| UGA Today

Franklin College professor receives AAG career award

Fausto Sarmiento, a professor of mountain ­science in the geography department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, received the 2019 Barry Bishop Career Award in April during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. The award recognizes exemplary research productivity, professional contributions and teaching excellence in montology, which is the study of mountains.

Sarmiento has helped to reevaluate disciplinary and institutional approaches to sustainable development in mountain environments like the Tropical Andes. He is co-chair of the Mountains Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas and a member of the World Conservation Union’s Protected Landscapes Task Force. He serves on the editorial boards for the Annals of the AAG (USA), the Journal of Mountain Science (China) and the Journal of Mountain Ecology (Spain), and he chairs the Latin American and Caribbean Mountain Research Network.

With 32 years of experience in the developing world, Sarmiento has distinguished himself as a leader in his field, receiving numerous awards and recognitions, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan. He also serves as a consultant to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Pan American Center for Geographic Research and Studies on matters related to conservation of mountain ecosystems and biocultural heritage.

| UGA Today

Projects funded through New Approaches grants continue to make an impact

Projects funded through the first round of the New Approaches to Diversity and Inclusion grant program already have made a difference for students in Georgia, and the deadline to submit proposals to continue that work in the second round of funding is today.

“The projects funded through the New Approaches to Diversity and Inclusion grant program continue to show the progress the University of Georgia is making in regard to recruiting and retaining our underserved, underrepresented and first-generation students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “This work is just part of our commitment to advancing that important goal, and the impact can be felt across the state.”

A total of $300,000 was awarded in January 2018. The $10,000 to $25,000 grants are used for the development or adoption of new projects across the campus community.

“The New Approaches projects demonstrate the way in which the University of Georgia is building relationships with individuals and communities across Georgia,” said Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives. “These programs move well beyond providing funding to do the work and reflect a commitment to ongoing engagement with communities, schools, families and individual students.”

Some examples of New Approaches projects include Gear Up 4 High School, designed to educate eighth graders and their parents about the college admissions process; workshops and internships at the Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory to grow the number of underrepresented students in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and the RISE Scholars Program, which assists in the transition from high school to college for newly committed, underrepresented students to increase retention, progress and graduation rates. 

| UGA Today

Udall Scholar focuses on land preservation, art

University of Georgia junior Diane Klement aspires to create strong bonds between people and the land, and her focus has earned her national recognition as a 2019 Udall Scholar.

She was one of 55 undergraduates from across the nation and U.S. territories selected. The scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, Native American health care or tribal public policy.

Klement, from Evans, is majoring in ecology with a minor in studio art. An Honors student, she plans to pursue master’s degrees in environmental science and creative writing. She hopes to work as a director of land conservation and community stewardship and as a contributing writer and illustrator. Through work with conservation organizations, Klement wants to expand advocacy for preserving public lands and lands considered grey areas, such as farms, campus greens and roadside forests. 

With the addition of Klement, UGA has had 13 Udall Scholars in the past nine years and 18 total since the scholarship was first awarded in 1996.

The Udall review committee also awarded 55 honorable mentions, including UGA’s McKenna Barney. An Honors student and Foundation Fellow, she is a junior studying economics, geography and mathematics.

The Udall Scholarship provides up to $7,000 for eligible academic expenses and includes a four-day orientation in Tucson, Arizona. The Udall Foundation conducts programs that promote leadership, education, collaboration and conflict resolution in the areas of the environment, public lands and natural resources.

| UGA Today

Four UGA students named 2019 Goldwater Scholars

University of Georgia third-year students Monte Fischer, Mackenzie Joy, Kaitlin Luedecke and Sarah Saddoris are among 496 undergraduates from across the nation to be recognized as Barry Goldwater Scholars, earning the highest undergraduate award of its type for the fields of the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

Fischer, from South St. Paul, Minnesota, is majoring in mathematics and computer science and is working toward a master’s degree in mathematics. Joy, from Woodstock, is majoring in physics and astronomy. Luedecke, from Peachtree City, is majoring in chemistry with a focus on chemical synthesis. Saddoris, from Greenville, South Carolina, is majoring in plant biology and working toward a master’s degree in bioinformatics. All four are students in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am pleased that UGA has once again received the maximum number of Goldwater Scholarships awarded to any institution in a single year,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia is proud of these four students and all they have achieved so far as undergraduates.”

