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$1.7M awarded for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $1.7 million in support of the University of Georgia Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI) to expand research, teaching and public service in Georgia and beyond.

A unit of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, LACSI has more than 200 faculty affiliates spanning every college and professional school on campus, including 55 language or area studies specialists. The institute is home to the nation’s first and only Department of Defense-funded Portuguese Flagship Program, which promotes Portuguese language acquisition among undergraduate students to advance U.S. strategic interests.

The funding consists of two grants: a four-year grant that renews LACSI’s status as a National Resource Center, a designation reserved for the nation’s most esteemed area studies centers; and a Foreign Language and Area Studies grant, which goes directly to undergraduate and graduate students to provide financial support for students studying Brazilian Portuguese and Quechua, an indigenous language spoken by the Quechua peoples, primarily living in the Andes and highlands of South America. Guaraní, an indigenous language of South America, will also be added soon.

A National Resource Center since 2014, LACSI supports faculty-led initiatives in world-language and area studies education, such as public service, business and public health, as well as in professional fields.

Planned NRC activities include:

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Terry's Executive MBA ranked best in state and a top U.S. program

The Executive MBA Program at the Terry College of Business is ranked among the nation’s best in a global EMBA survey published by the Financial Times.

The program ranks No. 12 among U.S.-based EMBA programs overall and is the highest ranked EMBA program in Georgia. Among U.S. public business schools, the Terry EMBA ranks No. 4.

The Financial Times survey found Terry’s EMBA ranks No. 8 among U.S. programs in terms of percentage salary increase for graduates — at 53 percent more than their pre-EMBA average salary.

“This ranking is a strong indication that our Executive MBA Program offers significant value to graduates in terms of career momentum and return on investment,” said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers. “Our goal is to help all of our students achieve their potential by challenging them academically, finding opportunities tailored to their interests and connecting them to our alumni network.”

Terry’s Executive MBA is an 18-month degree program geared toward mid- to senior-level professionals, with weekend classes taught at the college’s Executive Education Center in Buckhead.

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A new life for Lake Herrick officially begins

Lake Herrick, one of the most beautiful places on the University of Georgia campus, officially reopened on Oct. 17, creating new opportunities for recreation, research and experiential learning.

Named for Allyn M. Herrick, former dean of the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Lake Herrick was commissioned in 1982 as a recreational resource for UGA and the Athens community. It was a popular spot for swimming, fishing and boating for two decades. Campus and community events were held in the pavilion, and the Department of Recreational Sports staffed lifeguards and concession vendors.

In 2002, the lake was closed to swimming and boating due to water quality concerns but remained open for fishing, walking and birdwatching. Now, thanks to generous support from the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation and the dedicated efforts of UGA faculty, staff and students and members of the Athens community, Lake Herrick has reopened.

“The University of Georgia is grateful to the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation for helping us bring this valuable campus and community resource back to life,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Project is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished at UGA with the help of private support.”

Lake Herrick is a prominent feature within Oconee Forest Park, which serves as a living laboratory for research in the natural and social sciences and an interdisciplinary outdoor classroom. It is open to the public for enjoyment. UGA faculty, staff and students can rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards from the Outdoor Recreation Center within the Ramsey Student Center on campus.

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Large crowd celebrates new portrait of Mary Frances Early

The University of Georgia celebrated the life and achievements of Mary Frances Early, the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia, by unveiling her portrait in the Administration Building at a ceremony on Oct. 10.

The portrait, by artist Richard Wilson, was installed in The Gordon Jones Gallery of the Administration Building to honor Early, who went on to become the director of music for Atlanta Public Schools and the first African American president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981.

“Ms. Early is a distinguished educator, and it is clear that she has made a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals,” President Jere W. Morehead said at the ceremony. “Her portrait will serve as a lasting tribute to her dignified courage and her commitment to educational excellence.”

Ms. Early saw the finished portrait for the first time at the ceremony, and she was obviously pleased. “It’s very beautifully done as you can see, because it looks better than me,” she said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. “It always means so much to have the support of so many.

