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UGA researchers develop visual test to quickly check brain function quality

University of Georgia researchers have developed a simple technique to measure an individual's visual processing speed—the speed at which an individual can comprehend visual information—in order to identify whether or not they may have cognitive issues.

The recent study, published in the journal Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, focuses on using a simple test of visual flicker to evaluate an individual's level of executive cognitive abilities, such as shifting attention between different tasks, planning or organizing and problem solving.

For this study, researchers from UGA's Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment Laboratory and Vision Sciences Laboratory collaborated to use a method based on measuring processing speed through sight. Catherine Mewborn, a doctoral candidate in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology, led the study.

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UGA names inaugural class of Womens Leadership Fellows

Nine University of Georgia faculty members will hone their leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities confronting research universities as members of the inaugural class of the university's Women's Leadership Fellows Program.

The cohort includes representatives from seven schools and colleges as well as the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. As Women's Leadership Fellows, the faculty members will attend a monthly meeting where they will learn from senior administrators on campus as well as visiting speakers from academia, business and other fields. The program also will feature a concluding weekend retreat in June for more in-depth learning.

"The inaugural class of Women's Leadership Fellows have already accomplished so much in their careers, and they are poised to make an even greater impact on the University of Georgia," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

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UGA ranked 11th on Open Doors 2015 study abroad list

The University of Georgia has moved up six places to rank 11th among all U.S. institutions in the 2015 Open Doors Report on the number of U.S. students studying abroad.

UGA sent 2,240 students abroad for academic credit in the 2013-14 academic year, which represents an 11 percent increase over the previous year at UGA and more than doubles the national increase of 5 percent. UGA is the top-ranked institution in the Southeast and the only institution in Georgia among the top 25.

"The latest Open Doors ranking is yet another indication that hands-on learning experiences are a defining characteristic of a University of Georgia education," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "Our new experiential learning requirement will build on this strong foundation to ensure that each of our incoming students will benefit from high-impact learning opportunities such as study abroad, research, service-learning and internships."

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Georgia Sea Grant awards over $800,000 in funding toward coastal research

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program at the University of Georgia is funding research projects that address critical environmental and economic challenges in coastal Georgia.

The diverse projects include investigations into plastic contamination in coastal waterways, a parasitic threat affecting Georgia shrimp and the economic feasibility of raising homes to reduce the impact of flooding.

The seven new awards, totaling $815,736, mark a 15 percent increase in Georgia Sea Grant's research investments in natural and social sciences. In order to address the wide range of topics identified as priorities by coastal stakeholders, the program has dedicated a greater proportion of its overall budget toward research for this funding cycle. Funding for Georgia Sea Grant research comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Sea Grant College Program.

"I am pleased to see the quality and breadth of our research portfolio that spans a spectrum of disciplines, from the fundamental understanding of coastal processes to the economic analysis of retrofitting homes in coastal Georgia," said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension/Georgia Sea Grant, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. "Enabling university-based research to develop solutions for the unmet needs of Georgia's coast, and linking that research to economic development, is a major focus of the Georgia Sea Grant College Program."

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Ten UGA students and alumni offered Fulbright awards for 2015-2016

Ten University of Georgia students and recent alumni have been awarded international travel-study grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Eight accepted the grants, which allow students, scholars and professionals an opportunity to pursue advanced research projects, graduate study and teaching assistantships in more than 160 countries worldwide.

"We are thrilled to see so many outstanding UGA students and alumni once again win Fulbright awards," said Maria de Rocher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the Fulbright selection committee at UGA. "Each recipient demonstrated a remarkable commitment to public service and to establishing long-lasting relationships of trust with communities in their host countries."

Six of UGA's Fulbright Scholars received English teaching assistantship grants, while two received public policy and research grants.

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First Chambliss Fellows program dinner raises $350,000-plus for student scholarships

Students at the University of Georgia will have the opportunity to intern as Chambliss Fellows in Washington, D.C., thanks to scholarship funds raised during the first Chambliss Leadership Forum dinner held Nov. 10 in Atlanta.

Founded in 2014, the Chambliss Leadership Forum encompasses three programs: the annual fundraising dinner, the Chambliss Fellows Program and a campus lecture series. Chambliss Fellows—five UGA students competitively selected each semester—will be provided with financial and academic assistance to live, work and pursue their passion in the nation's capital.