Since 1995, 60 UGA students have received the Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes exceptional sophomores and juniors across the nation. This year marks the first time since 2012 that UGA has had four recipients and the sixth time it has happened in the last 21 years.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is a major accomplishment for these students as they build a distinguished body of work as undergraduates,” said Alan T. Dorsey, dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “This prestigious affirmation of their abilities is a testament to our instructional capabilities across the STEM disciplines at UGA, where our faculty create a platform for young scholars to thrive.”

| UGA Today

On its centennial, UGA-Tifton reflects but looks forward

For 100 years, the University of Georgia Tifton campus has been committed to agricultural research that benefits the state of Georgia and the world. On May 3, UGA-Tifton held a centennial celebration that was as much a time of hope and excitement in looking to the future as it was a day of reflection on the campus’s past accomplishments.

“Agriculture is Georgia’s No. 1 industry, and the UGA Tifton campus has played a vital role in helping our farmers build this industry and sustain its success,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am confident that the positive impact of our faculty, staff and students at UGA-Tifton will be even greater over the next 100 years.”

A part of highlighting the campus’s future was a research poster competition of the work being done by undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students at UGA-Tifton in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 

Originally known as the Coastal Plain Experiment Station, UGA-Tifton has been home to world-renowned scientists such as National Medal of Science award winner Glenn Burton; peanut scientist Frank McGill, whose package approach to peanut production increased peanut yields in Georgia; turfgrass pioneer Wayne Hanna, who produced cultivars that are grown throughout the world; and peanut researcher Peggy Ozias-Akins, who helped map the peanut genome.

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, UGA-Tifton is host to more than 400 employees, including scientists focused on various research projects dealing with crops, insects and plant diseases. The campus covers more than 5,000 acres in South Georgia. UGA-Tifton research projects also are conducted on farms and research and education centers throughout the state in Attapulgus, Camilla, Midville and Plains.

| UGA Today

UGA professor to co-lead female Nat Geo expedition

A University of Georgia College of Engineering researcher will help lead an international, all-female expedition team that will study plastic pollution in one of the world’s most iconic waterways — the Ganges River.

The “Sea to Source: Ganges” river expedition, in partnership with the Wildlife Institute of India, the University of Dhaka and WildTeam, is part of National Geographic’s journey to better understand and document how plastic waste travels from source to sea and to fill critical knowledge gaps around plastic flow, load and composition. The expedition will offer an unprecedented and unique opportunity to scientifically document plastic waste in a watershed and develop holistic and inclusive solutions.

“I am so excited to co-lead this expedition along with an amazing international team of incredible researchers in one of the most iconic rivers on the planet,” said Jenna Jambeck, a professor at UGA and a National Geographic Fellow. “Working hand-in-hand with local communities, from the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayas, we will explore waste, plastic, its flow through and potential impact on this important ecosystem.”

Two other College of Engineering researchers will join the National Geographic team on the expedition: Amy Brooks, a doctoral student in environmental engineering, and Kathryn Youngblood, a research engineer.

The expedition team of 15 scientists and engineers, co-led by National Geographic Fellows Jambeck and Heather Koldewey, will work with international partners to provide science-based, actionable information to build capacity for local solutions. 

| UGA Today

UGA researchers help identify 'the mother of peanut'

Working to understand the genetics of peanut disease resistance and yield, researchers led by scientists at the University of Georgia have uncovered the peanut’s unlikely and complicated evolution.

Researchers working as part of the International Peanut Genome Initiative have previously pinpointed one of the peanut’s two wild ancestors and shown that the peanut is a living legacy of some of the earliest human agricultural societies in South America. Since then the team has mapped the entire peanut genome and identified the crop’s second wild ancestor and the novel mechanism by which the shy, seed-hoarding plant generated the diversity we see today.

