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Turfgrass research is on solid ground

University of Georgia, state and industry leaders cut the ribbon on Sept. 21 signifying the official openings of three new turfgrass research and education facilities on the Griffin, Tifton and Athens campuses. The largest of the facilities is on the UGA Griffin campus, where the ceremony took place.

During the 2014 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly appropriated funds for the statewide turfgrass facilities enhancement project.

“The University of Georgia remains very grateful to Gov. Deal, the General Assembly, the chancellor, and the board of regents for their support of this important project,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. The construction of new turfgrass research and education facilities will produce tremendous benefits not only for the university community but also for the agriculture industry, which is central to the state’s economy.

UGA has 22 scientists whose primary responsibilities are related to turfgrass and another eight faculty members who have some involvement in turf-related projects. They support the turfgrass industry by conducting research, educating industry professionals and training students who will become future industry leaders.

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University of Georgia dedicates Center for Molecular Medicine

The University of Georgia’s Center for Molecular Medicine officially has a new home on Riverbend Road, adjacent to the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, where researchers will continue their work to uncover the molecular and cellular basis of human disease.

Dedicated Sept. 20, the 43,000-square-foot facility will house up to 10 research groups. The $25 million project was funded by $17 million in state funds and $8 million in non-state funds. All research conducted through the center will have a connection to one or more human diseases, furthering the universitys efforts to combat threats to human health.

“This world-class facility represents an investment in health care solutions that will improve the lives of millions of individuals around the globe,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. It also symbolizes the great partnership between the state of Georgia and its flagship university–a partnership that is helping to solve the grand challenges of our time and to fuel economic development in this state.

Since its founding in 2012, the center has focused on biomedical research that enhances quality of life in communities around the globe with Stephen Dalton, GRA Eminent Scholar of Molecular Cell Biology, as its founding director. Researchers in the CMM will focus on developing therapies and diagnostics for diseases that currently have no cures, including neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The centers researchers also will concentrate on developing new vaccines.

The new facility will promote interdisciplinary collaborations between CMM researchers and investigators from other research centers across campus, including the Center for Drug Discovery, the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, and the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

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Vital partnership: President Morehead tours Georgia farms

From the trees that beautify Georgia’s landscapes to the cows that produce milk to feed Georgia families, agriculture in this state is diverse and faces a wide range of challenges. University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and state leaders learned more about these challenges and Northeast Georgias farms, nurseries and the agritourism industry Tuesday during the annual farm tour.

“As a land-grant institution, the University of Georgia is committed to helping our states agriculture industry thrive,” said Morehead. Today we were reminded not only of the far-reaching scope of agriculture in Georgia but also of the vital partnership between the university and farmers across the state.

This is the fifth consecutive year Morehead has joined Georgias Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and members of the Georgia General Assembly to visit Georgia farms and food-based businesses around the state since becoming president of UGA. In 2013, the delegation visited farms in northwest Georgia; in 2014, they visited southwest Georgia; in 2015, they toured the northeast region of the state; and in 2016, they visited farms in middle Georgia.

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Presidential hiring initiative focuses on student success

The University of Georgia has launched a new presidential hiring initiative to continue to enhance the learning environment for students.

This latest hiring effort, called Investing in the Student Experience, will recruit exceptional faculty members in academic disciplines with majors that are seeing dramatic growth in student demand. Additional academic advisors also will be hired to support undergraduate students pursuing degrees in these high-demand areas.

“At the heart of the University of Georgia is an unrelenting commitment to excellence in teaching and learning–it is our first principle,” said President Jere W. Morehead. This exciting new initiative represents the latest in a series of strategic investments to elevate-even higher-the academic experiences of our students.

Over the past several years, the size of the incoming class of first-year students has steadily increased, while the academic qualifications of entering freshmen continue to rise. The most recent class of first-year students, for example, enrolled with an average GPA of 4.0 and an average ACT score of 30-both record highs.

Shifts in intended majors also are occurring as more students pursue degrees in areas such as computer science, management information systems, finance, financial planning, engineering, statistics, biology, biochemistry/molecular biology, and international affairs/political science.  The Investing in the Student Experience hiring initiative is designed to address these changes in student profile and academic interest.

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Ten UGA students, alumni offered Fulbright awards for 2017-2018

This year, 10 University of Georgia students and alumni were offered grants to take their research and teaching to a global level through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This marks the fourth straight year-and eighth time in the past nine years-that UGA has achieved a double-digit number of Fulbright offers.

Of the 10, six were able to take advantage of the opportunity. Four received academic grants, and two will be teaching English.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent college graduates and graduate students. As the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and countries worldwide.

“These prestigious grants are a testament to the exceptional talent of UGA students and UGA’s institutional commitment to international education,” said Maria de Rocher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the Fulbright selection committee at UGA.

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Terry's Business Learning Community continues to grow

The University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business celebrated the expansion of its new home, the state-of-the-art Business Learning Community, with a dedication and groundbreaking ceremony.

“These new facilities for the Terry College of Business are a tremendous investment in our states future,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. Our higher education institutions play an important role in the economic development of our state and local communities. The thousands of students who are educated here will become the business leaders of tomorrow, ensuring prosperous days ahead for all Georgians.

Construction of the complexs second phase, composed of Amos Hall, Benson Hall and Moore-Rooker Hall, was completed in the summer. Students have been attending classes in the buildings since August. Following the dedication, the college ceremonially broke ground on the third and final phase of the Business Learning Community.

