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Odum School professor, alumnus recognized by Ecological Society of America

University of Georgia professor Alan Covich and alumnus Marcelo Ardón were recognized for outstanding contributions to ecology on Aug. 10 in a ceremony at the centennial annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore.

Covich was awarded the ESA Distinguished Service Citation in recognition of his more than 40 years of volunteer service to ESA and the scientific community at large. A past president of ESA from 2006-07, Covich also served as president of the North American Benthological Society—now called the Society for Freshwater Science—in 1996, the American Institute of Biological Science in 2000 and the International Association for Ecology, known as INTECOL, from 2009 to 2013. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999 and was named an inaugural ESA Fellow in 2012.

His research interests include the impacts of natural and human disturbances on tropical stream food webs and the impacts of drought on food webs in the Flint River in Georgia. Covich served as director of the UGA Institute of Ecology, the forerunner of the Odum School of Ecology, from 2003 to 2007.

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UGA to launch Chambliss Leadership Forum honoring former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss

Today, the University of Georgia announces the creation of the Senator Saxby Chambliss Leadership Forum. This initiative will increase students' exposure to domestic and international politics and will provide Chambliss a forum through which to share his insights and expertise on topics ranging from national security to foreign policy.

"Saxby Chambliss has been a dear friend to the University of Georgia and committed to its success since he graduated," said President Jere W. Morehead. "This new initiative reflects his greatest qualities as a loyal alumnus and dedicated public servant, and it will have a tremendous impact on the students and faculty of this great institution."

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UGA receives $1.25 million for training of tropical, emerging global diseases researchers

The University of Georgia's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases was awarded $1.25 million by the National Institutes of Health to continue training graduate and postdoctoral students over the next five years who can help address the growing threats of parasitic diseases.

Every year, diseases caused by protozoan and helminth parasites are responsible for more than a million deaths and cause hundreds of millions more cases of severe or subtle morbidity due to chronic infections lasting years.

"The University of Georgia is uniquely positioned as a training ground for the next generation of parasitology and tropical diseases researchers," said Silvia Moreno, a professor of cellular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-director of the center's T32 trainee program.

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UGA New Faculty Tour to visit 13 cities, 43 counties

About 40 new University of Georgia faculty members will get a whirlwind tour of the state next week to better understand the geography, demographics, diversity, economy, history and culture of Georgia.

On Monday, Aug. 10, following remarks from UGA President Jere W. Morehead at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, the group will travel to Gainesville for its first stop at Jaemor Farms to learn about agribusiness in north Georgia and the growing agritourism industry across the state.

The group will spend five days touring some of the key economic generators in Georgia, including Shaw Industries in Cartersville, the Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, the CSX Rice Yard in Waycross, Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah and the Georgia Ports Authority in Garden City.

They also will tour the state Capitol and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park Service Visitors Center in Atlanta, and the town of Senoia, which is home to Raleigh Studios, where "The Walking Dead" is filmed.

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Study finds state policies influence vaccination, disease outbreak rates

Lax state vaccination laws contribute to lower immunization rates and increased outbreaks of preventable diseases—like whooping cough and measles—according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Through their research, released in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs, study authors David Bradford and Anne Mandich found higher rates of pertussis, or whooping cough, in states that allowed philosophical exemptions and used a standardized exemption form.

Vaccination exemption rates have increased drastically in the past 10 years, according to the study, due largely to religious and philosophical reasons, which fall under the nonmedical exemption category. All but three states allow exemptions based on religious reasons. Only 17 allow philosophical exemptions. And 39 states use a standardized exemption form.

"We are seeing a significant association between pertussis rates and vaccination exemption," said Bradford, who is the Busbee Chair in Public Policy in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs. "States with stricter policies have lower pertussis rates, which shows that policymakers do have it within their power to further limit the spread of these diseases."

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Georgia state representative makes $500,000 gift to UGA School of Law

The University of Georgia School of Law has received a $500,000 gift to create the Stacey Godfrey Evans Scholarship for first-generation college graduates attending Georgia Law. The gift is the first of its kind, and it was made by Georgia Law alumna and state Rep. Stacey Godfrey Evans. The first Evans Scholar is expected to be named this fall.

Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge expressed his gratitude for the Evans gift. "This level of contribution from a single individual has the power to change the lives of future students," he said. "Leadership giving of this nature can make the difference between a student's ability to attend law school or having to give up that dream. This investment demonstrates Stacey's faith in Georgia Law, in the quality legal education we provide and in the young men and women who are following in her footsteps. I am very thankful for her loyalty and support. She is a true example of the law school's mission to instill in our graduates a commitment of service to our state and nation."

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UGA ranks No. 18 on Forbes list of top public U.S. colleges

The University of Georgia was ranked No. 18 on the Forbes "Top 25 Public Colleges 2015" list released this week.

Forbes ranked 650 public and private schools using factors that the publication says favor "output over input. Our sights are set directly on return on investment: What are students getting out of college."

"I am pleased that the University of Georgia has once again been recognized as one of the best public universities in the nation," said President Jere W. Morehead. "Although rankings invariably fluctuate year to year, UGA is on an upward trajectory as the institution continues to attract the best and brightest students and to provide them with a world-class education that leads to successful careers after graduation."

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UGA to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty, adding more than 300 course sections

In the latest in a series of steps to enhance the learning environment, the University of Georgia is investing $4.4 million to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections.

"This major initiative demonstrates the University of Georgia's strong commitment to putting students first," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. "Reducing the number of large class sections in critical instruction areas will improve student learning and success and further enhance our world-class learning environment."

The first of the new faculty members will begin teaching this fall, and a total of 56 will be hired in the coming year. By fall 2016, a total of 319 new course sections in 81 majors will be added, the majority of which will have fewer than 20 students.

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UGA symposium to highlight student research in nanotechnology, biomedicine

Promising undergraduate scholars from as far away as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley will present their research in the fields of nanotechnology and biomedicine Friday, July 31, starting at 8 a.m. at the University of Georgia.

The symposium in the Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences is the capstone of a 10-week Research Experiences for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation.

The program connects undergraduate students with an interest in nanotechnology and biomedical research with two faculty mentors—typically one in the UGA College of Engineering and one from other schools and colleges on the Athens campus or other University System of Georgia institutions.

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UGA receives $1.1 million grant to support first-generation and low-income students

The University of Georgia has received a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant to help support first-generation and college students from low-income families. UGA will receive funding beginning in September, distributed over the next five years under the Federal TRIO's Student Support Services Program.

The Federal TRIO Programs are outreach and student services programs that provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds at colleges nationwide. TRIO-named for the three programs of Upward Bound, Talent Search and Student Support Services at its original inception in the 1960s-includes eight programs that assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff who oversee TRIO projects.

At UGA, TRIO includes Student Support Services, Upward Bound and Talent Search, which collectively encourage access to higher education for low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities. The Student Support Services grant will provide academic development and assistance with basic college requirements to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants.