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Researchers receive $2M NIH instrumentation grant

The National Institutes of Health has awarded University of Georgia researchers $1.956 million for a high-resolution mass spectrometer that will enhance capabilities for scientists in many fields across campus.

The award by the NIH High End Instrumentation program, which provides grants in the range of $600,000 to $2 million for a variety of expensive instrumentation, including MRI imagers, electron microscopes, DNA sequencers, and mass spectrometers, was one of 30 awards made in the program, and one of only six mass spectrometer requests funded in the 2018 cycle.

The grant funded a 12 Tesla Bruker Solarix FTMS, a high-resolution mass spectrometer capable of measuring molecular weights with precision accuracy that can be applied to molecules ranging in size from small metabolic products to intact proteins and protein complexes. It can also provide molecular structure through a multidimensional analysis method known as tandem mass spectrometry. The instrument will be used to support research in metabolomics and glycomics, the analysis of genetic, physiologic and pathologic aspects of sugar molecules involved in all biological process from modulating cell function to determining cancer development.

“This instrument will enhance the research capabilities for a number of scientists in chemistry, the biological sciences and biomedical research, and will help foster interdisciplinary research projects between groups in a number of departments and colleges at the university,” said Jon Amster, professor and head of the department of chemistry and principal investigator on the grant.

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PIPs project highlighted by U.S. Department of Education

The University of Georgia’s Preparation of Interdisciplinary Providers, or PIPs, project in the College of Education was recently featured in the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Learning newsletter, which highlighted the project’s role in helping infants, toddlers and children with complex needs and their families.

The $1.1 million personnel preparation grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, promotes collaboration among service professionals across multiple disciplines to deliver critical services to young children with high-intensity needs.

“This project aims to provide our speech-language-pathology students and early childhood educators with collaborative team skills and to also give them content around the two different disciplines,” said Rebecca Lieberman-Betz, associate professor and principal investigator of the project. “Being able to team up with a number of different providers in a way that supports children and families is important in providing optimal services.”

Over the course of a five-year period, the PIPs project will prepare 24 graduate-level speech-language pathologists and early childhood special educators to serve young children with disabilities and their families in interdisciplinary and collaborative contexts.

The first cohort of students is currently engaged in coursework and applied experiences with project faculty who are experts in early intervention, early childhood special education, communication disorders, assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication.

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UGA research finding named 2018 International Statistic of the Year

A finding from University of Georgia research has been named the 2018 International Statistic of the Year by the Royal Statistical Society. CNN International interviewed the College of Engineering’s Jenna Jambeck, who worked with colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Sea Education Association on the groundbreaking research.

More than 90 percent of plastic has never been recycled, according to the research. Prior to the research, it was unclear exactly how much plastic was ending up in landfills or, even more problematic, in oceans and forests around the world. The new statistic lends a sense of scale to the problem of global plastic pollution.

“This statistic illustrates that many of the characteristics of plastic that make it so useful — it’s light-weight, can be any color and shape with additives — also can reduce its value at its end of life and make it difficult to manage in the waste stream,” Jambeck said. “It often ends up unrecycled or mismanaged and ends up in our ocean. Besides reduction where appropriate, we need to design products and materials proactively to work within our waste and materials management systems.”

Jambeck’s previous work includes a 2015 study that was the first to estimate how much of the plastic waste produced on land made its way into the world’s waterways. Her follow-up two years later determined the amount of plastic produced worldwide since large-scale production of the synthetic materials began in the early 1950s.

To learn more about Jambeck’s work, read her Great Commitments story.

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Gov.-elect Kemp addresses lawmakers at 2018 Biennial Institute

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp emphasized continuity and hard work to maintain Georgia’s prosperity in his luncheon address Tuesday to conclude the 31st Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators.

Members of the Georgia General Assembly convened at the University of Georgia Dec. 9­–11 for the Biennial, coordinated by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to help lawmakers prepare for the next legislative cycle.

More than 200 incumbent and newly elected members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate attended presentations at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel on topics such as rural development, school safety and transportation.

The three-day event culminated with Kemp’s luncheon address. In his first public policy speech since being elected Nov. 6, Kemp said he will appoint a Georgians First Committee to provide private-sector input on ways to keep Georgia’s economy growing and will strive to promote public safety, strengthen education and expand health care—particularly in the state’s rural heartland.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has coordinated the Biennial Institute since its inception in 1958 and it continues to be an anticipated event on the Georgia political calendar. As in past years, the 2018 Biennial offered the first opportunity following the elections for veteran and freshman legislators to come together as a group in advance of the legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.