“During my two years here,” Early continued, referring to her time attending UGA, “I couldn’t have imagined anything like this happening in my wildest dreams. I am so delighted that a part of me will be here after I’m gone. When people see this portrait, they will know that something important happened here.”

The installation of Early’s portrait is part of a series of accolades celebrating her life and career. In January 2018, Early received one of UGA’s highest honors, the President’s Medal. On Sept. 11, the documentary “Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer” premiered in Atlanta.

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Dundee Cafe on UGA's Griffin campus dedicated

Renovation of a 1913 mule barn on the University of Georgia Griffin campus is complete, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting Oct. 4 signifying its new purpose as the Dundee Cafe.

Made possible by a $1 million gift from the Dundee Community Association, the cafe will serve students, employees and visitors as well as keep the memory of Dundee Mills and the historic mule barn alive through historical photos and exhibits.

“The University of Georgia is tremendously grateful to the Dundee Mills Community Association for this generous gift, which has allowed us to create a vibrant hub on the Griffin campus and further strengthen the connections between UGA-Griffin and the surrounding community,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead.

The mule barn was constructed in 1913 after the previous structure burned to the ground following a lightning strike. The replacement barn was constructed using the slip form concrete method to demonstrate what was then a new construction technique.

During the same time period, across the street from the campus, Dundee Mills produced towels and other textiles. It was the area’s largest employer for nearly a century, when Griffin was known as a textile town.

Today, the interior walls of the 105-year-old mule barn still contain memories of that time: the names of the mules written above the pegs that held their bridles, crop weight calculations written by those long since gone and animal tracks left in the concrete floors. Historical photos and other items from the campus and Dundee Mills will be on display to educate cafe visitors and preserve history.

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UGA researcher receives NIH New Innovator Award

Stressful life experiences, whether it is poverty, exposure to trauma or other adversities, can get under the skin and influence health. Though the field of social determinants of health is relatively new, abundant evidence now links exposure to social and environmental stress with physical health in adulthood.

A new University of Georgia research project funded by the National Institutes of Health seeks to determine whether stressful life experiences have a more immediate effect on children’s health. The $2.3 million Director’s New Innovator Award from the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program will implement a new approach to examine how stress exposure is linked to children’s antibody response to vaccination.

“Fortunately, most kids are pretty healthy, but one challenge this raises is that it’s difficult to study how social experiences are linked to physical health during childhood,” said Katherine Ehrlich, assistant professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology and principal investigator on the project. “This paradigm will allow us to evaluate the extent to which children’s social worlds ‘get under the skin’ and influence their bodies’ response to vaccination.”

“Our research is interdisciplinary, and we’re grateful to the Clinical and Translational Research Unit, the Center for Family Research, and the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at UGA for helping us carry out complex studies that lie at the intersection of social and biomedical science,” Ehrlich said.

Established in 2007, the NIH Common Fund New Innovator Award supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency and have not yet received a research project grant or equivalent NIH grant. The program catalyzes scientific discovery by supporting exciting, high-risk research proposals that may struggle in the traditional peer review process despite their transformative potential.

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National Science Foundation grant will bring state-of-the-art spectrometer to campus

UGA soon will be home to a new state-of-the-art spectrometer that will benefit researchers across campus and beyond. The instrument, known as an electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, is funded by a nearly $350,000 grant through the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

“The MRI program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and training in our nation’s institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific and engineering research organizations,” said Todd Harrop, associate professor of chemistry and principal investigator for the grant. He applied for the grant with Regents Professor of Chemistry Michael Johnson as co-principal investigator.

NSF awards MRI grants so universities or institutions can acquire research instruments that can be used throughout the university community that might be too costly otherwise. The EPR, according to the grant ­application, plays a significant role in an array of potential research endeavors on campus.

EPR plays a crucial role in identifying and characterizing species with unpaired electrons such as paramagnets and free radicals in fields ranging from chemistry and materials science to nanotechnology, biology and medicine. The instrument stands to impact research university-wide.

More than 25 researchers, from at least eight departments and five colleges, already plan to use this instrument in their research, but as a result of the ease of use of the new equipment and low cost, the equipment will also enhance educational opportunities for students on campus, as use of the instrument will be included in undergraduate and graduate curricula in the future.