“Because of its complex genetic structure sequencing peanut was only possible using very recent developments in sequencing technology. The result is of unprecedented quality, and provides a reference framework for breeding and improvement of the peanut crop, and a whole new set of insights into the extraordinary genetic structure of peanut” said David Bertioli, Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator and peanut researcher at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Bertioli conducts his research through the CAES Institute for Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, which is home to some of the world’s foremost experts in this area of crop science and has been prolific in providing new genomic tools and information to help plant breeders around the world develop more sustainable, productive crop varieties.

The Peanut Genome Initiative discussed the entire genome sequence for the modern cultivated peanut in a paper published in Nature Genetics on May 1.

| UGA Today

UGA honored for first-generation student success

Over the past several years, the University of Georgia has launched programs and created opportunities to support the success of first-generation students through partnerships between the Office of Instruction and the Division of Student Affairs. Now UGA is being honored for its commitment through selection in the inaugural cohort of 80 First Forward Institutions by NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Last fall, the Office of Academic Advising Services received funding from the President’s New Approaches in Diversity program to launch 1st at the First, a holistic effort to serve the first-generation students at UGA, the birthplace of public higher education in America. The 1st at the First Leadership Institute provides opportunities for students to meet other first-generation students while developing their leadership and professional skills. The inaugural cohort graduates from the institute this May and will become 1st at the First Ambassadors for the next cohort of UGA first-generation students.

Other first-generation resources at UGA include the First Generation Handbook, which includes information about how college works and what to expect at UGA, as well as a dictionary of the vocabulary of higher education, an overview of the critical resources on campus and a preview of some of the changes students may experience as they transition from home to UGA. The handbook is available in English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese for students’ families and supporters. Programs in UGA’s Division of Academic Enhancement also advance the success of first-generation students.

The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education committed to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. As a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff at UGA will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. 

| UGA Today

UGA receives record number of Boren Scholarships

A record number of seven University of Georgia undergraduates were awarded Boren Scholarships this spring, which will allow them to study abroad during the 2019-2020 academic year in world regions critical to U.S. interests.

An initiative of the National Security Education Program, the 2019 Boren Awards will send 244 Boren Scholars and 106 Boren Fellows to live in 39 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. They will study 30 different languages.

Students commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation in exchange for up to $20,000 in funding.

“We are incredibly proud of our Boren Scholars,” said Elizabeth Hughes, a student affairs professional in the UGA Honors Program and the Boren Awards campus representative. “Of the seven UGA recipients, four are in UGA’s Portuguese Flagship Program, one is in UGA’s new Russian Flagship Program, two are ROTC cadets, and one is a student veteran. These numbers reflect strong collaboration across campus.”

UGA has had 56 Boren Scholars to date, and 38 in the last 10 years. This year’s recipients are listed here.

| UGA Today

Georgia Commitment Scholarships top 400, surpassing goal over a year early

The Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program has reached its initial goal—creating more than 400 need-based scholarships—13 months ahead of schedule. Through this program, donors are helping to support University of Georgia students with the greatest financial need, one of the top priorities of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign.

“I am deeply grateful to all of the donors who have made this program a success,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Increasing scholarship support for students has a positive ripple effect on our state and the world. UGA alumni go on to become leaders in all sectors—from business and education to technology and health care—and it all starts with access to a UGA education.”

The GCS Program was announced by Morehead in January 2017. Through the program, the UGA Foundation matches—dollar for dollar—any gift in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students—creating new, permanent pathways to higher education.

Over 270 donors, including individuals, families, corporations and private foundations, have taken advantage of this opportunity to date. Among them are award-winning correspondent and UGA alumna Deborah Roberts; Georgia business leaders Arthur Blank, Tom Cousins and Pete Correll; UGA Foundation trustees; UGA faculty and staff; and UGA alumni groups.

More than $3 million in match money is still available to create additional scholarships.