Our institutions play a vital role in preparing the workforce, and the University of Georgia is developing the talent needed for the bright future of this state, said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. We are grateful for the support of Governor Deal, the State Legislature and alumni and donors who together make it possible for the Terry College of Business to prepare students to compete, innovate and lead in the global economy.

In all, Phase II spans approximately 140,000 gross square feet and includes two large auditoriums, eight classrooms, a capital markets lab, a music business lab, an undergraduate commons, team rooms, and offices for faculty and staff members. Its construction was supported by $49 million in state funds and $14 million in private donations.

Today we are celebrating more than bricks and mortar-we are celebrating the great partnership between the university, our alumni and friends and the state of Georgia, said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. The University of Georgia is grateful for the deep support that exists for our institution and its outstanding Terry College of Business.

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UGA jumps to No. 16 in U.S. News & World Report rankings

The University of Georgia has climbed two spots to No. 16 in the U.S. News & World Report 2018 ranking of best public national universities, the highest ranking in UGA’s history.

“This recognition serves as yet another signal of the rise in stature of the birthplace of public higher education in America,” said President Jere W. Morehead. I want to thank our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends for their unyielding commitment to academic excellence. They are elevating UGA to heights never before imagined. 

This is the second consecutive year the university has risen in this ranking, and UGA is one of two institutions-along with the Georgia Institute of Technology-to make the top 20 from the state of Georgia. Georgia is one of only three states (including California and Virginia) to have more than one institution in the top 20. In addition, UGA and the University of Florida are the only two institutions from the Southeastern Conference to make the top 20.

Student selectivity was one factor that contributed to the higher ranking. The percentage of incoming freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class increased from 53 percent to 55 percent. In addition, the average standardized test scores of incoming freshmen increased.

These metrics reflect the steady rise in the quality of the UGA student body. This fall marked the fifth consecutive year that the freshman class set a record for academic qualification, as the Class of 2021 enrolled with an average high school GPA of 4.0 and a record average ACT score of 30. Applications for admission also have reached an all-time high.

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UGA partner in cell manufacturing research consortium

Steven Stice is leading researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center in a newly funded research consortium designed to hasten the development of advanced cell therapies for a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

With $20 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies, dubbed CMaT, will bring together RBC researchers, industry partners, clinicians, engineers, cell biologists and immunologists.

“Partnerships of this nature-that span different universities and sectors-are critical to advancing human health around the world,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead, and I want to congratulate Dr. Stice and his team at the University of Georgia for helping to drive this important research center.

The flow of innovative ideas and techniques from this regional “manufacturing hub” based at the Georgia Institute of Technology could create a pipeline of therapies and lifetime cures for an aging population challenged by escalating chronic diseases.

“We have a richer set of engineering resources to draw on than ever before, due in large part to the incredible talent UGA has been able to attract from across the country and around the world,” said Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Working alongside seasoned veterans like GRA Eminent Scholar Art Edison in the university’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, we can break through manufacturing bottlenecks and bring a new approach in CAR-T cell therapy to treat cancer.”

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UGA breaks ground on Children's Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia

With the ceremonial turn of red and black spades, University of Georgia officials and dignitaries officially kicked off construction of the $5 million Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia on Sept. 1.

The 2.5 acre, handicap-accessible educational environment will include a canopy walk in the trees, a treehouse, creature habitats, hands-on garden plots, an underground zone, edible landscapes, and a bog garden and pond. One component, an amphitheater in the woods, was completed in 2015. The garden is expected to be open to visitors by early 2019.

The childrens garden will further the universitys mission as a land-grant and sea-grant institution, providing more educational opportunities for teachers and students across the state, said Laura Meadows, interim vice president for public service and outreach.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia plays a critical role in the land-grant mission of the university by fostering appreciation, understanding and stewardship of plants and nature, Meadows said. The 313-acre preserve set aside by UGA in 1968 for the study and enjoyment of plants and nature is truly the states garden.

So far UGA, in partnership with the garden’s board of advisors, has raised more than $4.3 million for the $5 million children’s garden, which includes an initial $1 million from the family of Alice H. Richards, for whom the garden is named. To contribute to the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden through Georgia Funder, click here.

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UGA to lead network for research experiences

Despite a nationwide emphasis on increasing the number of students entering science, technology, engineering and math fields, many leave the disciplines within their first two years. Now a group of institutions led by the University of Georgia will spearhead a new phase of development of a national network to support integration of research experiences into undergraduate life science lab courses.

The network, called “Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Network,” or CUREnet, was established to broaden the availability of research opportunities for students across the U.S.
Supported by a new grant from the National Science Foundation, a large network of institutions, including other institutions in the University System of Georgia and a group of historically black colleges and universities across several states in the southeast and mid-Atlantic, will work with CUREnet to reinvent their life science lab courses to engage undergraduates in research at scale.

There are many research-related careers that we need the workforce for here in the U.S., and if students don’t even know that research exists, they dont know that it is an option for them career-wise, said Erin Dolan, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Science Education in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator on the new NSF grant.

CUREnet nicely integrates not only research and teaching, but also UGAs service and outreach missions as a land-grant institution. It has the potential to broaden participation in the STEM workforce by opening access to research experiences that are typically unavailable to a broad swath of talented undergraduates, Dolan said.