the ability to match UGA resources with Archway communities to address their critical challenges. I have no doubt we will see the Archway Partnerships continue to grow and strengthen rural Georgia under Michelle’s direction.”

Elliott has served as interim director of the Archway Partnership since Jan. 1, replacing Rob Gordon, who was named director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, also a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit.

From 2017 until 2021, Elliott was an Archway Partnership operations coordinator, guiding community-based Archway professionals in strategic planning, identifying community needs and work plan management.

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Former Health Center director wins national award

 Dr. Jean Chin, who retired as executive director of the University Health Center in 2018, was named the recipient of the American College Health Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020-2021. The award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to ACHA and whose professional lives have been dedicated to improving the health of college students.

“I’ve received several awards and honors over the years, but this one is special, particularly as I have seen the list of past recipients, the giants of college health, most of them I know and have looked up to for years,” said Chin.

Chin began as a medical staff member at the University Health Center. From 1992 to 2004, she served as medical director before being named executive director in 2005—a title she held until her retirement before earning her current role of executive director emeritus. She  is still giving back to medical education in her current role of associate professor of medicine at the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership.

The health center saw many changes and improvements during Chin’s tenure.  “Each major construction project was done to improve services, increase accessibility, improve clinician and staff efficiency, expand service offerings, and yes, to generate revenue,” said Chin. “Over time, the university grew, student and parent expectations changed, the delivery of care evolved, and the revenue model changed. The University Health Center also evolved to remain viable, relevant and student centric.”

Under Chin’s leadership, the health center also became one of 17 college health centers to be accredited by The Joint Commission. Accreditation is based on patient centered care, access and care coordination.

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Karen Burg named vice president for research at UGA

Karen J.L. Burg, a noted researcher with an outstanding record of academic leadership, has been named vice president for research at the University of Georgia. Burg holds the Harbor Lights Chair in Small Animal Studies in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and previously served as vice president for research at Kansas State University. Her appointment as UGA’s vice president for research is effective July 1.

“Continuing to grow our vibrant research enterprise is a top priority of the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Dr. Burg is an accomplished scientist, inventor and collaborator, and — as vice president — she will be poised to lead our institution to higher levels of research productivity, extramural funding and impact on our state, nation and world.”

Burg was recruited to UGA in 2016 as the Harbor Lights Chair in Small Animal Studies as part of Morehead’s Presidential Extraordinary Research Faculty Hiring Initiative, which brought several internationally recognized scholars to campus. Her research focuses on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, with implications for diagnosing and treating diseases such as cancer, and has been supported by more than $20 million in grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, as well as organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is the author of nearly 120 peer reviewed journal publications and the co-author of four books and nearly 40 book chapters. She holds nine U.S. patents, one of which forms the basis of a company that uses 3D cell culture technology to model and predict how tumors will respond to cancer drugs.

At UGA, she leveraged her experiences as a member of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps for Learning national teaching team to provide input toward UGA’s successful I-Corps site application. She has served as a member of the university’s Innovation District Task Force, the Innovation District Faculty Advisory Council, the 2025 Strategic Planning Committee and the Aspire Alliance IChange Team, which is working to enhance faculty diversity.

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Innovation District draws tech startup to Athens

A Dallas, Texas-area health care startup is expanding to Athens, Georgia, to establish its product development headquarters in the University of Georgia’s growing Innovation District.

Metropolis, an AMP Health Inc. company, incubated by Adaptive Medical Partners, uses advanced digital technology to streamline recruiting processes by providing low-touch matching solutions for health care providers to employers in large U.S. metropolitan areas. The company, based in Irving, Texas, is led by CEO and co-founder Scott Edwards, who is a UGA alumnus. Metropolis moved into the Innovation Hub on June 7.

“Co-locating our company into the Innovation District is a major milestone for Metropolis,” said Edwards. “The company is growing, and situating it in UGA’s vibrant startup environment among the amazing student talent here will give Metropolis every opportunity to thrive. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Inside the Innovation Hub, Metropolis will have dedicated office space and benefit from the variety of meeting rooms and flexible spaces available in the facility for gatherings and events. The company will be supported by UGA’s Startup Program team and operate alongside early-stage UGA research-based startups.

The university will help Metropolis strengthen its talent pipeline by identifying interns and future employees among the student body, as well as by organizing student teams to test and enhance the company’s web platform. UGA will also provide seasoned startup mentors to advise the venture through its early growth.

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Hu among 20 most influential academics in smart manufacturing

University of Georgia Provost S. Jack Hu has been named among the 20 most influential academics in smart manufacturing by SME, a nonprofit association committed to promoting and supporting the manufacturing industry.

The faculty members, who represent a diverse range of disciplines and institutions in North America and Asia, were selected with the help of industry peers and manufacturing experts.

In addition to serving as the university’s chief academic officer, Hu is a UGA Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural, and Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. His research focuses on assembly and manufacturing systems, and he has worked with industry partners to enhance manufacturing quality and productivity. His additional honors include being elected to the National Academy of Engineering and being named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the International Academy for Production Engineering, also known as CIRP.

“Smart manufacturing holds enormous potential for addressing challenges in a range of industries, and I am honored to be included among a group of internationally recognized scholars who are advancing this critical field through research, education, and industry collaborations,” Hu said.

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UGA celebrates successful academic year

The University of Georgia celebrated a number of important accomplishments during the 2020-2021 academic year despite the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I am deeply grateful to our faculty, staff and students for showing tremendous resilience throughout this difficult year,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Because of them, the university was able not only to continue its vital mission of teaching, research and service but also to advance a number of strategic initiatives and build on our record of academic excellence.”

Here, we look back at some of the highlights from this historic year related to academic excellence, research and innovation, public service and outreach, and fundraising.