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UGA entomologist Michael Strand elected to National Academy of Sciences

University of Georgia Regents’ Professor Michael R. Strand has received one of the highest honors a scientist can receive-election to the National Academy of Sciences.

Strand, who holds an appointment in the entomology department of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and an affiliated appointment in the genetics department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is UGA’s eighth member of the National Academies, which include the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine.

“The University of Georgia commends Dr. Strand on this most prestigious recognition,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Dr. Strand’s influential research is representative of the high caliber of faculty at UGA and the strength of our growing research enterprise. It is an honor to have him represent this university in an organization of such tremendous national importance.”

Strand’s primary research interests are in the study of the interactions among insects, parasites and microorganisms. Applications of his work focus on insects that are important to agriculture and that transmit human diseases such as malaria and Zika virus. His work has garnered nearly $28 million in external funding from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. He has published more than 220 research papers, and his findings have been cited at a level that places him in the top 1 percent of entomologists and among the top 5 percent in the fields of biology and biochemistry.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and-with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine-provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

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UGA establishes Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy

The University of Georgia will advance research with implications for economic vitality and national security through its newly created Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy.

The institute is housed in the department of computer science, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, but it will build collaborations with units across campus whose research and scholarship touches on both the technical and non-technical aspects of cybersecurity and privacy.

“Security and privacy vulnerabilities affect every technology we use, from wearable and portable devices such as smartwatches and smartphones to national critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and air traffic control systems,” said Kang Li, professor of computer science and inaugural director of the ICSP. “The Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy is committed to helping meet the nation’s cybersecurity research and education needs, and we look forward to working with colleagues in academia, industry and government to further this critical priority.”

Li noted that UGA houses several faculty members with expertise in network and system security, security for mobile devices and the Internet of Things, and cyber-crime attribution, among many other areas related to cybersecurity. Research by faculty members in the ICSP is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Homeland Security and several corporations. Li added that as more devices connect to the internet and more data about individual users becomes available, the need for enhanced privacy becomes more acute, as well.

“Cybersecurity is one of the grand challenges of our time,” said President Jere W. Morehead, “and this new institute will position the University of Georgia to play a leading role in this area of growing importance to our state, nation and world.”

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Winners announced for Presidents Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program

"I want to congratulate the recipients of these awards on their outstanding research proposals," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "I am excited about the potential for their work to help address a wide range of grand challenges facing our state, nation, and world and to feed the growing momentum surrounding the research enterprise at UGA."

Morehead noted that the budget for the seed grant program was capped originally at $1 million, but the high number of strong proposals led him to increase the budget to approximately $1.4 million in order to fund a greater number of promising research projects.

Proposals were reviewed by a team of UGA faculty and administrators jointly assembled by Vice President for Research David Lee and Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum.

"The review team was pleased to receive so many excellent proposals from across the University," Lee said. "The great interest in this program is a clear sign of the deep commitment among our faculty to collaborate across traditional disciplinary lines to create new knowledge and make discoveries that improve the world around us."

The review team selected winning proposals based on demonstrated potential to address key grand challenges and to generate new external funding in the future. Inclusion of public service and outreach components also was considered, among other criteria. A list of the corresponding principal investigators and topics of the winning proposals is available here.

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UGA receives $1 million NSF grant to extend STEM minority program

The University of Georgia will launch a new program to increase underrepresented minority enrollment in graduate programs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Bridges to the Doctorate program, which is funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, builds on the university's longstanding Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. In the decade since the Peach State LSAMP was established, minority undergraduate enrollment in STEM fields at UGA has tripled. Through the new grant, students who successfully complete the undergraduate program will have an opportunity to continue their education at UGA and pursue a doctorate.

"The U.S. is at a critical inflection point with respect to its STEM workforce," said Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour. "While the overall demographics of the country are changing rapidly, diversity of the STEM workforce has lagged behind. This disparity has potential to threaten our role as the global leader in STEM research and development. Programs like Bridges to the Doctorate are essential, as they will allow us to retain the best and brightest minds in the pipeline to the STEM workforce."

