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Clinical Informatics Fellowship for physicians launches

With the use of electronic health records and other systems, medical professionals have access to more patient and population health information and data than ever before. Yet many who work in health care settings are not properly trained to interpret the variety of information at their fingertips.

To address this need, the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and the University of Georgia College of Public Health have partnered with Athens-area health care providers — St. Mary’s Healthcare System, Piedmont Athens Regional and the University of Georgia Health Center — to create the first Clinical Informatics Fellowship for physicians in the state of Georgia.

There is so much patient data available to providers – lab tests and scans, notes from previous visits, prescription notes, said Dr. Dale Green, the fellowship’s director and associate professor in the College of Public Health, but “it’s not a given that all the information is available and accurate to the physician meeting with that patient in that moment. It takes someone thinking about how to bring that data together and make it usable.”

Training in clinical informatics provides clinicians with the skills necessary to collect and examine patient data, calculate patient health risks, and offer transformative care that not only improves the health and well-being of individual patients, but also impacts public health policy.

The Clinical Informatics Fellowship program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, emphasizes expertise in population and public health informatics while preparing fellows for the full range of opportunities in clinical informatics.

The Clinical Informatics Fellowship is closely affiliated with the College of Public Health’s Health Informatics Institute, and fellows will have various opportunities to get involved in ongoing scholarly projects at the college.

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Terminus named fastest-growing alumni-operated business

The University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized the fastest-growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni during the 10th annual Bulldog 100 Celebration on Jan. 26 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

The 2019 fastest-growing business is Terminus, led by CEO Eric Spett, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2010. Terminus is a business-to-business advertising platform that empowers marketers to achieve the highest return on investment on their digital advertising investment. The platform contains a comprehensive suite of advertising tools that makes it simple to launch, manage and measure ad campaigns that result in more revenue for their clients.

“I’m so proud to be recognized alongside all these great businesses,” said Spett. “My entrepreneurial journey started in earnest at UGA. Being honored nine years later as the fastest-growing Bulldog business is a huge honor.”

The Bulldog 100 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses regardless of size by focusing on a three-year compounded annual growth rate. The average compounded annual growth rate for this year’s Bulldog 100 businesses was 62 percent, a record high.

“On Saturday, we celebrated a decade of recognizing more than 650 business leaders and the economic impact their businesses have had on our state and country. The Bulldog 100 program continues to show both the power of small business as an economic driver as well as the amazing accomplishments of UGA alumni,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “We are proud to celebrate their achievements.”

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Faculty recruitment initiatives underway to advance research, emphasize writing and data literacy

Presidential recruitment initiatives that will bring up to 25 new faculty members to campus are underway at the University of Georgia to increase research activity and give students more opportunities to enhance their writing and data literacy skills.

Up to 12 tenure-track faculty members will be recruited through a new $3 million initiative that provides schools and colleges with startup funds that enable faculty members to launch their research programs at UGA. In addition, up to 13 lecturers and tenure-track faculty members will be hired through a $1 million presidential hiring initiative to teach courses in discipline-specific writing and data literacy. The two new presidential initiatives complement existing faculty searches that are underway in schools and colleges across campus. 

“These initiatives are fueled by two of this institution’s top priorities: enhancing our learning environment and solving grand challenges for our state and the world,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Continuing to build the strength of our faculty is essential to helping UGA reach new heights of excellence in these key areas.”

The Presidential Support for Startup Initiative builds on the momentum of the university’s dramatic growth in research activity, which has increased by 29 percent over the past five years. In addition, it will give students more opportunities to conduct faculty-mentored research in a range of fields. 

The Presidential Investment in Data Literacy and Intensive Writing Hiring Initiative stems from two recommendations of the UGA Task Force on Student Learning and Success. To enable a greater emphasis on discipline-specific needs in these areas, searches for tenure-track faculty and lecturers are underway in 10 schools and colleges.

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UGA climbs 12 spots in new R&D ranking

The University of Georgia climbed 12 spots to No. 28 in the 2019 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences.

UGA researchers received more than $16.3 million in social and behavioral sciences funding in fiscal year 2017, the most current available data, making it the top-ranked school in the state.

The rankings are published by the Consortium of Social Science Associations, and they are based on data from the National Center for Science and Education Statistics’ Higher Education and Research Development Survey.

COSSA uses an inclusive selection of fields representing the breadth of the social and behavioral sciences to calculate the total federal research and development funding received by universities.

Disciplines represented in the rankings include social sciences, psychology, law, communications and social work.

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Cutting edge water tunnel aids engineering research

A newly installed 35-foot water tunnel at the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering will help researchers develop new methods of generating electricity and more efficient space and marine vehicles like rockets and drones. The stainless-steel tunnel can hold about 2,800 gallons of water.

“What the water tunnel allows us to do is to put submerged structures in high-speed flow,” said Ben Davis, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering. “These are flexible structures that will vibrate in response to the flow going past them.”

These experiments can help researchers discover new ways to build lighter rockets for space exploration, build marine vehicles that capture energy, and convert high-speed water flow into electricity and power other devices.

Davis, who joined UGA in 2014, was inspired to build the water tunnel after working at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he worked with materials used to make rocket engines. He helped design the water tunnel with Haynes Curtis, an undergraduate engineering student at the time.

Now a graduate student at UGA studying mechanical engineering, Curtis works with Davis to create models and test them in moving water, which can then be applied to real-life structures like drones, aircraft, rocket engines and other devices.