A number of students and influential policymakers joined the celebration of former Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and his wife, Julianne, both of whom are UGA alumni and have been public servants since Chambliss was elected to office in 1994.

"The Chambliss Leadership Forum provides a unique opportunity for our students to learn from Sen. Chambliss and to witness policymaking in the nation's capital," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "It offers an unparalleled learning experience for those who are interested in careers in government and politics, and we are deeply appreciative of Sen. and Mrs. Chambliss—and of our donors—for establishing the program at the University of Georgia."

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UGA helps put veterans back to work

Military veterans across the state are starting new careers in the private sector, thanks to a course offered through the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center.

Boots to Business, a nationwide program now offered in Georgia through UGA SBDC offices located near military bases, is a two-day course that introduces active military leaving the armed forces to entrepreneurship as a post-military career. More than 900 members of the military have taken the course since it was first offered by the SBDC, a unit of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach, in late 2013.

Some become SBDC clients, said Susan Caldwell, area director for the Augusta SBDC office of the SBDC.

Reginald Foster, a 25-year Army veteran, is in the process of opening a Tropical Smoothie franchise in Augusta. Foster took the two-day course at Fort Gordon in Augusta and enlisted the SBDC's help to launch the business.

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UGA College of Education launches new autism, behavioral analysis research center

The University of Georgia College of Education has pooled its expertise to form a new research center focused on autism and behavioral analysis.

The Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research will provide autism-related diagnostic assessments and evaluations for children in the community by working with two existing College of Education clinics. In addition to offering treatment options at Aderhold Hall on the UGA campus, the center gives graduate students the opportunity to develop assessment skills needed to work in school districts and clinical settings.

The center aims to help teachers, educators and UGA students better identify and assess behavioral issues in students. The center is partnering with Clarke County and Gwinnett County school districts to provide experiential learning opportunities for graduate students as they work alongside parents and local educators learning how to manage the behavior of children and students with autism.

Kevin Ayres, co-director of the new center and a professor in the department of communication sciences and special education, said the Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research serves as a backdrop for three important components: training, research and clinical practice.

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Georgia Museum of Art wins exhibition and book design awards

At the Southeastern Museums Conference Annual Meeting, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia received two awards from its peers in the field.

"Tristan Perich: ‘Machine Wall Drawings'" received the award for exhibitions with a budget of less than $25,000. The exhibition was on view March 20-Nov. 18, 2014, on the museum's Patsy Dudley Pate Balcony. Perich, a contemporary artist based in New York City, wrote code that instructed the direction of a pen suspended from two wires, resulting in three large-scale abstract drawings on the surface of the wall. The results were not preprogrammed; instead, Perich's code set up restrictions but made room for randomness within them.

Over the six months of the drawings' creation, museum visitors watched the pen move across the wall, sometimes rapidly, and tried to predict where it would go next. After exhibiting the final works for two more months, the museum painted the wall back to its original white, as the artist intended, but worked with Athens filmmaker Russell Oliver to create a short film recording the drawings' process.

The museum also received a silver award in the exhibition catalog category of the Publications Design Competition, for "El Taller de Gráfica Popular: Vida y Arte." The book was designed by Roy Brooks of Fold Four and both documented and expanded on the works in the exhibition of the same name, on view at the museum June 13-Sept. 13. Brooks chose an uncoated paper to mimic that of the ephemeral fliers and posters in the exhibition and created a debossed rectangular title treatment to evoke the impression created by a linocut.

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Researchers identify essential component of antiviral defense

Infectious disease researchers at the University of Georgia have identified a signaling protein critical for host defense against influenza infection. The findings, recently published in PLoS Pathogens, shed light on how a single component of the body's defense system promotes effective immunity against viral infections-particularly respiratory viruses-that affect mucosal sites.

The protein tumor progression locus 2, or Tpl2, is an important regulator of the immune response, controlling signaling downstream of cell surface and intracellular receptors that recognize the presence of pathogens.

Tpl2 regulates the production of a group of immune signaling proteins called interferons. Though interferon production is known to play a large role in host defense against viral infections, prior to this study little was known about how Tpl2 functions in that environment. The study demonstrates a key role for Tpl2 in induction of antiviral genes, including Type III interferons, a type of immune signaling protein, important in mediating antiviral responses.