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UGA ranks No. 1 in U.S. for new products to market

Building on its continued growth in research and innovation, the University of Georgia ranked first among 193 U.S. institutions for the number of commercial products reaching the market in 2017, according to a survey released by AUTM, a nonprofit organization that tracks technology transfer among universities, colleges and other research institutions.

In 2017, 52 new products based on UGA research reached the market, outpacing the second-place institution (University of Michigan), which had 37. UGA also ranked fourth among universities for the number of new intellectual property licenses to industry, its 11th consecutive year in the top 10.

“The success we are experiencing results from strategic decisions to support and encourage a wide-ranging culture of research and innovation that promotes economic development and helps elevate the University of Georgia to the top tier of research universities in the United States,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are not only expanding the research activity on campus and our ability to attract sponsored research dollars but also expanding our partnerships with industry to make research-based products available to the world.”

In 2018, UGA’s new products to market included a poultry vaccine; eco-friendly charcoal lighter; soil remediation products; research and educational tools; and new peanut, pecan, soybean, wheat, citrus and ornamental plant varieties, said Derek Eberhart, associate vice president for research and executive director of Innovation Gateway, UGA’s research commercialization office.

Fueled partly by the success of Innovation Gateway and UGA’s student entrepreneurship program—which has grown from just 33 students in 2016 to 420 students in 2018—UGA is developing an innovation district on its campus in Athens. The district will serve as a catalyst for the university’s entrepreneurial activity, connecting faculty, students and industry partners to create economic value out of UGA’s intellectual activity and make a positive economic impact in Georgia and beyond. To date, more than 175 startup companies have been created out of UGA research, resulting in more than 1,300 jobs and an estimated annual economic impact of more than $128 million.

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New Materials Institute joins NSF-funded center

The University of Georgia New Materials Institute has been awarded a grant as the third site for the National Science Foundation’s Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, or CB2, an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center.

UGA was selected, in part, on the strength of 10 project proposals that were presented at a site planning meeting held earlier this year. As a CB2 site, the New Materials Institute will contribute additional capabilities in the areas of new biodegradable polymers and additives; advanced fibers; durable coatings and finishes, including foams; nonwoven fibers; and novel thermoplastics with excellent barrier properties for films, sheet goods and filtration media.

“The field of new and sustainable materials has quickly become one of the University of Georgia’s research strengths as we look for innovative ways to leave a healthier planet for future generations,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “This CB2 award fits with our strategy of developing effective partnerships with colleagues in both academia and industry to move this critical field forward, and I’m excited about the new opportunities for research collaborations that this partnership will bring.”

Iowa State University’s Biopolymers & Biocomposites Research Team and Washington State University’s Composite Materials and Engineering Center—the two founding members of CB2—have strong programs in sustainability, bioproducts and bioplastics. The New Materials Institute’s complementary focus on biodegradable alternatives for packaging will broaden CB2’s range of offerings to its industry partners, which currently include Ford, Hyundai, John Deere, 3M, Myriant and ADM.

“The addition of UGA to CB2 opens many new research areas, and engages new and fast growing industry sectors that are focused on sustainable packaging,” said David Grewell, founder and director of CB2, and chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at North Dakota State University. “I expect to see an accelerated growth of research, impact on industry, and student outcomes.”

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UGA's Swapnil Agrawal named a Schwarzman Scholar

The University of Georgia’s Swapnil Agrawal, a senior from Dunwoody, was one of 147 students selected internationally as a Schwarzman Scholar, a graduate fellowship designed to prepare the next generation of leaders with an understanding of China’s role in global trends.

Agrawal is UGA’s fourth Schwarzman Scholar since the highly competitive program opened to applicants in 2015. The incoming class was narrowed down from a pool of 2,887 candidates and is comprised of students from 38 countries and 119 universities, with 40 percent originating from the U.S., 20 percent from China, and 40 percent from the rest of the world.

“The University of Georgia is very proud of Swapnil for receiving this prestigious scholarship,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “He is adding to our university’s record of success on the international stage, and I look forward to seeing all that he will accomplish in the future.”

The fully funded, yearlong master’s program in global affairs is offered to Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Students live and learn on the Schwarzman College campus and focus their studies on public policy, economics and business, or international studies.

An Honors student and Foundation Fellow, Agrawal is majoring in international affairs and economics. He has been accepted into Harvard Law School, which he will begin after his year at Tsinghua University.