Through the Bridges to the Doctorate program, 12 LSAMP alumni will receive two years of support for work toward a doctoral degree, with the remaining support coming from the department in which they study. The Bridges to the Doctorate program also offers peer and faculty mentoring, professional development, social support and outreach opportunities. The first cohort will begin their studies this summer.

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UGA alumnus Sonny Perdue confirmed as U.S. secretary of agriculture

With former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's confirmation Monday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, he becomes the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named to the White House Cabinet and the first Southerner to head the department in two decades. Perdue will lead the $150 billion agency, which directs the country's farm policy and food and nutrition programs.

At UGA, Perdue attended undergraduate classes — and played on the football team one year as a walk-on — and then earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1971.

"Secretary Perdue is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Georgia, and we are grateful for the tremendous support he has demonstrated for his alma mater over the years," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "We look forward to the important contributions he will make to the nation's vital agricultural industry in this new role."

As governor, Perdue championed UGA projects such as the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, the Medical Partnership and the new College of Veterinary Medicine hospital. He returned to campus often for official ceremonies, including the February 2004 dedication of the Student Learning Center, and to speak to students, including the May 2005 Commencement. During a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences conference in 2007, Perdue said, "One of Georgia's greatest strengths is our agricultural industry. Our farmers and our foresters. It's our oldest and largest industry."

After his final term as governor, Perdue gave his official papers in March 2011 to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, part of UGA's special collections libraries.

"Because of his experience and his lifelong commitment to agriculture, we are pleased to have former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the new secretary of agriculture," said Sam Pardue, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Not only does Secretary Perdue know firsthand the intricacies of providing, protecting and promoting the U.S. food system, he has long been a strong supporter of the land-grant mission in public universities across the country and our role in keeping U.S agriculture growing and leading in sustainable food production."

The USDA is the funding authority for land-grant university research and extension programs in agriculture, family and consumer science, and forestry.

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Two UGA students named 2017 Udall Scholars

The University of Georgia added two new Udall Scholars to its ranks this year as third-year students Shreya Ganeshan and Elizabeth Wilkes were honored for their leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment.

Each year, the Udall Foundation awards about 60 scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for their efforts related to Native American nations or their work in environmental advocacy and policy.

Ganeshan, from Johns Creek, is majoring in economics and statistics and intends to pursue a doctorate in clean energy innovation and deployment. She plans to study how weather-related disasters strain local and national infrastructure and plans to develop financial models for clean energy.

Wilkes, from Atlanta, is majoring in geography and ecology and will pursue a master's degree in either food policy or agricultural and environmental studies. She plans to pursue a career as an advocate for food justice and hopes to transform food systems to promote environmental and social justice.

Both are Honors students and Foundation Fellows. With the addition of Ganeshan and Wilkes, UGA has had 11 Udall Scholars in the past seven years.

"The University of Georgia congratulates our students for this significant accomplishment," said President Jere W. Morehead. "The experiences they have gained through research and internships have prepared them, like other UGA students before them, to compete at the highest levels."

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Georgia MBA team takes first place at real estate competition

For the second year in a row, a University of Georgia MBA team took first prize at the School Challenge case competition sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

Terry College of Business students bested teams from Emory, Georgia Tech and Georgia State to capture the $7,500 grand prize. The win is the 10th for the Georgia MBA program, tying Emory's record for most first-place finishes in the event's 25-year history.

To win, the Georgia team provided the best solution to a case that required the students to suggest suitable properties for a 1,000-employee firm planning to move to Atlanta.

"The team's presentation showed the amount of thought and research they gave this case," said Anne Cooper, team adviser and director of MBA student experience at UGA. "What I liked most about their solution is that, while they solved the real estate riddle, they never lost sight of the business case-that a publicly traded company must deliver shareholder value in every decision it makes. That's what made the case for their recommendation."