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PREP@UGA Scholars program trains next generation of life sciences researchers

“I knew I wanted to do graduate school, but I didn’t feel like I was completely ready,” said Ian Liyayi, a current PREP@UGA scholar who was born in Kenya and grew up in Baltimore. He enjoyed research experiences in his undergraduate years at Stevenson University but didn’t gain much hands-on laboratory experience on long-term projects. 

“This program seemed like a perfect fit. It gets you fully ready for grad school because you get a ton of time in the lab,” Liyai said.

With funding from a National Institutes of Health grant, the PREP@UGA Scholars program was created five years ago. Earlier this year, co-directors Erin Dolan and Mark Tompkins received a $2.1 million, five-year grant renewal, which will continue to fund a cohort each year of six to eight scholars from underrepresented groups or with limited opportunities in the STEM fields at their undergraduate institution. 

To date, 32 students have participated in the program. About one in four later enrolled in a UGA doctoral program, with the remainder going on to graduate programs at other institutions. Programs such as PREP@UGA have helped make UGA the nation’s top public flagship university for the number of doctoral degrees it awards to African Americans.

“It’s a win-win for the students, the faculty member and the research mentor,” said program co-director Mark Tompkins, a professor of infectious diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “The perspectives that the scholars bring add a richness to the lab. For the university and academia, the program will have an intangible impact on increasing diversity in the long run.”

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Farm Tour highlights diversity of agriculture industry

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead traveled to South Georgia Sept. 25 to learn more about Georgia’s top industry—agriculture—during his annual Farm Tour. The tour’s stops highlighted the diversity of the agriculture industry, ranging from the Pure Flavor Greenhouse Complex in Fort Valley to Premium Peanut in Douglas.

The 2018 Farm Tour marked the sixth year that Morehead, joined by Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and members of the Georgia General Assembly, visited farms and connected with the state’s agriculture industry leaders. Each year, the Farm Tour visits a different region of the state to understand the range of challenges and opportunities facing Georgia’s farmers. The annual event provides a critical opportunity to connect the state’s land- and sea-grant institution to Georgia’s communities, businesses and leaders.

“We are proud of our ongoing efforts with the university to further deepen the communication channels between our farming community and those who support it,” said Black. “This annual Farm Tour is a prime example of what great objectives can be accomplished through a strong partnership and joint collaboration. Every year, I look forward to the opportunity of helping make that connection between these two very important sectors of our state.”

Sam Pardue, dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, accompanied Morehead and Black on the tour along with state Reps. Terry England and Tom McCall.

“The diversity of Georgia’s agriculture industry is reflected in the wide-ranging research efforts and expertise of UGA faculty and staff and in the flourishing businesses of our alumni,” said Morehead. “The annual Farm Tour is an excellent way to demonstrate the deep connections between the university and our state’s No. 1 industry and to learn more about the ways in which UGA is helping this industry to grow and thrive.”

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Hiring initiative brings faculty focused on the student experience

Exceptional students deserve exceptional educators. The University of Georgia, known nationally for its superior undergraduate learning environment, has completed a major presidential hiring initiative to enhance the student experience.

“This initiative demonstrates our commitment to the highest levels of student learning and success,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Student interest in academic majors is shifting, and the new faculty and staff members we have hired will help us to provide active and engaged instruction in emerging areas of high student demand.”  

The Class of 2022 entered UGA with record-setting academic credentials: an average high school GPA of 4.04, an average ACT score of 30 and an SAT average of 1365. An increasing number of these students now state their interest in degree programs such as computer science, management information systems, finance, financial planning, engineering, statistics, biology, biochemistry/molecular biology and international affairs/political science. 

Targeted hires in these areas of interest include 26 faculty and staff: 10 tenure-track faculty, 10 lecturers and six academic advisors, all of whom will support students in high-demand areas. 

The Investing in the Student Experience hiring initiative continues a series of strategic investments started five years ago to strengthen even further the university’s world-class faculty. Past efforts have helped to reduce class sizes, expand research in key areas of strengths such as infectious disease and informatics, and foster interdisciplinary scholarship and education on campus.