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Grady College unveils virtual reality lab

Students at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication can now have hands-on experience with virtual and augmented reality. Grady College has opened the Virtual Environment Room and Gaming Experience lab to allow students and faculty members to engage in the VR world.

“VERGE allows students to experience a state-of-the-art lab and be able to better discuss what audiences and target markets are experiencing,” said Grace Ahn, advertising associate professor and VERGE co-director.

The lab features 15 immersive stations that allow up to 20 students to experience virtual reality at the same time. Some stations are capable of full body tracking. Others simply require wearing goggles.

“Video games are starting to merge with other forms of storytelling, giving the audiences more opportunities to interact differently with the narratives we encounter,” said Shira Chess, entertainment and media studies assistant professor and VERGE co-director.

Another advancement is the development of social VR, where users create avatars and interact with others from around the world.

The VERGE lab will be used for undergraduate and graduate student research. The lab was funded by the university’s student technology fund. It is located at Grady College Room 504 and will be primarily available to classes.

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Students span across community for MLK Day of Service

To honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the only federal holiday designated a national day of service — nearly 300 University of Georgia students volunteered on Monday across 22 sites in Athens-Clarke County.

Part of the Division of Student Affairs Center for Leadership and Service, ServeUGA students, called service ambassadors, participated in a weekend retreat that concluded with the MLK Day of Service.

At Winterville Elementary School, 28 students helped plant 47 oak trees on school property.

“We talked about at our retreat this weekend becoming more of a conscientious and active citizen rather than just being a volunteer,” said Delaney Burke, a first-year international affairs and criminal justice student from Alpharetta. “Rather than us just standing here scooping mulch into a wheelbarrow, why does it matter? Think about the impact that it’s having and the overall issues that are surrounding the school.”

The retreat was an orientation for the new class of service ambassadors.

The MLK Day of Service is just one of the volunteering opportunities in which ServeUGA, which has more than 40 member organizations, participates.

“It’s a great way to learn and connect to the community,” said Miles, who is a third-year marketing major from Loganville. “There are a lot of social issues in Athens, and it’s our responsibility to serve and work with the community, so we can learn more about the community that we are making our home for four years.”

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Four faculty members named UGA Athletic Association Professors

Four faculty members have been named University of Georgia Athletic Association Professors in recognition of their extraordinary records of scholarship, instruction and outreach. 

“I am grateful to the UGA Athletic Association for its outstanding support of our faculty,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “In the past five years, the Athletic Association has more than doubled the number of endowed professorships that it funds, substantially increasing our ability to recruit and retain the highest caliber faculty in a wide range of disciplines.” 

The four endowments recently approved by the Board of Regents brings the total number of Athletic Association professorships to 37.

The latest UGA Athletic Association Professors are Jamie Carson, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Public and International Affairs; Kelly Dawe, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Plant Genetics; Jung Sun Lee, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences; and Pejman Rohani, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Ecology and Infectious Diseases.

“It is a great point of pride for the Athletic Association to have the opportunity of partnering with the university in this important initiative,” said Greg McGarity, the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics. “It provides an important way for athletics to make an impact on the academic mission of the university.”

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New grants program supports free and low-cost course materials

The University of Georgia is laying the foundation for the increased adoption of free and low-cost course materials through a new grants program sponsored by the Provost’s Office.

Through the Affordable Course Materials Grant program, faculty members can receive $5,000 to support the transition from costly course materials such as textbooks to educational resources that are free for students or cost less than $40. The program, which is being administered by the UGA Libraries and the Center for Teaching and Learning, is open to all full-time faculty.

“The Affordable Course Materials Grant program enables our faculty to play an active role in keeping costs down for students while also providing the nationally recognized quality of education that students have come to expect from the University of Georgia,” said Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris. 

A growing body of literature shows that in addition to reducing costs for students, the use of free online textbooks and other open educational resources can help keep students on track toward graduation by improving grades and pass rates. These benefits can be particularly pronounced for students with limited financial means who might otherwise forego purchasing traditional textbooks to save money. 

“The University of Georgia has emerged as a national leader in the use of open educational resources, and the Affordable Course Materials Grant program seeks to build on that success to benefit our students,” said Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives. 

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Anita Qualls named UGA's first Churchill Scholar

University of Georgia senior Anita Qualls of Johns Creek became the first student in UGA’s history to receive a Churchill Scholarship, which funds American students as they pursue a one-year master’s program in science, mathematics and engineering at the University of Cambridge in England.

The scholarship, which was first awarded in 1963, is given to 15 students each year after a rigorous application and interview process. This year’s recipients come from a mix of public and private institutions ranging from Stanford and Princeton to the University of Virginia and the U.S. Military Academy. Churchill Scholars attend Churchill College at Cambridge, and the award covers full tuition, a stipend, travel costs and the chance to apply for a $2,000 special research grant.

“The University of Georgia congratulates Anita on being selected for this prestigious scholarship,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We wish her continued success in her educational and career pursuits as a UGA alumna.”

Qualls is an Honors student majoring in biology with minors in Spanish and nutritional science and a certificate in personal and organizational leadership. She will graduate in May. After a year at Churchill College earning a master’s degree in medical science with a focus on obstetrics and gynecology, she will attend medical school and pursue a career in academic medicine. She intends to combine translational research, patient care and mentoring by working at a university hospital.