Agrawal studies human rights protection, and his goal is to investigate how international institutions can leverage human rights treaties in creative ways to increase decentralized enforcement. As a Schwarzman Scholar, he plans to examine Chinese ideology underlying its human rights agenda. At Harvard, he will study international law to develop the knowledge base and skills necessary to implement new approaches to human rights.

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UGA names business school building for Doug Ivester

The final building to become part of the Business Learning Community at the University of Georgia will be named for M. Douglas “Doug” Ivester of Atlanta.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved naming the sixth building at the new home of UGA’s Terry College of Business in November. A large auditorium inside the new building also will bear Ivester’s name, all in recognition of his longstanding support of UGA, which includes a $7 million gift to the Terry College of Business.

“Doug Ivester’s outstanding generosity leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “His gift reflects a heartfelt commitment to supporting our students, faculty and staff and will strengthen the learning environment for generations of business students.”

The building and auditorium, to be named M. Douglas Ivester Hall and M. Douglas Ivester Auditorium, are located at the corner of Baxter and Lumpkin streets. The building will house undergraduate classrooms along with staff and administrative offices.

Ivester graduated from UGA in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and now presides over Deer Run Investments LLC. He was elected chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co. in 1997, a company he joined in 1979. In 1981 he became the youngest vice president in the company’s history. Two years later he was named senior vice president of finance, and in 1985 he became chief financial officer at the age of 37. He retired from Coca-Cola in 2000. He began his career at Ernst & Ernst, eventually leading its audit team for The Coca-Cola Co.

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Portrait of Louise McBee unveiled at ceremony

The University of Georgia celebrated the lifetime achievements of Dr. Louise McBee by unveiling her portrait in the Administration Building at a ceremony on Nov. 28 at 11 a.m., UGA President Jere W. Morehead announced. McBee held leadership positions for more than 25 years at the University of Georgia before serving for more than a decade as a champion for higher education in the Georgia State House.

“Dr. McBee’s extraordinary legacy at UGA is one that will endure for many years to come,” said Morehead. “She helped to guide the university community in a thoughtful and nurturing manner. She later served the Athens community as a highly effective state legislator. Her many contributions to this institution and to higher education make her deserving of this special recognition.”

McBee came to UGA in the early 1960s and served for four years as the dean of women, a position that was later broadened and renamed the associate dean of student affairs. It was not common for women to be in senior leadership positions during that era, but McBee thrived and was widely admired.

She went on to hold several other positions at UGA, including dean of student affairs, a job that placed her in an elite group of female administrators in higher education. At the time, she was one of four women in the United States holding top jobs in student personnel in schools with more than 10,000 students.

In 1987, McBee was appointed interim vice president for academic affairs, becoming the university’s second-highest ranking official. She served in the position for a year before retiring in 1988.

McBee was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1991 and served for 14 years, using her experiences at UGA to help set state policy in higher education. Among her many accomplishments in office, McBee was key to establishing the successful Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program. She also devoted herself to a bill that allowed teachers to count their unused sick leave as service creditable toward retirement.

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Construction of new I-STEM Research Building begins

The University of Georgia broke ground on the new Interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (I-STEM) Research Building on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Expected to open in summer 2021, the building will provide space for faculty and graduate students in chemistry and engineering. The facility represents the future of research and education in the STEM fields at UGA.

“Many of the complex problems of the 21st century—from crumbling infrastructure to chronic disease—require solutions that combine the latest advancements in chemistry, engineering and related fields,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The Interdisciplinary STEM Research Building will be a world-class facility that promotes creative, interdisciplinary approaches to research that will lead to new products and services that improve the quality of life in Georgia and beyond.”

The $65 million project, which includes four stories of laboratory and support space and a three-story parking deck underneath, will be funded by a combination of university and state funds. More than $39 million in state funds has been appropriated over the past two years for design and construction of the new facility, and an additional $5.6 million is anticipated for equipment as construction progresses.

The 100,000-square-foot building will be home to more than 30 faculty and 100 graduate students from chemistry and engineering, and it will foster the development of joint ideas in areas ranging from cell imaging and microfluidic separation to combustion chemistry and medical robotics.

The location of the Interdisciplinary STEM Research Building in the heart of the South Campus science and engineering corridor at the corner of Cedar Street and East Campus Road will promote even greater collaboration among chemistry and engineering researchers and their colleagues in the life sciences, agriculture, computer science and biomedicine.