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Toby Graham named head of UGA Libraries

Toby Graham, who has served in a variety of leadership roles at the University of Georgia Libraries for more than a decade, has been named university librarian and associate provost following a national search, Provost Pamela Whitten announced recently. His appointment is effective Sept. 1.

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UGA alumna one of six nationwide to receive Urann Fellowship

Smitha Ganeshan, a May University of Georgia graduate, was one of six students nationwide to receive a $15,000 Marcus L. Urann Fellowship from the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Ganeshan was a UGA Honors student, a recipient of UGA's Foundation Fellowship and a 2013 Truman Scholar. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in anthropology from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin her studies at Harvard Medical School in the fall.

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UGA researchers discover new method to reduce disease-causing inflammation

Researchers at the University of Georgia report in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that an enzyme known as Tumor Progression Locus 2, or Tpl2, plays a key role in directing and regulating several important components of the body's immune system. Their discovery may one day lead to new treatments for many common autoimmune diseases.

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New research engineers microbes for the direct conversion of biomass to fuel

The promise of affordable transportation fuels from biomass—a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence—has been left perpetually on hold by the economics of the conversion process. New research from the University of Georgia has overcome this hurdle allowing the direct conversion of switchgrass to fuel.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents the direct conversion of biomass to biofuel without pre-treatment, using the engineered bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii.

Pre-treatment of the biomass feedstock—non-food crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus—is the step of breaking down plant cell walls before fermentation into ethanol. This pre-treatment step has long been the economic bottleneck hindering fuel production from lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks.

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Scientists collaborate to sequence common beans genome

Beans are a staple crop and primary protein source for millions of people around the world, but very little has been known about their domestication or nitrogen-fixing properties until now.

Recently, University of Georgia researchers worked with a team of scientists to help sequence and analyze the genome of the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, green beans, pole beans and others are varieties of the common bean.

"Unlocking the genetic makeup of the common bean is a tremendous achievement that will lead to future advances in feeding the world's growing population through improved crop production," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. "While we have much to learn about the application of genomics in agriculture, this study is groundbreaking. I applaud the work of this team of scientists and look forward to their continued work in this important area."

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UGAs Marine Debris Tracker named in Apples apps we cant live without

University of Georgia assistant engineering professor Jenna Jambeck usually isn't surprised when an email telling her the smartphone application she created in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Marine Debris Tracker—has been mentioned in social media. But the tweet including it on June 2 caught her completely off guard.

Her app had just been featured in a video in front of thousands at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The global tech giant kicked off its 25th annual event with a promotional piece on "Apps We Can't Live Without."

Marine Debris Tracker was one of those apps.

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Area teachers take part in Garden Earth Naturalist training at the State Botanical Garden

Twenty-two kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers from across Georgia attended a five-day professional development workshop at the State Botanical Garden at the University of Georgia June 2-6. These teams of two to three teachers from public schools in Oconee, Jackson, Forsyth, Cobb and Fulton counties were chosen from a competitive pool of applicants to attend the Garden Earth Naturalist program.

During the workshop, participants learned about their school sites as ecosystems and how to encourage children to learn from nature by taking instruction outside. There were classroom lectures and hands-on exercises in the State Botanical Garden.

"Garden Earth has been a wonderful experience," said Bill Nelson, a second-grade teacher at Colham Ferry Elementary School in Oconee County. "I have been exposed to so many activities that I know my students will love doing. The hands-on investigations will help my students evolve into lifelong learners and stewards of the Earth."

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UGA geneticist named one of Cells 40 under 40

University of Georgia researcher Robert Schmitz was recently selected by the journal Cell as one of 40 most accomplished young scientists under the age of 40 who are shaping current and future trends in biology.

The featured researchers were chosen by the journal's editorial board from a pool of international nominees to commemorate Cell's 40th anniversary.

"It's very exciting to be recognized by such a prestigious organization so early in my career," said Schmitz, an assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "I hope we can use this recognition as a springboard to bolster the momentum in building our research program."

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UGA Performing Arts Center announces 2014-2015 season

The University of Georgia Performing Arts Center has announced the roster of artists for the 2014-2015 season.

"I'm excited about the upcoming season for many reasons," said George C. Foreman, director of the Performing Arts Center. "We have some very special events to look forward to, and we're presenting a lot of orchestral performances as well, which our audiences love."

The season will feature a return appearance by best-selling author and "A Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor, whose 2012 UGA show was a sell-out. "People have been asking me when we were going to bring him back, and I'm glad we were able to make it happen," Foreman said.

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Record number of UGA students awarded Gilman Scholarship

Thirteen University of Georgia students have been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in the summer of 2014. This is the highest number of scholarships UGA has received for summer programs.

The Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is a nationally competitive needs-based scholarship that aims to diversify the students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad program costs. Students are encouraged to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America.

Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies—making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.