The Georgia team consisted of students Matt Green, Josh Williams, Cody Hughes and Peter Farag, with assistance from faculty adviser Richard Martin, associate professor of real estate, and industry coaches Jay O'Meara of CBRE and Andy Kroll of Trimont Real Estate Advisors, both alumni of the Terry College.

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UGA law school wins national mock trial tournament

The University of Georgia School of Law recently won the Sixth Annual South Texas Mock Trial Challenge, an invitation only national advocacy tournament.

Third-year law students Jacob S. "Jake" Edwards and Christopher D. "Chris" Stokes argued the case, and second-year law students Oliver R. Ladd and Lauren E. Lutton served as witnesses. Third-year student Andrew Z.R. Smith served as student coach.

In addition to being undefeated throughout the competition, the group was presented with the Outstanding Trial Brief Award, and Stokes was named the Most Professional Advocate.

Georgia Law Director of Advocacy Kellie Casey praised the team for its efforts. "It is great to win this national mock trial tournament," she said. "We faced law school teams from the states of Alabama, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota and Texas as well as Washington, D.C."

"I am also grateful to current Georgia Law faculty member and former advocacy student J. Robert ‘Rob' McNiff and Georgia Law graduates Michael T. ‘Mike' Rafi, Margaret E. ‘Maggy' Randels, Adam J. Fitzsimmons, David B. Dove and Eric L. Roden for their help in readying our students for competition," she said. "At the end of the day, it is all about preparing our students to be successful, and it is tremendous to have so many graduates and former advocacy program participants investing in the next generation of legal advocates."

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UGA entrusted with archaeological collection from American Museum of Natural History

The University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology has received an extensive archaeological collection that includes artifacts and other paleoenvironmental materials recovered by the American Museum of Natural History during a decade of excavation led by David Hurst Thomas on St. Catherines Island, Georgia.

The St. Catherines Island Collection contains more than 109,000 cataloged artifacts, 2,650 radiocarbon samples, and paleoenvironmental assemblages of animal bones, mollusk shells and plant remains. The collection coming to UGA includes prehistoric ceramics, partially reconstructed ceramic vessels, prehistoric ceramic pipes, lithic projectile points (arrowheads), bone tools, shell beads, shell gorgets and shell ear plugs.

The materials are accompanied by a comprehensive digital database that contains relevant field notes, photographs, catalogs, reports and publications that relate to the excavations conducted on the island from 2005 to 2015. The university will also receive any future artifacts excavated on the island.

"This is one of the most important archaeological collections to come to the Laboratory of Archaeology since its founding in 1947," says Mark Williams, director of the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology. "It will enhance our already extensive coastal collection and allow current and future researchers to continue answering questions concerning the role that islands and coastal regions played in the development of human societies over time."

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UGA students surpass $250,000 raised in fight against cancer

During Emily Maggs' four years at the University of Georgia, she has learned that she shares something with every other student: She hates cancer.

Overnight from April 7 to April 8, Emily and nearly 3,000 of her fellow students participated in the 18th Annual University of Georgia Relay for Life at UGA's intramural fields. The event culminated with the early morning announcement that the students had raised a total of $255,129.47 to support the American Cancer Society.

Maggs, a senior majoring in consumer journalism, is originally from London, but her family now resides in Savannah. She served this past year as executive director for UGA's Relay for Life. "Everyone has a connection to cancer," Maggs said. "You could be attending a concert with 10,000 people, and every single person will have been touched by cancer in some way."

Maggs initially got involved with Relay for her mom and dad, who are both cancer survivors, but she now says her reasons have grown. "The more you are involved in Relay, the more you realize that you Relay for everyone around you-everyone who Relays and everyone on campus," Maggs said. "I Relay so that one day my children won't have to."

UGA's event is notable for being Relay's first event organized by, led by and composed entirely of college students. The student group is an affiliate of Relay for Life that is registered with UGA Student Affairs' Center for Student Activities and Involvement.

UGA Relay has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society since the first relay in 1999 and annually ranks as one of the top collegiate relays in the nation.