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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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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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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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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.

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UGA researchers receives $1 million for cryptosporidium research

Researchers at the University of Georgia have received $1 million from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed the development of new drugs for the treatment of cryptosporidiosis, a major cause of diarrheal disease and mortality in young children around the world.

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite commonly spread through tainted drinking or recreational water. There is currently no vaccine and only a single drug of modest efficacy available to treat cryptosporidiosis.

"Cryptosporidiosis is a tremendous public health challenge," said Boris Striepen, Distinguished Research Professor in Cellular Biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a member of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. "We are extremely grateful to the Trust and the Foundation for providing generous support and leadership to drive a global research agenda to face this challenge."

Cryptosporidium is notoriously difficult to study in the laboratory, and this has stalled the development of better treatments. But earlier this year, Striepen and his research group created new tools to genetically manipulate the parasite, and his team will use funds from the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation to leverage this new technology and speed drug discovery.

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UGA researchers join NSFs South Big Data Hub

University of Georgia researchers will participate in a new initiative developed by the National Science Foundation called the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, which aims to solve some of the nation's most pressing research and development challenges related to extracting knowledge and insights from large, complex collections of digital data.

Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina's Renaissance Computing Institute, members of the South Big Data Hub will engage businesses and research organizations in their region to develop common big data goals that would be impossible for individual members to achieve alone. Other hubs will operate in the Northeast, Midwest and Western U.S.

"The U.S. has the opportunity to lead the world in the application of big data to a variety of problems of critical importance," said Jim Kurose, NSF's assistant head of computer and information science and engineering. "The (Big Data) Hubs program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by breaking through silos and establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders. In doing so, it enables leading scholars and institutions to develop collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of scientific, educational and social and economic domains with the potential for great societal benefit."

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UGA law school alumnus funds nations first child sexual abuse victim clinic

The University of Georgia School of Law will be the first in the nation to have an experiential learning opportunity dedicated solely to the assistance of victims of child sexual abuse.

The Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic will open January 2016. Initial funding for the clinic has been donated by Georgia Law alumnus Marlan B. Wilbanks, who received his Juris Doctor in 1986. It is expected that many of the clinic's first clients will be those now eligible to bring civil charges against their abusers as a result of the passage of House Bill 17, the "Hidden Predator Act," by the Georgia legislature.